#Gamergate Steffan’s Challenge – Does DiGRA have an ID Politics Problem?

TL;DR – Even being as generous as I could, Steffan’s ‘25%’ challenge was blown through in an examination of DiGRAs 2015 conference schedule, even being mindful of personal prejudices and erring on the side of caution in judgements. This is only an informal survey, and a bit of fun (in examining how much ‘bollocks’ there was as well) but I believe it is genuinely indicative of a problem and a motivation behind the attempt to create alternatives via L4G and PopLud. Scientifically speaking statistical significance is usually set around 5%, a ‘p-level of 0.05. The results here show a p-level of ~0.32. Perhaps more concerning even than the ID politics, at least for me, was that over half of what was presented was ‘useless bollocks’, and that the presentation and language was nigh impenetrable. It was also disturbing to see how much bias was embraced and openly expressed and how many papers and presentations were concerned with efforts to alter people in some way, re-educate rather than educate, if you will. I do not buy into the DiGRA/DARPA conspiracy theory (funding is just funding) but I do wish people will strive for some objectivity and consider what they’re doing.

Information drawn from…

http://projects.digital-cultures.net/digra2015/files/2014/09/DiGRA2015_program.pdf

Some presentations were not detailed enough to make a judgement and so were excluded, as were some workshops and all ‘break activities’.

Presentation Title
ID Politics?
(Running total)
Bollocks?
(Running Total)
Total

From Game Studies to Studies of Play in Society

1

1

1

Game Elements-Attributes Model: a First Step towards a Structured Comparison of Educational Games

2

2

Costume Agency in German LARP

3

3

The Ludic, the Cinematic and the Paratextual: Towards a Typology of Video Game Trailers

4

4

Minigames as Metaleptic Self-Referentiality

5

5

Subversive Narrative Emergence in Gamer Poop: Queering Video Game Stories and Selves

2

6

6

Moral Panics in and Around 1980s Videogames

3

7

Roleplaying and Rituals For Heritage Orientated Games

4

8

EVE is Real

5

7

9

The Transtextual Screen: Exploring Crossmedia Intertextuality in Competitive Games and eSports

8

10

Start Up, Cash In, Sell Out, Bro Down: The Historical, Social, and Technological Context of a Toxic New Gaming Public

6

9

11

You Always BM in Hearthstone: Players’ Negotiation of Limited Communication Affordances

12

Better Off Alone? On the Significance of Asocial Gaming

7

10

13

Ludic Selfies: Playing with Mobile Phones in Grand Theft Auto V

11

14

Selective Realism: Suffering, Violence, and War in First- and Third-Person Shooters

8

12

15

Animal Crossing: New Leaf and The Diversity of Horror in Video Games

9

13

16

The Limits of the Evolution of Female Characters in the Bioshock Franchise

10

14

17

Authors from 3 continents presenting the book by Mark Wolf (ed.) Video Games Around the World

18

Real World, Real Monsters: Adapting Gothic Horror for Location-Based Augmented-Reality Games

19

Who Needs Enemies? Architecture as Sole or Dominant Agent in Game Design

20

GameChanger: Designing Co-Located Games that Utilize Player Proximity

21

The Gamification of the Gothic

15

22

A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Video Games: A Ludonarrative Model

16

23

Analyzing Game Discourse Using Moral Foundations Theory

11

17

24

Exploring Multimodal Annotation of Videogames

18

25

A Double-Edged Sword: Work Practices in a Norwegian Game Company

26

App advertising: The rise of the player commodity

27

On Trash and Games – Tracing the Problems Targeted by Gamification

19

28

Central European Game Studies panel: History and the state of the art of game studies in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

