Talk by Dr Emil Lundedal Hammar: Cultural Memory & Digital Games: Hegemonic Pasts Through Production, Games, and Play

7th May 2022, 19:00 Indian Standard Time

Title: Cultural Memory & Digital Games: Hegemonic Pasts Through Production, Games, and Play.


Abstract
This presentation investigates the relation between digital games and common understandings of the past, which people experience through popular culture, formally called ‘cultural memory’. The presentation highlights the relation between cultural memory and digital games by on one hand analyzing specific examples of historical digital games, such as the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century as seen in Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and the racial injustices in the 1960s U.S.A in Mafia 3, and on the other hand, a quantitative content analysis of 208 different historical digital games to highlight the dominant trends of historical representation, where whiteness, masculinity, and simple violence are most common, the larger the production budget of each historical game. Thus, the presentation identifies the economic, technical, and social processes under-girding the production of historical digital games, which predispose developers to encode dominant representations of the past as the game’s meaning-potentials, which players then activate, negotiate, or oppose the meaning-potentials to express their own personal values via a digital game’s formal devices.

Bio:
Dr. Emil Lundedal Hammar is a postdoctoral researcher at the Game Research Lab and at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University. His research expertise intersects between game studies, political economy, critical race theory, and cultural memory studies, where his doctoral thesis addressed how digital games, race, colonialism, and political economy intertwine to reinforce dominant hegemonic understandings of the past. His current research focuses on labor conditions in the Nordic game industries.

Please watch this space, the Zoom link will be shared here, soon.

DiGRA Solidarity Fund

We are happy to announce the DiGRA Solidarity Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide means for scholars from less privileged countries to attend DiGRA International events and present their work. We aim that every time the DiGRA International conference is organized we can provide at least 3-4 scholars the ability to travel to present their work at the conference. On this first occasion the total amount will be 6000€, which will be divided between the recipients according to their estimates for travel costs.

The application period for the DiGRA International conference in Krakow is from May 1st to May 15th. You can apply by sending the filled-out form attached to this email and a short CV (max 2 pages) to me (mimasi@utu.fi). Decisions on who the funds will be awarded to are made by the Solidarity Fund Committee by May 31. All applicants will be informed personally on the decision.

The fund will be paid for each recipient as a stipend according to their estimates of how much they need to travel to the conference and stay there for the full duration of the conference (flights, hotel, etc.). The recipients will need to present receipts of the expenses to DiGRA Treasurer Jussi Holopainen, and they are expected to participate in the whole conference (so not just a day or two).

If you have any questions, please email me, DiGRA ICO Miia Siutila (mimasi@utu.fi). I am also creating a FAQ doc here as the questions come in, so please check that out too. 

Sincerely,

Solidarity Fund Committee

Miia Siutila, DiGRA ICO

Jussi Holopainen, DiGRA Treasurer

Cody Mejeur, DiGRA Diversity Officer

Mahli-Ann Butt, DiGRA Board Member

Gamesnetwork@lists.tuni.fi is the discussion list of DiGRA, the Digital Games Research Association. You can unsubscribe, edit your subscription address, etc. at the web interface:
https://lists.tuni.fi/mailman/listinfo/gamesnetwork

Sampad Banerjee on “Where can I get that game?” Preservation of Videogames and Why it Matters

TOPIC TITLE:

“Where can I get that game?” Preservation of Videogames and Why it Matters

Time: 16th April 7 p.m Indian Standard Time

Abstract:

This talk aims to focus on the aspect of the preservation of video games in current years. While other forms of media are actively curated and taken care of by the respective societies and distribution houses, video games on large are still neglected when it comes to preserving them for future generations to explore.

Most of this talk focuses on the history of some of the well-sought titles which are out of reach of the common gaming crowd because of lack of preservation, the reasons for the same, why major publishing houses generally avoid preserving their old titles, and how this can affect the media form down the line, and steps to prevent it.Bio-Note

Hello, my name is Sampad Banerjee, and I am a 24-year-old gamer who spends his time obsessing over RPGs, fighting games, and hack n’ slash games in unhealthy amounts, with SEGA’s Yakuza and Capcom’s Devil May Cry being my all-time favorites. I am a BCA grad and have actively participated in local gaming events as a volunteer, while also occasionally cosplaying in them. In my free time, I am mostly hyping up the random indie projects over at my Twitter @Only_Redacted.

