Panel: Playing the non-playful: On the critical potential of play at the overlap of videogames and electronic art
The technological make-up and interface conventions of many electronic artworks invite configurative audience practices which resemble those we are familiar with from the context of computer game play. Thus it is not surprising that some contemporary critics have seen it necessary to be concerned about the associations between play and media art. Previously at ISEA2008, Daniel Palmer in The Critical Ambivalence of Play in Media Art, concerned with media art’s “association with entertainment spectacle” suggested that if “media art aspires to be taken seriously by the broader contemporary art world, the links between media art, children and mass culture are fatal.” In this presentation I seek to clarify the origins of the linkage perceived by Palmer, by reconceptualising the play-component evident in new media art through describing it simultaneously as a stylistic strategy, playfulness, with its roots deep in art history, and as a technological affordance, playability, inviting a unique kind of engagement best conceptualized through existentialist terms of freedom and responsibility. Recognizing playfulness and playability as separate characteristics, I observe that their coexistence in new media art is accidental rather than essential, and there is room for a variety of artistic strategies for negotiating their interrelations.
- Olli Tapio Leino is a new media scholar focusing on computer games, interactive art and contemporary media culture from the perspectives of critical ludology, philosophy of technology and existential phenomenology. He earned his PhD from the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His PhD dissertation Emotions in Play: On the constitution of emotion in solitary computer game play is a phenomenological analysis of the relationship between a computer game’s materiality and the player’s emotional experience. Olli has published in the fields of game studies, new media art and philosophy of computer games. He has been involved in consultancy and applied research projects on computer game player’s experience, game design for emotions, and pervasive and mobile media. In his current research Olli seeks to combine game studies with critical aesthetics and media archaeology in order to assess the role of playability at the overlaps of interactive art and computer games and to rethink the sedimented assumptions underlying the paradigm of game studies.
Full text (PDF) p. 1496-1501