Day 1, Stream 1


Andrew Murphie: Arts & Media, University of NSW, Australia


Eva Kekou: Greece

Damien Charrieras: School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong

Olli Tapio Leino: School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong

Benjamin Poynter: University of Nevada Reno, United States



Eva Kekou  “Game is not over yet!”

Contemporary cities are economic centers and engines of innovation but they are also generators of poverty, pollution and home to plenty social problems. Administrating a city is balancing out all these factors, admitting that many are just too difficult to grasp.
Games in the form of rule –based, quantitative urban simulation models are more capable of describing, simulating and predicting urban scenarios but also to pro-actively create new urban landscapes. Games can be easily accessible and understood, so they allow non-experts to participate in procedures that would normally occur behind closed doors, truly a paradox, given the fact that the city is something that concerns all of us. Future Institute in New York, predicts that 3 billion hours a week are spent on online games. Even if designers could engage 1% of the global amount of players in true urban planning processes online, that would already be a significant population of people responsively altering their urban environment.
In the recent years, a big amount of initiatives have appeared that use game- like structures to engage people in an active attitude towards their cities. The development of social media and the widespread use of smart phones are two major enablers for these platforms that allow their users to map problems, propose solutions and ideas or express their desires about their neighbourhoods. I. In this paper we will examine a series of virtual platforms that, using game-like structures, try to answer real questions about real cities through the eyes of their inhabitants. Depending on the goal and structure of each of these platforms, public participation can lead to the administration of a city block, the organisation of a community garden, the redesign of a park or the development of new program for abandoned office building.


Damien Charrieras  The politics of metacreation: the processual effectivities of game engines across Industries and New Media Art

This research addresses the impact of technological mediations on the contemporary creative practices of production in interactive games and new media arts. More specifically, our research focuses on game engines that offer a set of functionalities to handle graphics, sound, artificial intelligence processes during the production of video games.
What are the specificity/effectivities of interactive games as a medium? This question has been addressed by numerous researchers in the field of game/new media studies (Galloway, 2006). Aware of this latest developments, the originality of our approach, anchored in a material analysis of new technologies (Cubitt, 1998; Fuller, 2005; MacKenzie, 2006; Munster, 2006), is to address this question through the study of game engines rather than through the study of the specific form of interactive narratives found in video games (Ryan, 2006) or through the ludic qualities of video games (Aarseth, 2001).
Our research aims to study the effectivities of the production/circulation of game engines inside a complex media ecology that includes companies specializing in their production, game publishers, independent game developers, modders who modify video game content and digital artist communities using video game engines to produce works of art (Krapp, 2011). This circulation continuously redefines the game engine at a technological level (the set of functions they can perform as a software technology) and at a cultural level (the creative practices such engines are enmeshed with). It leads us to focus on the processes that constitute continuously the game engines (Barker, 2012) as well as on the effectivities of game engines on the media ecology pertaining to its scattering/distribution. A better description of the circulation and effectivities of game engines between heterogeneous human and non-human actors is crucial to understand the multiple ways in which interactive games inform in singular ways the contemporary forms of cultural production.


Olli Tapio Leino  Empathetic Hermeneutics for Playable Art

The relationship between play, interactivity, and art, is ambiguous, to say the least. Furthermore, normative positions on how this relationship should be negotiated prevail. (e.g. Palmer 2008, Leino 2011, Kirkpatrick 2011) . Continuing the discussion started at “Playing the Non-Playful” panel at ISEA2011, this essay considers the existence of playable art as a fait accompli and explores empathy as overcoming the challenges these works pose for interpretation, analysis and critique.

Playable artworks have been established, as ‘ontological hybrids’ whose interpretation requires making reference not only to the object, but also to process and experience (Leino 2012). They have been said to embody principles of ‘procedurality’ (e.g. Bogost) and be ‘algorithmic’ by their nature (e.g. Galloway 2006). These properties challenge the traditional methods of analysis, critique and interpretation of playable artworks at least in the following two ways. ‘Textual’ methods, which treat the object as a static constellation of representations, fail to grasp the emergent potentialities that lie behind the individual finitude encountered by the user. ‘Contextual’ methods, which emphasize situatedness by focusing on relating the object to its surrounding discourses and offer readings that transcend the individual objects, fail to grasp the intrinsic meanings encoded in the technological materiality of the objects.

Looking at cutting edge examples of playability at the overlap of new media art and independent computer games, this paper examines whether Agosta’s (2010) “special hermeneutic of empathy” could be used to bridge the gap between the ‘textual’ and ‘contextual’ positions. Following the existential-phenomenological line of argument from Sokolowski (1999), and Solomon, it is assumed that empathy, as sensitivity, receptivity, or even “solidarity” (Solomon 2006, 71) to the ways in which others see the world, originating in the commonly shared human condition, can provide a common ground to sustainable assumptions of intersubjective significance upon interactive and playable artworks.


Benjamin Poynter  A Serious Game : New Media, Censorship, and the Spectacle

An austere reality of the 21st century human identity is denial towards the self-myth. Forces further than perception bestow surveillance upon Western and Eastern civilization to the effect of weaving simulacrum from the most tangible of artifacts we interact with. Narrative, dreams, and romanticism projected from new media often comes at an unseen labor. This taboo is due to dialogue between virtual realities and who is employing its mirage to shield a massacre in action.

A complete work I propose for demonstration is a mobile game application that assaulted this reality from a political vernacular. For its efforts and a timeline of 900 work hours to this date, it received removal and censorship from the Apple iTunes merchandise store. Since the exodus of entitled In a Permanent Save State from distribution, it has received international tech and political media coverage throughout the viral blogosphere. It is an artwork heavily critical of the human rights violations surrounding electronic media devices produced by Apple itself, gaming outlets, and the Chinese labor campus Foxconn.

In a Permanent Save State is a cerebral, fantasy driven application about these happenings. It serves as a game that falls into the evolving category of ‘serious games’ or if you will ‘games for change’. The interconnected narrative it tells sheds nameless perspective upon the Western spectacle vs. the Eastern dream. It chronicles the afterlives of seven migrant workers who died in the Foxconn factories. There is an effort to deconstruct the idea of where the games we cherish come from and an effort to deconstruct the video game form itself. Those who assemble the dreams of this world now have their own at a fatal cost.