Full program

Full program (including abstracts):



Pre-conference program

Venue: Press Room (ground floor), Media City Bergen, Lars Hilles gt 30.

Games and Transgressive Aesthetics consortium meeting (closed event)
15:00-17:30 Workshop
René Glas, Jasper Van Vught, Willemien Sanders, Stefan Werning, Hartmut Koenitz, Teun Dubbelman, Christian Roth and Noam Knoller. Rebels with a cause: Exploring transgressive teaching strategies in game studies
While there have been many discussions about the purpose of game studies programs over the years (e.g., the GDC games Educator summit, the teaching game studies workshops at past DIGRA conferences ), relatively few of those discussions resulted in publications on concrete pedagogical strategies. In fact, despite the broadly shared aim of educating independent, critical, and even innovative game scholars and designers (as opposed to a compliant workforce for the AAA industry) (cf. Bogost et al. 2005), game pedagogy literature has maintained a relatively conventional approach to teaching.On the design side of the spectrum, textbooks (e.g., Björk and Holopainen 2005; Adams 2014) tend to focus on certain conventions in line with the industry such as conventional narrative structures (i.e., the hero’s journey) or core mechanics (e.g., MDA, Game Design Patterns). While these pedagogical strategies and focus points are of course valuable, they tend to encourage conventional and/or dominant design tropes through a disproportionate focus on AAA game examples. It is our contention that non-conventional, transgressive pedagogical strategies promise to not just engage students in novel ways but also to broaden their perspectives on games beyond their current dominant forms, to include experimental games, games for change, and games as art.With regards to game analysis, textbooks such as Newman and Oram (2006) and Zagal (2010) have delved into more practical considerations for teachers. These textbooks provide detailed suggestions for exercises and assignments to expand students’ knowledge of and critical perspectives on games, and help them to better master their position as players and researchers, but the focus often lies primarily on written assignments, from blogs and diaries to the more traditional research papers. Such pedagogical strategies provide certain kinds of possibilities for students to engage with the object under scrutiny but, we argue, forfeit others. We see a potential to expand the range of pedagogical strategies to also include less conventional, more transgressive approaches that allow for renewed explorations of the audio-visual and procedural object of study.Aarseth refers to transgressive play as “a symbolic gesture of rebellion against the tyranny of the game, a (perhaps illusory) way for the played subject to regain their sense of identity and uniqueness through the mechanisms of the game itself” (2007, 132). If we consider education as a game we play (following Long’s ecology of games perspective, 1958), transgressive teaching “rebels” against conventional methods, assignments, materials, vocabularies, and goals. We consider it an experiential, playful approach to education which plays with conventions and habits, deliberately breaking them, to open up alternative understandings of games and play.Goal
The goal of this workshop is to engage, discuss and explore experiences of transgressive pedagogical strategies and pedagogical experiments in order to elicit best practices and novel ideas. More concretely, we want to consider approaches which purposefully diverge from a dominant repertoire of pedagogical activities in game studies (inclusive of game design) to 1) focus on fringes of games as objects of research; 2) consider game-making practices outside of AAA studio production conventions; and 3) engage students in non-conventional assignments and experimentation of studying and/or creating games as a playful approach to achieve a new understanding of complex topics in the sense of transformative learning (Crook and McCulloch, 2008). Such approaches take inspiration from pedagogical strategies developed in neighbouring disciplines (e.g. in design studies), but also methods considered in the fields of pedagogy and the learning sciences, e.g. T-shaped education (Lou & Ma 2015), flipping the classroom (Santos Green et al. 2017) and blended learning (Zurita et al. 2014).
Examples of transgressive teaching include Glas and Van Vught’s (2017) use of Let’s play videos as a means to critically engage with games; the use of the game jam as a research and educational method (e.g., Preston et al. 2012, Kultima 2018); Zagal, Björk and Lewis’ (2013) questions to identify potentially unethical (dark) design patterns; the use of “value cards” to open up the discussion on human principles in game design (Flanagan et al., 2007); and “analytical game design” exercises (Werning 2018; in press) in which small game vignettes are systematically modified and compared to gain novel insights into the workings of (e.g. persuasive) gameplay systems2. One could also think of non-conventional ways of teaching narrative design (e.g. Murray 1995, Koenitz 2015, Dubbelman 2016). By foregrounding the interactive and spatial affordances of games, these educational practices offer alternative strategies for creating game narratives that go beyond the more conventional and cinematic storytelling of most triple-A games. Finally, perspectives on game design as an art practice will be considered (e.g. Games as Arts / Arts as Games, Conference, Falmouth University, 2016–3 as well as the practices of artist/scholars like Mary Flanagan and Lindsay Grace).For whom
The workshop aims to bring together a wide variety of (senior) game and play educators with an interest in employing transgressive game research pedagogies in the classroom. Given the workshop’s goal, experience with transgressive approaches (as participant or teacher) is welcome but not required. As such, this workshop aims to follow up on previous workshops and panels on teaching game studies and game design (cf. Consalvo & Paul 2016, Koenitz et al. 2018), but with a more specific focus on transgressive strategies.Format
The workshop will start with a joint exploration of existing experiences (both failures and best practices) and continues with a design task to collaboratively develop a transgressive pedagogy for new or existing courses, taking existing assignments and modifying them. Finally, the workshop will be evaluated by means of a questionnaire addressing the participants’ experiences, both qualitatively and quantitatively. We aim to share the outcome with participants for use in their own transgressive educational experiments.This workshop is organised by a collaboration of game researchers and others from Utrecht University and HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, with the support of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA).
18:00 Reception (Venue: Dept of Information Science and Media Studies at Media City Bergen, Lars Hilles gt 30.)
Thursday Day 1. Venue: Litteraturhuset (room Olav H. Hauge), Østre Skostredet 5-7.
Registration and coffee
09.00-09.30 Welcome
09.30-10.30 Keynote 1
Jaakko Stenros. Outside wisdom and folly: Transgressions in Play
Transgressions happen against norms, and indeed are only legible in relation to norms. Yet play is neither positive nor negative, good or evil; it is not a moral category. In order to understand play fully, we need to examine its expressions regardless if they comply by norms, or transgress them. This talk will explore transgressions in the context of play, games, and scholarship, as well as the interplay between norms and transgressions.
10.30-11.00 Break
11.00-12.00 Session 1
Hugo Santos, Lucinda Saldanha, Marta Pinto and Pedro Ferreira. Civic and politically relevant transgressions in video games: the views and experiences of players
Video games are commonly considered transgressive for providing the context for excessive violence, hypersexualized imaginaries, cheating, bullying and other sorts of inadequate behavior. Transgressions can be linked to struggles for social change, and video games present and represent ideological materializations, and therefore it is possible to look politically at the transgressions that different video games challenge players to negotiate.
To explore the civic dimensions of video games, data was collected in a series of ten workshops involving 73 participants, in mixed groups of students, researchers and lecturers of various fields of study. Analyses allowed us to identify four types of transgression – i) the transgression of linear narratives; ii) the transgression of the ideologically aseptic idea of truth; iii) the transgression of the idea of free choice and merit and iv) transgression of individualism and the myth of “Other” – that were present in the experience of players, and that can contribute to understand how video games can contribute to the promotion of meaningful civic learning experiences.
Kristian Bjørkelo and Kristine Jørgensen. The Asylum Seekers Larp: The Positive Discomfort of Transgressive Realism
This paper explores positive-negative experiences (Hopeametsä 2008; Montola 2010) and transgressive realism (Bjørkelo, in press) through discomfort experienced in a live-action role-playing game about asylum seekers. The Asylum Seekers was designed to create an uncomfortable, but meaningful experience for the participants who play asylum seekers and police officers who interview them. Discomfort is creating through stressful social and physical conditions which seek not to simulate, but stand in for the stress experienced in the real world process. In the debrief following the two playthroughs the players describe their discomfort and how it relates to real world issues, which we relate to the concept of play-external seriousness (Jørgensen 2014).
Jan Svelch. Transgressive Content, or Toxic Developers? Exploring Online Discussions about Controversial Video Games