I currently write, interview developers and publishers, and review video games for Sportskeeda.com and ggtalks.com, with Gamingbolt.com being one of my bylines where I used to cover gaming news.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87301945277?pwd=aVBpSGNlZVJWUFFLKzNJRVVWcVR0dz09

লেখাপড়া আর খেলাপড়া

In DiGRA India’s first post in an Indian language, Souvik Mukherjee writes in Bengali about the role of videogames in culture with an emphasis on narrative multiplicity, involvement, and the procedural rhetoric of the game that serve to influence the shaping of the player’s opinions. Mukherjee highlights the importance for both the Humanities and the social sciences to take into account videogames and their serious impact on people. He particularly aims to reach the lacuna present in the Bengali intellectual traditions regarding videogames as cultural media and encourage games researchers from all over India to write about their research in Indian languages.

বাংলায় বুদ্ধিজীবীগণ বিভিন্ন গল্প বলার মাধ্যম নিয়ে বিস্তর লিখেছেন। কিন্তু হালের যেসব নতুন মিডিয়া এসেছে তা নিয়ে কোনো লেখা পাওয়া ভার। এর মধ্যে ডিজিটাল গেম বা ভিডিওগেম অন্যতম।  অবিশ্যি, বাঙালি বুদ্ধিজীবীদের মধ্যে কতজনই বা খেলেছেন এই ভিডিওগেম ? কোনও বিদগ্ধ বাঙালী বুদ্ধিজীবী জয়স্টিক ধরে এসাসিন’স ক্রিড খেলছেন এটা বোধহয় এ জীবনে দেখা হবে না। বৈদ্যুতিন মানবতত্ত্ব (ডিজিটাল হিউম্যানিটিজ) নিয়ে অবিশ্যি কয়েকজনের বক্তব্য (যদিও খুবই অল্প) আছে,  যেমন আছে আরো খ্যাতনামা ব্যক্তিদের ।  তবে সে বক্তব্য বৈদ্যুতিন সমাজ ও সংস্কৃতি নিয়ে নয়; এ বিষয় বেশিরভাগ গবেষণাই হল গ্রন্থ ও মুদ্রণ কেন্দ্রিক  – এছাড়া আছে বৈদ্যুতিন গ্রন্থ বা টেক্সট যেমন ‘বিচিত্রা’, যাদবপুর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় কর্তৃক নির্মিত বৈদ্যুতিন রবীন্দ্র রচনাবলী। এসবের থেকে এসাসিন’স ক্রিড বা পাব জি অনেক দূরের কথা।  কিন্তু এটাও সত্য যে লক্ষ লক্ষ লোক, বয়স নির্বিশেষে ভিডিও গেমস এর মাধ্যমে গল্প পড়ছে বা জানছে বা খেলছে। হ্যাঁ , গল্প খেলছে বললেও ভুল হবে না।  সেই গল্পের শেষ নেই – যেকোনো খেলার মতো বারবার খেলা যায় এবং ক্যালভিনো  কোর্তাজার – এদের গল্পের মত একাধিক ভাবে এর সমাপ্তি।  এবং এই গল্প শুধু শ্রবণ বা পঠন করলেই চলে না  – এর উপভোগ শারীরিক, এর নিমগ্নতা আক্ষরিক। ভিডিওগেমের গল্প বলা নিয়ে চিন্তা অনেকদিনের। বিতর্কও অনেক। যেগুলির আঁচ বাংলায় লেখালেখির জগতে তেমন এসে পড়েনি। অথচ একাধিক প্রজন্ম ভিডিওগেম খেলে বড় হচ্ছে। বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধ নিয়ে ভিডিও গেম তৈরী হয়েছে, কলকাতার  দুর্গা পুজো নিয়েও তৈরী হচ্ছে ভিডিও গেম  – অবশ্য বুদ্ধিজীবীদের মধ্যে এ নিয়ে কোনো আলোচনা হয়েছে বলে জানা নেই।

