DIGRA 2018

DIGRA 2018 Conference: The game is the message

Following Marshall McLuhan, we see games as extensions of ourselves. They recalibrate our senses. They redefine our social relationships. Their “content” is less important than the environment they create. As dramatic models of our psychological lives providing release of particular tensions, they reveal a lot about society. Their message is their effect. Games changeus.

Moreover, games introduce new sets of relations between observers, modes of perception, textualities and technologies, within a broad network of power relations. They reconfigure our attention, establishing new patterns and forms of engagement. In an age of pervasive multitasking and constant distractions, games demand a great deal of scrutiny. (No) pun intended.

On the other hand, games produce meaning. If the game is – or carries – the message, how is this conveyed to the player? How do we know that a game is about something? More specifically what modes of signification or aesthetic devices are used by games that claim to be about serious topics or deal with political and social issues?

In other cases, games are the content of different media projects. Playthroughs, let’s play videos, live streaming on platforms such as Twitch transform video games into messages to be delivered via alternative channels, turning players into spectators. How are games experienced in these scenarios? How can we describe and examine the complex interweaving of practices found in these hybrid media environments?

Finally, The Game is the Message acts as a provocation and an invitation to move beyond the idea that narrative is the main mode of communication of video games. In this sense, we ask participants to reflect on how contingencies such as material and economic constraints, production tools, and player interventions contribute to the process of signification.

In other words, what is the language of games? How do they speak?