Although full-blown moral panics about video games seem to be a thing of the past (Kocurek 2012; Bowman 2015; Karlsen 2015), there is no shortage of minor controversies, which sometimes also reach the general public. Most recently, the game Active Shooter (Revived Games 2018) caused a heated discussion even before its release and was in result removed from Valve’s digital distribution platform Steam. In the game, players were promised to be able to control a gunman, SWAT team members, and possibly also civilians during a school shooting incident. Especially the option to play as a mass murderer was criticized by family members of school shooting victims and received coverage in mainstream news outlets. Interestingly, Valve’s statement to selected members of the press did not mention the transgressive theme of the game as the grounds for its removal. Instead, it focused on the identity of the developer, who is considered to be, according to Valve, “[…] a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.” (Gault 2018) Arguably, this comment reflects the lenient and somewhat inconsistent approach to content moderation by Valve, which was later addressed in an official blog post (EJ 2018). Regardless of Valve’s new strategy “[…] to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” (ibid.), the case of Active Shooter highlights the role of paratextual information about developers in video game controversies.

Personal beliefs, public statements, online behavior, and professional history of video game creators all play role in discussions about transgressive games. This paper argues for a more careful consideration of author-related information in analyses of controversial games and builds on the historical study of reception, specifically Jauss’ (1970) horizon of expectations, and also utilizes Genette’s (1997) paratextual framework. However, the point is not to claim that developers have uncontested power over the way their games are played and interpreted, but to emphasize that the socio-historical circumstances of games (including factual and contextual information about their creators) can and often do influence audience reception.

Notably, developers of some of the older controversial games such as Death Race (Exidy 1976) or Custer’s Revenge (Mystique 1982) often tried to downplay the transgressive nature of their titles by offering less offensive interpretations (Kocurek 2012; Mukherjee 2017), but usually failed to diminish moral panics. However, these deliberate attempts at authorial framing of the game are just one part of the paratextual surround, the more incidental information about developers is also relevant as evidenced by players’ interest in the production context. After all, freedom of interpretation is not limited to the content of the game, but also applies to paratextual elements and their admission as potential framing devices.

I will support my theoretical argument about the role of developer-related information using three examples: the aforementioned Active Shooter, Kingdom Come: Deliverance (Warhorse Studios 2018), and Hatred (Destructive Creations 2015). What these three arguably controversial games have in common, beside all being produced in Eastern Europe, is the attention that the press and players paid to the people who created them and to their intentions. In this regard, information about developers shaped the horizon of expectations for these games and established its paratextual framing.

The supposed “troll” behind Active Shooter is Ata Berdyev, who has a track record of releasing low quality games on Steam, sometimes also called asset flips (games built using mostly pre-made assets, e.g. from Unity Asset Store). However, according to the official forums of the game and press interviews (Kan 2018), Berdyev is not the main developer, but merely an advisor. Coincidentally, the real designer Anton Makarevskiy was previously also accused of asset flipping in his earlier game White Power: Pure Voltage (Revived Games 2017), which was also removed from Steam at the end of May 2018 in the aftermath of Active Shooter controversy. Both Bardyev and Makarevskiy have a history of questionable business practices, which problematizes their public claims that Active Shooter does not intend to glorify violence or use the transgressive theme only to drive sales (Kan 2018).

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a mainstream medieval role-playing game, which has been occasionally criticized for its representation of women and for reinforcing national stereotypes (Grayson 2018). Although its content mostly adheres to established fantasy tropes, the game became controversial due to the public statements of its director Dan Vávra. The Czech designer is one of the few high-profile industry sympathizers of the toxic anti-feminist Gamergate movement (Chess and Shaw 2015; Tomkinson and Harper 2015; Mortensen 2016; Massanari 2017), whose members have celebrated the commercial success of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. In my opinion, Vávra’s involvement in Gamergate has also led to a stricter scrutiny of the game’s potentially questionable content. It is easy to project intent behind objectification of female characters and xenophobia within the game, if one considers the political values of its creator(s). Arguably, the game was interpreted as being transgressive based partly on this paratextual information.