নরওয়েজীয় অধ্যাপক এসপেন অরসেথ (বর্তমানে ডেনমার্কের ITU তে পড়ান) ১৯৯৭ সালে Cybertext শব্দের প্রচলন করেন।[1]  এর অর্থ যে পাঠ (text) তার লেখা বা তৈরির মাধ্যমের ওপর সম্পূর্ণ নির্ভরশীল – অর্থাৎ কম্পিউটার নির্মিত পাঠ পড়তে গেলেই তার কোড এর দিকে নজর রেখে পড়তে হবে। এই cybertext এর মূল গুণ হল যে সে ergodic (এর্গোদিক)। Ergodic শব্দের উৎস ল্যাটিন ‘এর্গোস’ এবং ‘হদস’ অর্থাৎ কিনা যা কর্মের মাধ্যমে পাঠের পথ গড়ে দেয় । পড়তে গেলে বেশ গতর  খাটিয়ে পড়তে হয় এই বই । হয়তো বা LEGO র মত গল্পের টুকরো জুড়তে হয় নতুবা হাত পা চালিয়ে গলদঘর্ম হয়ে কিনা পড়তে হয় এই পাঠ। জয়স্টিক হাতে পড়তে হচ্ছে গল্প কিংবা মোবাইল ফোনের স্ক্রিনে টকাটক ঘা  মেরে চলেছে পাঠকের দল  – এ আবার কী রকম গল্প পড়া? অবিশ্যি, ভেবে দেখুন গল্পের পাঠক নির্ণয় করছেন গল্পের মোড় কোন দিকে ঘুরবে  – পাঠক হল লেখক । হজবরল দেখে ভাবতে গেলে বলতে হবে ‘এ আর নতুন কি!’  – ছিল রুমাল হয়ে গেলো বেড়াল, এ তো হামেশাই হয়।  তবে এ কথা সত্যিই তাজ্জব নয়।  লেখক-পাঠক নিয়ে রোলাঁ বার্থ অনেক আগেই লিখে গেছেন: ‘the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author’।[2] আক্ষরিক অর্থে লেখককে মেরে ফেলেননি বার্থ সাহেব; পাঠককে দান করেছেন লেখকের সেই প্রায়-অসীম ক্ষমতা । পাঠক পড়তে পড়তে পাঠ  রচনা করে – সে-ই বনে যায় লেখক । ভিডিও গেমস-এর ক্ষেত্রে বলি : যে খেলছে সে-ই গল্প তৈরী করছে (এই খেলার নির্মাতার সঙ্গে হাত মিলিয়ে) আবার সেই গল্পের পাঠক ও সে । অর্থাৎ রুমাল ও বেড়াল একই সঙ্গে যা কিনা কখনো বেড়াল কখনো রুমাল বা কখনো রুমাল-বেড়াল – মানে ওই চন্দ্রবিন্দুর চ বেড়ালের তালব্য শ আর   রুমালের মা আর কি । এর বেশি বলতে আমি নারাজ।

