Workshop at DiGRA 2015

We are announcing a Call for Abstracts for our first formal event:

Call for Abstracts: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics Workshop at DiGRA 2015

May 14th-17th at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

Digital games have a reputation for including excessive violence, and violent content tends to be the focal point when games become the target for public criticism. However, as interacting with the gameworld through the use of simulated violence is a convention in many games; and while game violence certainly can be experienced as unsettling, it seldom leads the game to become ”unplayable” for players. Rather, it seems that the game context contributes to reduce the offensiveness of such content. Indeed, players themselves often present this as an argument in the debate about game violence, stating “don’t take it so seriously, it is only a game”, and common – although contested – definitions establish play as something non-serious and withdrawn from everyday life.

The hypothesis that the game context works as a filter that guards the player from distress, does not go against the idea that there may be games in which the goal is to expose the player for uncomfortable ethical situations. While such games may be seen as speculative or questionable because they break social norms, they may also provoke players into reflection. The question that remains, however, is why players would intentionally put themselves under distress, and how the playful attitude may be affected by such content.

While playfulness on one hand is associated with the pleasures of exploration within a framework; and transgression on the other hand is about breaking norms by presenting the player to activities that create discomfort and thus reflection, transgression and playfulness may appear to contradict each other, running the risk of trivializing the transgression or collapsing the playfulness.

Submission instructions:
The workshop seeks to discuss the perception of transgressive content in games, both from the perspectives of the players themselves, and the perspectives presented by mainstream as well as dedicated gaming media.

We will discuss relevant theories and perspectives that may be used to better understand controversial content in games and ask at what point such content is experienced as transgressing the boundary of what feels comfortable. Questions to be explored are: How do the mainstream media and the gaming press view transgressive content? How well does this reflect the players’ perceptions of transgressive game content? Is there a discrepancy between the players’ perceptions of transgressive content and that of the media? When is game content experienced as so controversial that the sense of playfulness is disrupted, and for what reasons? Does playfulness push the boundaries for what is being experienced as transgressive? Are games a particularly good medium for transgressive content?

Since the workshop is intended to explore new ideas and directions, submission of incomplete and in-progress results is encouraged.

Prospect participants should submit an abstract of maximum 500 words on email to Kristine Jørgensen, at kristine [dot] jorgensen [at] infomedia [dot] uib [dot] no no later than April 6, 2015. Notifications of acceptance will be given by April 20, 2015.

Workshop organization:
The workshop takes place at DiGRA 2015, May 14th-17th at Leuphana University Lüneburg. Schedule will be announced later.

The workshop spans 3.5 hours in total and will be separated into two sessions. Each session will consist of individual presentations, selected on the basis of abstracts and grouped thematically, and plenary discussions contextualizing the perspectives presented in that session.

Presentations and discussions from the workshop will form the background for a Call for Papers for a research seminar and future anthology on the topic.

Kristine Jørgensen, University of Bergen, Norway
Faltin Karlsen, Westerdals Oslo School of Art, Communication and Technology, Norway
Rune Klevjer, University of Bergen, Norway
Torill Elvira Mortensen, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

For more information, contact Kristine Jørgensen, kristine [dot] jorgensen [at] infomedia [dot] uib [dot] no, or see

The workshop program can be found here.

About Kristine Jørgensen

Professor in Media Studies at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen. Project manager and principal investigator of the Games and Transgressive Aesthetics project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.