Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 09:08 am est

Video gamers explore diversity

Posted on April 16, 2014 | by Christina Tucker

Courtesy of NYU

Different Games is an annual student- and volunteer-led conference put on by the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Integrated Media Program and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Digital Media Program. Held at the NYU MAGNET Center on April 11 and 12, the conference brought attention to the diverse nature of the developer and consumer communities, as well as the possibilities for expanding the subject matter of games.

“We believe that our gaming communities are filled with diverse participants, and supporting the visibility of such diversity enhances the experiences of all community members,” the press release said.

Panels, talks, workshops and even correspondents from Boston gaming convention PAX East discussed the ways in which topics such as mental health, sexuality, identity and intersectionality relate to gaming. There were presentations and game demos centered on expanding the way audiences think about and support the development of innovative video games.

During Friday evening’s Artist Talks by the 2014 Different Games Fellows, game artists who received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, including fellow Anna Anthropy, spoke about their artistic processes and the ways they aim to challenge conventions with their own projects.

“Everyone wants games to be different, but not everyone is willing to give people money for games to be different,” Anthropy said.

One notable guest was Mattie Brice, a game critic, game designer and activist, who spoke about social media activism and the depiction of that environment in games. She focused on the way Twitter and other social media outlets have shaped our ideas of advocacy and identity.

“Twitter is its own culture,” Brice said. “Other people from social justice were creating who I was. People were creating my arguments, people were creating my identity, people were creating my entire personhood.”

Brice said she plans to use Twine, a game-making tool that uses hyperlinks to enable play and create interactive, text-based games, to depict her own experience of being an advocate on Twitter and the way people can interact with strangers, which at one time was  impossible.

There were several other notable panels, talks and workshops that exemplified the goals of Different Games. “Games and Mental Health,” a workshop and panel run by Toni Pizza, a master’s student at the NYU Game Center and self-proclaimed “game-ish designer,” discussed mental health as it relates to games, as well as the way gaming can support mental and emotional wellness. Pizza is developing a touchscreen game called “Prozac for Breakfast” that replicates the effects of different mental health treatments through text.

Beth Rosenberg, an educator on the faculty at Poly in the department of technology, culture and society, ran “Teaching Tech to Tweens/Teens Who Learn Differently.” In this panel, Rosenberg discussed Tech Kids Unlimited, a teaching program in which students aged 7 to 18 with special needs are taught valuable skills in programming, gaming, video production and more in an environment tailored to their needs.

Brice explained one of the conference’s main points of discussion during “Voices of Queer Advocacy,” a talk specifically addressing LGBTQ visibility in game culture. Speeches focused on the organization of LGBTQ-focused gaming events and the types of communities they foster, as well as the challenges involved in creating these environments.

“You have a lot of similar people being given more time and more attention and more visibility than others,” Brice said.

The tone of games available for demo in the arcade ranged from light — such as Jimmy Andrews’ and Loren Schmidt’s “Realistic Kissing Simulator” — to more somber such as “Into Darkness,” a game by Obsessively Complex Dungeon that aims to depict the experience of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. All the games were made to challenge the way players approach gaming and the culture surrounding it.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 16 print edition. Christina Tucker is a contributing writer. Email her at entertainment@nyunews.com.

Comments

CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

AS
Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.

 

DY
Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

CLOSE [x]
  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    NEWS FEATURES MULTIMEDIA SPORTS ARTS OPINION
    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.

    Next