Hatred’s theme in many respects resembles Active Shooter. The marketing materials were promoting the game as a mass murder simulator alike the Postal series and as a response to “political correctness”. The criticism of the game’s offensive topic quickly turned to the developers and especially to the director Jarosław Zieliński, who at the time followed a Polish far right group on Facebook (Hall 2014). This paratextual information was used in the subsequent discussions as evidence of the game’s intentional toxicity.

These three cases illustrate the importance of author-related paratextual elements for analysis of video game controversies. In the post-Gamergate era, when doxing and public dissemination of personal information are common practices, political agendas of developers and their statements on social media frame the audience reception of video games and the notion of transgressive themes and toxicity.

12.00-13.00 Lunch
Session 2 – Panel
Maria Ruotsalainen, Usva Friman, Aleena Chia and Jonne Arjoranta. Situating the Body of the Researcher: Cultural Capital, Affect, and Vulnerability in Qualitative Approaches to Play
This panel processes qualitative research experiences in gaming fieldsites according to what Haraway (1988: 577) calls situated knowledges, the feminist epistemological recognition that “all knowledge is a condensed node in an agonistic power field,” and that only embodied perspectives within limited locations constitute sustained and rational inquiry. Using concepts of positionality from performance studies, theories on affect, and anthropology, we examine the politics of our embodiment within fieldsites from Team-based First Person Shooters and live-action role-playing, to gaming conventions in North America and Finland. To counter ideologies of objectivity that purport vision from everywhere and nowhere from unmarked subjectivities, we reflect on our bodies as flawed instruments for semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and autoethnography. Our bodies navigate the margins of these fieldsites as researchers, women, and minorities. These positionalities are not innocent, yet only by accounting for their partiality and complicity can we offer transformative critique of hegemonic game cultures.
14:20-14:40 Break
14:40-16:00 Session 3
Marleena Huuhka. Who Did That – Glitches, Bugs and Errors as Performative Potential

In this paper, I analyze non-human performativity based on new materialist theory (see eg. Bennett, Dolphijn & van der Tuin, Barad). The main goal of this approach is to reconsider the position of humans: new materialism is about giving space to the other. In my examples, the others can be anything from my controller to the individual pixels of the game environment.

I argue that the non-human performer – especially when talking about video games – is able to reveal their agency through an error. This error can be technical, visual or auditive. Through game play examples, I will demonstrate how performership and agency of the non-humans is created through unexpected mishaps. Further, I argue that this, performative, active error is a way to tackle the possible mental numbness caused by immersion.

Alina Latypova. Glitches as Digital Mutations: Traces of Digital Evolution in Computer Games

The aim of the following project is to show how glitches and bugs might be considered as digital mutations, which give birth to the new medial forms. To be more specific, how computer games might be one of the fruitful field of digital evolution and “laboratories” of the new medial experience due to the gamers involvement, to the implementation of the new technologies such as generation mechanics and to the adaptation of the bugs.

Dom Ford. Speedrunning: Transgressive Play in Digital Space

In How To Do Things With Videogames, Ian Bogost argues that videogames offer “an experience of the ‘space between points’ that had been reduced or eliminated by the transportation technologies that began with the train” (2011, 49). But when we watch a speedrun of a game such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo EAD 1998), what we instead see is a player determined to destroy as much of that ‘space between points’ as possible. It is a game that takes most players tens of hours to complete, but is finished in just over 17 minutes by the best speedrunners, utilizing glitches that manipulate the game’s code to skip enormous chunks of both the narrative and the gameworld. Once an underground hobby conducted between users swapping footage on obscure internet forums, speedrunning has shot into the mainstream in recent years following the rise of livestreaming platforms and livestreamed events such as Games Done Quick and the European Speedsters Assembly. So what does speedrunning mean as a mode of play, and what can it reveal about the relationship between player and gameworld?

This paper will examine speedrunning as a transgressive mode of play. Building on previous work on this topic by scholars such as Rainforest Scully-Blaker, I will first aim to define speedrunning as a practice and then to explore its relationship with the space in the gameworld, the game’s narrative, and with the ideological and representational implications that arise from them. To do this, I will bring in spatial, digital and videogame theorists such as Paul Virilio, Tom Apperley and Espen Aarseth, as well as work on other transgressive spatial practices such as parkour in order to see if and how they relate.

In defining speedrunning, I will primarily look at Scully-Blaker’s definition: “the practice of players or ‘runners’ attempting to ‘travel’ from a game’s opening state at its first necessary button input to the game’s conclusion at its last necessary button input in the smallest amount of time possible” (Scully-Blaker 2014, emphasis in original). Crucially, this definition ties speedrunning to the real world, anchored on either end by a material start- and end-point outside of the game. This, I will argue, establishes speedrunning as a metagame and divorces the act of playing during a speedrunning from the narrative and gameworld in which the player is ‘supposed’ to be immersed. That is, play has a weaker tie to the narrative actions of the game. Killing enemies and bosses, using the avatar’s abilities and so on are largely stripped of their narrative context and become instrumental, rather than representational.