এসবের মধ্যেও উঠেছিল আরেকটা তুমুল তর্ক: ভিডিও গেম কি আদৌ গল্প বলে ? না কি অন্য  খেলার মত এই  খেলাও নিছক নিয়ম এবং কেবল কম্পিউটার প্রণালী? আসলে গল্প বলাতেও  আছে নিয়ম, প্রণালী। জেরার্ড জেনেট, স্ভেতান টোডরভ ও ভ্লাদিমির প্রপ্প প্রমুখ  পন্ডিত এই গল্প বলার নিয়ম এবং প্রণালী নিয়ে বিস্তর লিখেছেন। ইতালীয় চিন্তাবিদ উমবের্তো একো সব কটি জেমস বন্ডের গল্প একই  ছকে ফেলে দেখিয়েছেন।[3] যা হোক, গল্পের এই খেলাসূলভ স্বভাব আর গল্প বলায় বা শোনায় নিয়মের মারপ্যাঁচ নতুন নয়। যেমন  ধরুন Alice – সে তো দাবার ছকের মধ্যে দিয়ে অনেক অদ্ভূত  রোমাঞ্চকর অভিজ্ঞতার পর বাড়ি ফিরতে পারছে দাবা খেলার পরে। দাবার বোর্ডে বোড়ে ছিল Alice – কিন্তু সে বোর্ডের শেষ প্রান্তে পৌঁছে বনে গেল রানী (বাংলায় যাকে  বলি মন্ত্রী)। দাবার রানীর অবাধ বিচরণ। কাজেই Alice  বাড়ি ফিরল সহজেই। ভিডিও গেম-ও এরকম গল্প বলে। ফ্লোরেন্স  শহরের বাসিন্দা এৎসিও অডিটরে বদলা নিচ্ছে তার পিতৃহত্যা ও ভ্রাতৃহত্যার। নৃশংস টেম্পলার বাহিনীর বিরুদ্ধে চক্রান্ত করছে লিওনার্দো দা ভিঞ্চি  আর নিকোলো মাকিয়াভেলীর সাথে। এসাসিন্স ক্রীড যিনি খেলছেন তিনি জানবেন যে অনেক গবেষণা করেই ফাঁদা হয়েছে এর গল্প। কিন্তু ভিডিওগেমের গল্প তো একটি নয় একাধিক।  একই গল্প বারবার খেললে ভিন্ন গল্প হয়ে দাঁড়ায়। কখনো দা ভিঞ্চির বিমান আকাশে ওড়ে (বাস্তবে অবশ্য সেই বিমান পরিকল্পনার সতর ছেড়ে ওড়েনি) , কখনো এৎসিও  ভূতলে পতিত হয় আর গল্প কিরম অকস্মাৎ সমাপ্ত হয়। এই যে গল্প, এটি একটি গল্প নয় – অনেক গল্প। একটি ‘multiplicity’, একটি বহুত্ব। যিনি ভিডিওগেম খেলেন তাঁর অভিজ্ঞতা (experience) তো অবশ্যই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ এবং জয়স্টিক বা মাউস দিয়েও এখানে গল্প পড়া হচ্ছে, মনিটরের ওপর যে ছবি পড়ছে তাকেও নিয়ন্ত্রণ করছে যিনি খেলছেন। প্রিন্স অফ পার্সিয়া খেলায় পারস্যের রাজকুমার ক্রমাগত বলছেন ‘না না আমার গল্প এরম ভাবে শেষ হতে পারে না’ – যেন ইতালো ক্যালভিনোর এক কাহিনী পড়ছি।

খ্যাতনামা মার্কিন ভিডিওগেম বিশেষজ্ঞ ইয়ান বোগোস্ট বলেন যে ভিডিওগেমের এই গল্প বলার পেছনে লুকিয়ে থাকা যান্ত্রিক প্রণালী একরকমভাবে চিন্তনকে প্রভাবিত করে – ওঁর  ভাষায় একে  বলে Procedural  Rhetoric।[4] অর্থাৎ যান্ত্রিক প্রণালী মারফৎ মানুষকে একরকমভাবে চিন্তা করতে শেখানো। এর গুন  ও দোষ  বিচার করব না এখানে; তার জন্য অন্য আলোচনা, আরেকদিন হবে। তবে ভাবুন তো বিশ্বের কোটি কোটি লোক যখন একটি খেলার মাধ্যমে, বলতে পারেন খেলার ছলে, একটি আদর্শ কিংবা কারো মত অনুসরণ করতে শিখছেন। ধরুন একটি রাজনৈতিক সংকটকালে কি করা উচিত না উচিত সেই জ্ঞান যদি লোকে ভিডিওগেম থেকে অর্জন করে: ভিডিওগেমের যে affordances বা কিনা যে যে ঘটনা খেলার কাঠামোর মধ্যে ঘটতে পারে, যে যে ফল সম্ভব সেইগুলিকেই সঠিক ঠাওরান, তাহলে জনমত তৈরী করতে এর ক্ষমতা কতটা তা বলা বাহুল্য। কাজেই বোগোস্ট যা বলেছেন তা গুরুত্বপূর্ণ। খেলা কোনোদিন একেবারে বন্ধ করে দেওয়া যায়না আর খেলার মাধ্যমে অনেক চিন্তাই বদলানো যায়; এবং ভিডিওগেম শুধু খেলা নয়, গল্পও নয় – এ যেন আলাদা স্বতন্ত্র পৃথিবী। একটি উপন্যাসের গভীরে গিয়ে যেমন আমরা মাঝেমাঝে নিজের অজান্তেই শশী ডাক্তার কিংবা ঢোঁড়াই হয়ে যাই, ভিডিওগেমে তা আরো অহরহ ঘটে। 

