RMeS Workshop: Platforms, Play and Cartography

Platforms, Play and Cartography: The Political Unconscious of Digital Landscapes

When? 27 May 2019
Where? University of Amsterdam BG 2 0.12 and BG 1 0.16
Time? 9.00-18.00
ECTS? 2 EC
Coordinator? Dr Bogna Konior (UvA)
Open to? PhD Candidates and RMa students, max. 15 participants
Register here

Today’s digital economy is structured by precarity and play, prompting questions about the relationship between new media and platform capitalism. Increasingly, these inquiries increasingly ponder the relationship between new media, emergent forms of labor and the natural environment, especially with regards to climate change. The popular dismissal of online multiplayer environments, modding economies, and computer games as isolating virtual experiences misses the opportunity to examine them as a form of digital geography through which we can analyse dramatic shifts in human relationships with the physical environment. The complex materiality of game platforms and the procedural nature of their experience require that we think beyond content or representation and instead sketch a cartography of playable digital landscapes sprawled across precarious platforms, often interlaced with politically-charged symbols and practices. These incoherent environments are our ‘cognitive maps,’ lenses that bring the contemporary interrelation of natural, economic and digital surroundings into focus.  

The workshop is organized by Dr Bogna Konior, a lecturer in new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, and co-taught by Dr Peter Nelson (Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University), who have published in the fields of new media, digital culture and politics, and computer game studies. They are currently engaged in developing a multimedia project across theory and practice, which considers the relation between subcultural digital politics, platform economies, virtual environments and climate change.

This seminar and workshop event brings together a range of scholars from geography, media and game studies whose research has engaged with the digital geographies of computer games. The morning session will comprise seminar presentations from our speakers. Special topics will include the cartography of digital games, locative games, data and platforms, the blurring of play and labour, and the political, meme-filled unconscious of modded game environments.

The afternoon session will comprise a workshop, which will take participants into the virtual world Garry’s Mod, where we will build, discuss and test ideas in a real-time, publicly accessible virtual environment. Garry’s Mod offers a unique configuration of mechanical sophistication, player numbers (approximately 20,000 at any given time) and the type of hedonistic, asinine and anarchic online environment that can be a fertile ground to experiment with theoretical praxis. The workshop will include a ‘boot camp’ for basic interactions and building methods. As the workshops develop, we will introduce participants to more advanced techniques of saving and iterating built components, such that experiments can generate a ratchet effect and iterate upon acquired knowledge, all while navigating this politically and culturally-charged space.

The workshop will be filmed by a virtual camera, recorded and streamed on YouTube and Twitch. This content will then be archived for the production of the final project publication. Over the course of future workshops, we will make these files available to participants via Google Drive, where we can also share readings and collaborate on theoretical texts.

Assignment for graduate participants:

Through player accounts on Steam that we will provide, the students will be taught how to use the GMOD environment. They will make a short screen captured video using mods, dupes, saves and images we develop together and integrate the theoretical and conceptual insights into them either in the form of a voiceover or a text input via the multiplayer chat. These will be graded according to the ability to incorporate the preparatory literature and insights from the seminar (4 points), the clarity of the arguments made (2 points) and creativity (2 points). The grade will be awarded as the workshop grade for those requiring 1 EC for the completion.

Readings

  • Küchlich, Julian. 2005. “Precarious Playbour : Modders and the Digital Games Industry The History of Modding The Economy of Modding.” The Fibreculture Journal, no. 5.
  • Kirby, Alan. 2009. ‘Digimodernist Culture’ in Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle The Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture. New York and London: Continuum.

OPTIONAL: Nelson, Peter. 2017. ‘A Game Made From Other Games: Actions and Entities in Garry’s Mod.’ Proceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, Krakow.

