[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2: Analog by design

Alenda Chang achang at filmandmedia.ucsb.edu
Mon Mar 9 04:13:32 AEDT 2020

Greetings, empyre! This week, we're lucky to be joined by discussants
Derek Curry, Brent Povis, Aaron Trammell, and Timothy Welsh. Tim's
work on "mixed realism" and the perennial bugbear of violence in video
games helped frame this month's discussion. The last time I saw Derek,
I was playing his game WarTweets (made w/Jennifer Gradecki) at the
2019 SLSArcade, which turns Trump's tweets into missiles that have to
be neutralized by direct Twitter participation. I know Aaron from his
dedication to carving out a space for analog game studies in a
digitally dominated world (witness the journal
http://analoggamestudies.org/). And finally, I'm fannishly excited to
have Brent Povis join this conversation as a working board/card game
designer, whose game Morels is a favorite in my household and
simulates--what else?--a mushroom-hunting walk in the woods
(http://www.twolanternsgames.com/the-morels-story.html). Beware
destroying angels.

Week's topic: Analog by design
In many ways, this week's focus extends last week's concern with the
sustainability of gaming and the need for environmental forms of play.
Over the next seven days, let's make room to talk about all the
non-digital games, or digital games that deliberately cross thresholds
into the "real" world (e.g. alternate-reality, pervasive, locative,
augmented-reality, serious, art games), or "RL" activities treated as
games (gamification, neoliberal capitalism). Furthermore, how might an
attention to the analog reorient us toward the material underpinnings
of games, from player labor (playbor) to game development workforce
issues (diversity, unionization), or games deliberately meant to be
destroyed or played a limited number of times (legacy)?



Guest bios:

Derek Curry
Derek Curry is an Assistant Professor in the College of Arts, Media
and Design at Northeastern University. His interdisciplinary practice
combines artistic production with research techniques from the
humanities, science and technology studies, natural language
processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. He uses a
practice-based research approach to investigate topics where
information may be limited, and to create artworks and games that
provide an experiential understanding of topics where information may
be limited, such as automated decision-making systems used by
algorithmic stock trading systems and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
gathering practices.

Brent Povis
There are few times on any given day when Brent Povis (US) is not
designing, playing, or fantasizing about playing tabletop games. This
obsession began at a young age when he realized that most 80’s family
fare in board gaming was lackluster, struggled with that reality, then
was floored by the realization that he had the power to change them.
Brent has been delighted to see the renaissance in board gaming over
the past quarter-century, inspired designs now ubiquitous across
genres and themes. He enjoys the creative challenge of bringing the
outdoors to the kitchen table, art kinetic with sunshine and rustling
leaves and tactics based on evaluation of multiple positive options
such that each turn is like the choice between competing forest paths,
knowing that the day hinges on the moment but that in the end both
present the best of all possible worlds. His 2-player strategy game
Morels (2014 Card Game of the Year) expresses his fascination with
foraging, Agility (2016 Best 2-Player Game Nominee) with animal
behavior, and designs in process our shared attempts to fathom the

Aaron Trammell
Aaron Trammell is an assistant professor of Informatics at UC Irvine.
He graduated from the Rutgers University School of Communication and
Information in 2015 and spent a year at the Annenberg School of
Communication at USC as a postdoctoral researcher. Aaron’s research
looks at the persistence of analog games in today's digital world. He
is interested in how political and social ideology is integrated in
the practice of game design and how these perspectives are negotiated
within the imaginations of players. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the
journal *Analog Game Studies* and the Multimedia Editor of *Sounding

Timothy Welsh
Dr. Timothy J. Welsh is an associate professor of English at Loyola
University New Orleans where he teaches in the Film+Digital Media
concentration. He is the author of Mixed Realism: Videogames and the
Violence of Fiction as well as articles on videogames, digital
culture, and literary theory.

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