DiGra Conference Recap

| May 19, 2010


I was able to attend the DiGRA ’09 (Digital Games Research Association) Conference in London and wanted to post a recap of some of the events. DiGRA is an association for academics and professionals who research digital games and associated phenomena.

As it was a games conference, game play during the event was a necessary action. There were two conference games: a physical card collecting game that encouraged networking as well as a Twitter language betting game. ‘Game of Games’ was a game designed to get participants to collect specific type of cards by talking and trading with other conference members, once a full set was collected you gained points, and depending on how fast you were able to complete the task, the more points you received. The second game made use of Twitter (which I have found to be a common practice during the recent conferences I have attended– a way to get real time feedback, good or bad on your conference presentation!). It was called ‘BackChatter’, the objective of the game was to sign in prior to a session and make a bet on a word that will be used in the next session. The frequency of the word used as well as how many other people bet on the same word were factors that affected the score of the word you bet.

The conference itself featured many interesting talks from an international community. An overarching trend I noticed in the works presented included the notion of the need for the professionalization of game studies. One of the first talks I went to described using Erving Goffman’s frame analysis model (1974) as a framework to evaluate and normalize a methodology for game studies. Working toward a more scientific model would include such factors such as predictability- that may currently be lacking in the way we study games. This idea of a methodology for game studies was fluent in most of the presentations I watched either being directly stated or as a suggestion for further research.

A couple of examples of its ripple effect into other projects included projects that included the role of artists and designers in their creative process over having a prescribed method to how to do things. This tension highlighted a serious need to communicate professionalism, for designers and artists to be able to communicate to clients and the community that they have some sort of process and can justify and validate what they do. A balance is needed not to tell designers to follow cookbook steps to create but still to define a process. Not exactly a methodology for game studies per say but a methodology with a similar purpose, to exude professionalism.

In addition, as a popular game form in the Nordic cultures, it was brought to attention the need for a methodology of documentation of Live Action Role Playing Games, or LARPS, as an important feature to learn and study these games. There really has not been an effective way to capture these events and again methodologies for documenting these events in on the agenda for future research.

Other highlighted topics of the conference included:

Comparative Studies: Film & Video Games
Role Playing Games
Game Design Frameworks
Games in Education
Game Critique
Online & Social Networking Games
Offensive Games
Virtual Worlds
Mobile Platforms: I felt the mobile platform was an untapped area at this conference only featuring one session devoted to this type of device, studies on Geocatching possibilities and Interactive TV applications (iTV)were presented.

And many more I am sure I have left out, so this is just a taste what this conference has to offer!