Notes from Form, Culture, and Video Game Criticism

General notes from the conference are available from GrandTextAuto, Jerz's Literacy Weblog, then comments on WaterCoolerGames.org, and many others.

The presentations and conference overviews are given on the other sites, so these are just some of my notes. My presentation, "Towards a Ludic Model: Smooth and Striated Space and Sid Meier's Civilization," is available here. The conference was extremely successful because it brought together great presentations, a great audience, and a great set up (courtesy of the organizers, Dexter Palmer and Roger Bellin).

The presentations were all excellent, but those that most interested me were Christy Wampole's, which connected the Oulipo with possibilities for game design; Greg Lastowka's, on how to define ownership and rights in virtual worlds (he's apparently working with Julian Dibbell of My Tiny Life Fame and he mentioned There.com, a virtual world targeted at women which sounded in need of more research); Robert Bowen's fabulous examination of the music from the Atari2600 illuminated some of the possibilities of critical study of music and games, while also showing how much more needs to be done (luckily, Zach on this blog is also working on music and games); Ted West and Eric Hayot's study of race used as a trope for style in so many games (race has barely been covered in games, and so much work needs to be done, and their work proves an excellent starting point for further studies); and, of course, Barry Atkins' presentation that reminds us all that pleasure is a part of the gaming experience and that we don't need to sanitize our studies to the point of viewing game studies or game play as labor instead of play.

In starting our game studies group at the University fo Florida, we're looking to bring speakers at least once a year and the conference let me meet a number of people we'd love to bring. Hopefully, we'll hear about our funding soon and be able to get someone scheduled. Our speakers won't be anything like the conference in size or scope, but the conference set a great tone for both the current state and future of game studies.

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