Today, I attended the launch of the the DiGRA UK chapter in Bristol, which was a fantastic event. Although I had to leave early, I was incredibly honoured to be invited to give one of the featured ‘provocations’. I’ve been wearing my academia hat lately, working on finally inching my otherwise-neglected PhD thesis towards submission. I decided, given the context, to do a mostly-academically-grounded talk, and hastily wrote some thoughts last night (text in light pink, thanks to my ink-waning printer.)
So, all ready to give my talk, I began listening to the preceding two provocations, the latter of which asked about our responsibility to players. I reflected privately about how, through my work in developing Redshirt, I’d learned some lessons about this. I reflected on how lately, I’m sort of wearing my academic hat only reluctantly. Then, as I made my way to the front for my talk, I decided this was more important than the thoughts I’d prepared, and, thus, my ‘provocation’ became this:
I tore up the ‘academic’ talk I’d prepared, and spoke instead briefly about the lessons I’d learned as a developer. A sort of meta-provocation, about how I’d grown more personally, and learned more about games and play through my work as a developer, than in my capacity as an academic thus far. It’s not that games academia is without value, of course, but in a personal capacity, my work as a developer has been more important to me. There is probably a reason for that. I’d learned more about challenging existing conventions in games, and about caring about players. So, I tore up my talk. This was my provocation for DIGRA UK.
For anyone interested (and because I said I would), here is the text of my original, planned, more academic talk about game studies, epistemology, and pluralism, after the break.
I’ve uploaded a version of the microtalk I delivered at Game Developer’s Conference 2014, during the session GDC Microtalks 2014: One Hour, Ten Speakers, a Panoply of Game Thinking! I’ve embedded the video below.
The full text is also below, for those of you interested. Thanks again to the ever-brilliant Richard Lemarchand for inviting me to speak!
Edit: Ah, happily, only a few hours after I blogged this, the official recording of the GDC microtalks went up live on the GDC Vault, for free, so you could also watch it here. The bonus being, you can see the other nine (far more worthy) talks too! http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020391/GDC-Microtalks-2014-One-Hour
Since the publication of Ben Kuchera’s article on Polygon yesterday, there’s been much attention on this supposed “Gender Swap” VR experiment.
There’s much to say on the topic of technological panaceas for supposed ‘empathy’, and much of that has already been said, very eloquently, by the brilliant Sophie Houlden, who not only outlined the specific problems with Kuchera’s Polygon piece, but in an earlier post, also excellently summed up why the entire concept of VR for empathy is so problematic:
“…it’s important nobody thinks “Oh, so this is what it’s like to be X” because your life is more than what you see – it’s also years of other people seeing you, speaking to you, touching you AND how they do all that. It’s what you see happen to people who are like you and people who are not. It’s your own head thinking for years on end trying to come to terms with all of this. You can’t be someone else without going through this.”
The Polygon article also mentioned the recent similar ‘race-swap’ VR experiments, which apparently showed participants apparently display reduced implicit racial bias after ‘inhabiting’ the body of someone with darker skin than their own. (Incidentally, I’d be interested to see participants tested again for implicit racial bias a few weeks, months, or years after exposure.)
I recently briefly commented on this for the latest edition of the Eastern Eye British Asian newspaper. Though my full comments didn’t make the piece, I did expand on those comments for the TEDxEastEnd talk I originally wrote and rehearsed, though I ended up panicking and leaving out that entire section. Nevertheless, in case it’s of any interest, I’ve embedded the entire video of my talk here, One Weird Old Trick to Solve Sexism and Racism, followed by the notes for the extra bit I managed to omit:
Welcome to the new and improved The Tiniest Shark website, which has also merged both my personal blog and development blogs, so that I am no longer seized by indecision on where to post, and end up posting to neither…
Thank you to the brilliant Fully Illustrated for helping us add all these new fancy new pixels everywhere, and especially for the new TTS logo, who has now increased in resolution significantly.
Redshirt is a game that lends itself to some customisation if you’re willing to dig, and I thought I’d begin writing a series of blog posts which detail how you may begin to do this.
As you may know, when you begin a game in Redshirt, the station is filled with non-player characters, who are all completely randomly generated in terms of their names, profile pictures, and personalities. The simplest customisation is the ability to ‘seed’ Megalodon-9 with names of your own, so the NPCs can have names of people you know, or of characters from your favourite television show or movie, of course!