Ok, so I am back to Manchester… for a few days. Wow, what a summer! In this post I will try to give a rundown/post mortem of the past 3 events I have been to with plenty of pictures to dazzle the eye.
Utrecht Summer School Games and Play
Working back from the most recent event, the Utrecht Summer School was an amazing experience. Lucky students got to experience 2 weeks of keynotes, workshops, and game jams (which, by the way, had epic results) all related to games studies.
I think the key term of the summer school, as started by Frans Mäyrä, was ‘interdisciplinarity’. Many epistemologies, frameworks, and perspectives were represented at the school, but rather than feel overwhelming or stifling, such diversity actually brought a special type of energy. The feeling of walking into the summer school as an outsider who arrived a week late was one of community, eagerness to learn, and a willingness to share.
I heard whisperings that the summer school might become a yearly gig. I really hope those whispers become something, because this was a fantastic opportunity for students around the world to connect to one another, build important friendships (which really shouldn’t be underestimated), and expose themselves to other research and other ways of researching games, players, and industry.
I think the variety of topics presented, as well as the variety of presenters and their styles, made for an engaging summer school. From the side of an educator and instructor, I think the diversity of keynotes was a brilliant idea which not only illustrates the diversity of games research and methodologies (see Nicolle Lamerich’s post here), but also provides a well-rounded education for students. The specialities of the faculty, along with their unique presentation styles, also meant things rarely got dull. I, for example, jokingly encouraged students to draw pictures of dragons during my presentation if they found the talk boring or too basic. I forgot just how playful game scholars are. I got so many dragon pictures tweeted to me that I began to feel like a certain Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men.
I guess students weren’t too bored though… 😉
Needless to say, I very much enjoyed my time in Utrecht and would love to be a part of next year’s summer school.
On Sunday, 24th August, I was interviewed by GameFace (Fab International Radio) station in Manchester. Whilst most of the questions centred on problematic content in games and representations of gender, we did also have a chance to talk about Superbyte and chiptune. Eventually, you will be able to listen to the interview replayed here, but it is still being uploaded.
Also, FantomenK favourited a Tweet I was mentioned in… so I guess I can retire now. I mean, that’s pretty much the peak of my career, right? The closest I’ll ever get to being a rock star, basically.
Between the tube, the beer, and those fuzzbutt trousers in London summer heat, I nearly died at LonCon3. Okay. So maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But seriously, the furry trousers were fun, but so warm.
I decided to cosplay as a Mr. Tumnus-style faun. Because why not? And also because Chaos Costumes started making these amazing fuzzybutt faun trousers and hooves. (I thoroughly recommend you check out her Etsy shop. Such talent, wow!)
It was super fun clomping around London dressed in such a costume. The best were the reactions from children on the tube. Parents were, by and large, surprisingly cool with their kids coming up and talking to me (despite Mr. Tumnus being infamous for drugging children, ahem). I did get some dirty looks from plenty of people, and there were one or two camera flashes without permission, but for the most part people were respectful. I was actually a bit taken aback at how much people outside of the Con seemed to stare and gawk. I thought cosplay, or fancy dress, or LARP-y type clothes had become almost mainstream by now. Hmm… Oh well. I actually gave my talk in the cosplay, so that was fun. 😀 I don’t have pictures of me speaking in cosplay, which is a bummer, but maybe someone else does? If so, I would love to see it!
It is hard to pick a favourite panel at the Con, but mine might have been on queerbaiting (above image). This is because not only was the audience super supportive and respectful, but also because I learned so much. The panelists were extraordinarily patient and articulate in both providing examples and explaining the phenomenon which I, embarrassingly, was unfamiliar with.
One of the other panels I was fortunate to be a part of involved playing the Game Love Game I designed a couple years ago. It was well received and I was happy so many chose to play it. It is like… a companion game for our book. If you’re interested in playing it, get in touch.
The Con wasn’t all work though. I had plenty of time to play and goof around, as evidenced above. These Jawas were super friendly despite their menacing looks. They made me cover up my Star Trek/Wars t-shirt or they wouldn’t take a photo with me, though! D:
And here I am trying to pull my best Eddard Stark expression on the Iron Throne with a pint of cider. I think the cider diminishes the srsns a little bit, but I didn’t have Ice handy. Cider… Ice… there’s a pun there, but I’m not going to make it.
So, I’m sharing these silly pictures for a reason. I think one of the coolest parts about being an academic who studies a beloved media with a large, passionate fan culture is that we are allowed to be fans too. Well, in my opinion at least. For those who saw my talk on qualitative methodology, subjectivity is at the heart of what I do. So… yeah, have some subjectively awesome photos, if I do say so myself.
On a less theoretical note, it is also good to not take yourself too seriously. See below:
In closing, I just want to thank everyone involved in Utrecht Summer School Games and Play, GameFace, and LonCon3 for giving me amazing opportunities to travel around, goof around, and spread my research. After the whole experience I feel warm and fluffy, despite the exhaustion.
Until next time,
Hey, Ashley, I’m pretty sure I have some photo booth pics of you in your faun costume! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org? 🙂