Media-archaeological excavations during the past decades have found traces of a technological, perhaps also cultural, origin shared by computer games and electronic art. Despite their shared origins, the discourses of ’electronic art’ and ’art games’ remain largely separate. We believe that cross-exposing these paradigms is mutually beneficial: ’playability’ emerges as a waypoint on the art-historical trajectory of interactive art. Not unlike ’plot’ in film or ’image’ in visual arts, playability’s presence in an artwork is subject to exclusion and incoherent implementation. How does the taking into account of the possibility of play challenge the existing paradigms of aesthetics and critique? Playable works oscillate between performance and signification — what are the strategies for dealing with this ambiguity? If play absorbs its players utterly and completely, what role does critical reflection play in playable art? What is to be learned from ’serious games’ that aim for simultaneously critical yet pleasurable play?
Dr. Olli Tapio Leino, Track Chair