Changing Views: Worlds in Play

June 16, 2005

Changing Views: Worlds in Play
Vancouver, British Columbia
June 16 – 20, 2005
Digital gaming’s ability to generate a culture which immerses and absorbs its participants has made it an object of new millennial ‘moral panic’, widely threatening to those at its borders. And in many ways, it is. The phenomenal success of popular culture to initiate a mass audience in patterns and practices of its own consumption has supported the evolution of an enormously powerful mass entertainment industry extending deeply into every aspect of our lives.
In a global context, digital games are both products and producers of collisions between traditionally disconnected cultural spheres: work and leisure, fact and fiction, home and away, education and entertainment.
Often dismissed as sapping, rather than developing, players’ intelligence, it is becoming increasingly clear that digital games have realized a winning combination of complex strategies, sophisticated narratives, and compelling contextual meanings that sustain player attention – and player intelligence. In digital gaming, the player has agency, and, increasingly, in far more than a trivial sense, significant meanings have ‘play’.
What mobilizations of desire and pleasure do contemporary computer-based gaming and play embody? What new directions are being created and imagined, and what models are offered for new approaches to ‘serious play’ in local and global contexts? As knowledge, information and skill development become increasingly accessible outside the confines of formal education and training, entertainment-oriented commercial gaming continues to advance by leaps and bounds in its ability to attract, sustain and keep players engaged and immersed through pleasurable play-based and voluntary activities. These cultural shifts call for a dramatic change of view as we reshape and rethink the place of digital games now and in the future.
State-of-the-art games today can embody the most sophisticated technology and the most fully developed applications of programming capabilities available in the public domain. Following DIGRA’s lead in defining a program of serious research into gaming technologies and the cultures and practices they support, this conference is dedicated to building common ground between game research, design and development, learning and collaboration in its myriad forms: its object is the exploration of ‘serious play’, demonstrating new arenas and applications for digital gaming and incorporating leading edge technologies, designs and models in our changing views about what is involved in gaming and play.