To delve deeper into this, it will be useful to use Aarseth’s implied player model: “The game houses expectations for a player’s behavior, which is supported by an interface, and represented in-game by an avatar (but not the latter in all games)” (Aarseth 2007, 132). Crucially, Aarseth views the implied player as “a boundary imposed on the player-subject by the game, a limitation to the playing person’s freedom of movement and choice”. I will also turn to Apperley here, who makes a similar argument. Using Ted Friedman’s concept of cybernetic subjectivity, Apperley claims that “the players are insinuated into the rhythm of the game through the process of play; they must ‘fit’ into the rhythm of the game and not vice versa,” and in this way “the player is also forced to accept the ideological underpinnings of the game as absolute” (2010, 24). What speedrunning offers at this point is a way of playing outside these limitations. Playing outside of the limitations of the implied player or the game’s rhythm is, Aarseth claims, “a symbolic gesture of rebellion against the tyranny of the game, a (perhaps illusory) way for the played subject to regain their sense of identity and uniqueness through the mechanisms of the game itself” (2007, 132). Speedrunning, I will argue, is a demonstration of that. It is an example of a mode of play that allows players to remove themselves from the game’s inscribed ideological framework, and possibly even make it anew. The player makes the game.

These ideas seem to run parallel to those offered by theorists of parkour. Matthew D. Lamb talks about parkour as a “dialectic struggle” (2017, 43) between traceur (a practitioner of parkour) and the architectural space inscribed with social meaning. “Thus, parkour is not only a tactical use of strategical architectural space through bricolent appropriation but is at once a tactical (mis)use of my body as a site of strategic power,” he concludes (2017, 43). By reducing the spatial environment to objects and obstacles devoid of social, cultural or narratological meaning, the traceur and the speedrunner find a means by which they can rewrite, reappropriate or ignore entirely the inscribed space. Lamb says that “put plainly, parkour is about unrestricted movement in an environment constructed to restrict movement” (2014, 108), denoting an inherent subversiveness to the practice. Speedrunning read through the lens of the implied player model does the same. Speedrunning is about unrestricted movement in a digital environment constructed to restrict movement ludically, spatially and narratively.

I hope to tie these ideas together in order to reach a better understanding of speedrunning in the context of narrative, space, and the player’s relation to those through play. As speedrunning and other forms of non-standard play gain traction amongst players, it is important to think about what these modes of play mean and why players are drawn to both playing and watching them. Furthermore, I believe that through non-standard modes of play like speedrunning, we can gain a better understanding of games as objects and computational structures, allowing us to see more clearly the lines of ideology and representation inscribed in gameworlds, their stories and their presentations.

Dale Leorke. Games, Play and Playful Practices in the Smart City
This paper examines the growing intersection of digital games and the ‘smart city’ model. It explores the various ways that games and playful practices might challenge, critique, or counter the push to instrumentalise, optimise, and ‘program’ the city (Gabrys, 2016) through ubiquitous smart technologies and sentient infrastructure. The paper begins by mapping out the various ways digital games both contribute to and oppose the smart city approach. It then considers how smart city policies might cultivate a more playful approach to planning and experiencing the urban environment.
16:00-16:30 Break
16:30-17:30 Session 4
Doris C. Rusch. 21st Century Soul Guides: Leveraging Myth and Ritual for Game Design
This paper takes its departure from the observation that myth and ritual once served the important psychological function of helping us come to grips with the Givens of Existence: death, isolation, freedom of choice, and meaninglessness. It explains the transformational and meaning-generating power of myth from an existential, archetypal and depth psychology perspective and proposes games as potent vehicles for myth in the 21st century. It provides suggestions on how game designers can become modern Soul Guides by accessing their unconscious to birth viable symbols and create emotionally resonating experiences for others, and how they can glean inspiration from different types of rituals to inform mythic gameplay experiences that can contribute to a meaningful life.
Grace Gerrish. NieR (De)Automata: Defamiliarization and the Poetic Revolution of NieR: Automata

This paper employs the 2017 game NieR: Automata as a case study to explore how Russian Formalist poetics, particularly the concept of “defamiliarization,” can operate as a mode of subversion in games. By focusing on the technical devices available to the genre, and the unique ways those devices can be manipulated and subverted for “poetic” effect, this paper also demonstrates how defamiliarization challenges the boundaries that attempt to define the genre’s textual and narrative capabilities, and in doing so, promotes its ongoing evolution. As such, this framework is innately useful to the field of digital game study, as it diverges from the common practice of searching for concrete definitions of the genre, and instead focuses on the generative analysis of its formal elements, and the mutable potential of what games can achieve.

Margarita Skomorokh. Press X to Die. Masocore and Game Design Conventions
In this paper, the gameplay of masocore games is analyzed to discover the underlying logic of the genre. All masocore games pretend to humiliate the player, but use different techniques: fake difficulty (based on the trial-and-error gameplay or unconventional controls), going against the expectation of the player, and mocking the player verbally or through visual style. Masocore is regarded as an overcompensating response to the “accessibilty turn” (Wilson, Sicart 2010) in game design. It replaces the press-X-to-not-die gameplay style by the seemingly cruel press-X-to-die style and at the same time legitimizes modern game design practices by being, in a sense, user-friendly. Rather then truly subverting them or simply going back to old practices, masocore makes a step forward and establishes its own conventions by transforming game design mistakes typical for B-games into a new sadistic language and changing our notion of what a good game is.
Conference Dinner: Marg og Bein, Fosswinckels gt 18
Friday Day 2. Venue: Litteraturhuset (room: Olav H. Hauge), Østre Skostredet 5-7.
09.30-10.30 Keynote 2
Kelly Boudreau. Whose Games are They Anyway? Problematic gameplay, boundary keeping, and the growing player community
Being part of a social group is something almost everyone has experienced. But being part of a group also means there are those who are excluded. Exclusion can take many forms and is determined by the group itself. Secret handshakes, slang and lingo, required skill level for participation, or a demonstration of specialized knowledge all function to maintain the norms of the group. New membership to the group typically entails enforcing a set of rules and behavioral norms that potential members must follow to prove themselves worthy of full group acceptance. This policing of behavior around rules and norms is what is often defined within Sociology as ‘boundary keeping’.

