Games and Transgressive Aesthetics Research Seminar: Program now online

Monday August 17: Public seminar (open for all interested*)

Location: Faculty of Social Sciences, 9th floor (Fosswinckelsgate 6)

10:00-10:15 – Welcome and introduction

10:15-11.00 – Perspectives on Transgressive Games
Kristine Jørgensen, Researcher, University of Bergen

Games are often criticized for including controversial content, be it excessive violence or stereotypical representations of race and gender. Such criticism is often dismissed by players with reference to the game context, indicating that the meaning of such content is being re-negotiated during the act of gameplay. With reference to a number of game examples, this talk will discuss what transgressive content means in connection with computer games, and argue for the importance of a player-centered approach to understanding such content.

11:00-11.15 – Break

11:15-12:00 – The Ethics of Transgression
Asbjørn Grønstad, Professor, University of Bergen

This talk considers the subject of transgression in art and media from the perspective of ethics, paying particular attention to discourses that argue that ethical meaning is enmeshed in the very form of the image. Engaging with a range of examples from visual culture, the discussion aims to historicize the transgressive with respect to both cultural and medial contingencies.

12:00-12.45 – Dark Gameplay Design Patterns
Staffan Björk, Professor, University of Gothenburg

Game designers are typically regarded as advocates for players. However, a game creator’s interests may not align with the players’ and may in several ways be opposed and game designs that result from this may be argued as being questionable and even unethical. Like any reusable design solutions, this can be described as design patterns, but given this context such solutions can be named Dark Gameplay Design Patterns. However, what design patterns are actually opposed the interests of players is not always trivial to discern and this presentation identifies several subtleties involved, thereby provide questions that can be asked to help guide in the specification and identification of future Dark Patterns. The goal is not to criticize game designers but rather to contribute to an ongoing discussion regarding the values in games and the role that designers and creators have in this process.

12:45-14:00 – Lunch at Marg og Bein, Fosswinckelsgt 18

14:00-14:45 – The Dark Side of Gameplay: Controversy, Transgression or Cultures Clashing?
Torill Elvira Mortensen, Associate Professor, IT University of Copenhagen

In this talk we will discuss the importance of questioning the stereotypes about the meaning of games and gameplay. The criticism of digital games has been expressed through many different lenses, from the protective outrage on behalf of “vulnerable groups” such as children and the young, by way of emotional hurt and upset when games have been connected by the media to episodes of violence, to moral outrage from groups that are targets in games to the latest controversy over gendered and ethnic diversity of games. Over the last year, a small minority of gamers have started to talk back against such outsider representations of them, particularly the stereotyping of gamers as lacking in empathy, potentially violent sociopaths only controlled by their own fear of other people.

14:45-15:00 – Break

15:00-15:45 – Bad Play as an Integral Part of Play
Jaakko Stenros, Researcher, University of Tampere

Play and playfulness are commonly assigned positives values. They are discussed as inherently positive, character-building activities that have a strong connection to creativity, freedom, and insight. But what about teasing, bullying, griefing, trolling, torture and harassment? Can they not be play? As Huizinga pointed out, play does not have a moral function. This presentation concentrates on the play that is societally or culturally considered bad. The idealization of play is questioned by looking at play that is disruptive, transgressive, dangerous, repetitive, or anti-social. Finally, an account of play, not just good play, is presented.

15:45-16:30 – Do Transgressive Players Become Transgressive People?
Rune Mentzoni, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bergen

One of the main controversies in psychological research on video games, is whether or not exposure to and engagement with transgressive content in video games, will increase the risk of acting transgressively outside of games. Mainly, the research and related discussions have been regarding the possible relationship between playing violent video games and engaging in real world violence. This talk will review the main findings from this literature, present the main theoretical frameworks for a relationship, and describe why detecting a relationship, should it exist, is practically challenging.

16:30-17:00 – Concluding discussion

19:00 Dinner at Bare på 13, Torgallmenningen 13

* If you are not among the partners and interested in participating, please notify Kristine Jørgensen. This is to make sure we have enough space for everyone.

Tuesday August 18: Closed project group meeting (for research group and invitees only)

Location: Faculty of Social Sciences, room 514 (Fosswinckelsgate 6)

09:00-09:15 – Welcome and practical info

09:15-10:45 – Short presentations by all participants (10 minutes each + 5 min discussion)

10:45-11.00 – Break

11.00-12:00 – Short presentations contd.

12:00-13:15 – Lunch at Marg og Bein, Fosswinckelsgt 18

13:15-14:45 – Short presentations contd.

14.45-15:00 – Break

15:00-17:00 – Discussing plans for anthology


Practical information:

Map showing all central venues:

Link to the hotel:

Link to the local airport bus:

Visitors’ resource to Bergen:

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.

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