Date: 21 June 2017
Location: BDP, Manchester

Multiplatform 2017 is the inaugural symposium of the Games Research Network at Manchester Metropolitan University. Multiplatform in terms of both media and method, this symposium sets out to explore the transmedial nature of games and games research for both the analogue and digital formats.

By bringing together academics and researchers, industry professionals, games designers and players we aim to support and promote research into games and gaming from a range of angles and across a range of media.


Registration fees: £20 (£10 for students).

The registration fee includes tea and coffee plus lunch.

Please note, we have a limited number of subsidised places for students.

To register for MULTIPLATFORM 2017 please visit our Eventbrite page


9:00-9:50 Registration and Coffee

9:50-10:00 Welcome address

10:00-11:00 Plenary address

There’s a piece missing from media scholarship—the board game. Even though board games are a mainstay in many households—from Chess to Monopoly to Settlers of Catan to Arkham Horror—they are a remarkably understudied phenomenon within media studies. In this talk, I will explore some of the reasons why board games are largely absent from media scholarship, discuss possible ways of integrating board games into media scholarship, and argue for two areas where board game studies would augment contemporary media studies: fan studies and transmedia studies.Ultimately, this talk will explore the boundaries of media studies, seeing media as a continuum of experiences rather than as a technology-driven foundation. I want to argue that media studies has maintained and fostered a relationship to the screen that belies the importance of non-screen mediations, like the board game. Despite their long history, board games have been little studied in the academy. They are hard to analyze because they are so personal—every play experience will necessarily be different each time. They offer an object missing a major component—the players themselves. But undertaking a board game analysis reveals so much more than just the mechanics of the game; it uncovers the player at the heart of all media. Perhaps, then, the missing pieces aren’t board games themselves, but rather the players that make games meaningful. For without players—without audiences—what use is media studies at all?