Within multiplayer online games, boundary keeping can take many forms. From the seemingly harmless act of refusing to play with others who are deemed by the group to be unskilled, to the more extreme cases where players use the game’s affordances in ways that create a negative gameplay experience for players, boundary keeping works to keep non-members on the outside. This kind of gameplay is often defended by the initiator as being done to preserve the game’s norms, design intent, or a specific cultural or social identity. Players who engage in boundary via problematic or toxic gameplay often believe that other players are not ‘real’ gamers for example, or that they are not respecting their perceived cultural purpose or context of the game.  Many players who engage in problematic boundary keeping tend to use designed elements within the game environment (for example, refusing to group with perceived inexperience players to intentionally interfering with another player’s gameplay through kill stealing or killing a quest mob) their activities are not necessarily illegal in any regulatory sense.

In a call for attention to the dimensionality of gameplay as boundary keeping, this keynote explores the interwoven themes of game play norms, game design affordances, and the larger social, cultural, and political contexts around the different types of boundary keeping through gameplay. When different social groups play in the same game, how are the social and gameplay norms created and governed? How are boundaries defined and defended between groups? How does the game’s design facilitate or inhibit different types of boundary keeping? As researchers, designers, and players, how can we, disentangle the roots, types, and nuances of transgressive, problematic, and toxic gameplay, particularly with a growing player base who ask themselves, whose games are they anyway?

10.30-11.00 Break
11.00-12.00 Session 5
Raine Koskimaa. Negotiating Moral Questions and Ethical Decisions in Game of Throne’s Let’s Play Videos
In this presentation I will analyse and discuss Let’s Play videos based on the game Game of Thrones (Telltale 2014-15). I will look at how the LP casters and their audiences reflect and react upon the moral questions and ethical choices posed by the game. My aim is to show the strength of LP videos in approaching player’s reflections on controversial content in games. When doing this, it is important to take into account the LP in whole containing footage of the actual game play, caster’s commentary on the action, and the discussion with the audience in the comments section. All this leads to complex negotiations, where a strong tendency towards ’responsible choices’ is modified in favour of performing for audience; in regards to the example set by the tv series and novels; by different player types; and, in strategic response to the game rewards and punishments.
Gilda Seddighi, Hilde G. Corneliussen, Carol Azungi Dralega and Lin Prøitz. Regulation of Gaming in a Family Perspective among non-Western Immigrants
The EU rapport of 2011 shows that 86% of all children that have access and use the internet, also use internet for gaming. The internet and computers are more accessible in all homes, also among migrants. It has been suggested that gaming has become part of “mainstream-culture”. Nevertheless, according to the study on time spent in gaming, 96% of boys and 76% of girls in Norway have experienced that time spent on gaming has been a source of conflict in the home (Børsum, 2012).

Though gaming might create opportunities for youth to develop diverse skills, there is a strong tendency among parents and in public debates to express the view that gaming stands in competition to youth’s societal presence and participation in the society (cf. Medietilsynet). According to Ask (2011), many parents are concerned that their children are «caught» in the games, which steal time from school, friends or other (more «valuable») activities. Ask finds that many parents worry that their children become «addicted.” It is also often expressed concerns about the consequences of excessive video gaming. Many players face such concern as well as lack of understanding of video games as hobby. Many players experience this as negative (cf. Dibell 1993; Dralega & Corneliussen, 2018; Agdestein, 2009). For girls and women this might have a double negative effect together with a – still – strong cultural discourse that makes it more difficult for them to associate with videogames and gaming than it its for boys and men (Enevold, 2016).

Ask (2011) argues that we are presented to a contradictory version of the relatively short history of computer game and what computer games are. Debates are often been concentrated around games as violent (Anderson and Dill, 2000; Dill and Dill 1998) and as addictive (Chappell et al., 2006; Griffiths 2005). The argument seems to rely on stereotypes that players are isolated, young and unstable men (Børsum 2012; Ask 2011). Therefore, there is a need to research on family perspective and how gaming is regulated at home, and what parents know among gaming. This project is also motivated by a lack of research on ethnic minority gamers in Norway, especially non-western gamers.
In this study we explore how a family perspective on regulation of gaming among migrant youth in Norway.
Earlier research on the use of gaming among non-western migrant youth has shown how a sense of belonging to multiple spaces, online and offline, shape new forms of identification among non-western migrants (Dralega & Corneliussen, 2018).

Methods of research are structured questionnaires and in-depth interviews. We have interviewed families of non-western origin that have one or more young gamers between 13-19 years old. We gave the youth and parents opportunity to express their anxiety and experiences with gaming before the interview, and as a family during the interview. The interviews have been transcribed and analysed using Grounded Theory methods, of labeling and identifying categories in the material (Charmaz, 2006).

Models of parenting
We have found four models of parenting and regulation of gaming among minority families; Helicopterparenting, Conflict-centered tyrann, self-regulation and Co-piloting.

The Helicopter parenting-model takes a top-down approach with the parents dictating, what, how much, with whom and where the youth play video games. The approach is largely informed by the parents’ own upbringing, the values their own parents inserted in life. For instance, Television ‘screen time’ was an established regulatory mechanism for time use on media. Gaming does not alway comply with the idea of ‘screen time’ as a game has its own life and varied timeframes. The youth claim that parent have poor knowledge about what gaming is and how it is different from, for example, from TV.

This model escalates in the Conflict-centered tyrann-model. In this model, instead of trying to understand the workings of the gaming, the parents take offence that the youth do not listen to their advice and ruling. In punishment, the games, internet connection or cables/codes are disconnected, visa card confiscated – causing total inaccessibility to games. Here, it is the parent vs the youth and the parent is the authority unwilling to modify his/her view. The youth have no say and are left frustrated and sometimes violent.

There are also occasions when the youth are the main regulators of their own gaming, which we have called self-regulating model. Parents articulate lack of trust in self-regulating model.

In Co-piloting-model, families go from earlier models to realize the importance of dialogue. In this model parents often play with their children and try to understand the meaning of gaming for their children.

