Reconciling Games


This was the opening keynote at the Foundations of Digital Games conference in 2017, held in Hyannis on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.


Over the last few years, much of game studies has focused on centering the player, and indeed this year the theme of this conference is celebrating the player. And yet, we are also seeing a fascinating body of work developing around the creation of bots, AIs, and procedural creations which might fairly be said to be centering the played instead. We are seeing the science of player modeling developing at a rapid rate, which might be termed the process of turning a player into the played. We’ve also seen, over the years, debates about ludology versus narratology. Debates about formalism and ontology and culture. Debates about play and rules, play and structure, play and game. We’ve heard that the game is the interface. That the interface is irrelevant…

It’s all rather tiring, isn’t it?

A ray of hope exists, however, in the fact that as digital literacy has risen, more and more people – practitioners, academics, critics, scholars – are comfortable moving across fields, and having consilient discussions.  In this talk, I will discuss the cross-disciplinary approaches that have become my personal lodestones, as a practicing designer who is fascinated by systems and yet also regards the game designer’s actual canvas as being the human mind.