11:00-11:10 Break

11:10-12:40 Session 1

Accordion Sample DescriptiConcerned with the relation of the digital and the analogue, our paper takes the insights of video game studies as its starting point in a consideration of Jonathan Ying’s Doom: The Board Game (Fantasy Flight, 2016), exploring issues of immersion, community, and identity as they translate from the digital to the analogue in the implementation of the longstanding Doom franchise.As Frans Mäyrä remarks, “the release of shooter game Doom in 1993 by id Software is heralded as a landmark event by most gamers and game historians” (Mäyrä, 2008, pp. 101). Released by id Software on 10 December 1993, the shareware version of Doom 0.99 (AKA 1.0), is estimated to have been downloaded by 15-20 million people (Armitage et al., 2006). Since then there have been 12 more full releases of Doom, starting with Doom II: Hell on Earth in 1994 and culminating with the 2016 reboot of Doom for the eighth generation of video games consoles. Multiplatform in every sense, the Doom franchise expands beyond the videogames, to include: a set of four novels; a comic book; a 2005 film adaption starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson; and two board games published by Fantasy Flight Games (2005 & 2016).It is unsurprising, given its iconic status, that Doom the video game has been the subject of a great deal of critical scrutiny, prompting in-depth discussions of in-game and real world violence (Bryce and Rutter, 2002), gender politics ( Jenson et al 2015; Kafai, 2008; Thornham, 2008; Burgess et al., 2007), cinematic spectacle (Bryce and Rutter, 2002), immersion (McMahan, 2003, Mäyrä, 2008), modding (Laukkanen, 2005, Postigo, 2008), and VR (Loguidice and Barton, 2012). It is to this body of work that our paper responds, applying the insights of video game studies to Doom: The Board Game, and investigating the ways in which our readings of the analogue might prompt a reconsideration of the digital.ReferencesARMITAGE, G., CLAYPOOL, M. & BRANCH, P. 2006. Networking and online games: understanding and engineering multiplayer Internet games, John Wiley & Sons. BRYCE, J. & RUTTER, J. 2002. Spectacle of the deathmatch: Character and narrative in first-person shooters. In: KING, G. & KRZYWINSKA, T. (eds.) ScreenPlay: Cinema/videogames/interfaces. BURGESS, M. C., STERMER, S. P. & BURGESS, S. R. 2007. Sex, lies, and video games: The portrayal of male and female characters on video game covers. Sex roles, 57, 419-433. JENSON, J., TAYLOR, N., DE CASTELL, S.& DILOUYA, B. 2015. Playing With Our Selves: Multiplicity and identity in online gaming. Feminist Media Studies, 15(5), 860-879 KAFAI, Y. B. 2008. Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: new perspectives on gender and gaming. Massachusetts and London: MIT press LAUKKANEN, T. 2005. Modding Scenes-Introduction to user-created content in computer gaming. LOGUIDICE, B. & BARTON, M. 2012. Vintage games: An insider look at the history of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the most influential games of all time, CRC Press. MÄYRÄ, F. 2008. An introduction to game studies, Sage. MCMAHAN, A. 2003. Immersion, engagement and presence. The video game theory reader, 67, 86. POSTIGO, H. 2008. Video game appropriation through modifications: Attitudes concerning intellectual property among modders and fans. Convergence, 14, 59-74. THORNHAM, H. 2008. “It's A Boy Thing”: Gaming, gender, and geeks. Feminist Media Studies, 8(2), 127-142 on
The paper explores how Gérard Genette's paratext theory can be applied to a study of authorial control over players' experience and interpretation of game narratives. The author proposes to look at paratexts as both analog and digital groups of practices that surround and extend a main game text. The article focuses on such narrative artifacts as analog story booklets, manuals, and other objects supplied in the game packages; and also on digital encyclopedias, notes, and journals embedded in the software itself. The author describes different modes of engagement with these paratexts. He notices that they not only provide information about the storyworlds but also allow the players to interact with them, intensifying the feeling of immersion. This is especially visible in cases, where the paratexts pretend to be objects from the game's diegesis. While all analyzed paratexts share a narrative function, their materiality influences how they carry it out. The analog objects are available to the users from the beginning, whereas the digital texts embedded in the interface gradually emerge during the gameplay. In some instances the paratexts are necessary for the comprehension of the storyworld, in other cases they exist as optional data – allowing the players to customize their narrative experience. As critical examination reveals, the paratexts have the potential to break the immersion effect, unraveling the media difference among the game and its supplementary texts. Following this finding, the author connects the paratextual theory with the notion of interface. He probes non-narrative elements in game interfaces and the effects they have on storyworld creation. The findings allow the author to recognize paratexts as not only "windows" into storyworlds, but also as devices that complicate the narrative process. They move between being transparent and mediating, diegetic and non-diegetic. The ambiguity of paratexts can contribute to a storyworld development, but can also make players aware of its artificiality.
“Juiciness” refers to the visual and auditory elements that are used in games to amplify feedback to the player in response to an in-game action (Schell 2014 ), and are intended to make the player feel satisfied and excited. Juicy elements are commonly employed as a way of improving the feedback loop of the game (e.g., visually showering the player with particle effects and sound effects upon picking up a collectible) and although common in games development, little academic work has empirically examined the impact they actually have on player experience. In this paper, we hypothesize that juicy elements may facilitate greater player autonomy and foster a higher sense of control, contributing to the perception that a piece of software is a game rather than a productive application. We analyse previous research that has explored the effects of visual feedback outside of the gaming context (e.g., Mahlke et al. 2008), work from other disciplines such as design (e.g., Donald Norman’s layers of interaction; Norman 2005) and psychology (e.g., self - determination theory exploring the autonomy and control factors (Ryan & Deci 2000)) to draft a better theoretical understanding of juiciness and its implications for play. Drawing from previous work, we present reflections on findings from an initial online survey, in which both players and developers were asked to discuss juiciness and game feel. Building on the survey, we offer an empirically - grounded definition of juiciness, and reflect on design implications which make our work actionable f or designers, developers, and researchers. We conclude by arguing that these design considerations may then be directly applied to serious games, such as educational or research focused, and help to make them more enjoyable and playable experiences, comparable to “real” games.Mahlke, S., Hassenzahl, M., Lindgaard, G., Platz, A. and Tractinsky, N., 2008. Visual aesthetics and the user experience. Proceedings: The Study of Visual Aesthetics in Human - Computer Interaction, 8292Norman, Donald A. 2005. Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Basic books.Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L., 2000. ‘Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being’. American psychologist, 55 (1), p.68Schell, J., 2014. The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. CRC Press

