[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 1: Is green gaming an oxymoron?

Alenda Chang achang at filmandmedia.ucsb.edu
Tue Mar 3 02:24:42 AEDT 2020

Good morning from California! I am thrilled to have Lauren Woolbright,
Jeff Watson, and Sonia Fizek join me for week one of March 2020's
discussion on The Mixed Realities of Games. Lauren and I have been
talking about this topic at the Association for Study of Literature
and Environment (ASLE) for years now, Jeff and I were both bemused
guest panelists at the historic Rancho Los Alamitos discussion in 2017
on "The Future Today," and Sonia was the intrepid editor who oversaw a
special issue of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds on so-called
"permadeath" games (where you don't have infinite lives, just one),
which I co-edited with Braxton Soderman and Jesus Costantino. Fun to
have them all mixed up here on my favorite topic (more to come).

Week's topic: Is green gaming an oxymoron?

Even as scholars and designers like Colin Milburn ("Green Gaming:
Video Games and Environmental Risk"), Ben Abraham (on climate change
games), and yours truly have made the case that games can enable
imaginative and ecologically minded forms of gameplay alongside the
usual, less lofty modes, games like all digital media partake in
largely unsustainable models of energy and resource use. This dilemma
is highlighted by the new Playing For The Planet Alliance, launched on
September 23, 2019, which according to the site happened "at UN
Headquarters in New York, on the occasion of the UN
Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. 14 CEOs were present to
deliver their company commitments. In total, these will: reach more
than 970 million video game players, reduce emissions by 30 million
tonnes CO2 by 2030, plant millions of trees, advance energy
conservation, increase consumer awareness via in-game menus and game
design, reduce plastics and toxics in packaging, improve circular
economy in plastic and electronic device (e-waste) management, and
catalyze a new global scale ally in planetary problem-solving."


This week, we ask, how do games represent, obscure, or potentially
intervene in environmental issues? What infrastructures does play
demand, from power, plugs, and the new move to game “streaming,” to
recognized problems of resource extraction and e-waste? What forms of
imaginative environmental/ecological play bear mentioning?

Let's have a chat.
Alenda (Chang)


Guest bios:
Prof. Dr. Sonia Fizek, Cologne Game Lab (DE)
Sonia Fizek describes herself as a digital wanderer and a ludic
thinker. On a more formal note, she is a videogames and media scholar,
holding a professorship in Media and Game Studies at the Cologne Game
Lab at Technical University of Cologne (TH Koeln). Sonia is also a
co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. Her
current work explores the newly emerging relationship patterns between
players and games as well as play and automation to conceptualise new
ways of “intra-acting” with playful digital technology. She is also a
co-founder of “GREETA: Green Production Assistant” (greeta.eu), a
solution for green shooting and production in film in its early
research stage. Questions of green gaming (from the production,
consumption and hardware perspectives) are the most recent fields she
is interested in.

Jeff Watson (US)
Jeff Watson, Ph.D. (@remotedevice) is an Assistant Professor of
Interactive Media and Games at the University of Southern California
School of Cinematic Arts, and a director of the Situation Lab
(@sitlab). An interdisciplinary scholar-designer, Watson uses a range
of methods to investigate the relationships among play, technology,
creativity, and politics. His written works have appeared in journals
such as The Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures, the
International Journal of Learning and Media, and Well Played; and in
books such as Alternate Reality Gaming and the Cusp of Digital
Gameplay (Bloomsbury 2018) and Game Design Workshop (CRC Press 2014).
His artistic and design efforts have reached international audiences,
receiving coverage from publications such as Wired and Fast Company,
and winning awards including the 2012 Impact Award at the IndieCade
International Festival of Independent Games, and the 2015 Most
Significant Futures Award from the Association of Professional
Futurists. Watson is currently completing a book about play,
technology, and power after the Internet.

Lauren Woolbright (US)
Dr. Lauren Woolbright is a professor of new media studies at Alma
College in Alma, MI. She researches and teaches game design,
interactive media, media history, theory, and culture, environmental
communication, and social and environmental justice.

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