Schedule

Seminar, BG2 0.12

09:00 Welcoming address: Dr Peter Nelson, Hong Kong Baptist University & Dr Bogna Konior, University of Amsterdam

09:30 Prof Sybille Lammes, University of Leiden

10:00 Thijs Van Den Berg, University of Amsterdam

10:30 – 11:00 **COFFEE BREAK**

11:30 Dr Clancy Wilmott, University of Manchester

12:00 Dr Alex Gekker, University of Amsterdam

12:30 – 13:30 **LUNCH**

13:30 Dr Marc Bonner, University of Cologne

14:00 Dr Emma Fraser, University of Manchester

14:30 – 15:00 **COFFEE BREAK**

 

Workshop, E-Lab BG1 0.16

15:00 – 18:00  Climate Unconscious in Computer Games: Theorising in Online Sandbox Environments

**DINNER & DRINKS**

 

RMeS Masterclass: Fandom and Audience Studies Methodologies with Lori Morimoto

When? Monday 01 July 2019
Where? HU University of Applied Sciences, Creative Business – Room number: 3.072, Heidelberglaan 15 Utrecht
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
ECTS? 1 ECTS (for RMa Students and PhD candidates only)
Confirmed Speakers? Lori Morimoto, Dr Jessica Seymour, Dr Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest
Organization and introduction? Dr Nicolle Lamerichs
Registration

Biography invited speaker

Lori Morimoto researches transcultural fandoms and East Asian regional media. Her recent work includes chapters in The Companion to Fandom and Fan Studies, Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, Seeing Fans: Representations of Fandom in Media and Popular Culture, and the forthcoming Transatlantic Television Drama and Becoming: Essays on NBC’s Hannibal. She has published in Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies (with Bertha Chin), Transformative Works and Cultures, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, Asian Cinema, and has an article forthcoming in Journal of East Asian Popular Culture. Her outreach projects include The Fan Meta Reader, which showcases fan-penned media and fan cultural analysis for a non-fandom audience, and Fan Studies for Fans, a 10-lecture series for fans wanting to learn more about fan studies scholarship.

Biography organizer

Dr. Nicolle Lamerichs is senior lecturer and team lead at Creative Business at HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht. She holds PhD in media studies. Her book Productive Fandom explores intermediality and reception in fan cultures. Her research focuses on participatory culture and new media, specifically the nexus between popular culture, storytelling and play.

Programme:

12:30 Registration with coffee

13:00 Introductions

Getting to know each other and short welcome by Dr. Nicolle Lamerichs

13:30-14:30 Opening lecture

Lecture on transcultural research, fandom and methodology by Dr. Lori Morimoto

Respondents: Dr. Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest

Coffee

14:45-16:00 Fan Studies Panel

Talks about fan and audience methodologies by amongst others Dr. Jessica Seymour, Dr. Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest, including round table discussion.

16:00-17:00 Tips and Tricks in Cultural Research

RMeS students bring questions and struggles that the panel of fan scholars responds to. RMeS students read the literature and relate it to their own work.

Assignment for participants

Assignment: Bring questions and examples from your own work. Please read the literature before the workshop, and formulate questions regarding the topics.

Literature
Venue:

Creative Business. Institute for Communication (floor 3), Heidelberglaan 15, Utrecht Science Park, Utrecht

Public Transport: Take bus 12 or 28 from Utrecht Central Station for approximately 15 minutes in the direction of Uithof (Stop: Heidelberglaan).

By car: Parking locations

 

Review: RMeS Network Event – How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

Collaboration with external partners: Why? How? What are the consequences?

This blog is written by Rashid Gabdulhakov (PhD-EUR)

As academics, we are still ‘touching the waters’ in matters of collaboration with external partners. Collaboration is a logical and, perhaps, an inevitable scenario in contemporary research.  But how do we tune it up? How do we turn collaboration into a well-oiled engine that can guarantee us a long-lasting, smooth, and mutually satisfying ride? This year’s RMeS annual networking event was dedicated to debunking these complex and highly relevant questions. The invited speakers Prof Dr Tamara Witschge, Dr Amanda Paz Alencar and Professor Melissa Wall shared their rich experiences and unique perspectives. In this blog entry, I will provide brief snapshots of presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop, as they can be handy for our fellow PhDs who could not join the event.

