30 November, 20:00 CET
The Hmm IN Gaming Spaces
Since their inception, video games have brought people together. From arcade halls to multiplayer games on consoles to LAN parties to massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
During the lockdown, online get-togethers in gaming spaces increased and attracted more new players. Gaming spaces also became much more visible, as streaming platform Twitch surged in popularity and celebrities, like traditionally non-gaming influencers and politicians, started showcasing their online gaming sessions on the platform. Hanging with friends in an online game also proved to be a good antidote for Zoom-fatigue. For many people, playing a game of Fortnite with some friends on a voice chat was more fun than hopping on yet another video call after having to do those all day for work or school. And it doesn’t hurt that having the game to focus on also makes for easy conversation.
Outside of these online games, where you and your friends can meet in a closed off environment, MMORPG’s offer open worlds where you can run into strangers from around the globe. When urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg came up with the principle of the “third place”—social surroundings that are not one’s home (the first place) or workplace (the second place) and are vital to civil society, democracy and more—examples of spaces that fulfilled this role were churches, cafes, public libraries or bookstores. A lot of these traditional third places are now in decline and MMORPG’s could be seen as new, virtual type of third places which offer an alternative environment to meet new friends, or even lovers.
During this online event we focus on the social impact, possibilities, and power of gaming spaces. What can online multiplayer gaming environments offer that other spaces can’t? How do they compare to other online social spaces such as video meeting platforms or message boards? How are communities created in these spaces? And how can we use avatars to explore our identities in these environments?
How does it work?
We’re inviting 5 speakers who will each do a 5-minute talk. Each speaker will be presenting in a different gaming space, so as a visitor you jump from game to game to view all the presentations. After you bought a ticket, we will send you more detailed instructions per email on how to follow the program in the days leading up to the event.
The Hmm IN…
The Hmm IN… is a series of events taking place in various online spaces. During these events we hop from platform to platform, to explore and experiment with the structure of online events. If you buy a ticket for this event, we’ll send instructions on how to join the platforms we’re using per email beforehand.
Phoebe Oathout is a writer who was recently nominated for a PEN Dau Prize in debut fiction and is the current managing editor of The Hopkins Review. She’ll be joining us tonight to talk about her flash piece “Chainmail Bikini,” which mirrors her experience as a kid playing online games (including MMORPGs like Runescape) long before she transitioned: “Back then, I always told strangers I was a woman IRL, and they often asked me to be their virtual girlfriends. Through this system, I dated about a dozen men online when in the real world, I was a middle school boy. I was lying to these men, but saying I did something morally wrong feels reductive. After all, they might have been lying right back to me.”
What kinds of team dynamics emerge in multi-player games? Sarjon is a multidisciplinary artist whose research focuses on alter egos, character design, and worldbuilding in identity politics through vanity. They’ll be joining us to talk about their experience with the online, multi-player game League of Legends. They’ll be sharing anecdotes about gamer hierarchies, the term Noob (bad gamer) that determines the position of non-gamers within the game, and their experience with penalties and reporting. Link
Berend te Linde
Berend te Linde is an artist that is interested in understanding systems, and uses reverse engineering as a basis for his artistic production. He is interested in the relationship and tensions between the physical and the digital and likes experimenting with the idea of self portraiture. He is currently pursuing a masters degree in media design in Tokyo Japan. Berend will be joining us to do a short presentation about hacking video games as an artistic medium. Link
Evelyn is a gamer and an organizational psychologist who specialises in teamwork. She grew up playing competitive team-based games like Dota, CS:GO, and League of Legends and was always mind-boggled by why effective teamwork was so difficult to achieve when playing solo. So she went on to do a PhD to figure out how to build cohesive teams, and will be joining us to talk about her paper that just got published on how communication patterns relate to cohesion in ad hoc League of Legends teams. Link
Tim Flusk is a Game Developer and associate lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. He’s joining us for a talk questioning the collaboration and intimacy of multiplayer online spaces and games.