The strange life of festivals…

Yesterday, Freeplay 2012 was announced, and along with it, the news that it will be my last festival. The decision to leave and the launch has got me thinking about the roles of festivals as they relate to other creative realms, to me personally, and how Freeplay fits into both of those things as well as the surrounding game creation & playing culture and community.

Rambling thoughts follow…

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What is with all the gaming, guys?

Like many of you, I read the piece in Fairfax media titled ‘The Games We Play’ about men and their gaming habits. I’m not going to link to it here, but you can easily find it with a quick google or twitter search. As Dan Golding over at Crikey has already pointed out, it feels like a continuation of an easy media narrative about games and those who play them. I also think that the responses from the gaming community are part of their own evolving media narrative which contains its own collection of faultlines – especially the industry-centric focus and language, but I’ve written about the use of that particular word many times and won’t revisit it here.

But, despite all that, I think that buried somewhere in the piece, the article does actually have a point. All media has an influence on us, and there are metaphors and ways of thinking about the world embedded in the systemic and thematic structures of games, and we should be conscious of them as adults when playing games, just as we should be conscious of the messages from the endless whirlpool of media that makes up modern life. We discuss and teach media literacy as ways of decoupling, understanding, and immunising ourselves from the subtle and not so subtle messages bombarding us, but we rarely talk about games literacy in the same way. I think we should, and I think, somewhere, deep in the piece, that’s what it’s trying to get at. It is buried though, and what it is buried beneath is what I find problematic.

Continue reading What is with all the gaming, guys?