Started out late from Baltimore, but I managed to get to the two main events (for me) on the second day.
The panel on Games as Mass Media Dialog Devices was, however, a disappointment. With a title and a write up as it had, I expected most of the presenters to talk about games, mass media and dialogue. Ian Bogost was first off, and he scored one out of the three, as he was presenting what is best described as a persuasive games manifesto, a description of his view of how games can be understood and created to be persuasive. At the end of his manifesto, I started wondering if what he was describing is games at all, or something else: ergodic persuasion, perhaps?
The second speaker, Cheryl Bernard, had been in Afghanistan, and obviously had a little culture shock. One of the things she had discovered what that media literacy is not instinctive or intuitive, but learned. I am very happy that she discovered this, but a little sad that she needed to go all the way to Afghanistan and feel like she was meeting natives willing to sell Manhattan for glass beads, in order to learn this. But she did get around to games in the end, and spoke with great enthusiasm for using games to teach particularly science in arabic countries. My question at the end of that was however: are games the logical solution to lack of just about EVERYTHING you need in a school, from teachers to paper.
America's Army with Chris Chambers scored a full house though. That was an exellent example of how a game can also be an arena for exchange between humans, a site of learning and a presentation of an ideology. I think they discovered that in Greece a few thousand eyars ago, but America's Army has brought it right into the electronic age.
As for Nico Mele - at this point I was exhausted by taking notes, but I did note that he went on the subway with a game in his pocket, and it beeped when he met a kid with the same game, on his way to school. A gaydar, Nina Wakeford style, but for gamers.
The keynote that day was however worth the wait. Johnny Wilson's keynote is supposed to be out there. If you can find it, read/listen to it, it was the talk to summarise a sensible, informed view of computer games and their development.
And one observation: Gamers use ALL kinds of computers, the variety was much larger than the mac-dominated academic conferences. Fun, really.
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