Research symposium, "Computer Gaming Across Cultures: Perspectives from Three Continents"

Prof Astrid Ensslin from the the School of Creative Studies and Media is organising a trilateral research symposium, "Computer Gaming Across  Cultures: Perspectives from Three Continents", to be held in JP Seminar Room (former TV Studio), on Wednesday, 8th May, 9.00h to 17.00h.

The event is funded by the British Council, under its UKIERI (UK-US-India Education and Research Initiative) scheme, and will feature presentations by speakers from West Virginia University, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, and Bangor University. The keynote lecture will be given by Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart (University of Chichester), one of the UK's leading scholars in Games Studies.

Speakers will focus on a wide range of highly topical subjects, for example:

- The Politics of Video Game Research in Ivy League Institutions
 - Gender limits in World of Warcraft
 - Guilds and corporations in World of Warcraft
 - Gaming communities, diversity and change
 - Video Games and Terror
 - Computer gaming in India: technological and gender divides
 - power structures and colonialism in computer games
 - Virtual worlds and cognitive science
 - Massively Multiplayer Games and education
 - Game-coding as educational platform

 Attendance is free. Everybody welcome, even if you can only attend individual sessions.

Title and abstract of keynote lecture by Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart: #1reasonwhy: Gaming Communities, Diversity and Change.
Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart

In recent years we have seen huge changes in gaming, from the rise and fall of MMOs, to the development of extensive communities who celebrate games and help them to develop as a new cultural medium. As gaming grows up, it has started to turn a more critical eye on its own progression and the content it produces. The games industry is becoming increasingly aware that it needs to change; that it should identify moments where diversity can happen, and that it needs a more
sophisticated approach towards negative stereotypes or problematic narratives and ideas. The gamer demographic is changing, and developers want to respect this via the titles they create. Whilst mistakes are still being made (for example, the 'girlfriend'™ mode of Borderlands 2, or the continued use of ''booth babes' to advertise game titles),
games are starting to improve the ways they represent gender, sexuality, body types and race.

However, as a result of these changes a strange and contrary movement has arisen in gaming culture. A small but vocal minority are actively working to suppress these voices  and the alarming thing is that this minority consists of gamer themselves.

This paper examines some of the ways that games, and gamers, are trying to deal with diversity and representation in games. I will examine some of the recent controversies that have affected games, how that gaming communities are responding, and I will also temper critique of existing issues with more positive responses to the genre which are attempting to change it for the better.

Publication date: 1 May 2013