[ISEA2011] Panel: Dan Dixon – The Cul­tural Aes­thet­ics of Per­va­sive Gam­ing

Panel Statement

Panel: Pervasive Media: Practice, Value, Culture

The vi­sion for Per­va­sive Gam­ing is often grandiose, noth­ing less than the play­ful mix­ing of game struc­tures and the every­day, the world as a game-board and life as the plea­sur­able in­ter­weav­ing of nor­mal­ity and game. But the cur­rent re­al­ity is loca­tive games with sim­ple me­chan­ics, ARGs played in in­tro­verted com­mu­ni­ties and new, urban sports played with­out any tech­nol­ogy. The field of per­va­sive gam­ing has an epic vi­sion, but an every­day tra­jec­tory. The ex­pe­ri­ences of these games can­not be eval­u­ated purely on the game or play it­self. The play­ers and de­sign­ers of these games sit in a web of sig­nif­i­cance that ex­tends well be­yond the games, the events and sit­u­a­tions that these games are played in. The aes­thet­ics of these games is only ap­pre­cia­ble when the cul­tural sit­u­a­tion they are em­bed­ded in is ap­pre­ci­ated. It is in this that they are truly per­va­sive, rather than based on mo­bile or ubiq­ui­tous tech­nol­ogy. The vi­sion for Per­va­sive Media is also grandiose, yet the ap­pli­ca­tions are also often banal and quo­tid­ian. What are the par­al­lels be­tween an un­der­stand­ing of the cul­ture and aes­thetic ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Per­va­sive Gam­ing, and Per­va­sive Media in gen­eral?

  • Dan Dixon is Se­nior Lec­turer in Cre­ative Tech­nolo­gies at the Uni­ver­sity of the West of Eng­land, UK. His re­search in­ter­ests are so­cial media, com­puter gam­ing, and ubiq­ui­tous/phys­i­cal/per­va­sive com­put­ing. Prior to mov­ing to acad­e­mia, he worked for ten years in com­mer­cial web de­sign and de­vel­op­ment roles as Se­nior Con­sul­tant with Head­shift, UK’s lead­ing So­cial Soft­ware com­pany, as Prod­uct Man­ager for the BBC’s on­line com­mu­ni­ties and Pro­duc­tion Di­rec­tor for Lon­don new media agency Syzygy. His re­search uses ethnog­ra­phy to study the play­ers, de­sign­ers and or­gan­is­ers of per­va­sive gam­ing events and fes­ti­vals. This cre­ates an un­der­stand­ing of the spe­cific aes­thet­ics of these new forms of phys­i­cal, tech­nol­ogy aug­mented, gam­ing. He is con­struct­ing a crit­i­cal, em­pir­i­cal, frame­work for un­der­stand­ing these games as a so­cial and cul­tural phe­nom­ena, whilst also ask­ing the ques­tion of whether this re­flects the emer­gence of a ‘ludic so­ci­ety’.