Think Design Play, 5th DiGRA conference
hosted by Utrecht School of the Arts
Playing with Fire
keynote by Suzanne de Castell and Jen Jenson
(16 september 2011)
Gender continues to come under fire both within the field of digital game studies and across its broad domain of reference: digital entertainment culture, science, and technology. Drawing from recent research on gender and digital games, we explain and demonstrate ways that tropes of play, entertainment and other ‘magically encircled’ practices continue to ignite brush fires they do not even attempt to contain, at a cost that continues to be considerable for women specifically, and for the advancement of digital games studies more generally. Contesting ‘libertarian ludologies’ means de-fusing, then re-fusing, this time ‘with a difference’, received normative discourses and practices in game studies. Identifying specific methodological, epistemic, aesthetic, and ethical flames still being fanned and very much alive in contemporary gender focused games theory, research, design and practice, we conclude by describing a current project FiG (Feminists in Games) that seeks to more productively advance conditions of play for all concerned by attending to ‘player experience’ more diversely conceived and through a methodological turn that positions research as design.
Anyone interested in feminist initiatives in games research, design, development are welcome to attend the first meeting of a new organization, Feminists in Games, an international project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to support the design and implementation of local, feminist interventionist research projects.
Suzanne de Castell is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. Her doctorate is from Senate House at the University of London, and she has published widely on educational history, philosophy and theory, literacy studies, gender/technology studies and digital games and education. Her current research centres on multimodal analysis of educational interactions, learning and attention in formal and non-formal environments, and identity and activity in game-based multiplayer worlds. Working with Jen Jenson and Nick Taylor she has designed and developed several educational video games, her favourite being a baroque music game their team developed for the world-famous Toronto-based Baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik.
Jen Jenson is Associate Professor of Pedagogy and Technology in the Faculty of Education at York University. Her published work is on gender and technology, sociocultural contexts of gameplay, digital games and education, and educational policy and policy practices in K-12 schooling in Canada. Her most recent work involves the study of players' identities and practices in massively multiplayer online games. She has also designed and created a number of educationally focused video games with Suzanne de Castell and Nick Taylor and their most recent work includes the development of mobile games for school-aged children.