We see that parents, sometimes, do not have a point of reference on how to go about parenting youth who grew up with digital device, therefore they try trial and error. This leads to several models of parenting through which point of conflict is framed.

Pieter Van den Heede. Wolfenstein, Call of Duty and the limits of historical play? A study on self-identified player experiences of ‘gaming fever’ in relation to ludonarrative imaginations of the Holocaust
Over the past few years, historical game studies has gradually grown into a “distinct interest separable from the larger field of game studies,” with a “recognizable network of scholars, events, texts and strands of investigation concerned with what it might mean for the past to be represented and most importantly, played with, in the game form” (Chapman, Foka, and Westin, 2016, p. 359). As part of this growth, a significant number of scholars (Campbell, 2008; Chapman and Linderoth, 2015; Kingsepp, 2006; Koski, 2016; Pfister, 2016; Pötzsch, 2015; Salvati and Bullinger, 2013; Sterczewski, 2016) has studied how digital entertainment games, and FPS-games like Call of Duty in particular, provide a ludonarrative imagination of the Second World War, as it is one of the most frequently depicted historical events in entertainment games (Mobygames, 2018). Pötzsch (2015) for example has highlighted how war-themed FPS-games in general, including those depicting the Second World War, tend to exclude morally challenging aspects of violent conflict such as violence against civilians, as game creators aim to let the player have a pleasurable gameplay experience, while avoiding moral ambiguity. In addition, both Chapman and Linderoth (2015) and Pfister (2016) have highlighted how games about the Second World War usually omit explicit references to the Holocaust, as games are still perceived by the broader public as inherently trivializing in nature, and therefore unsuited to tackle this sensitive topic. At the same time, this trend has gradually begun to shift in recent years, with the release of several games about the Second World War that do include explicit depictions of the Holocaust, including big budget entertainment games such as Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames, 2014) and Call of Duty: WWII (Sledgehammer Games, 2017).
As little is known about how non-expert players experience entertainment games about the Second World War (a significant exception is: Penney, 2010), and how they reflect on the aforementioned ludonarrative imaginations of the Holocaust and violence against civilians during the Second World War, this paper presents a study on how players discuss their experiences of playing the games Wolfenstein: The New Order and Call of Duty: WWII. In the paper, empirical data of six focus group interviews held during LAN-parties and other dedicated gaming events will be discussed (3 for each game), in which a double approach was adopted. On the one hand, the participants of each focus group interview were asked to reflect on their subjective interpretations of playing the selected games following the qualitative Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)-method adopted by Jørgensen (2016), while on the other hand, the participants were shown and asked to reflect on a number of prerecorded online gameplay videos of both games centered on specific ludonarrative depictions of violence against civilians and the Holocaust (e.g. clips from ‘Chapter 8: Camp Belica’, a single player level in Wolfenstein: The New Order in which players infiltrate a fictional Nazi concentration camp (TazerfaceTV, 2018), and ‘Epilogue’, the final single player level in Call of Duty: WWII, in which players can walk around in a Nazi prisoners of war (POW)-camp (Generic Gaming, 2017)). Based on this approach, the paper aims to answer the following question: to what extent, and in what ways, do non-expert players experience a sense of ‘gaming fever’, or unease when engaging with explicit ludonarrative depictions of violence against civilians, and the Holocaust in particular, during the Second World War, topics that, in contemporary (Western) commemorative culture, are usually considered to be too sensitive to be depicted in entertainment games? Here, the paper adopts the concept of ‘gaming fever’ as opposed to the more narrow notion of ‘simulation fever’ defined by Bogost (2006), to highlight both the inherently simulational and representational nature of games. Results of the study show that the interviewed players mostly did not express a fundamental unwillingness to engage with the mentioned ludonarrative depictions of the Holocaust and violence against civilians during the Second World War, and thus did not experience a categorical sense of ‘gaming fever’ while playing Wolfenstein: The New Order or Call of Duty: WWII. However, critical discussion did arise around a number of key aspects of the two games, such as their underlying ideological discourse, the level of player agency while engaging with the aforementioned imaginations of the Holocaust and other violence against civilians, and various aspects of perceived ‘realism’, for example in relation to how the two games depict the victims of the Holocaust. In all, it highlights how players are mostly appreciative of how games like Wolfenstein and Call of Duty provide an imagination of the violent legacies of the Second World War, while they also actively and critically reflect on various representational and simulational aspects of these imaginations.
12.00-13.00 Lunch
Session 6 – Panel
Patrick Prax, Lina Eklund, Björn Sjöblom, Niklas Nylund and Jaakko Suominen. Remembering gaming’s future: Digital games as exhibitions and cultural heritage
From being either ignored or vilified by the mainstream media and by cultural institutions, video games are today in the process of becoming valued culture, recognised as a medium in its own right, for its own aesthetic and cultural values. Museums, as cultural gatekeepers, are part of validating the status of digital games in contemporary culture by taking in and displaying them. This process of collecting and exhibiting games consecrate them into an accepted form of popular culture. Yet, museums are struggling with how to work with games both as interactive, ephemeral objects, and as cultural expression (Barwick et al., 2011; Prax et al., 2015).

