The rapidly growing academic field of game studies has been grappling with the cultural functions of games and gamification.
Why It Is Important
By some measures, the video game has become the most significant medium of contemporary culture. Today, gaming represents not only the most profitable sector of the global entertainment industry, but also one of the most dynamic and innovative arenas for social expression and critical thought in our increasingly high-tech world. Both corporate and independent game developers are constantly expanding the capacities of the medium, in terms of technical virtuosity as well as aesthetic and philosophical complexity. Games and game technologies are now used in an immense variety of contexts beyond entertainment and artistic expression, including education, public outreach, politics, business, military training, medicine, and even scientific research. A term to describe the expansion of games and game technologies into all these different aspects of modern life has now become common parlance: gamification.
Game studies has emerged over the last few years as a preeminent sector of the digital humanities. It has become increasingly clear that the study of games and gamification in contemporary society needs a two-pronged approach:
- On the one hand, analysis of game technologies and gamified media, using tools from the critical humanities and social sciences
- On the other hand, production and development of game technologies and gamified media, using tools from computer science, design, and the digital humanities
We aim to create a world-class research center for the digital humanities, focused initially on four overlapping research programs:
- Gaming Culture (the cultural aspects of games and the use of game technologies for digital humanities research)
- Gaming Art (games as art and the use of game technologies in transmedia artistic practices)
- Gaming Health (the risks and promises of games that induce healthy behaviors)
- Gaming Science (how games and game technologies impact scientific research)
Impacts & Highlights
Play the Knave—A Video Game for Shakespeare in Performance
A Kinect-enabled game for Windows that offers users a chance to stage and perform in a Shakespeare play is now fully functional. Users craft their own production of a scene from Shakespeare, choosing set design, music, lighting, costumes, and theater space. They then perform the scene, karaoke-style, using their own bodily gestures and voices to animate their on-screen avatars. The Kinect camera picks up skeletal data from users, mapping it onto the 3D avatar on screen, so that the avatar mirrors each user’s gestures in real time.
This project was exhibited in the lobby of the Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, at the Davis Arts Center, and at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. BBC news ran a feature story dedicated exclusively to Play the Knave.
GameCamp! by ModLab
GameCamp! by Modlab is a series of game design workshops tailored to the UC Davis community. It combines creativity drills with technical training and hands-on instruction to enable individuals to begin creating video games on their own.
Critical Wearable Computing
We believe a broader definition of the self is required for designing wearable devices capable of capturing the vast range of human identity and everyday experience. This project utilizes research-based design methodologies to explore the capacity of current technology to explore and express a broader horizon of human subjectivity.
Over the Summer and Fall of 2015, the team developed a study to survey users of self-tracking and wearable technology products to determine what dimensions of personal and social tracking they were interested in. The team co-organized a HASTAC conference with a wearables group at Arizona State University in the Spring of 2016
This is a performance piece that transforms economic data into music in an audience-participatory, mock-concert format. Economusic uses data sonification and physical comedy to illustrate and embody information that often seems too abstract, confusing, or frankly boring for audiences. Over the last year, Professor Bogad has performed different versions of Economusic around the world from Helsinki to Barcelona to Sao Paulo to New York’s Austrian Cultural Forum and Yerba Buena Arts Center and SFMOMA.
Establishing Metrics and Visual Aids for a Cultural History of Terrorist Violence
Two undergraduate researchers worked together with Professor Miller on excavating the cultural history of terrorist violence, using text-mining methods. The project focused on developing “frames” for coding English-language mentions of the phrase “terrorist violence” in selected popular and academic text corpuses. Using digital humanities methods to study large digital text corpuses, the project investigated discursive patterns in making distinctions between “terrorism” and “terrorist violence”, and the role of psychological models in facilitating such distinctions.
A paper was accepted at the American Academy of Religion and will be presented as part of a panel on Religion and Violence.
This project is a cross-campus collaboration involving scholars at UC Davis, Temple University, and University of the Sunshine Coast. The LGBT/ Queer Games Archive is an online repository of video game content pertaining to LGBTQ representation and homophobia and transphobia in computer, console, and mobile digital games.
Findings from this project will be presented at the International Communication Association in May 2017. This project will also curate an LGBT/gayming exhibit with the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco, CA.
Frack the Game
Frack the Game is a video game project initially conceived by Joseph Dumit in board game format to explore the ethical and socioeconomic landscape of fracking. Players of Frack the Game assume the role of fracking corporations that compete to survey, drill, and extract as much natural gas as possible to become the largest and wealthiest corporation before the world ends. Through the course of the game, players encounter difficult decisions as they must negotiate concerns around profits, environmental health, policies and laws, and public reception of fracking practices.
The game has been presented at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Oslo, and Aarhus University. It has also been presented as part of the keynote for the Society for New and Emerging Technologies in Bergen, Norway.