আরো বেশি, কারণ এখানে গল্পের সুতো আমাদের হাতে, অন্ততপক্ষে তাই মনে হয়। অতএব একটু ভাবা যাক ভিডিওগেম নিয়ে। বইমেলাতে বা সাহিত্য সম্মেলনে নাই বা ঢুকতে দিলাম, লক্ষ লক্ষ মোবাইল ফোনে কিন্তু খেলা চলছে, গল্প তৈরী হচ্ছে এবং সেই গল্প অনেককেই প্রভাবিত করছে। তার স্রষ্টা জাপানি গেম ডিসাইনার হিদেও কোজিমা বা মার্কিন গেম কোম্পানি রকস্টার শুধু নন, এর স্রষ্টা পাঠক / গেমার (gamer) নিজে। কাজেই একটু ভেবে দেখি, নতুবা আরও ভালো, খেলে দেখি ।

[অধ্যাপক সুমিত চক্রবর্তী এ লেখাটির ব্যাপারে বহুবার উৎসাহ দিয়েছেন। তাঁকে কৃতজ্ঞতা। সঙ্গে ধন্যবাদ জানাই আমার ছাত্র সৌরভ চট্টোপাধ্যায়কে।]

—শৌভিক মুখোপাধ্যায়

লেখক কলকাতার সেন্টার ফর স্টাডিজ ইন সোশাল সায়েন্সেস-এ কালচারাল স্টাডিজের অধ্যাপক

[1] এসপেন অরসেথ. সাইবারটেক্সট: পার্সপেক্টিভ অন এর্গোদিক লিটারেচার. জেএইচইউ প্রেস: ১৯৯৭

[2] রোলাঁ বার্থ. ইমেজ, মিউজিক, টেক্সট. ফন্টানা: ১৯৭৭, পৃঃ ১৪৮

[3] উমবের্তো একো. দ্য বন্ড অ্যাফেয়ার. ম্যাকমিলান: ১৯৬৬

[4] ইয়ান বোগোস্ট. পারসুয়েসিভ গেমস: দ্য এক্সপ্রেসিভ পাওয়ার অফ ভিডিওগেমস. এমআইটি প্রেস: ২০০৭

Talk by Asha Chidambaram, 26 March 2022 at 7 pm IST:

Title: THE DYNAMICS OF MALAYALI MASS GAMING IN THE CARNIVALESQUE BATTLEGROUNDS OF PUBG AND FREEFIRE

This paper looks at how video gaming in Kerala has evolved since the 1990s
and how online mobile multiplayer games have ushered in new a new culture of mass gaming and gaming related activities in the 21st century Malayali mediascape. The single player console/computer gaming centered chiefly in affluent households and urban gaming centers- predominant in the previous century- having been sidelined by mobile online battleground games with the percolation of gaming infrastructure to the grassroots is examined. Through detailed interviews with players from across the state and an online survey, the paper examines multifarious aspects leading to the evolution of battleground games like PUBG and FREEFIRE as a veritable cultural phenomenon in Kerala. Questions as to a separate identity of the ‘Malayali player’ is raised. The carnivalesque dynamics of these games which operate more along the east- Asian modes of play is subjected to study.


Key Words: mobile online battleground games, Malayali mediascape, PUBG, FREEFIRE, Malayali player, carnivalesque battlegrounds, east Asian modes of play

Join us on Zoom.

The Crafted Knit

[The following post is Abhishek K.’s runners-up entry for the 2022 Blog article writing competition organized by DiGRA India]

Is time a chain? Bound by its physicality, its inevitable aches and sorrows, not having time to rest, or more crucially, play. A shame, and seemingly, there’s nothing to be done about it. Time’s there to haunt, to remind; constantly. About mistakes, faults, and games are always out there to bend, twist these facts and immerse ourselves into a distorted form of time. And once out of the game world, time is instantly reared into action, albeit a different form of time.

I wonder why it is this way, why is the change so abrupt and time feel so uncanny later then? Is it because games are essentially a safe space? Time is held to standstill, no, time is transformed. Dilated, contorted, and enriching, mistakes and longing are in full swing. Some aspects of time cease to exist, or in some cases make its presence painfully known. It endures and it beats, introducing love both inside and outside of the game world. A depiction of love enduring centuries as in the case of The House in Fata Morgana showcasing its triumphs and attachments, does it purely exist in the game world?

