Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grimes and Feenberg Workshop: Rationalizing Play, March 1st at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology

Workshop: Rationalizing Play: A Critical Theory of Digital Gaming

Tuesday March 1 6:00 - 9:00 PM
SARA GRIMES Faculty of Information (iSchool), University of Toronto
Special guest Andrew Feenberg, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University

McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
39A Queens Park Crescent E. – Parking available off 121 St. Joseph St. Toronto

In this workshop we will present and discuss a new framework for the study of games as sites of social rationalization based on Feenberg’s critical theory of technology. We will begin by making the case for a consideration of games (non-digital and digital) as systems of social rationality, akin to other modern systems such as capitalist markets and bureaucratic organizations. We will then present a conceptualization of play as a process through which the player focuses attention away from the undifferentiated action of everyday life toward a differentiated sphere of playful activity. This approach reveals how the experience of play changes as it becomes rationalized through the technological mediation, specifically computerization, and widespread standardization that occurs as games become largescale social practices. We will review our theory of the rationalization of play, ludification (Grimes & Feenberg, 2009), and outline the key components or processes found in socially rationalized games. Workshop participants will be invited to discuss different applications of ludification as an analytic framework, explore with us its limitations, as well as consider alternate or oppositional tendencies found within digital game technologies and culture.

This workshop is open to all within and outside academia. You are encouraged to register online:https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/workshop-rationalizing-play-a-critical-theory-of-digital-gaming-tickets-20422858319

Updated March 4: Here are my slides from Tuesday's workshop:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hey, I forgot to mention...our book is out!!!

Edited by wonderful Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca Hains, Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls Imaginations and Identities provides a comprehensive, nuanced and cutting edge look at the various facets, functions and incarnations of "princess culture" within contemporary girlhood. I feel extremely honoured to have a chapter included in this compilation, entitled "Rescue the Princess: The Videogame Princess as Prize, Parody, and Protagonist," which examines some of the key princesses archetypes found in video games.  The book is part of Peter Lang's Mediated Youth series, edited by Sharon R. Mozzarella, and is available in most book stores, as well as from the publisher website.

Reminder: Freedom to Read Week Starts this Sunday (Feb. 21-27)

Freedom to Read Week (Canada's version of Banned Books Week) runs from February 21st to 27th this year. As usual, the official site is a great resource for both finding out more and for accessing various free materials, kits and fact sheets that you can share with your students, friends, family and community groups. This year's kit contains some particularly great articles, including one by Nicole Brewer on who gets to decide what kids and teens read, as well as one by Donald Lynch exploring the freedom to read versus political correctness.

You can also check out the most recent list of the most frequently challenged books in Canada, combining results from the past 5 years, and the more comprehensive Challenged Works List. It's both illuminating/infuriating and a great place to find out about controversial books you might want to read during Freedom to Read Week (it's always fun to read a challenged book in defiance/solidarity/celebration), and beyond. This year, I'm going to check out the award winning Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann, and Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett (Illustrated by Matt Myers).