Session Submission Summary

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The Messy Intersection of Games and Governance, Both Within and Surrounding Games (High-Density)

Sun, May 28, 15:30 to 16:45, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom C

Session Submission Type: Panel


Although code is law (Lessig, 2009), the policies that guide behavior within and around gaming contexts are not always embedded in game mechanics and algorithms. Within games, social structures, community leaders, and companies codify norms of use, interaction, and play. Outside of games, government agencies and offices use games to engage, educate, and leverage citizens. As such, this panel will address governance both inside games and surrounding them. Regarding the former, we have come a long way from A Rape in Cyberspace (Dibbell, 1994), but the structures that govern games still often allow for behaviors that diminish the positive impacts of the games and/or contradict social norms. Although games have a potential to serve as meritocratic “third places”, where your offline characteristics have little bearing on your social rank (Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006), stereotypes about who belongs and can succeed in gaming spaces are still prevalent and have a negative impact on players (e.g., Ratan et. al, 2015). This is also relevant to the governance surrounding the use of games in the public sphere, where governments are attempting to harness the power of games to make a positive impact on their citizenry. Thus, there is a need to improve and understand governance in and around games. To this end, the present panel addresses the intersection of games and governance from four distinct perspectives.

Dr. Steinkuehler (panelist) will detail the history and use of games across White House and government agencies as a vehicle for engaging, educating, and leveraging citizens in national initiatives for public good.

Dr. Williams (panelist) will discuss his industry-based experience using back-end data from 900 million players to examine how specific game mechanics influence different aspects of play, including the level of community engagement, marketing, and international mixing.

Dr. Trammell (panelist) will question the degree to which play constitutes a consensual relationship between individuals by looking at a set of games which make clear the problematic assumptions of this relationship.

Dr. Kou (panelist) will describe an ethnographic study of governance in League of Legends, with a focus on dealing with disruptive behavior, to illustrate community involvement in gaming governance.

Dr. Ratan (panel chair/respondent) will respond to these talks, identifying common threads and connecting them back to the issue of stereotype-related effects in these contexts, and facilitating a general discussion.

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