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Über dieses Buch

This book starts with the proposition that digital media invite play and indeed need to be played by their everyday users. Play is probably one of the most visible and powerful ways to appropriate the digital world. The diverse, emerging practices of digital media appear to be essentially playful: Users are involved and active, produce form and content, spread, exchange and consume it, take risks, are conscious of their own goals and the possibilities of achieving them, are skilled and know how to acquire more skills. They share a perspective of can-do, a curiosity of what happens next? Play can be observed in social, economic, political, artistic, educational and criminal contexts and endeavours. It is employed as a (counter) strategy, for tacit or open resistance, as a method and productive practice, and something people do for fun.
The book aims to define a particular contemporary attitude, a playful approach to media. It identifies some common ground and key principles in this novel terrain. Instead of looking at play and how it branches into different disciplines like business and education, the phenomenon of play in digital media is approached unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries. The contributions in this book provide a glimpse of a playful technological revolution that is a joyful celebration of possibilities that new media afford. This book is not a practical guide on how to hack a system or to pirate music, but provides critical insights into the unintended, artistic, fun, subversive, and sometimes dodgy applications of digital media.
Contributions from Chris Crawford, Mathias Fuchs, Rilla Khaled, Sybille Lammes, Eva and Franco Mattes, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Michael Nitsche, Julian Oliver, and others cover and address topics such as reflective game design, identity and people's engagement in online media, conflicts and challenging opportunities for play, playing with cartographical interfaces, player-emergent production practices, the re-purposing of data, game creation as an educational approach, the ludification of society, the creation of meaning within and without play, the internalisation and subversion of roles through play, and the boundaries of play.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Learning, Reflection and Identity

Frontmatter

Questions Over Answers: Reflective Game Design

Reflection is the mental process that occurs when we encounter situations that cannot be effectively dealt with using previous experiences and solutions. For decades, it has been acknowledged as an important process in learning, and in recent years it has become a central focus of branches of interaction design. Games are highly appropriate vehicles for triggering and supporting reflection, but several of the dominant tropes of conventional game design directly work against reflection. In serious games, the promise of safe environments, the drive to pose problems with clear solutions and a preference for stealth learning complicate how directly we can design for reflection. In mainstream entertainment games, qualities such as immersion and the design traditions of designing for the everyplayer and quantifying motivation again run counter to a reflective agenda. Drawing on the critical and reflective design literature and on case studies of experimental games on the peripheries of mainstream game design, I propose reflective game design, a new alternative design agenda from which to design, deconstruct and make sense of play experiences.
Rilla Khaled

Playing the Subject

Today identities are considered fragmented and multiple; they are ever-changing performances. However, recent discourse surrounding identity suggests the way we engage in online media can actually essentialise identities through social sorting , creating positive feedback loops and by commodifying niche communities. We illustrate our thinking by looking at examples of current online applications that are concerned with identity and investigate how artists play with and subvert these constructs by playing many selves and producing caricatures. We do this in order to advance a discourse of identity in an age of pervasive social media .
Tom Penney, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller

The Potential of the Contradictory in Digital Media—The Example of the Political Art Game PoliShot

When we created PoliShot , a political Dada game and interactive installation , we were confronted quite unexpectedly with the question of what is morally or ethically tolerable in digital games. When it was exhibited, it provoked shocked and concerned reactions from curators and visitors alike. The stumbling block was the use of violence , or more specifically, asking the players to act violently in the game. We take our experiences as an occasion to enquire into and discuss the contradictions of the actual and the virtual , of concept and content . We attempt to draw historical and contemporary parallels and reflect on how art production is not limited to the work, but includes the artists and the audience as essential players in a dynamic system of meanings, motives, and interpretations, full of (un)intended and (un)anticipated conflicts, provocations , breakdowns and shifts, creating exciting and challenging opportunities for play.
Susanne Grabowski, Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath

The Phylogeny of Play

A deeper understanding of the psychology of human play can be obtained by rehearsing the evolution of play. Its roots can be traced back millions of years; with the passage of time , play behaviors became more complex and more closely attuned to specific behavioral needs. Play reached its apex of complexity in Homo sapiens. Understanding this process reveals important lessons about education and game design . Play is a universal human behavior; every culture engages in some form of culturally defined play. The roots of play stretch far back in time .
Chris Crawford