29

Independent gamework and identity: Social problems and subjective nuances

12

20

30

Hybrid Play and the Aesthetics of Recruitment

31

Game Studies in the Cinquecento

21

32

Games as a Genre of Historical Discourse. The Past on Fast Forward

33

It‘s the game you don‘t play: Sonic X-Treme and its self-appointed keepers

22

34

Towards a ludonarrative toolbox

23

35

Utopia, Ludonarrative Archaeologies and Cultural Knowledge

24

36

The Implied Player: between the Structural and the Fragmentary

13

25

37

Gotta Go Fast: A Study in Speedrunning

38

Bullet Hell: The Globalized Growth of danmaku games and the Digital Culture of High Scores and World Records

39

Chicago‘s Pinball Paradox: Understanding the Role of Pinball Regulation in Early Videogame Censorship

14

40

Piece of Art” or “Nice to Have”: What Professional Video Game Critics Say About Music in Games

26

41

Procedural Deformation and the Close Playing /Reading of Code: An Analysis of Jason Rohrer’s Code in Passage

27

42

Designing the Future of Democracy – Postmortem of the Near Future Expansion for Democracy 3*

27

42

How to Outplay a Power Outage

43

Player Superstition as a Design Resource

28

44

Workshop: Nonlinear Histories of Independent games

45

Analysing Cultural Heritage and its Representation in Video Games

15

46

Early Computer Game Genre Preferences (1980-1984)

48

Time to Reminisce and Die: Representing Old Age in Art Games

16

29

48

Workshop: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics

17

30

49

Ethical Recognition of Marginalized Groups in Digital Games Culture

18

31

50

The Concept and Research of Gendered Game Culture

19

32

51

Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

20

33

52

Get Milk – A Game of Lenses

21

34

53

Deep Springs and Dry Wells: A Study of the Casual Civic Game Get Water!

54

Keep on Moving: Designing a Physiotherapeutic Exergame for Different Devices and Exercises

55

The persuasive properties of games for change. A case based analysis

22

35

56

How do ‚gamers‘ empathise? Suspension of disbelief and narrative empathy in games

23

36

57

Libidinal Player Types Framework for Gamification

37

58

The Well-Played MOBA: How DotA 2 and League of Legends use Dramatic Dynamics

59

Editors of Play: The Scripts and Practices of Co-creativity in Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

38

60

Videogames and Slavery

24

61

Playful Laboratories. The significance of games for knowledge production in the digital age

62

Protest games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia: Beyond procedural rhetoric

63

Between the political and the post-political: exposing and concealing social conflicts in Polish history-themed board games

64

Inviting Grief into Games: The Game Design Process as Personal Dialogue

25

39

65

Digitising Boardgames: Issues and Tensions

66

Co-creative Game Design in MMORPGs

67

International Cultures of Creativity and Imitation

26

68

God and Gods in Digital Games

69

The Palimpsest and Gesamtkunstwerk of Dead Space: a Close Readin

40

70

The Stanley Parable: Dystopia and the Implied Player

27

41

71

Applying the Two-Factor Theory to the PLAY Heuristics

42

72

Defining the Global Ludo Polychotomy

73

The Tragedy of Betrayal: How the design of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus elicits emotion

75

Creating Stealth Game Interventions for Attitude and Behavior Change: An “Embedded Design” Model

75

The Pressures of Games on History

43

76

#GamerGate Birds of a Feather Session

28

44

77

Towards a historical analysis of the video game experience. The evolution of marketing discourse in the specialized press (1981-1995)

45

78

How gaming became sexist: a study of UK gaming magazines 1981-1995

29

46

79

Electronic Arts versus Blizzard: Real Games and the Large Studios that Make Them

80

Is Hacking the Brain the Future of Gaming?

81

Game and Videogame Ontologies

47

82

Teaching Game Studies: Course Post-Mortems and Syllabus Design

83

The Use of Theory in Designing a Serious Game for the Reduction of Cognitive Biases

30

48

84

How enterprises play: Towards a taxonomy for enterprise gamification

85

Understanding Player Experience Through the Use of Similarity Matrix

86

The Authority of Discourse Communities. Disseminating Technological and Industrial Celebration from Marketers to Academics.