A screenshot from The House in Fata Morgana

I think not, my time spent with it comes to soothe or pang my soul, creating a deep found appreciation for its creators and the feelings that it leaves me behind with. It keeps me floating seamlessly and lovingly through time, and other game’s do just the same in their own way. Moving through time as I strike with a blade in Bloodborne, I find that I am in that moment, a picture perfect recreation of the gothic horrors that prevail, and most notably making sense of the madness through my ludic (and serious) actions. Or that I glide, through and through in a platformer like Celeste, acutely aware of the weight of my movements and at the same time, being absolutely free with that weight. A carefully crafted leap, by both the designer and the player, it is now time that is the observer.

Whether time is a construct, begging to be reexamined with its implications on a larger front is no longer in the frame when playing. Instead, all that remains is what is. And in that exists the player’s imagination; pure and unfiltered, with the influence of its creators. A bond is forged, and the supposed pros or cons of perceiving time a certain way is not in conversation. Sure, time is a facilitator (thank you time), and the past, present and the future are in harmony, begging to be explored. Explored through the lens of emotions invoked while playing, and you’re left with a raw and yet controlled headspace, where understanding flows through your being. From there, options are weighed, truths are being uncovered, gratefulness is being discovered, new relationships and its intricate dances are being observed. The ebbs do not infuriate anymore, they create and they expand, and they revisit and…


The knit of finely strung connections is put on display, its spectators behest to its beauty.

Abhishek is an undergraduate student at MIT, Manipal. His interests lie in mental health, speaking, writing, kickboxing, poetry, and literature portrayed in games. While not having an academic background in Games, he has experience writing for and being involved in the development of games. Some of his favourite games include Disco Elysium, The House in Fata Morgana, Pyre and so many more which will not be mentioned here, lest this goes on forever.

Video Games and Ludic Times: Gaming Era, Decade and Millennial

[The following post is Achintya Debnath’s runners-up entry for the 2022 Blog article writing competition organized by DiGRA India]

It goes without saying that time and game have a primitive relation tracing back to origins in the initial forms of hymns, rituals, songs and paintings. The primitive relation became much more engaging with the reminiscence of toys, cave paintings and recent archeological findings[i]. Further, no game can be played without fixing time, period or zone, in general, and specific era, decade and millennial, in particular. Every generation passes it (game) to its next generation single handedly with or without modification. For instance, Ludo has been transformed into app-based mobile game with the modification of a ‘no cheating option’ at all whereas Chess, Card games and Sudoku remain similar to as they were before, with minor variations. Since videogames have been analyzed from many perspectives in Humanities thinking[ii] (Mukherjee, 2017, p. 2) it is highly unlikely not to see them through the lens of time[iii] to say the least. The module/theme “time and game” has its own characteristics and speculations which have rarely been discussed. Hence, the significant milieu of ludology i.e. the importance of ludic era, decade and millennial has been left out from the study of games. Notwithstanding, Mukherjee has showed authentic accuracy regarding the imperative of postcolonial time and era. Further, he goes beyond certain specificity when he uncovers the subaltern paradigm of game culture[iv]. Postcolonial period and time have the main theme of ample number of computer games (Mukherjee, 2017). Nevertheless, in this essay I will try to locate the changing characteristics of time and game in the sense of both culturally and literally. In order to do that, firstly, I will try to locate the interface between time and game by focusing on the existing scholarship of recent scholars.

             The recent monograph Video Games and Post Colonialism: The Empire Plays Back creates the context for exploring issues of space, time and identity as described in the postcolonial theoretical positions of leading postcolonial thinkers’ vis-à-vis their application in computer games (Mukherjee, 2017). So, the interface of time and game might open a new paradigm of game study. Furthermore, Mukherjee addresses the representation and experience of space in conceptions of Empire vis-à-vis in empire-building videogames, as understood in terms of both cartography and the lived experience of space and the key problems regarding the postcolonial (re)construction of temporality and history in terms of how videogames provide a hitherto unique perspective on the issue. This shows a diverse plethora of understanding postcolonial times and its predicaments. In video games, whether, directly or indirectly related to questions of post colonialism through the exploration of both identity and cartography, the player occupies a position that simultaneously straddles both types described above and questions them (Mukherjee, 2018, p. 517). Mukherjee has quoted Verancini here “as settler colonial phenomena are primarily about the reproduction of one social body in place of another, it is not surprising that settler colonialism should be especially suitable for games that manage to capture and represent the proliferation of particular sociopolitical entities through time”(Mukherjee, 2017, p. 12).


