dmyers.us

I am David Myers. This is my website.

I am a Professor at Loyola University New Orleans USA.

This site contains an archived version of my semi-retired Loyola University Homepage, a brief description of the books I’ve written, a list of my academic presentations and publications over the last several years, and a blog where I only occasionally post.

You can navigate by clicking on the Post-Post-K menu overhead.

Clicking on “Home” within that menu takes you to the blog, where you are now.

PoCG | St. Petersburg

Double Game Philosophy Conference

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Matchmaking games and art: What’s the best fit? | pdf

Excerpt…

This essay examines preconceptions of art — popular and theoretical — to determine which of these seem particularly amenable to the consideration of games as art and which seem particularly averse to that consideration. Clearly, conventional definitions of art — ie, what the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy calls “conventionalist” (or “institutional”) definitions — have come to accept games as art. 

One distinctively modern, conventionalist, sort of definition focuses on art’s institutional features, emphasizing the way art changes over time, modern works that appear to break radically with all traditional art, the relational properties of artworks that depend on works’ relations to art history, art genres, etc. – more broadly, on the undeniable heterogeneity of the class of artworks.

Adajian, 2018, online

In 2012, New York’s Museum of Modern Art placed fourteen video games in a permanent collection focusing on the artistry of the game’s “design elements.” Should we be convinced by the decision-making of contemporary collators and critics, then “recent developments in the medium have been widely recognized as clear indications that some video games should be regarded as art works” (Smuts, 2005, online).

However, there are objections. And some of these objections are severe. Among the most noteworthy in their cynicism towards games as art are those more formal and discriminating definitions of art, lumped together in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as “aesthetic” definitions. This category includes essentialist approaches listing one or more necessary and required features of a work of art. These features are then found conspicuously absent in games and game play. 

A third category of definitions of art — “hybrid/disjunctive” — attempts to reconcile the first two, typically offering a formal set of aesthetic features with fuzzy boundaries. Gaut’s (2000) “cluster” definition of art is an example of this sort of definition — as is Juul’s (2005) definition of games.

This essay examines current definitions of art and artworks in hopes of finding a potential suitor for the notion of games as art. Under what circumstances and assumptions might the marriage of games and art be made most reasonable?

Games are not | The video

Just saw this.

Sign of the times.

But I do appreciate the effort.

Twixt redux.

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Some regurgitated notoriety is coming at me from the City of Heroes resurgence.

For those late to the party and/or in need of a refresher course, check here. This link is a good third-party summary (no strings attached) and, unlike others, is still available online.

You can also search for “Twixt” on this blog from the pull-down menu overhead.

The whole and nothing but the truth is here and, more specifically, here.

Games & Literary Theory | Copenhagen


Here be metalepses.


Excerpt…

In effect, the game’s culminate context of interpretation — a context in which all values and meanings of all game objects are fully realized and most efficiently applied by the expert player — is not found in the resolution of discourse but in the intermittent and ongoing resolutions of repeated play. And, insofar as these resolutions are always in the future — i. e., in further game replay — the culminate context of the game is an idealization of play. As there is no parallel idealization of fictionality, the pervasive ontological metalepsis of games and game replay remains distinct from the indeterminate ontological metalepsis of fiction and narrative. In narratives, metalepsis is to be resolved; in gameplay, metalepsis is to be achieved.


preliminary slides [pptx]

ITRA | Paris


What can’t be a toy?


EXCERPT | Introduction

What are the formal properties of toys?

Curiously, formal toy definitions have received less scholarly attention than formal game definitions.  While Suits (2005), Caillois (1961), and Huizinga (1955) are commonly cited in an ongoing debate on the nature of games, formal or otherwise, there is no analogous canon of theory and theorists — and comparatively little available literature — on the formal properties of toys. This reveals a critical difference in common conceptualizations of games and toys: While the form of the game intrigues us, the form of the toy is considered less critical and therein, perhaps, less interesting.  Indeed, it might be assumed that any formal object can be played with as a toy and, as a consequence of that playing, become a toy.

But this assumption has complications. Some objects are banned from becoming toys, regardless of their playability: “dangerous” objects. For instance, while current commercial classifications of “toy” are quite broad (and based more on function rather than form)…

Products designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use in play by children under 14 years of age.

Council of the Safety of Toys, 2009, p. 11

…these definitions are inevitably qualified with exceptions, prominently including “essential safety requirements.” These requirements clarify important formal properties — both material and conceptual — that exclude some objects from becoming toys.

Another significant — and less culturally determined — complication to the notion that any object can become a toy is found in those objects that, if and when they are played with as toys, are destroyed.  These include physically delicate objects as well as conceptually delicate objects such as models, simulations, and games.

This essay examines the formal properties of those objects excluded from becoming toys in order to more clearly delineate, if any such exist, the formal properties of toys.  These properties of toys then allow speculation on the limits and boundaries of toys: How might these be determined and manipulated?


preliminary slides [pptx]

Games & Literary Theory | Montreal

 


How dissonant is ludonarrative dissonance?


Excerpt…

Here, I wish to try a different approach and examine the dissonant experience itself: examine the effect of dissonance more generally without necessarily attributing that dissonance to any specific properties of game or narrative.

To this end, I will conceive dissonance as a generic phenomenon associated with human information processing:  a consequence of processing information from two disparate sources. This assumption assumes ludonarrative dissonance is a subset of other, more broadly conceived and potentially generic human dissonant experiences, and that classifying ludonarrative dissonance as similar (or at least analogous) to these other experiences may be enlightening in ways that detailing differences between game and narrative has not yet been.


Excerpt…

In this more radical interpretation of ludonarrative dissonance, the incompatibility is not in two disparate informational channels, but rather in two interpretive frameworks — two disparate cognitive mechanisms (or “paradigms” in the Kuhnian sense) — that are required to interpret and experience game and narrative.

These two distinct modes — liminality and narrativity — originate within the natural history of our species and continue to influence us much in the same manner as did their original forms:  one fundamentally experiential and expressive, the other fundamentally social and communicative.

Myers, 2017, p. 64

Which of these two competing scenarios is most likely could then be suggested — if not determined — with reference to the nature of ludonarrative dissonance. Does this dissonance recede as knowledge and skill is applied toward its resolution, or does it persist?  The intractable persistence of ludonarrative dissonance is at least one indicator of the intractability of two disparate interpretive frames.

..the most likely conclusion to draw from this persistent failure is that game-playing and storytelling originate in two distinct human aesthetic sensibilities.  Though neither is made lesser through its incompatibility with the other, neither is made greater or more enjoyable as a reluctant partner in an interminably dissonant pairing.

Myers, 2017, p. 43


Preliminary slides.

Link to draft paper inside slides.

Games & Literary Theory

 Fifth Annual Conference

Lost in a game / Lost in a book
Université de Montréal, Canada, 20-22 October 2017
http://gameslit17.digitaltextualities.ca/en/Call-for-papers

Abstracts due >>> March 31st 2017

Possible Worlds (Part 2) | Kraków

 


Preliminary slides (GIFs won’t work in this version) for a presentation for the Games and Literary Theory conference in Krakow, Poland, November 2016.

I (continue to) examine the use of the “possible worlds” concept to explain the relationship between games and stories.  I (continue to) find this explanation wanting.

This version of the presentation presents an alternative conceptualization of the relationship between stories and games — and the implications of that conceptualization.

Possible Worlds, Literal Games | Liège

 


Preliminary slides for a presentation for the Poetics of the Algorithm conference in Liège, Belgium, June 2016.

I examine the use of the “possible worlds” concept to explain the relationship between games and stories.  I find this explanation wanting.