The Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group’s (GIG) second event of the Autumn Quarter is on Thursday, November 17, 3:30-5:30 PM, in Communication 202.  This is our second public reading group/workshop of the year and will focus on the gaming term “Time.”

The Keywords for Video Game Studies working group, in collaboration with the Critical Gaming Project at the University of Washington and the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), is supported by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

What to Expect
The format for the reading group/workshop is simple: read, play, gather, discuss.  (And share in some refreshments.)  Though our immediate audience is graduate students, our goal is to bring together people from a variety of fields and from all different points in their academic careers who have an interest in video game studies.  The reading group/workshop format allows us to frame the discussion with a handful of short essays, a few key games, and the rest is up to participants to tease out the issues and angles related to the day’s key word.

What to Read
We hope everyone can read and come prepared to discuss the following essays:

  • Steven Poole, excerpt “Time, gentlemen please,” Trigger Happy (2000)
  • Jesper Juul, Ch.4 “Fiction,” esp. “Time in Games” pgs.141-162, Half-Real (2005)
  • Jesper Juul, Ch.2 “What is Casual?” The Casual Revolution (2010)

If you have a UWNetID, you can find copies of each essay on e-reserve.  If you do not have access to UW e-reserves, please contact us and we’ll work something out.

What to Play
Though we will undoubtedly talk about many different games, we have selected the following games to serve as common points of reference for our discussion. The games marked with an * are playable for free. The other games require some online research on Wikipedia, Youtube, etc.

What to Discuss
The second session for the 2011-12 Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate working group addresses the design techniques and player experience of “time” in games. If part of the sea change in gaming has been toward the social, both through greater integration and harnessing of gamer communities and more elaborate, collaborative multiplayer experiences (as discussed in our previous keyword session on “Democracy”), it also includes a corresponding change in how player time is conceived of and valued in game design and game marketing, as well as how players spend and experience it. As Jesper Juul notes in his recent book, the “casual revolution” in gaming includes an increased attention to time investment by the player. This should lead us to consider how time is spent in gameplay (grinding, reflecting, watching, reading, etc.), how it is managed and archived by the game systems (auto save points? missions? pausing? progress metrics?) and even how it is made an asset in play itself (achievement and experience systems).

Unfortunately, not much critical attention  has been given to the topic of time in game studies publications beyond its role in thinking about narrative in games, so our  readings from Steven Poole and Jesper Juul will serve better as starting frameworks  and concept toolboxes than as arguable or provocative viewpoints. In place of a central critical foil we will explore a series of games including Passage, Progress Quest, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Braid, Plants vs. Zombies, Gauntlet, TES4: Oblivion, and World of Warcraft, all of which that offer radically different approaches to time that prompt many interesting questions:

  • What are the distinguishable temporalities involved in gameplay?
  • How do games use time as a resource? To what effects?
  • How would a time-focused view of gameplay (rather than theme or genre-based focus) expand the critical conversation about games?

Feel free to comment on these here or add your own questions.  Either way, come be a part of our discussion Thursday, November 17, 3:30-5:30 in CMU 202.

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