Digital Games Research Association #digra11

Ok, so I suck at updating this blog.

A few weeks ago I attended the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA)’s bi-annual meeting. This year it was at Hilversum, The Netherlands!

The last time I went was in 2005 when it was in Vancouver. Since then, I just couldn’t fit it into my graduate student budget, being in Tokyo and London. This year, I am a little more solvent as a postdoc and decided that I really needed to go to catch up on the European games research scene. DiGRA is trying to be relevant and global, but I think it’s traditionally been mostly Europeans. (This topic was discussed at length by TL Taylor, Bart Simon, and Annika Waern during late-night drinking, but I don’t know really what came out of it… tho there *is* a new DiGRA journal now!)

Anyway, I was part of a panel on theorycrafting with Kristine Ask, Chris Paul, Faltin Karlsen, and Torill Mortensen (who unfortunately couldn’t make it). It was great, and many thanks to my co-panelists.

I was also in a supervisor match where I got to be the “senior scholar” to Fatima Jonsson as she talked about research she and two others, Lina Eklund and Magnus Johansson, did to compare guild supports in three MMOGs. Pretty interesting stuff. They should definitely follow up on their studies if they can.

There’s all sorts of weird things about my experiences with life in Hilversum including a hotel manager who smoked inside, leaving doors to rooms open (where my laptop was just right there for the grabbing), and crappy wifi at both the hotel and at the conference. Oh, there was also a really mean Dutch woman who wouldn’t give me an empty cup that I could take to fill up with water when there were plenty of free cups elsewhere in the room. When I grabbed one of those free ones, she challenged me that it was for the free coffee and hot water machine, forcing me to serve myself hot drink before refilling it with cold tap water. Sheesh.

The conference itself was really great, though puzzlingly expensive. Rumors abound regarding mismanagement and stubbornness of the organizers, but I won’t say more since I have no idea what I’m talking about. The format for the talks was innovative, matching people up against each other, but it didn’t work that well. They need to provide more support for matched presenters, probably even make matched sessions one of the categories to be submitted to rather than forcing everyone into a match. (Most of the presenters ditched the match format and just did regular presentations.) There was a board game store providing a library of table-top games to play between sessions (and it was really, really fun playing games with a cool bunch of people on the last day). In a lot of ways, it felt like a European version of the Games Learning Society conference. I think GLS’s Hall of Fail worked out better than the matches though…

I met a ton of people including Melinda Jacobs who I’ve agreed to help on a book project collecting stories of gamers–kind of a coffee table type book. And I mostly hung out with Jennifer Killham, the rogue gnome clone.

Very good croissants. Very tiny cups. On the way home, I took a photo of the in-flight cup of orange juice, marveling at how big it was… 🙂

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