49

87

Roguelike Universe: Drawing 36 Years of Roguelike Influence

88

Playing between rules: negotiating the ludic innovations of the MOBA genre

89

Interactive storytelling for open game worlds.

90

Taking a Look at the Player’s Gaze: The Effects of Gaze Visualizations on the Perceived Presence in Games

91

Cues and insinuations: Indicating affordances of non-player character using visual indicators

92

Failed Games: Lessons Learned from Promising but Problematic Game Prototypes in Designing for Diversity

31

50

93

From Theory-Based Design to Validation and Back

51

94

The Game of Georg Klaus

95

GameOff – a critical analysis of a digital game exhibition

96

Videogames as ‘Minor Literature’: Reading Videogame Stories through Paratexts

52

97

Whose mind is the signal? Focalization in video game narratives

32

53

98

Ideological Narratives of Play In Tropico 4 and Crusader Kings II

33

54

99

How gaming achieves popularity. The case of The Smash Brothers

100

Research on Prosocial Behaviors in Video Games: Content Analysis and Empirical Study

34

55

101

I wanna be a…”; the role(s) of gaming in teenage boys‘ decisions to study ICT

35

102

Problem gaming in an everyday perspective

103

What’s so funny about glitches: The practice of making glitch based gameplay videos

56

104

Video Games and the Culture of Laughter

57

105

The Joy of Discovery, Experimentation or Just Exploitation? The Roles of Glitches in Video Game Culture

58

106

Systematic Analysis of In-game Purchases and Social Features of Mobile Social Games in Japan

107

Exploring Playful Experiences in Social Network Games

108

Reflecting on the History of the Game Engine in Japan

109

Design and Role of Play Features in LEGO Brand Toys

110

Exploring ‘Iteration’ in Game Development: Elaborative, Opportunistic and Omissive

111

The jumpscare and the gamergasm: Embodied displays of affect in gaming videos

112

Intersecting Vulnerabilities in Game Culture: The Effects of Inequities and Stereotype Threat on Player Confidence, Identification and Persistence Across Gender and Race

36

59

113

Towards a non-binary configuration of coalition: Feminism, queer theory, and GamerGate

37

60

114

Affective and Bodily Involvement in Children’s Tablet Play

115

Gaming Experience as a Prerequisite for the Adoption of Digital Games in the Classroom?

116

A Practical Model for Exploring the Usefulness of Games for Classrooms

117

Integrating the Threads of Game Studies? Toward a Unified Account of Game, Gameplay, Player, Value and Aesthetics

61

118

We are Never Alone: Sharing Culture through “World Games”

38

119

Dealing with Uncertainty. Ludic Epistemology in an Age of new Essentialisms

62

120

Typology of realisms. An ontology-based model of types of realism in video games.

63

121

Shooting the game: filming and editing in video games

122

What We Leave Out: Diversity, Games, and Paying-to-Win

39

123

The player/ game dualism and its dialectical resolution: philosophical praxis, mimesis and techne

64

124

Workshop: Meta-Games and Meta-Gaming. An Anthology

125

Authenticity Quest: On the conditions of possibility for ‘being yourself’ in a computer game

40

126

Forced to Be Free, Partially: Participation Norms in Video Gaming Encounter

65

127

The Gaiety: Meditations on Arcade Player Practices

66

128

Digital gaming as a gendered technology: Nerdcore porn, intimacy and control

41

67

129

Poetic Thought: Making and thinking for transdisciplinary innovation

68

130

Playing with Love: Representations and Exclusions in Narrative and Mechanics

42

69

131

Hegemony As Process? The Communication of Ideology in Video Games and Its Effects

43

70

132

Performing in MOBAs: The Myth of Neutral Bodies and Game Design

44

71

133

Technological innovation and game design

134

On Board Games Played On Tablets, Smartphones, and other Computing Devices

135

Commodifying Gameplay

136

Total

44

72

136

Percentage

32.1

52.6

Notes:

NB the Designing the Future paper was originally included, but on review has been removed from the presented categories. This will have thrown the results off, but not significantly.

