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Thursday, May 28 • 3:45pm - 5:15pm
Gameworlds, Objects and Learning in the Material Turn

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A combination session of two panels:

Digital Memory and Objects
Quinn Dupont, Ashley Scarlett, Sean Rupka and Clare Callahan

Deciphering the ontological parameters of digital objects has become an increasingly pressing line of inquiry within the digital humanities. With increasing rationalization and “black boxing” (Pasquale, 2015), it has become imperative that we question the source and authority of digital objects. Informed by the terms and political impetus of (digital) materialism, investigation into the status of digital objects is seen as offering grounded means through which to better conceptualize the submedial of contemporary media experience. To date, these projects have arisen largely in response to shifting intersections between culture and media. Digital humanities grapples with the development of experimental forms of reading and writing, the construction of humanities “labs”, and the processing of big data (or even better, “Big Humanities”) (Hayles & Pressman, 2013). What is becoming increasingly apparent through these projects is that the digital grounds of contemporary media, and their emerging objects, are unstable, and perceptibly unavailable. One of the underlying reasons for this is that contemporary media objects function within a temporal field that is simultaneously micro (Ernst, 2013) and deep (Zielinski, 2006); accounting for this simultaneity has thus far proven itself to be one of the significant aporias of our time. Overcoming this impasse has theoretical and practical implications for how contemporary media phenomena are understood within the digital humanities, while also exacting consequences outside of the academy in such fields as digital cultural heritage and intellectual property legislation.

According to Jussi Parikka (2012), the recent interest in digital objects has emerged at precisely the moment when a series of mediatic phenomena, such as ubiquitous computing and algorithmic futures (Hansen 2015), are systematically undermining established perceptions of what an object is. Complicating this matter further is the sense that digitality has given rise to new forms of techno-relational substance that philosophy is not yet equipped to account for (Bryant 2014). When entered into archives, the digital object suffers its material counterpart — through stasis, stability, fragility, and eventual ruin, the presumed timelessness of the digital gives way to mixed modes of material and temporal flux. To this end, as we navigate new (and increasingly hybrid) notions of objectivity (Hui 2012), the emergence of digital objects does not only pose significant implications for digital culture at large, but it also marks a novel moment in the history of philosophy, with reverberating effects for contemporary social and political thought.

Our panel seeks a means of inciting simultaneous and multi-scalar approaches to digital objects. Across the vectors of practice, materiality, process, and memory, each of our panelists will speak to foundational issues in digital humanities, while also advancing novel meditations on digital objects. Presentation topics include: The Material Futures of Digital Objects; Micro Time and Ordered Code; Digital Ontologies Future Histories; On the Acquisition of Media Art Objects.

The Real in the Realm: Examining Pedagogical Practices in the Game/Life Continuum
Erica Holan Lucci and Marissa Koors

This proposed curated panel session has been organized on the basis of the authors interest in videogames as they relate to the digital humanities landscape at large. As individual authors with varying perspectives on the topic, we have come together to begin a larger conversation on the following: How does game design innovate the pedagogy of traditional humanities fields by way of shifting how students in those fields are able to think about, engage with, and challenge their founding assumptions?

Presenter 1 - Erica Holan Lucci
In working with a broad range of gamers from ages 6 to 56, I have seen the powerful ways in which gaming and game design can impact a player’s learning schema beyond the immediate on-screen experience. I have found that from an early age learners’ attitudes toward playing and designing video games can be situated on something resembling a Punnett square: there are some children who like to play games but not design them, there are others who like to design but not to play, there are still others who enjoy both designing and playing, and finally there are some who have interest in neither aspect of games. But regardless of where they fall on this spectrum, students can still derive a meaningful experience from game design by honing their creative, critical, and systems thinking skills. It is more difficult to classify adult teacher-gamers, who may have enjoyed playing video games when they were students, but unlike the children I have worked with, in general lacked the opportunity and means to design their own games. Consequently, these teacher-gamers, motivated by their passion for gaming and its ability to refine important practical and theoretical skills, are encouraging their students to create games in class during the school day. My co-presenters on this panel will discuss the pedagogical value of games and game design in particular humanities fields in order to elaborate further upon the advantages of their use in the classroom.

Presenter 2 - Alainya Kavaloski
I suggest here that augmented reality games provide a new way to think about narrative structure in an interactive learning environment. The GPS-based platforms I investigate imbue location with new dynamic experiences and generate multiple meanings within a specific geographical location. The text, image, and animation on the screen, project layers of meaning onto a particular space, thus transforming a seemingly static spatial environment into a kind of palimpsest, making abstract ideas or histories immediately experiential and relevant. Locative-based game design has particularly exciting possibilities for learning. For example, as a student builds a game, she is compelled to think about the ways that the story structure (the narrative development/divergence, the pathways of the game, the conceptual architecture) and the design elements of the game (sounds, images, colors) affect the structures of knowledge within the game, the story arc, the affective augmented environment of the player, and the learning outcomes that result from these combination of choices. As students craft stories or experiences for other users, they reflect on the processes that affect the ways they think about and perceive the world around them.

Presenter 3 - Marissa Koors
Using a mythic “death of theory” as impetus to think about new opportunities for pedagogical growth, I suggest that games, as playable and dynamic ludonarrative models, can meaningfully engage students in the complex systems of critical theory. As systems for creating meaning, games that deploy theoretical ideas can involve players with them in a practical and ludic way. Such processes, in which the player perforce discovers, explores, and challenges existing power structures through gameplay, become what I term inhabitable criticism. I analyze games that prompt players to question the founding assumptions of the game qua game as evidence of the potential for ludic systems to contain and produce inhabitable criticism. By placing students in both the role of player and designer in the classroom, games become part of a reading practice for criticism by way of providing a system of representation into which students are invited to create and explore the conditions and possibility of play within a bound structure. Such a methectic criticism has the potential to provide a new avenue into the study of critical theory for a generation of students in higher education for whom the intractability of traditional pedagogical approaches obstructs engagement.

avatar for Nathan Kelber

Nathan Kelber

Digital Projects Manager, Detroit Historical Society
Historian of play, games, and drama. Organizer of Network Detroit digital humanities conference. Manager of Digital Projects at the Detroit Historical Society.

avatar for Quinn Dupont

Quinn Dupont

PhD Student, University of Toronto
Quinn DuPont studies the intersections of code, new media, philosophy, and history, with particular attention to the role of cryptography in contemporary life. Using the approaches and methodologies of critical code studies, software studies, digital humanities, and new media studies... Read More →
avatar for Marissa Koors

Marissa Koors

I am a recent graduate of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing program at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. I primarily work and write in the intersection of critical theory and games studies, and am interested in theorizing and developing an inhabitable criticism wherein... Read More →
avatar for Erica Holan Lucci

Erica Holan Lucci

Instructional Design Specialist, Rutgers University
#edtech, #highered, #gbl, #gamification, #videogames, #learning, #design, #pedagogy, #momming, #scrapbooking, #crafts, #halloween, #jackskellington, #harrypotter, #travel, #research, #anything!
avatar for Ashley Scarlett

Ashley Scarlett

University of Toronto
Research Interests: Contemporary Art ; Media Art; Media Studies & Theory; Research Methods My current research explores the material grounds of digital phenomena through aesthetic means. This project stems from process-oriented interviews that I conducted with forty contemporary... Read More →

Thursday May 28, 2015 3:45pm - 5:15pm EDT
Centennial Room Kellogg Center

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