14. Oktober 15
ZeM – Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften
The 9th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: Meaning and Computer Games
PANEL 11–13 Uhr
Criticial Theory and Games
Emma Fraser, Graeme Kirkpatrick and Feng Zhu
PANEL 14–18 Uhr
Jonne Arjoranta et. al.
KEYNOTE 18–20 Uhr
The Play-process of Understanding and Hermeneutic Dimensions of Computer Games
Prof. Dr. Monica Vilhauer Roanoke College, Salem, USA
In his magnum opus Truth and Method, the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer reveals that understanding itself is a back-and-forth linguistic play-process in which human beings present and recognize meaning with each other, and come to a shared grasp of truth. The play-process of understanding is at work whether we are trying to understand an artwork, a text, a ritual, a tradition, or what another person says to us face to face. Considering that computer games have become a major force of cultural expression, and even constitute a cultural tradition of their own, it is worth asking a question Gadamer never considered: How might we come to understand the meaning of a computer game? Does a computer game, in fact, communicate meaning like an artwork or text? Does it communicate meaning in a way that artworks and texts do not and cannot? Is the process of understanding games fundamentally different from that of understanding artworks or texts? Is what we come to understand through playing computer games a funda- mentally different kind of thing from what we learn in encountering artworks and texts? With this constellation of questions in mind, the paper seeks to humbly investi- gate the hermeneutic dimensions, processes, and poten- tial unique value of computer games.
Firstly, the paper outlines, based on Gadamer’s phenome- nological account of play, what is unique about the movement of play, as opposed to other movements (e.g., mechanical, domineering, competitive, or independent movements), and what distinguishes human play from the play of the rest of nature. Secondly, the paper descri- bes how it is that understanding itself is a back-and-forth linguistic play movement between human beings, and develops what sort of commitments are required of the player in order to participate fully in such a game. Thirdly, the paper considers the hermeneutic dimensions of computer games and suggests that while a player of a computer game must, like an interpreter of an artwork or text, ask much of the time the question, “What am I supposed to take as ‘true’ here?”, and she must additio- nally ask and answer, “What am I to do and how?” in order to understand and participate in the game. Thus, the paper encourages the use of the hermeneutic principle – that in order to understand the meaning of what has been said, one must understand the question to which the articulation is an answer – as a way to distinguish games from artworks and texts, without ignoring the hermeneutic dimension of games. Finally, because the question, “What am I to do and how?” is so closely related to the quintessential question of ethics, the paper sug- gests computer games may offer a special opportunity, in a simulated environment, to explore questions of ethics in a much more practically engaged way than artworks and texts can offer. Hence they have a highly educative potential.
Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel BTK Hochschule für Gestaltung
Dr. Sebastian Möring Universität Potsdam, EMW
Prof. Dr. Monica Vilhauer is Associate Professor at Roanoke College, Salem (USA). Vilhauer earned her Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in New York in 2006, and earned tenure at Roanoke College in Virginia in 2012. Her research focuses on the philosophy of communication and dialogue. In her book Gadamer’s Ethics of Play: Hermeneutics and the Other (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books 2010), she investigates how communicative understanding itself exists as a form of ‘play’ between interlocutors, and what ethical conditions must be met so that a shared understanding, or shared meaning, may be achieved. She is currently pursuing questions regarding the body’s role in communication and the ways in which humans communicate with non-human beings (animals, nature, etc.).
Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel is professor of Media Theory at the Berlin Technical University of the Arts and head of the bachelor-program Game Design. He was the coordinator of the Digital Game Design Research Institute (DIGAREC) at the University of Potsdam and visiting professor at the Humboldt-University in Berlin and at the Universities Trier, Kassel and Göttingen. Recent Publication: Push Start. The Art of Video Games (Hamburg: Edel Verlag 2014).
Further information http://www.stephan-guenzel.de
Dr. Sebastian Möring is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Creative Mehttps://www.zem-brandenburg.de/de/http/:www.stephan-guenzel.dedia at the City University of Hong Kong working on existential ludology. He earned his Ph.D. at the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen with a thesis investigating the metaphor discourse in game studies. His research focuses on the aesthetics, meaning and structures of games and play, game ontology, art games, and simulation games. His background is in media philosophy, systems theory, metaphor theory, existential philosophy, philosophy of science, and phenomenology. Recent publication: Games and Metaphor – A Critical Analysis of the Metaphor Discourse in Game Studies (Ph.D. Thesis, Copenhagen: IT University of Copenhagen 2013)
Further information http://sebastianmoering.com