Fuel, Fatigue, Fashion: Towards a Media Ecology of Game Industry Conventions

Taylor Nicholas Dial A. Joseph
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This presentation provisionally reports on qualitative fieldwork at games industry conventions in the Southeast United States. Such conventions offer compelling glimpses into how regional games industries pitch game production to aspirational and existing workers, player communities, and partners in government, education, and adjacent industries. Adopting a media ecological approach which begins with indexes of the mundane artifacts and practices that make up a given context, we offer a critical consideration of three such artifacts that stood out to us during our fieldwork: cargo shorts, soda cans, and massage chairs. Situating each artifact culturally, historically, and within the context of this convention itself, we reveal a set of insights regarding the ways game production --and games workers--are envisioned and enacted during a particularly tumultuous time for the industry.


The Gigue Is Up: High Culture Gets Game

Jenson Jennifer Castell Suzanne de Taylor Nicholas Droumeva Milena Fisher Stephanie
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper documents the design, development, and extensive play-testing of a Flash-based Baroque music game, “Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax”, focusing on the tension between constructing an online resource that an audience aged 8-14 would find fun and engaging, and the directive to include historical information and facts, as well as convey some of the sounds, musical structures and conventions of Baroque music, history and culture through play. We further document 3 large play testing sessions, in which we observed, in total, over 150 students aged 12-14 play the game. We conclude with a discussion of the particular challenges in designing a bridge from propositions to play, in effect digitally re-mediating, Baroque music education and thereby address the broader epistemological question of what and how we may best learn, and learn best, from games and play.


Gender in Play: Mapping a Girls’ Gaming Club

Taylor Nicholas Jenson Jennifer de Castell Suzanne
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

To better understand boys’ privilege and girls’ educational disadvantage with regard to video games, this presentation aims to challenge the ways girl gamers are rendered invisible by gaming communities, researchers, and designers. Drawing from audiovisual research of a girls’ gaming club at an elementary school in Toronto, this paper explores the micro-interactions of a gaming session between five girls which is interrupted when two boys enter the scene and try to hijack their play. Using the MAP (Multimodal Application Program, developed by Suzanne de Castell and Jennifer Jenson) tool to visually chart and analyze the co-ordinated reactions of the girls as they put down their controllers and hold their bodies immobile during the boys’ disruption, this paper explores the tenuous relationship to video games these girls enjoy, even within a space ostensibly devoted to their play.


Digital Games for Education: When Meanings Play

de Castell Suzanne Jenson Jennifer Taylor Nicholas
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper documents the development of an educationally focused web-based game, Contagion, detailing how such a practical development project has led us to re-theorize questions about what is "educational," and how and in what ways that relates to the ludic. With reference to and within the framework of design-based research, we detail here the challenges we encountered designing this "alternative" game, and how we came to see content, not simply as "what the game is about" but as essentially tied to and enacted through all aspects of the game. We argue that content, that is educationally valuable knowledge, is infused through all relational aspects of the game as the player's activities accomplishments: character selection, art, narrative, programming, goals, game structures and play. Each of these aspects and challenges of game-design are explored in an effort to show how knowledge is constructed through these inter-related elements, and to further understand how and why that might matter to future game development projects.


Where the Women Are(n’t): Gender and a North American ‘Pro-gaming’ Scene [Abstract]

Taylor Nicholas
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper draws from my doctoral research with a community of competitive Halo 3 players, an ethnography of local, national and international digital gaming tournaments that explores the professionalization of digital play, orchestrated by an emergent ‘e-Sports’ industry. The research for the paper makes use of audiovisual clips of team-based competitive Halo 3 tournament play at three different sites – a small-scale Toronto-based LAN tournament, a 2008 Major League Gaming (MLG) event, and the 2008 World Cyber Games (WCG) in Cologne, Germany – to examine how, when and where gender is enacted as players engage in emergent forms of digital play that are discursively framed, and aggressively marketed, as sport.