Dingbats Fucktory

DINGBATS FUCKTORY consists of six videos made up from thousands of dingbats, TrueType fonts used as ornaments or specific signs in any computer application .
Pedro Luis Cembranos

System, Society, Empowerment

Frontmatter

Destabilizing Playgrounds: Cartographical Interfaces, Mutability, Risk and Play

In this chapter I will examine the triadic relation between play, digital mapping and power . I look at how playing with cartographical interfaces is a central and never neutral activity to digital mapping that invites users to change cartographic landscapes in playful and subversive ways, and thus containing potential to changing the very nature of maps and the spatial relations they invite us to produce. Since the emergence of digital maps, cartography has changed drastically. Digital maps allow for a greater degree of two-way interaction between map and user than analogue maps. Users are not just reading maps but can constantly influence the shape and look of the map itself. Used on our mobile phones, on our computers or as satnavs in our cars, maps have become more personal—transforming while we navigate with and through them. Digital maps have thus altered our conception of maps as ‘objectified’ representations of space that has been a touchstone for centuries (Anderson 1991; de Certeau 1984; Crampton 2001; Harley et al. 1988). Instead, I will argue in this chapter, maps have become more open to playful , subjective and subversive practices. Play is understood here as a range of activities that go beyond ordinary life by taking on a playful attitude (Cermak-Sassenrath 2013) and as activities of pleasure (Fiske 1993) although not necessarily fun (cf. Malaby 2007). I will probe is where exactly this room to play resides in the particular case of digital mapping and to what extent this gives users agency . Certainly, the image of the map has become mutable and seems to be open to play, but that does not necessarily mean that the power lies solely in the hands of the player/user. How does power work in such ever-transforming neo-cartographies and what affordances does the user/player have to change power -relations?
Sybille Lammes

Crafting Through Playing

Through productive play, the process of playing itself is reframed as a form of crafting. The essay explores the context for playing as crafting as it draws from craft research and game studies to present a different view of emergent play. Huizinga’s definition of play serves as a starting point into a shift to craft-like practices, which are illustrated with a discussion of selected machinima work that serves as example for this concept of playing as crafting. Finally, the overlap between playing and crafting is discussed as an example for critical making.
Michael Nitsche

Playmakers in the Maldives

This chapter describes the Playmakers in the Maldives project , a collaborative work made for the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show at the 55th Venice Biennale. The project involved ten international game designers collaborating with the Maldivian communities and individuals to create games and play events in the public spaces of the Maldivian capital island Malé. We present the games developed and describe some of the issues that we faced during the project .
Amani Naseem, William Drew, Viktor Bedö, Sidsel Hermansen

A Civilized Society

We hired several anonymous crowdsourcing workers through an online marketplace and asked them to protest in front of their Webcams.
Eva Mattes, Franco Mattes

Mis-use, Struggle, Control

Frontmatter

Sonification in an Artistic Context

After only 18 years, the 21st century might already be called the century of data. Internet usage has boomed and terabytes of data are being generated every day. Hence, it comes as no surprise that these data are used in ways other than originally intended. Data visualization as well as data sonification has become a widespread practice for scientific and artistic purposes. In the case of their use in artistic contexts, visualization and sonification are not limited to simply conveying information to users. Artists can use data to control specific elements of their works such as musical or visual parameters, reinterpreting the data, and creating awareness and engagement. In doing so, the artists transform abstract data into an aesthetic experience . This chapter focuses on sonification and discusses some projects that use the pair “data-sound” as a key building block. Looking at these projects, an aesthetic framework for sonification in an artistic context is then proposed.
Samuel Van Ransbeeck

Little Big Learning: Subversive Play/GBL Rebooted

Game-based learning is a buzzword heard with increasing frequency in educational technology circles, but these discussions often proceed with an insufficient understanding of the nature of play in a social and cultural context . This chapter problematises some common approaches to game-based learning by exploring social dynamics and relations of power to propose a more critically disruptive model of game-based learning . Using the Little Big Planet franchise as a case study, it argues that game-based learning serves little purpose if it replicates authority -centred, transmissive ideas of learning , and that focussing on players/students as the producers (not just consumers) of digital texts for learning is significantly more productive.
Chad Habel, Andrew Hope