This informal survey/study is a response to Steffan B’s challenge to examine DiGRA’s work and to show an inherent bias of 25% or more towards feminist/identity politics presentations and work.

25% is quite a high margin. Speaking for myself I would consider 5% (a standard definition of ‘significance’ in scientific circles) to be indicative of a problem, especially in a field so wide and diverse as gaming.

The conference’s theme was diversity, so one would expect a higher percentage of presented material to reflect this theme, so keep that in mind. As such this analysis is only a snapshop of DiGRA in 2015 reflected through their conference – which also occurred during #Gamergate – something that may also skew results.

I am one person, with a bias, who believes going into this that DiGRA has a major problem and that it, and the established Game Studies/Ludology structure needs challenge and reform. That said I also had biases that worked in their favour, my fondness for history for example. In an attempt to counter any bias I also erred on the side of caution (in DiGRA’s favour) wherever I felt there was sufficient questions about whether a topic or presentation was ID politics or not.

Definitionally, I considered ID politics to be at play with relation to the following broad topics. Diversity, representation, feminism, race and other *isms, PoMo philosophical denial of objectivity and, in a couple of places, a staggering lack of self-examination when reporting on past moral panics, without recognising that DiGRA is producing and perpetuating a current moral panic about representation and diversity.

As a little side bit of fun for myself I also examined the articles for whether they were ‘bollocks’ or not. ‘Bollocks’ being a slang term not dissimilar to ‘bullshit’ or ‘pure applesauce’ as Scalia might put it. Did these articles pass the smell test? Were they nothing but opinion dressed up in shiny language? Were they functionally useless? Were they offering any useful insight at all?

There were problems accessing some papers and presentations. The conference was not well documented and the papers from which the presentations were drawn were often hard to find or inaccessible.

It’s important to note a couple more things here.

  1. It is possible for ID politics motivated studies to produce useful and rigorous information. It’s just vanishingly rare. The mere invocation of ID politics does not, itself, render a study useless.

  2. Much of the material that got a pass may still be ID politics or bollocks.

  3. There was very little that I would have considered good enough to publish in Popular Ludology. Even things that escaped the ID or Bollocks labels were often useless and offered no insight into game design or betterment.

I have a few suggestions for DiGRA and contributors for the future.

  1. I am not an unintelligent guy and do not lack for vocabulary, even specialist vocabulary, yet many of these papers were virtually impenetrable in their language and presentation even for me. You need to work on your communication skills and this has reinforced for me the necessity of PopLud aiming for a more readable presentation.

  2. Video your panels and presentations.

  3. Provide links and/or downloads to the papers and materials presented at your conferences. Remote and post-hoc participation improves conferences.

As it happens, Steffan’s challenge was met, with a 32% level of ID politics. Perhaps more concerning was that well over half (52%) was bollocks. Bollocks material, while not directly harmful, is a huge waste of time and effort that could otherwise be spent genuinely improving games. Very few presentations or paper here, even from the non-bollocks ones, would be considered for use in PopLud. Only 21 (15.3%) were material I would consider suitable for publishing – and this is purely on the basis of whether they contribute in any useful fashion to understanding or improving games.

This is a problem.

One response to “#Gamergate Steffan’s Challenge – Does DiGRA have an ID Politics Problem?

  1. With that high a percentage of bollocks, maybe these people don’t realize what they’re saying is bollocks. Or they’ve been so steeped in the bollocks of academia none of them can tell the difference anymore.

    My Crit theory prof told me once that you can’t just dismiss one writer as having a wank, because then you’d be able to dismiss nearly all of them because so many of them were just that.

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