Event: Games, Play, Embodiment, and the Wii

Institute of Education, University of London
23-29 Emerald St. London WC1N 3QS
Thursday, 20th of May, 4 – 6 pm

Free to attend

RSVP to Diane Carr d.carr@ioe.ac.uk

Games theorist Bart Simon (Concordia University) is visiting the UK during May. Bart’s current work involves researching and theorising aspects of bodies, gesture, play and the Wii. Andrew Burn and Jenn Sheridan from the IOE are part of a team working on an AHRC funded project, ‘Playgrounds’, which involves thinking about some of these same issues. At this informal event Andrew, Jenn and Bart will update us on their works-in-progress. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.

Andrew Burn and Jennifer Sheridan
London Knowledge Lab, IOE

Presenting work from the ongoing AHRC Beyond Text funded “Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age”

First we’ll draw analogies between traditional games and computer games. We will suggest that the formulaic ‘memes’ of the former (in movement, music and language) are developed through processes of collective improvisation and oral transmission. Those of the latter, on the other hand, are authored and programmed in ways which are responsive to the interests of popular cultural tropes and embodied play. The analogies suggest that the two domains of play are not as far apart as is popularly imagined; and that engineering a meeting between them can be productive – both for research, and as a cultural intervention. Jenn will then introduce that element of the project where playground games and gesture meet the Wii interface. One of the project goals is to represent a small selection of clapping games (some found in the Opie Collection of Children’s Games and Songs, and some of which are being collected through our ongoing ethnographic studies of playground games and songs in two schools). Jenn will describe the use of the Nintendo Wii as a “wearable” exertion interface in order to represent clapping games, and refer to her recent experiments with low-fi and open-source vision-based tracking systems. This will involve looking at the physics of clapping and associated technical issues. Jenn and Andrew will conclude with a discussion of how the various elements of the project combine.

Bart Simon
Concordia University

Gesture and Digital Play: Contradictions in Design and Performance

This paper explores cultural expectations and contradictions in the design of gestural games using next-gen motion controllers like the Nintendo Wiimote, the Sony Move and Microsoft’s Natal, amongst others. Drawing on microethnographic case studies of gameplay with the Nintendo Wii and a research/creation project in gestural gaming I will explore the tensions in design and experience between expectations of increasing control and interactivity with the socio-material limits of the gestural body as an object of motion capture. Unlike traditional controllers that work through a micro-disciplining of the body and hands, next-gen motion controllers suggest (and even promise) to free the body from this traditional constraint whilst allowing for even greater interactivity and control. The consequence of this has been frustration where expectations for control exceed experience, and new and arguably non-interactive (in the digital sense) forms of play that I wish to refer to as gestural excess or improvisation.

This is a London Games Research Group event.

For more information including the speakers’ biography/project details go to http://playhouse.wordpress.com/london-game-research-group/

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