[ISEA2011] Panel: Olli Leino – From Play­ful Strate­gies to Playa­bil­ity

Panel Statement

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