Johannes Bauer on Meaningful Play 2016
Thanks to Brian, Casey and Carrie (the three co-chairs of Meaningful Play 2016) as well as all other faculty and students (among them Valeta, Will, Andrew, Luke, Jeremy, Ricardo, Robby, Wei, Constantinos, and many others) who were involved in organizing the conference, the program committee, and the onsite logistics! Beth gave an inspiring keynote that concluded the conference on a high note! I was equally impressed by the quality of theoretical and applied research and the innovative nature of the many game projects reported and exhibited.
The conference was a great forum for the growing number of MSU researchers with a shared interest in games to interact and network with other MSU researchers and with the attendees from the US and abroad. Until this conference, I was not fully aware of the size and diversity of the group of MSU researchers. I interacted with individuals from the Colleges of Social Science; Education; Arts and Letters; Lyman Briggs; and our college (and am sure there probably were more). Also rewarding to see that several of them are graduates of the Serious Games Certificate Program.
Johannes Bauer, Chair
Department of Media and Information
“Racism, Sexism, and Video Games: Social Justice Campaigns and the Struggle for Gamer Identity”. This was the title of the first Quello Lecture for the new academic year. Professor Lisa Nakamura introduced several extreme examples of sexism and racism, but the real issue of the lecture and of the audience’s comments was not merely the prominence of some very ugly and disgusting phenomena in the gaming world. Rather, it was the interface between the gaming universe and the real world; it was about culture and culture wars, about social justice warriors, about women and men, about feminism and anti-feminism, and about how relationships travel across these different worlds. And yes, it was about avatars as well.
To what extent do our fake images allow some of us (I mean the gamers) to be nasty – and even criminal – in the gaming world? Professor Robby Rattan, after a wonderful rap show about quantitative and qualitative research, raised the idea that if gamers could have a fake image which is far from a human one (not just human bodies without arms, for example), something totally fictional, if I may add, maybe some disgusting human characteristics (such as sexism and racism) would be vanished. You must admit that it is a very attractive idea.
Oh, I almost forgot, there was wonderful light refreshment before the lecture, and there was a drinks reception after the lecture (which I did not attend because I had to hurry for my evening walk with my wife. Sorry). The whole event took place at the very busy Kellogg Conference Center (we could hear the voices and buzz of other events through the walls), contributing to a very promising beginning for the Quello Lectures to follow.
To view more pictures from Dr. Nakamura’s lecture, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/quellocenter/sets/72157648470967778/
Avshalom Ginosar, PhD
Communication Department, The Academic College of Yezreel Valley
Visiting Scholar, The Quello Center, The Department of Media & Information, The College of Communication Art & Science, Michigan State University