[csaa-forum] Digital Media Research Seminar ­ Ben Abraham and Adam Ruch, 4 October

Ned Rossiter N.Rossiter at uws.edu.au
Wed Sep 26 13:12:04 CST 2012

Digital Media Research Seminar – Ben Abraham and Adam Ruch, 4 October

School of Humanities & Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney

Date: Thursday 4 October
Time: 2-4pm
Venue: EB2.21 Parramatta Campus, UWS, Cnr of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere.

All welcome.

Please RSVP by 2 October to Robyn Mercer r.mercer at uws.edu.au

Ben Abraham, School of Humanities & Communication Arts, UWS

Twitter, ‘Discursive Activism’, and the Shame Tactic
On the 13th of August a minor controversy erupted in the videogame criticism twittersphere following the publication of an interview with John Hemingway, a lead developer on the hotly anticipated title Borderlands 2. In the interview, Hemmingway referred to a newbie friendly gameplay mode as the ‘girlfriend mode’, in what seemed another eye-rolling typical example of the casual sexism endemic to many parts of the game development community. This attitude would often elicit an exasperated comment, and be offered up as evidence of the continued importance of anti-sexist activism and education. But on this occasion the comments sparked a controversy with a number of prominent activist community members who were understandably incensed and infuriated by the developer’s comments.

Their response entailed a ‘silent boycott’, enforced primarily by statements ‘shaming’ others into the boycott: ‘You should not be okay with giving money to sexists’, was the clear implication. The argument demonstrated a clear desire for communal action, but which found itself limited by the frame of consumer/producer relations within the capitalist marketplace. The ‘shame tactic’ presents a significant innovation, an attempt at collective action through a kind of cultural enforcement, reflecting similar processes to what Frances Shaw has identified as ‘discursive activism’ in the Australian feminist blogosphere. In this talk I will discuss the importance of this tactic, as an innovative communal strategy, and also suggest that it may prove insufficient on its own as an activist tactic within the market place.

Ben Abraham is a PhD student from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney Australia, writing about videogame criticism and internet communities. In 2009 he started the blog Critical Distance in order to highlight excellent videogame blogging, writing and criticism from outside the mainstream. His writing has been published online at Gamasutra, Kotaku Australia, and in print with KillScreen Magazine and the Halo and Philosophy anthology.

Adam Ruch, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

Literary Games: The Ancestry of Videogame’s Lore
Understanding a particular videogame is a complicated and involved task. It is possible to dwell on mechanics and interactions in order to describe the ‘gameplay’ of a videogame. It is equally possible to focus on aesthetic issues, and relationships of the videogame’s fictional content to literary, dramatic or filmic traditions. Even better is to combine the two, acknowledging the dynamic nature of the game as fundamental to the experience of its fiction. This discussion will approach two videogames from the latter angle. Grand Theft Auto IV and World of Warcraft will be examined here. I will explore GTA's relationship to the themes of modernist literature including Woolf and Eliot through the lens of the city. For World of Warcraft, I will outline a more straight-forward intertextuality between Warcraft and the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft. These two contrasting examinations will demonstrate two varied relationships videogames may have to other forms of story.

Adam Ruch has recently submitted his PhD Thesis, entitled ‘Understanding Videogames: 3 Genres for Criticism’. His research focuses on different ways to approach and understand various kinds of videogames, from the social and competitive, dramatic and literary, and spatial and performative practices. He also writes games criticism for various media outlets including PC PowerPlay, Kotaku Australia, and Games.on.net.

Ned Rossiter
Professor of Communication
School of Humanities and Communication Arts
University of Western Sydney
Sth Werrington Campus
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
+ 61 2 9852 5196 (tel)
+ 61 2 9852 5424 (fax)
n.rossiter at uws.edu.au<mailto:n.rossiter at uws.edu.au>

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