12:40-13:30 Lunch

13:30-15:00 Session 2

Serious games, also games with a purpose beyond entertainment, are often promoted as a means of increasing player well - being, for example, by providing cognitive stimulation for older adults (Anguera et al., 2013), encouraging physical activity among sedentary audiences (Staiano and Calvert, 2011), or engaging player s in otherwise tedious activities that relate to learning and therapy (Waddington et al., 2015). However, we rarely ask questions around negative implications of trying to leverage games to improve well - being, effectively trying to improve players. In this paper, I will discuss outcomes from two research projects addressing the design, implementation and evaluation of games for marginalised groups, older adults and young people with disabilities (Gerling et al., 2015; Gerling et al., 2016). In both projects, instances of vulnerability (e.g., older adults being reminded of age-related changes and in abilities rather than being encouraged to be more active through play) were observed in relation to player engagement, suggesting that games and play can in fact do harm and be discouraging by pushing players to better themselves. The paper will draw from research streams in critical gerontology (e.g., Katz and Calasanti, 2015) and critical disability studies ( Goodley, 2013) to understand these observed instances of vulnerability, and reflect on implications of a problem - centric design approach for the experience players have. Further, it will raise questions around the nature of games, the drive to give them purpose to turn them into a valuable pastime, and how this affects design decisions and our views of players particularly when working with marginalised groups. Building on this analysis, the paper will present ideas that reflect a critical perspective on gaming for well - being, and aims to outline challenges that games research need s to address in the future to ensure all players benefit from the engagement with games.ReferencesAnguera, J.A., Boccanfuso, J., Rintoul, J.L., Al - Hashimi, O., Faraji, F., Janowich, J., Kong, E., Larraburo, Y., Rolle, C., Johnston, E., and Gazzaley, A. 2013. ‘Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults’. Nature 501(5), 97 - 101.Gerling, K., Hicks, K., Kalyn, M., Evans, A., and Linehan, C. 2016. Designing Movement - based Play With Young People Using Powered Wheelchairs. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Gerling, K., Mandryk, R., and Linehan, C. 2015. Long - Term Use of Motion - Based Video Games in Care Home Settings. Proceedings of the 2015 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1573 - 1582.Goodley, D. 2013. Dis/entangling critical disability studies. Disability & Society 28(5), 631 - 644.Katz, S., and Calasanti, T. 2015. Critical Perspectives on successful ageing: Does it ‘Appeal more than it illuminates’? The Gerontologist, 55 (1), 26 - 34.Staiano, A. E., and Calvert, S. L. 2011. Exergames for Physical Education Courses: Physical, Social, and Cognitive Benefits. Child Development Perspective s 5, 93 – 98.Waddington, J., Linehan, C., Gerling, K., Hicks, K., and Hodgson, T. 2015. Participatory Design of Therapeutic Video Games for Young People with Neurological Vision Impairment. Proceedings of the 2015 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 3533 - 3542.
We, the playful mapping collective, believe that play un-paves, and playful methods are the tools to prise open outdated roads in higher education. We want to uncover the fields of plurality, collaboration and messiness that lie underneath, and return them from the periphery to the centre. Playful learning incites creativity, cooperation and movement. It upsets formed disciplinary alliances, and invites us to reinvent and become critical thinkers. To embrace process as well as outcomes. To replace teachers with learners. We wish to open up terrains, not build, capture, or protect territories.Our intervention is a modest one. Playfields is an experiment, an app, an idea, a tool, a toy – it is one attempt at creating an instrument for unlearning and undoing. It centres on co-creation, and the surprises that emerge from this process. It argues for movement, experience and reflection, and it uses the power of digital maps to join those parts. It is a prototype, so we want you to test, discuss and challenge it.In our paper, we will present our manifesto for playful methods and show how its ideas inform the Playfields app. We will also reflect on the collective process of design and playtesting that made it possible. If you would like to try it out, we will have a demo available during the break.
Art and design institutions have a considerable history of exhibitions which incorporate videogames into the curatorial selection, and make certain aesthetic, historical, and value judgements about videogames through these displays. Bruce Altshuler describes the temporary exhibition, the now- dominant form in which Contemporary Art is conveyed, as “ a route into art history, ” while New Media scholar and curator Beryl Graham describes the function of the New Media exhibition as a “ testbed, ” the success of which determines later collection, conservation and historicization. For over 25 years, exhibitions of videogames have been temporarily on display at major institutions, recently the V&A in London, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and others.Many different types of exhibitions have emerged over the years, from exhibitions interested in presenting a broad historical narrative, those focused on narrower tendencies or issues within the field of game production, those evaluating the videogame as a designed object, and even monographic shows of a single designer ’ s works. There is also a history of New Media artists making work in the form of videogames that are generally considered separate from these more recent exhibitions of videogames, yet many fruitful comparisons can be made in the aesthetic choices, conceptual issues, and institutional challenges these works run into. Therefore, combining game studies, game history, and New Media art scholarship to examine the effects of curatorial and collecting strategies for videogames addresses a vital new area in the conservation and study of gaming history. In this paper, I outline my research on the history of how videogames have been exhibited, developing a typology of game exhibitions and analyzing what sort of aesthetic, social and value arguments they make about videogames.