Subversive Gamification

Since the beginning of this decade, Gamification has become a buzzword for marketing , advertising and behavioural management, but also an accurate description of a fundamental shift in modern society : “Gamification is the permeation of society with methods, metaphors and attributes of games” (Fuchs 2012). Graphic game design elements, rule structures and ludic interfaces are exceedingly used by corporations to create and manage brand loyalty and to increase profits. This chapter aims at stirring up common sense notions of gamification as a marketing tool and will discuss alternative artistic concepts, activist tactics and subcultural strategies aiming at a subversive ludification of society.
Mathias Fuchs

Constant beyond Gamification: Deep Play in Political Activism

Playful practices in historic and contemporary forms of political “activism ” had a traceable impact in the formation of political consciousness and identity in everyday life . The following analysis reflects the social implications of such political ideas about play as principle and follows trajectories of political agency through a close look at the author’s work as game artist in her project Ludic Society and the play with identity (mimicry ), performance , and creative practice in social and arts avant-garde experiments . It compares the ethnographic concept of Deep Play (Geertz, The interpretation of cultures, theory of culture 1973) with current concepts of activist role play, social intervention , and public protest against certain conditions of work, society , and urbanity. The chapter finds its creative and intellectual leitmotif in “ludic ” activist arts connected to contemporary forms of game arts and political role play. Its claim for the efficacy of such ludic practices is informed by the theoretical concept of Deep Play .
Margarete Jahrmann

Place, Reality, Meaning

Frontmatter

Tricksters, Games and Transformation

This chapter weaves together trickster figures, emerging game formats and transformative learning theories, and explores relationships between these discourses and experiences. Tricksters are argued to have new twenty-first century Western relevance . Augmented Reality and Alternate Reality Games are described as trickster tools. A potential relationship between these tools and transformative learning is outlined.
Maggie Buxton

Makin’ Cake—Provocation, Self-confrontation, and the Opacity of Play

Players can do the most extraordinary things in games without raising an eyebrow. Here, three specific questions are discussed: What do objects and actions in games mean? How are these meanings constructed? By and for whom? It is argued that players most naturally understand and know perfectly well what their actions in games mean and how they relate to everyday life: Actions in play are blank, and mean nothing. Meaning is only created within play, in a fluid, dynamic, and collaborative process, over time, based on an implicit understanding and shared practice. Meaning is not seen as abstract truth and values, for all times and across all cultures, but relative: something gains meaning for somebody, in a particular situation and context. The interactive installation Makin’ Cake demonstrates the issue of the meaning of play activities within and without play by providing an immediate and provocative experience to players and spectators.
Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath

Free of Charge

Free of Charge is a participatory artwork that was first presented at the Splore Music Festival in New Zealand in 2012. It is staged as a mock airport security check procedure that is modified to measure visitors’ static electrical charge. Participants pass through the security checkpoint and are measured for charge before being electrically grounded and discharged. The artwork and its site are described in detail and the rationale for the work developed. It is discussed in relation to the post-9/11 security apparatus and the concept of security theatre , and this is contrasted with aspects of the work that deal with health and wellness around static electricity . Through these lenses, response to authority and the internalisation and subversion of roles are examined.
Julian Priest

Playing on the Edge

Everything gets more interesting, challenging, or intense the closer it gets to the edge, and so does play. How edgy can play become and still be play? Based on Huizinga’s notion of play, this chapter discusses how a wide range of playful activities pushes the boundaries of play in different and specific ways. For instance, gambling for money, party and drinking games, professional play and show sports, art installations, violent and military propaganda computer games, pervasive/mobile gaming, live-action role playing, festivals, performances, and games such as Ghosting and Planking. It is argued that in concert with a number of characteristics that mark an activity as play, play is essentially a subjective perspective and individual decision of the player. Huizinga calls this attitude the play spirit, which informs a player’s actions and is in turn sustained by them. Edgy digital or mobile games do not challenge this position, but make it more obvious than traditional games that play is not only an activity, but a concept.
Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath

Backmatter

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