Museums, which will be the focus of this panel, preserve and make available our common cultural heritage (Harrison, 2013). This work also creates and defines what is considered worth preserving for the future. In other words, what becomes cultural heritage is not obvious and neutral but socially constructed, where what is ultimately understood as heritage is dependent on selection, conflict, and dilemma. In this context we need to understand the work of preserving and displaying digital games. Ongoing efforts across the world are part of a process where digital games are moving from unimportant objects for consumption, to be regarded as cultural heritage. At the same time, games pose new challenges for ALM-institutions, where, for example, the interactive nature of games may provide both opportunities and difficulties for preservation and exhibition.Today, critique is being leveraged against game exhibitions that focus on the original experience of playing games on original hardware (Prax, Sjöblom and Eklund, 2016). Even though this focus fulfills an important role by lifting games into the museum space, research has argued for a more critical engagement with gaming culture from an exhibition and preservation perspective. Both exhibitions as well as researchers have recently stepped back from the emphasis on playable games, and while they do not disregard it completely focus is additionally on the immaterial aspects of this culture(s). These include such things as the collection of user stories or themed spaces for games that aim to show more of the context in which these games were played (Nylund, 2015; Sköld, 2015, 2018).

increasingly proving to be central texts for gamers and gaming culture (Consalvo, 2017). It has also been argued that the preservation of playable games, but not that of the circumstances around them, is done by hobbyists and does thus not need to be the focus of professional preservationists (De Kosnik, 2016). However, this comes with its own set of problems, as private archives are more sensitive to loss and destruction. In any case, there is an unprecedented proliferation of videos, forum discussions, and cultural debate surrounding digital games that need to be taken into account in discussions of preservation and exhibition of digital gaming. Such texts (in a broad sense) are produced by both lay and professionals, and form a new challenge for the ALM-sector’s preservation and exhibition efforts.
The speed of the current development has left ALM-institutions with the challenge to quickly understand the relevance of games and adapt to their logics in structuring both the preservation and exhibition of games. This panel will discuss the growing pains of games as they are settling into their role in ALM-institutions, being remade to fit into these existing organisations all the while remaking them in turn. There are several questions of importance in these processes, which will be addressed by the individual presenters at the panel, as well as in a joint discussion.What is the relationship between ALM-actors and other stakeholders of game history? While a museum or archive have some ability to preserve and exhibit games, other stakeholders such as industry, collectors, and players themselves are also involved in these efforts. How should ALM-institutions work with these stakeholders?
What are the specific challenges facing ALM-institutions in game preservation and exhibition, and how can they be met? Are there any fundamental differences in the preservation and exhibition of games in comparison to other media or cultural forms?
If (digital) games are considered part of a multitude of cultures, and not solely material artefacts, in what ways can ALM-institutions work to preserve and exhibit games as immaterial cultural heritage? Are there any gaming cultures that are systematically omitted in preservation and exhibition? What does it mean for our understanding of digital games that they are becoming cultural heritage and thus part of preservation strategies?
The panel takes as a starting point the final report (du Reitz, 2018) from the project: Worlds of computer games, a recently concluded 3-year research project at the Swedish National Museum of Technology and from here charts out contemporary challenges and questions for future research. Three of the panelists (Eklund, Prax, Sjöblom) were part of this research project, each providing a different perspective on preservation and exhibition of digital games. The panel is organized together with Nylund from the Games Museum in Tampere, bringing yet another take on the work of the ALM-sector in this area. The session will be moderated by Jaakko Souminen, who has done substantial work on game histories. The aim is to take stock of the current state of the art in Scandinavian games studies when it comes to the above raised questions, as well as attempting to chart out the future of this emerging research field.
14:20-14:40 Break
14:40-16:00 Session 7
Sari Piittinen. Transgressions of deception: Player evaluations of a mysterious madman in Let’s Play videos of Fallout 3
This study examines, with a discourse analysis of Let’s Play narration, how players reproduce a human-centred viewpoint during a deceptive encounter with a non-player character and what aspects of the deception become transgressive to them.
Jaroslav Svelch. Living up to the lore: On the reception of video game monsters

Despite their omnipresence in the medium, video game monsters have mostly escaped scholarly attention. While the little literature that exists mostly employs textual analysis, this paper presents a study of reception of video game monsters in five mainstream single-player games: Alien: Isolation, Bayonetta, BioShock, The Witcher III, and XCOM 2, using data from discussion forums and focus groups. It argues that player discussions reflect the tension between sublime monstrosity (monsters as awe-inspiring, cognitively challenging and unknown) and contained monstrosity (monsters as an object of rational action and encyclopedic efforts). It will show that players’ expectations of video game monsters are somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand, players want them to be unique, surprising, and transgressive, but the other hand, they expect them to be fair, and consistent with the rest of the simulated game world.


Casper Boonen and Daniel Mieritz. Paralysing Fear: Player Agency Parameters in Horror Games
The horror video game genre is dedicated to building suspense and scaring its players. One of the ways in which it achieves this goal is through the manipulation of the player’s agency. With this paper, we seek to examine and identify elements used to manipulate the agency of the player in horror video games, to see how they can be used to evoke horror and dread within the player. To this purpose, a qualitative humanistic approach has been applied, through the analysis of six horror games. Our results indicate several common themes, found in the elements used to manipulate player agency. Based on these themes, we have developed an Agency Parameter Model, illustrating a hierarchical relationship between different categories used to manipulate agency. At the core of the model are three overarching categories: Player Character Parameters, System Parameters, and Player Parameters.
Dom Ford. Lost Futures: In the Presence of Long-Lost Civilisations in Open World Games
The long-lost, ancient civilisation that somehow had technology that far surpasses the current level is a common trope in videogames that feature large, open worlds. The Mass Effect trilogy (2007; 2010; 2012) features the Protheans, whose unparalleled feats of technology and engineering such as the mass relays laid the foundations for the galaxy Shepard steps into. Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) explores a primitive world littered with technological marvels left by the Old Ones. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) is centred around the Ancient Sheikah society, who 10,000 years prior to the game’s setting had developed teleportation between towers and shrines, powerful runes, and even a motorbike. Their technology was later used to build the giant mechanical Divine Beasts and Guardians. All this while the warriors of the day are still using steel swords.

In this paper, I will explore why this trope seems so prevalent in open-world games, how it changes the configuration of the gameworld, and how the player’s experience is shaped by it. My examination is framed around five intertwined terms and their theoretical context. Hauntology, presence, absence, lost futures, and nostalgia.

