Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Call for Papers Visions of Humanity and Videogame Cultures Oxford July 2010

5th Global Conference

Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction

Sunday 11th July 2010 - Tuesday 13th July 2010

Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project aims to explore what it is to be human and the nature of human community in cyberculture, cyberspace and science fiction. In particular, the project will explore the possibilities offered by these contexts for creative thinking about persons and the challenges posed to the nature and future of national, international, and global communities.

Papers, short papers, and workshops are invited on issues related to any of the following themes;

* the relationship between cyberculture, cyberspace, science fiction

* cyberculture, cyberpunk and the near future: utopias vs. dystopias

* science fiction and cyberpunk as a medium for exploring the nature of persons

* humans and cyborgs; the synergy of humans and technology; changing views of the body

* human and post-human concepts in cyber arts and cinema

* bodies in cyberculture; from apes to androids - electronic evolution; biotechnical advances and the impact of life, death, and social existence

* artificial intelligence and biomedia: self-organization as a cultural logic

* gender and cyberspace: new feminisms, new masculinities

* electronic persons, community and identity; cyberspace, cybercommunities, virtual worlds

* videogames and its impact on science fiction

* digital culture and interactive storytelling

* old messages, new medium: cyberspace and mass communication

* nature, enhancing nature, and artificial intelligence; artificial life, life and information systems, networked living

* human and post-human politics; cyborg citizenship and rights; influence of political technologies

* cyberpolitics, cyberdemocracy, cyberterror; old conflicts, new
spaces: elections, protest and war in cyberspace

* the state and cyberspace: repression vs. resistance

* boundaries, frontiers and taboos in cyberculture

* religion and spirituality in cyberculture

* technology vs. the natural? cyberculture and the green movement

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 15th January 2010. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 28th May 2010.

2nd Global Conference

Videogame Cultures and the Future of Interactive Entertainment

Wednesday 7th July 2010 - Friday 9th July 2010

Mansfield College, Oxford

Call for Papers

This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference aims to examine, explore and critically engage with the issues and implications created by the mass use of computers and videogames for entertainment and focus on the impact of innovative videogame titles and interfaces for human communication and ludic culture. In particular the conference will encourage equally theoretical and practical debates which surround the cultural contexts within which videogames flourish.

Papers, presentations, workshops and reports are invited on any of the following themes:

1. Videogames and Gaming

Theories and Concepts of Gaming. Identifying Key Features and Issues.
Critical Theory for Videogames: Moving past the Narratology/Ludology Debate.

2. Videogame Cultures

Emerging Practices in Online and Offline Gaming. Social Dimension of Online Gaming and Presence in Virtual Worlds. Videogame Modifications.

3. Ethical Issues in Videogames

Videogames for children. Depiction of Violence, Sex, Morality and their relation to Maturity. Propaganda Games. Censorship.

4. Videogame Technologies and the Future of Interactive Entertainment

New Forms of Interaction, Immersion and Collaboration in Videogames.
The Role of Innovative Interfaces.

4. Reception, Temporality and Video Games

Player Generations. Old Originals vs. Retro games. Indie Games and Low-Tech Aesthetic.

5. The Relations between Cinema and Videogames

Crossmedia and Transmedia Approach to Videogames. Cutscene Production. Machinimation. Interactive Storytelling.

6. Art and Experimental Games

The Aesthetic Aspects of Videogames. Performative Use of Videogames.

7. Serious Games and Virtual Worlds

Social Impact Simulations. Educational Use of Videogames. Documentary Videogames. Political Issues.

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 15th January 2010. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 28th May 2010.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Avatar's Freedom of Speech? No way says US Federal Court...

It appears that Erik Estavillo, the unsuccessful plaintiff in Estavillo v Sony Computer Entertainment America, 2009 WL 3072887 (ND Cal Sept 22, 2009) has decided to appeal that decision.
Estavillo was banned from the Sony Playstation 3 Network due to violations of the Sony ToS regarding use of the Network, with respect to his use of the public forums (allegedly due to verbal comments made by him while playing 'Resistance'). Estavillo claimed that this ban violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment.
In the brief judgment (so brief it would make my students cheer with joy!) Judge Ronald Whyte stated:
'Sony's Network is not similar to a company town. The Network does not serve a substantial portion of a municipality's functions, but rather serves solely as a forum for people to interact subject to specific contractual terms. Every regulation Sony applies in the Network is confined in scope only to those entertainment services that Sony provides. Although the Network does include "virtual spaces" such as virtual "homes" and a virtual "mall" that are used by a substantial number of users...these "spaces" serve solely to enrich the entertainment services on Sony's private network. In providing this electronic space that users can voluntarily choose to entertain themselves with, Sony is merely providing a robust commercial product, and is not "performing the full spectrum of municipal powers and [standing] in the shoes of the State.'
This characterisation may come as a disappointment to some who had been theorising that virtual worlds could be treated as a company town for First Amendment purposes, see, for example, Jack Balkin's 2004 article
Virtual Liberty: Freedom to Design and Freedom to Play in Virtual Worlds.
(see also his more recent article on The Future of Free Expression in a Digital Age for an updated approach to these issues.)
This is not the end of the story and the outcomes will be watched with interest.