The event

The idea and importance of collaboration with external partners has been actively penetrating and circulating in the academia-related discourse. When organizing this year’s annual networking event, the PhD Council of the Research School for Media Studies (RMeS) decided to tackle the topic and debunk the issue with the help of the invited experts. Council members and RMeS Board are very grateful to the experts for their time and unique insights. We also thank all of the participants for joining us, for asking important and challenging questions and for sharing their own experiences.

Why collaborate with external partners?

The workshop opened with a critical take on the very nature of collaboration with external partners. Workshop participants were challenged to think about what is lacking in current approaches in order to formulate a coherent and multi-perspective understanding of the importance of collaboration. Who are these partners, what are their interests, backgrounds, perceptions?

Participants were encouraged to critically assess their own position and presentation when approaching new actors. Partners beyond academia can be a crucial source of information and a source of access to the field. Moreover, they can inform and assist us in constructing the ‘right’ questions in the early stages of our research when we explore the topic. Here it is important to note some of the challenges associated with exploratory site visits. For instance, justifying such visits to ‘the other side’ can be a difficult task.

As academics, we have a voice and a desire to make a meaningful impact through our research. Collaboration with external partners presents unique opportunities for getting our analysis and arguments ‘out there’ and into ‘the real world’. In the broad sense, the WHY question can be summarized as getting access, ensuring connectivity, being informed, informing, contributing and participating.

How do we establish collaboration?

When organizing events, we should be conscious of opportunities to invite external partners. Workshops and academic conferences can be fruitful grounds for mutually beneficial connectivity and exchange between academia and external partners. Social media is another important and handy domain where we can approach, connect and maintain contact with actors we are interested in establishing a collaboration with. Social media is also a space where we present our projects and ourselves; therefore, we should be savvy and strategic about personal presentation. Realistically speaking, a lot has to do with ‘who you know’ and ‘who you can get to know’ through your own network. So, be proactive!

The dangers and conflicts of interest in collaboration with external partners

The workshop’s second half was dedicated to addressing the more challenging sides of collaboration with external partners. Some of the addressed topics included financial questions, ethics, project ownership, personal and collective aims, etc. When it comes to finances, we tend to think that collaboration can help us fund research and financially aid those who decide to collaborate with us. In reality, things are more complicated and our project members are increasingly more often expected to pitch-in financially.

As far as finding research partners is concerned, there are over-researched sites and over-partnered institutions, which may further make it difficult to identify and approach potential collaborators. The workshop participants were encouraged to think strategically and critically about whom to approach and why. There are cases where the approached partners have had a negative experience with academics in the past, it is important to be aware of such instances and to work out your own strategy for approaching such actors. Furthermore, it is important to keep considering the motivations to collaborate – not only the motivations of our collaborators but also our own. How do we ensure ethical and mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships in which both academic integrity and the greater good are served? Neither academia nor external partners are homogeneous entities. Thus, we need to think about how alternative voices can be heard.

To avoid any potential misunderstandings and contestations over project trajectory and ownership, it is important to get the expectations out at the very early stages of establishing a collaboration. We should always be pragmatic, strategic, and true to ourselves and our partners.

Summing up

Collaboration with external partners can be a wonderful and mutually beneficial experience. If you ask yourself the right questions before and during the collaboration, your chances for a satisfying and successful experience will rise. I hope that this brief snapshot from the workshop will come in handy for you! Best of luck in your approaches to collaboration and please share your success stories with us on this blog! Stories of ‘not so successful’ collaboration are also welcome. We hope to see you at the future RMeS events.

Relevant literature

Wagemans, A., & Witschge, T. (2019). Examining innovation as process: Action research in journalism studies. Convergence. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856519834880

Rashid Gabdulhakov Portrait (Vertical Broad)

Author

Rashid Gabdulhakov is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Media and Communication of Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication.