15:00-15:20 Coffee

15:20-16:50 Session 3

It is common within games research to explain the socialising effects of game rules in terms of their ‘simulation’ (Frasca) or ‘procedural’ rhetoric (Bogost). This perspective suggests that the rules of games are expressive devices that ‘persuade’ players to adopt the ethical values of the game’s designer. From this perspective, ideology is literally encoded into the games that we play through the manipulation of rules. This article offers an examination of personal and social reflexivity to challenge the claim that game rules penetrate player subjectivity this deeply. Indeed, it argues that players have the reflexive capacity to discern between their values as biographical subjects and the normative content of game rules. This distinction is crucial to explaining how gameplay shapes human agency; not through coercion, but by reference to the relational character of player-game interactions: to those common ‘goods’ (or ‘evils’) that ruled play generates. By way of example, this article considers the competitive and cooperative rules that typify popular analogue and digital games to show how relations of trust, caring and reciprocity (and their obverse) emerge through play. This has important ramifications for how we conceptualise the added social value of games in society, and the baring that contemporary forms of play have on social solidarity and integration in the future.
This paper will examine ways in which football video games, such as Football Manager and FIFA, are re- shaping the sport of football and re-defining the relationship between fans and the sport. In so doing, it will explore ways in which football video games have been portrayed in both the UK and France through close study of the press, academic literature, the press and popular culture.To begin with, it will be argued that dismissive attitudes of some journalists and football managers towards football video games ignore the complexities and/or potential benefit s of football video games. This will involve drawing on academic literature that illustrates that supposed harmful effects of playing video game are often exaggerated (see Crawford & Gosling, Fromme and Peter) and also that game playing can actually bring benefits for both professional players and fans (Consalvo, Stein and Mitgutsch).Although the cultural importance of video games is often ignored and sports video games are not a particularly frequently analysed branch of games studies, this paper will argue that they merit further attention. A key reason stems from the multitude of ways in which video games and the sport of football are increasingly interacting with each other in ever more complicated manners (see Ervine). Furthermore, they also provide new ways for fans to establish relationships with leading teams (see Crawford & Gosling; Consalvo, Stein and Mitgutsch).Finally, this paper will analyse the ways in which sports video games have been presented by recent exhibitions at National Museum of Football in Manchester and France s Musée National du Sport in Nice. It will argue that football video games are increasingly establishing a more visible presence within popular culture through documentaries, fan-centred literature, and also stand-up comedy.Select Bibliography:Bogost, Ian. What are sports video games? Sports Video games, edited by Mia Consalvo, Abe Stein and Konstantin Mitgutsch, Routledge, 2013, pp. 50-66.Consalvo, Mia, Abe Stein and Konstantin Mitgutsch (eds.). Sports Video games, Routledge, 2013.Cissé, Édouard. Nous, les footballeurs, on adore les jeux vidéo. C'est un problème ? Rue 89, 10 February 2012. Web.Crawford, Garry and Gosling, Victoria. More Than a Game: Sports-Themed Video Games and Player Narratives. Sociology of Sport Journal, no. 26, 2009, pp. 50- 66.Ervine, Jonathan. PlayStations, professional football and postmodernism: interactions between sport and video games in France, Contemporary French Civilization, 2018 (forthcoming).Fromme, Johannes. Computer games as a part of children s culture. Game Studies: the International Journal of Computer Game Research, vol. 3, no. 1, 2003. Web.Myles, Louis, dir. An Alternative Reality: The Football Manager Documentary. Signature Entertainment, 2014. Film. Peter, Christophe. Goût pour les jeux vidéo, goût pour le sport, deux activités liées chez l es adolescents. Culture prospective, no. 2, 2007. Web.
In this paper we explore the relationship between “live streaming” – the live broadcast of content, primarily video games, online – and the wider games industry. Many “streamers” have deals with companies through which they offer discounted rates on the purchase of games or gaming equipment. They also often play games on their release day which were given to them for free (or for a fee) by a game developer or game publisher. In turn, a greater number of games companies and developers are coming to freely allow the streaming of their games, understanding that easy advertisement can thereby be gained; however, some companies prevent this, fearing that broadcasting a game will decrease the chance of a future purchase; there is not yet any clear data on these two perspectives, nor whether it varies across games and genres. Through all these elements we therefore see that live streaming and the games industry are not just intertwined through the production of products which form the basis of broadcasts, but at a deeper mutually-beneficial – or antagonistic – level. In this paper we explore this tension through sixty semi-structured interviews with professional and aspiring-professional streamers, acquired through an ongoing research partnership with, the dominant market leader in this area. Recently purchased by Amazon for $1bn, in 2015 almost half a million years of video were broadcast on the platform by around two million content creators per month, several thousands of whom make their full-time income from the practice, with many hundreds of thousands aspiring to reach that same status. The size of the platform and the above economic entanglements make it a major new player in the games industry, and in this paper we seek to explore in the detail these relationships, and how they shape both the production, and broadcast, of contemporary video games.

16:50-17:00 Closing Remarks

17:00-19:00 Gaming

After the main conference, we will be heading over to the brand new Fan Boy 3 (Manchester’s premium gaming shop) to play some games. 🙂