Gabriella Giannachi et al. describe ‘presence’ in the context of theatre as “the relationship between the live and mediated, on notions and effects of immediacy, authenticity and originality … the character of self-awareness, the performance and presentation of self and role … witnessing and interaction” (2012, 2). The authors also observe a relationship between presence and archaeology, that “concepts of ‘presence’, ‘aura’ and the ‘uncanny’ return of the past accompany an emphasis upon encounters with the cues or prompts of ‘site’ – with the sign or trace” (2012, 2-3). Presence is about the insertion of the self into an environment, linking yourself to the object or objects in question and linking them to you. As Josette Féral puts it, “the intellect seeks the object or being within themselves, in memory, recognizes it, and associates it with other qualities, other ‘mental images’,” (2012, 34).

The other side to presence is absence. Death, Rebecca Schneider notes, “appears to result in the paradoxical production of both disappearance and remains” (2012, 72). And, drawing from Jacques Derrida, she also states that “the archivable object also becomes itself through disappearance – as it becomes the trace of that which remains when performance (the artist’s action) disappears” (2012, 72).

What remains of long-lost civilisations harbours both a presence and an absence in the gameworld. The objects are present – they are there, the player interacts with them. But they also denote an absence: creation without creator. That absence is not a nothingness, rather a hole that reminds the player that there is an absence. In that sense, it is simultaneously there and not there. This is what Derrida calls ‘hauntology’. “Repetition and first time: this is perhaps the question of the event as question of the ghost” (Derrida 1994, 10). An object’s history is simultaneously its present. The ghost belongs to the past in the sense that it is the manifestation of the absence of that which it is the ghost of, and yet precisely because it is a ‘manifestation’ – it has presence – it cannot be said to belong to the past.

When discussing ‘lost futures’ and nostalgia, I borrow the former term from Mark Fisher. Building on Fredric Jameson’s writings, Fisher discusses the anachronism in contemporary pop culture. Today’s films and music evoke a nostalgia for a real or imagined past that has the effect of stalling innovation to a new future. Instead, we pine for the lost futures of the past, the what could have been rather than the what could be.

Viewing the remnants of long-lost civilisations through this lens provides an insight into how players experience the ruins, architecture, tools and weaponry left behind. Through my case studies, I will examine how the player interacting with these ‘ghosts’ affects the experience of play both ludically and through the narrative and gameworld. This analysis will culminate in four separate perspectives on ancient, long-lost civilisations and what they mean to the gameworld:

1. Long-lost civilisations as a ludically liberating force

Many of the core gameplay mechanics in Breath of the Wild come through Sheikah runes and the Sheikah Slate, a tablet-like device containing the game’s map, a camera, a bestiary and so on. By expanding the player’s possibility space via this ancient civilisation, the gameworld ties the exploration of the past to the expansion of their own abilities.

2. Long-lost civilisations as the weight of expectation and destiny

As a result, the player is haunted by the desires and motivations of the creators of the technology they use. Their history and ideology become inscribed on the technology used by the player and lingers even after their disappearance. This is heightened in Breath of the Wild by the expectations of the existing descendants of the Ancient Sheikah.

3. Long-lost civilisations as the source of dread

At the same time, however, the power of the technology is haunted by the absence of its creators. That is, the player is constantly reminded that, despite this powerful technology, that ancient people lost their battle or went extinct. How did they disappear? Will the same happen to me? How can we face that which defeated the long-lost civilisation when we have far less advanced technology? Uniquely by using such ancient technology, the player is made aware of the spectre of evil, the cause of their absence.

4. Long-lost civilisations as nostalgia and lost futures

But these ancient civilisations are also idolised and looked back at with nostalgia, despite them being far out of living memory. This act of remembrance is actually a forward-facing nostalgia. The nostalgia for a past that only exists in the imagination is actually more to do with what that imagination desires the future to look like. This nostalgia feeds into a resentment for that which destroyed the ancient civilisation, a longing for what could have been: the potential futures of that civilisation that are now lost.

16:00-16:30 Break
16:30-17:30 Session 8
Heikki Tyni. Spectating development: Backer perspectives on games crowdfunding
During the last decade, crowdfunding has become a significant new means to fund creative productions. Rather than being simply about acquiring the funded product or service, a closer look at crowdfunding reveals that backers attach many kinds of meanings and motivations to it. This article describes an exploratory study on backer motivations to participate in games crowdfunding. Utilizing two sets of data from an online survey, a quantitative section (N=426) and a qualitative section with open answers, it is found out that, among others, backers enjoy spectating game development, linking crowdfunding participation to new forms of consumption in the evolving media culture.
Dennis Jansen. A Universe Divided: Texts vs. Games in The Elder Scrolls
This paper seeks to understand how online fan-made archives function as spaces wherein fans of The Elder Scrolls construct its narrative universe together, using the web-based archive The Imperial Library as a primary tool that facilitates a certain type of fannish engagement known as ‘archontic fandom’. It uses fannish discussions surrounding the canonical status of several works within the universe as an entry point into one of the most important underlying controversies of The Elder Scrolls as a shared idea between its fans; that is, the tension between the ‘universe-as-games’ and the ‘universe-as-texts’. It finds that some fans give primacy to the written texts found within the universe, and neglect the universe-as-games in their world-building discussions. Consequentially, it argues that The Imperial Library’s paratextual functioning and overt emphasis on texts strengthen the position of the universe-as-texts in relation to the universe-as-games.
Maria Ruotsalainen and Usva Friman. «There Are No Women and They All Play Mercy»: Understanding and Explaining the (Lack of) Women’s Presence in Esports and Competitive Gaming
In our paper we examine how the lack of women’s presence in esports and competitive gaming is discussed. By analyzing discussions concerning women players on the official Overwatch forums as well as replies to an online questionnaire with Finnish women gamers, we aim to discover the most common reasons given by women gamers themselves as well as others to explain the lack of women in competitive gaming. We furthermore examine how women are discussed about in everyday gaming practices. We situate our findings to previous research on the area and argue that women continue to experience they have very little room on the top of the competitive gaming.