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meaningful play 2012 travel

Session Information

TitlePlay the Past: Where Meaningful Play and Digital Humanities Meet to Talk
Presenter(s)Jeremy Antley

Emily Bembeneck, Univeristy of Michigan

Roger Travis, University of Connecticut

Ethan Watrall, Michigan State University
TimeThursday, October 18, 11:00a-12:00p
LocationGold A
DescriptionIn this panel session four contributors to the collaborative blog "Play the Past" present their perspectives on how games, and play more generally, are transforming the practice of the humanities both digital and analogue (or should that be "both digital and less-obviously-digital"?). Each presenter will outline his/her perspective briefly, leaving ample time for open discussion.

Jeremy Antley will look at historically-themed board games and ask what sort of engagement players take on when processing the narrative assemblage involved in the act of play. Abstracted models often play on assumptions or well understood narratives in order to achieve effect, yet this abstraction gives players more agency in determining for themselves what the ultimate meaning of gameplay should be, in addition to possible avenues for augmentation through player modifications.

Emily Bembeneck will look at the medium of videogames in particular as especially suited for telling multi-modal, multi-linear stories. As a playground of cooperative authorship between designers and players, games offer the opportunity for individuals to cooperatively create their own experiences of the past and explore its place in cultural identity and heritage. Through an understanding of the construction and function of cooperative, multi-linear stories, Emily argues that we as designers and educators can take particular advantage of video games to explore and experience our histories.

Roger Travis will suggest that the concept of "practomime" that he has explored on Play the Past over the last two years, which arises in his reading of homeric epic performance and modern game-play (in particular digital game-play) as exactly isomorphic, allows humanists to get traction over the essentially and increasingly performative nature of digital culture both for teaching and for scholarship. He will outline an argument that, in turn, a thick description of digital culture as a set of practomimetic performances provides powerful support for the continued need for sophisticated humanistic inquiry.

Ethan Watrall will explore the potential of applying digital games within archaeology for the purposes of education, outreach, and engagement. In particular, he will suggest that games have significant potential to address the complex and highly relevant questions that archaeologists explore through their research, such as the nature of complex culture change, the impact of people on the environment, and the causes and consequences of social collapse.

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