[i] For instance recently more than a 4000 years old dice board made of stone has been discovered in Sumer.

[ii] Mukherjee points out that in recent years, game study has a closer engagement with issues relating to gender, race, and diversity is in evidence.

[iii] Mukherjee has created context for exploring space, time, and identity as described in the theoretical positions of leading thinkers of post colonialism vis-à-vis their application in computer games.

[iv] For further information see Playing Subaltern: Video Games and Post colonialism (2018).

References

Mukherjee, Souvik,  Playing Subaltern: Video Games and Postcolonialism Games and Culture issue SAGE, 2018, Vol. 13 (5) 504-520.

Mukherjee, Souvik, 2015. Videogames and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books, Palgrave MacMillan. 

Mukherjee, Souvik, 2017. Videogames and Postcolonialism: The Empire Plays Back, Springer UK.

-2010. ‘Shall we kill the pixel soldier?’ perceptions of trauma and morality in combat video games, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds; Volume: 2 Number: 1, Nottingham.

Achintya Debnath is a student of History, pursuing his M.Phil at the CSSSC. Since his childhood, he loves to read novels, dramas, poems, and other genres of literature. Therefore, his first research monograph shows an intensive study of Vaishnava literature. After completing his M.A including an A+ dissertation on the mentioned field from Presidency University, he cracked both NET and SET exams (Assistant Professorship for colleges and universities). Throughout his scholastic records, he has been a recipient of many scholarships, awards, and prizes. His research interest greatly lies in esoteric practices of swakiya and parakiya in Vaishnavism including twelve rasa such as santya, dasya, sakhya, batsalya, madhuriya. Very recently he is engaging with the paradigm of  sakhya rasa and its implication in games study. Further, recently he has worked on the mobile users of PUBG in India and its dynamic of issues – such as banning on PUBG, the governmental restrictions on playing PUBG, etc. Besides this, he is also continuing his research in Vaishnavism focused on its wide range of literature. 

Game Development, Speedrunning and the Correct way to play a game

[The following post is Ishan Purkait’s winning article for the 2022 Blog article writing competition organized by DiGRA India]

Watching a world-record speedrun of his game Getting over it with Bennett Foddy, Bennett Foddy began talking about the relationship between speedrunners and game developers, likening it to the way a master craftsman( the developer) might carefully turn a piece of raw wood into a polished product; the speedrunner would appreciate and love the product for what it is, only to then turn it over their knee and smash it to pieces. Foddy is more articulate and direct than others, but this view is not unique– speedrunning has long been considered an odd(to say the least) way of playing games, and the popularity of the form has been contrasted with indifference or even hostility from other games. This hostility is often from purists, due to the various kinds of glitches speedrunners often exploit in order to complete the game of choice as quickly as possible. Even in games like Hades, where the use of glitches is not required, speedrunners ignore key narrative elements and occasionally create discontinuities that the developers at Supergiant Games made allowances for. The devs added a special dialogue to account for the fact that reaching the final boss on the first run does not tally with the standard narrative arc; dialogue that was, of course, skipped by speedrunner Vorime.

Criticism of literature has extended beyond the author, with texts like Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author influential in determining a paradigm shift in how we read texts – be it a book or a game. But how we play our games is equally, if not more important to the core experience offered by games, digital or otherwise. Speedrunning is an unusual form of playing that comes almost fully from and is supported by, a massive community. Apart from standard completion parameters(Any% and 100% respectively)
all speedrunning parameters come from the community. The Games Done Quick series has been able to raise large sums for charity ever since its inception in 2010 and continues to be a prominent event for the community. In a way, the rules of speedrunning are just like the rule changes a group of friends would make to the standard box rules of Uno, creating a unique experience that is not for everybody, yet wholly enjoyable.

Speedrunners’ obsession with time leads to a rather stressful form of gameplay, with utter disregard for everything except pure mechanics and the bare minimum of narrative structure, often negating many of the elements designers have spent months creating; time is the only currency here, with all actions carefully measured in order to wrench the most out of every second. This bare-bones approach can be considered as a reductive way of enjoying a game, or simply one of the many ways in which video games are enjoyable and accessible to players. As such, speedrunning is just one of a massive plurality of ways we can play and enjoy games, providing one of many unique experiences for gamers. Love it or hate it, speedrunning is here to stay, and a swelling community shows that speedrunners are definitely not slowing down.

