Got this heads up from
A digital game is an extremely complex social and technological phenomenon. Games are not isolated entities that one can effectively study in vitro. Games are situated in culture and society. To truly understand the phenomenon of digital games, it is not enough to merely study the games themselves or short-term impacts as described by laboratory experiments – they are only part of the story. Indeed digital games cannot be considered for study until certain socio-economic and technological preconditions for production take place. Their context begins when the games are marketed and circulated, and they reach the hands of players. Context continues to build as potential players satisfy certain prerequisites: resources to obtain a console or a PC, time and motivations to play games, and skills to enjoy sometimes very complex digital games. We need to understand not just narratological and ludological content of the games, but also the industrial and economic contexts that produce digital games, and the socio-cultural backgrounds that produce game players and generate gameplay. In short, to understand games, we need to look at them from multitude of different perspectives.
To make the case even more complex, while games are ubiquitous, they are geographically diverse, and game play is local. Games are produced and consumed differently in Japan and in North America. Online games have different meanings and functions in Korea and in Europe. When we look at the situatedness of games, we see more cultural diversity in games, even beyond the superficiality of geo-political boundaries into myriad sub-cultures that might find unifying interests across traditional cultural lines. Gameplay is messy. Yet we must strive to understand it, even if it means pulling together many small pieces of the overall puzzle together, in hope that the whole might reveal itself over time.
We, therefore, need to unite. We need to mobilize all those who can provide any insights about digital games, from academia to industry, across a wide range of disciplines and expertise. In particular, we need to gather voices from around the world to better reflect a wide range of experience and perspective. Tokyo will be an excellent place for game researchers from around the world to meet, and an excellent place for game studies scholars to talk with practitioners from game industry. We propose that this conference be an opportunity to bridge West and East, Industry and Academia, the result being a greater holistic understanding of games, their impacts, and potential in our world.
The only problem I have with ‘Situated Play’ is after all that rhetoric about diversity they keep referring to digital games only. Are they seriously limiting the conference to digital games only?!