Food for Thought — Lunchtime Reflections


By Marisa Incremona, IWP Intern, Sophomore Extraordinaire

Hi IWP Fans,

As we’re breaking for lunch, there’s time for a short reflection on the exciting panels that have already been happened. One of the first panels of the day was “Experimentation, Design, and Gameplay.” The presentations included Saenz’s work on “Anthem,” a game project under development, Hontz’s discussion of flow in game play to alleviate anxiety or boredom, Pang and DeBenedetto’s work on integrating gaming and education by discussing two games they developed, “Corgi Academy” and “Code Crumbs.” The presentations sparked much interest in the audience, and the presenters interacted with the audience to explain what aspects of gaming would be appropriate for classroom interactions.

A panel that provided much discussion was titled “Narrated Gameplay, Global Communities.” Velgos presented a wonderful argument on global MMORPG communities, and Ziats, Davidson, Mendoza, and Mendez showed the audience how Pokémon can help us think more critically about videogames and what we can learn from videogames.

The high quality of presentations continued during the sessions before lunch when the presenters in “Narratives, Social Reality, and Gaming” addressed the importance of paying close attention to how videogames shape reality. Wake successfully discussed meaning and meta-narrative in “Spec Ops: The Line,” and Longley focused on aggression in videogames, especially arguing for future studies that would pay close attention to how aggression is expressed in games and by gamers. Mckay discussed video games as a cognitive model of reality and convinced his audience with his clear presentation, including contextual information so that the audience, gamers and non-gamers, could follow his argument. Kuvent in his presentation wanted to know whether there is such a thing as too much freedom in gaming.

IMG_0259In Panel 4, “Gender, Perceptions, and Gaming,” Kral focused on the evolution of the portrayal of female escort characters in video games (Kral is showing us his presentation outline right here). Horner discussed the conflict involving women in the gaming industry and the low number of women designers in the gaming industry, and Martinez showed how negative gender roles are being reinforced by many games, which, during the discussion time, was attributed to the low number of women game designers. The presenters used numerous examples of gendered and often sexist video games in order to support their arguments, also pointing out that women represent 45% of gamers. One presenter, Shelton, also focused on moral ambiguity in Fallout 3, a role-playing open action video game that takes place in 2277. The absence of “shades of gray,” the presenter argued, doesn’t reflect “real world attitudes.”

Lunch and gameplay concluded the morning activities, but the hallway was filled with continuing discussions about everything we had learned in the sessions we attended. Even though the pizza came late, the enthusiasm for the symposium remained high, and League of Legends and Call of Duty fans were playing during the intermission.

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We’re now moving on to Faculty Gameplay (you go, surgeons Barron and Huenneke!), where several members of our own faculty and members of the community get a chance to get their hands dirty and participate. Participants include faculty from the Department of English, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters, the Provost, and community members who wanted to participate in this very bloody but also very educational event. Team play is in high demand, and blood is flowing freely. Who will be able to save the patient? Will women be better at surgery than men? Does gender matter at all when wielding a hammer to smash in a patient’s sternum and ribcage? What team skills and strategies are necessary to make sure that we do our best to use the hammer with skill and finesse? Or should we have used the electric saw instead? Or maybe it should have been the drill that was conveniently placed on the surgeon’s tray?

More to come soon! And sadly, the patient did not live, despite hammer, saw, and drill! Community members John Boreen and Randy Kinsel are still shocked at committing such cruel murder.

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–Marisa

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