Bibliography –
Bennett Foddy. (1.6). Getting over it with Bennett Foddy[Microsoft Windows].
Digital game published by Bennett Foddy.

IGN. Getting Over It Developer Reacts to 1 Minute 24 Second Speedrun. 2020.
YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGU5_UUalPA.

IGN. Hades Developers React to 25 Minute “Fresh File” Speedrun. 2020. YouTube,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKepf4jyn4o.

Koning, Joe. “Play It Faster, Play It Weirder: How Speedrunning Pushes Video
Games beyond Their Limits.” The Guardian, 28 Sept. 2021. The Guardian,
https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2021/sep/29/play-it-faster-play-it-
weirder-how-speedrunning-pushes-video-games-beyond-their-limits.

Supergiant Games. (1.38177). Hades[Microsoft Windows]. Digital game
published by Supergiant Games.

Ishan Purkait is an undergraduate student of English Literature at Presidency University Kolkata. He has presented at GamesLit 2019 and Postmemory and the Contemporary World 2021 Conferences. His research interests include digital media, ludology, and culture studies.

Talk by Mathias Fuchs on ‘Animals and Play’ on 6th March 2022

Abstract:
The aim of the lecture is to discuss the possibility, modes and historical perspectives on animal play. Starting with Herbert Spencer who refers to “a German writer, whose name I forgot” (Friedrich Schiller), philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and ethologist (Verhaltensforscher in German) speculated about the question whether animals play, which animals play, why animals play, and how animals play.

Short Bionote:

Mathias Fuchs is a game artist, musician and media scholar. He pioneered in the artistic use of computer games and exhibited work at ISEA, SIGGRAPH, transmediale and the Greenwich Millennium Dome. In 2012 he became a professor at Leuphana University in Lüneburg. He is currently Senior Fellow at the IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften I Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien.

Publications include:
Phantasmal Spaces. Bloomsbury Academic 2019
Diversity of Play. meson press 2015
Weltentzug und Weltzerfall, in: Philosophical Perspectives on Play. Routledge 2015
Passagen des Spiels. (with E. Strouhal) Springer 2010

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4606341649?pwd=MlZqb05zNHVpTGkwRXZsVm9makNKQT09

‘The Play’s the Thing’- Technology as Performer: Talk by Padmini Ray Murray on 26th February, 7 p.m

Abstract:
In 2020 we created a digital theatrical piece called Abhi.Neta Aayenge which raised interesting and provocative questions about audience agency and the role, quite literally played, by technology and its affordances in making this work. I will be discussing how some of these explorations might have resonances for game design as well our understandings of interactivity and narrative in this talk, by sharing our experiences in the rehearsing and the staging of the piece.

Bio note:

Padmini Ray Murray’s research-led practice focuses on challenging acts of infrastructural and algorithmic violence, and creating alternative digital spaces and imaginations that are characterised by feminist values, specifically an ethics of care. To explore the possibilities of manifesting these spaces, Padmini founded Design Beku, a design and digital collective, that aims to dismantle expectations created by market-driven notions of design by following design justice principles, that advocate designing with communities, and not for. Her creative work includes Darshan Diversion, a feminist videogame about the Sabarimala temple controversy; visualising Cybersecurity (with Paulanthony George & CIS, 2019) about how cybersecurity is represented in the media; On Affecting the Archive (as artist in residence at Serendipity Arts Festival, 2020). She has just completed curating Smarter Digital Realities, working with 21 residents from India and Bangladesh about technology and the city, and performing Abhi.Neta Aayenge (as part of Last Seen), a digital theatrical work developed under the aegis of Refunction, a grant for experimental work online awarded by the Goethe Institut in 2020. Her work has been recently featured as a highlight of the Wired Women programme for the NEoN Digital Arts Festival and recently exhibited her work as part of a residency, Unstacked: articulations of the algorithmic condition at Khoj Studios in Delhi.

Join us on Zoom at 7 p.m on 26 February: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82682132464?pwd=dVJIZC9zKzd5RWhxb0VqMnhNT1lldz09