On “Poetry Performance and Pitch-Tracking: Tools for Sound Studies” and “Vocal Profiles and Personality Types for Virtual Agent Design”
In 2015-16, Professor Neff and visiting scholar Marit MacArthur oversaw the development of two user-friendly, open-source tools for analyzing speech patterns in vocal recordings for humanistic research, with support from an ACLS Digital Innovations Fellowship as well as the ModLab IFHA group. In a related research project in Spring 2016, Neff and MacArthur together with two undergraduate research assistants, researched vocal profiles and personality types for virtual agent design. The next step in the project, to be conducted in 2016-2017, is to develop vocal profiles of charismatic voices in popular video/computer games.
|Colin Milburn||Professor of English|
|Nina Amenta||Professor and Chair of Computer Science|
|Lawrence Bogad||Associate Professor of Theater & Dance|
|Gina Bloom||Associate Professor of English|
|Cynthia Carter Ching||Associate Professor of Education|
|Carolyn Thomas||Professor of American Studies|
|Joseph Dumit||Professor and Director of Science & Technology Studies|
|J. Bruce German||Professor of Food Science & Technology|
|Caren Kaplan||Professor of American Studies|
|Louise Kellogg||Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences|
|Ian Korf||Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology|
|Oliver Kreylos||Associate Researcher of Earth & Planetary Sciences|
|John Marx||Associate Researcher of English|
|Michael Neff||Associate Professor of Computer Science|
|Kriss Ravetto||Associate Professor of Cinema & Digital Media|
|Eric Smoodin||Professor of American Studies|
|Gerardo Con Diaz||Assistant Professor of Science & Technology Studies|
|Emily Merchant||Assistant Professor of Science & Technology Studies|
|Stephanie Boluk||Assistant Professor of English and Cinema & Digital Media|
|Patrick LeMieux||Assistant Professor of Cinema & Digital Media|
|Flagg Miller||Associate Professor of Religious Studies|
|Amanda Philips||Postdoc of English|
|Jordan Carroll||Postdoc of English|
|Marit MacArthur||Visiting Scholar of English|
|Treena Balds||Graduate Student of English|
|Katherine Buse||Graduate Student of English|
|Evan Buswell||Graduate Student of Cultural Studies|
|Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal||Graduate Student of English|
|Ksenia Fedorova||Graduate Student of Performance Studies|
|Evan Lauteria||Graduate Student of Sociology|
|Emelie Mahdavian||Graduate Student of Performance Studies|
|Andrea Miller||Graduate Student of Cultural Studies|
|Jesse Smith||Graduate Student of Computer Science|
|Nick Toothman||Graduate Student of Computer Science|
|Emma Leigh Waldron||Graduate Student of Performance Studies|
|Melissa Wills||Graduate Student of English|
|John Zibell||Graduate Student of Performance Studies|
|Megan Johnston||Graduate Student of Design|
|Nicholas Hosein||Graduate Student of Electrical Engineering|
|Toby Smith||Graduate Student of Cultural Studies|
|Colin Johnson||Graduate Student of Performance Studies|
|Evanay McNeal||Undergraduate Student of Cinema and Digital Media|
|Dylan Woods||Undergraduate Student of Cinema and Digital Media|
|Sarah Asnaashari||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Alida Araica||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Amanda Ong||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Allie Sousa||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Joe Akanesuvan||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Wesley Sweger||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Gienel Agacaoili||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Raeanne Baird||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Alison Blecman||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Ofir Cahalan||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Sam Chiang||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Rebecca Fong||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Alicia Nguyen||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Alison Tam||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Danielle Taylor||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Isabelle Williams||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Karen Xu||Undergraduate Student of English, Economics, and Chinese|
|Alex Jungroth||Undergraduate Student of Computer Science|
|Ivan Hebrio||Undergraduate Student of Electrical & Computer Engineering|
|Leah Daugherty||Undergraduate Student of English and Theater|
|Michelle Lang||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Annaliese Sanders||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Christopher Summers||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Melissa Valk||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Rebekah Zachariou||Undergraduate Student of History|
|Daniel Schooling||Undergraduate Student of Cinema & Digital Media|
|Samantha Moody||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Tobi Foley||Undergraduate Student of Philosophy|
|Cheryl Choo||Undergraduate Student of English|
|Prakfruti Nadendla||Undergraduate Student of Communications|
|Rick Elwood||Undergraduate Student of Computer Science|
|Jason Zhang||Undergraduate Student of Computer Science|
|Mark Emmanuel Diaz||Undergraduate Student of Design|
|Kaly Stormer||Undergraduate Student of Design|
|Phillip Tran||Undergraduate Student of Statistics|
|Salma Abdelfattah||Undergraduate Student of International Relations|
|Ali Zarrabi||Undergraduate Student of Economics|
|Darin Reyes||Undergraduate Student of Design|
|Daniel Schlesinger||Undergraduate Student of Computer Science & Engineering|
|Pavel Kuzkin||Undergraduate Student of Computer Science|
|Daphne Liu||Undergraduate Student of Clinical & Translational Science|
For more information on this program, please contact Christine Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org.