This page is the working draft of the plan for our proto-symposium, "Defining Play"

Your contributions as edits to this page are requested, sought, urged, and welcomed (I'd say "demanded" if it weren't rude). It probably makes sense to precede each of your edits with your name in square brackets, for clarity's sake. These edits may be in any form you think might be helpful, whether hypothetical (e.g. "Should we change the date-range?") or definitive (e.g. "Real-time won't work IMHO. Let's try video podcasts instead.").

To start with, I'm proposing three areas for discussion: 1) title and summary; 2) timing; 3) format; 4) symposiasts. As discussions get longer, I'm moving them to linked subsidiary pages.

1) Title and summary


The deeply linked questions "What is play?" and "How are the boundaries of play drawn?" are, in various forms, as old as culture. Those questions have over the brief history of video games, however, assumed a striking urgency. The Video Games and Human Values Initiative's first online symposium very appropriately will address those questions from the initative's uniquely interdisciplinary perspective. Contributions will be offered from the perspectives of the Arts, the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the fields of Education, Business, and Journalism, and discussion will be invited on an ongoing basis from the gaming community and the initiative's community of learners--parents, teachers, and secondary and undergraduate students. We believe the results will be a remarkable and significant contribution to society's understanding of the role of video games in civilization.

Link to discussion of title and summary.

2) Timing

[Roger] I suggest April 2009.

3) Format

[Roger] I want to explore options above all in Project Wonderland, so that we can have at least one live event, and possibly more. It would be worth reading the NEH proposal here on the wiki if you're interested in knowing how I see it playing out in an ideal universe. I propose planning for a month-long event, with a keynote provocation by Corvus and two interventions per week for four weeks. Ideally the thing will snowball and the final interventions will get revised to reflect earlier discussion, but I don't think that's something that we need to obsess about if people's schedules don't permit it.

[Roger] I imagine interventions as being in any format the intervener wants--whether written, video, or audio, or a mixture.

4) Symposiasts

Corvus Elrod, guest provocateur
Roger T., intervener
Mike Y., intervener


Notes concerning possible invitations

Prospective interveners
Kurt Squire
Ian Bogost
Doug Wilson
Jesper Juul
Espen Aarseth
Janet Murray
N'Gai Croal
Leigh Alexander
Maggie Greene
Duncan Fyfe
David Carlton
Steve Gaynor

Random notes
Corvus Elrod as the guest provocateur (or, in the spirt of internet discussion, perhaps he should pick his own title :D).

As many of the senior fellows as want to participate. Obviously, I'm pretty hot-to-trot myself on the subject. I'm also hoping that Michael (Abbott) will want to do a version of his "shame narrative" (as I think of it).

I think we should invite several leading lights of game studies. As some of you know, I need to try to do all I can to mend fences with them. I'm thinking of Doug Wilson, Ian Bogost, Jesper Juul, even Espen Aarseth and Janet Murray. They'll probably all say No, but the gesture seems like a very good idea.

I think we should invite Leigh Alexander, Maggie Greene, and N'Gai Croal, and any other journos you guys think might be interested.

I think we should invite bloggers like Duncan Fyfe and David Carlton.

If we could get someone from the industry like Steve Gaynor even to give a fifteen minute intervention, we'd obviously have something really special.

Here above all, your contributions are requested!