Supervised by Dr Daniel Trottier and Professor Susanne Janssen, Rashid is investigating vigilante acts in the digital domain as part of the ‘Digital Vigilantism: Mapping the terrain and assessing societal impact’ project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

RMeS Summer School 2019: Algorithmic Culture and Digital Literacy

RMeS Summer School 2019: Algorithmic Culture and Digital Literacy

When? 17, 18 & 19 June 2019
Where? University of Groningen
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
ECTS? 2 ECTS / 5 ECTS
Organizers? Dr Rik Smit, Prof. Dr Marcel Broersma
Confirmed Speakers? Prof. Jeremy Morris and Prof. John Cheney-Lippold
Register here

THE SUMMER SCHOOL IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail to rmes-fgw@uva.nl with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

Whether we watch films and TV series on Netflix, listen to music on Spotify, track our jogs on Runkeeper, or search for the best place to spend a weekend on Tripadvisor, our daily practices and experiences are mediated by algorithmic processes and interfaces. Moreover, we inhabit Smart Cities, carry around Smartphones, and live in Smart Homes. These technologies might make our lives more efficient and convenient, but they are also devices that gather data about ourselves and our relations to others, to be analyzed by (often) obscure procedures and parties. They bring about new digital divides between those who can access, read and use this data and those who cannot. Moreover, people require an extensive skill set and the literacy to navigate, interpret, resist, and appropriate this algorithmic culture.

Focusing on emerging dynamics between algorithmic power, knowledge, imaginaries, and access, this Summer School offers a variety of methods and theories on how to study such an Algorithmic Culture and the Digital Literary to live in it.

RMeS Summer School 2019 – Preliminary Programme

RMeS Network Event: How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

A workshop on working with non-academic partners

Date and Time: March 22nd 2019, 13.15 – 16.00 (followed by drinks)
Location: Drift 13, Utrecht – Room 003
Register here

RMeS is happy to invite you to the 2019 edition of our annual RMA and PhD network event. This year’s event will focus on collaborating with external partners to fund and execute your research. How do you invite partners outside of the university to collaborate on a research idea? How can you secure funding for such collaborations? What are the ethical dilemmas in collaborating with external partners?

For all RMA students and PhD-candidates eager to look beyond university walls for doing your research: this is the event to attend!

The 2019 RMeS network event will have a workshop setup that consists of three parts:

  1. Why and how to collaborate with external partners? (Prof. Dr. Tamara Witschge, Prof. Dr. Wall, Dr. Amanda Paz Alencar)
  2. What to keep in mind when setting up or managing external collaborations? (Serena Oosterloo)
  3. What are the dangers or conflicts of interest that you can come across when collaborating with external partners? (Prof. Dr. Tamara Witschge, Prof. Dr. Wall, Dr. Amanda Paz Alencar)

We will have the following speakers:

  • Prof Dr Tamara Witschge is Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, holds a chair in Media and Cultural Industries. She runs the five-year, NWO-funded research programme “Entrepreneurship at Work” and the NWO-funded action research project “Exploring Journalism’s Limits”. Her research explores the ways in which technological, economic and social change is reconfiguring media and journalism, with a particular focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and cultural entrepreneurship.
  • Amanda Paz Alencar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she specializes in media and migration and intercultural communication. After completion of her degree she was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship, a prestigious grant from the European Commission, to conduct her research project entitled ‘TV News for Promoting Interculturalism: A Novel Step towards Immigrant Integration’ at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.
  • Professor Melissa Wall (California State University, Northridge) studies citizen/participatory journalism and is the editor of the book, Citizen Journalism: Valuable, Useless or Dangerous. Within this line of inquiry, she created the Pop-Up Newsroom, a temporary, virtual newsroom for citizen and student journalists. Her other research stream focuses on refugees and their information practices, particularly Syrian refugees and their cell phone usage.
  • Serena Oosterloo is a Research Assistant at the Utrecht Data School, where she manages external collaborations.

Registration: Please register by March 15th, 2019.

For questions of any kind, please contact us by email at phdcouncil.rmes@gmail.com

We are looking forward to meeting you there!

The RMeS PhD Council (Tim Groot Kormelink, Sofie Willemsen, Sanne Rotmeijer, Wouter Oomen, Rashid Gabdulhakov)