Transgressing the Boundaries of Embodied Habitus: Intersomatic Connoisseurship in War Game Design
Siobhan Thomas, London South Bank University

Games have to be enacted, and they are enacted with a body. The gaming body is not just a corporeal construct but, a lived body, a soma, that has memories and experiences and emotions. Gaming is such a carnal process, so obviously somatic, that the body, paradoxically, becomes mundane. Players are ambivalent to the somatic nature of their pursuits and the body, thus, is rendered absent. This absence pervades conceptualisations of the design process. It's clear that design is a somatic mode of attention, through which the designer attends to and attends with her lived body. However, in discussions of design, the somatic aspects of the design process are largely elided. As Wilson points out it's not just "the ways we talk about design" we need to attend to, but the ways "we don't talk about design," for the omissions in our design conversations reflect habitual attitudes that affect the "games, objects, and systems" that are made. Designers who create war games, for example, eradicate, colonize and emancipate bodies, and the ways in which they do so are often problematized tropes created by habituated by body memories.

Trangressing the boundaries of bodily habitus, requires the foregrounding of not just the somatic but the intersomatic: a designer does not attend only to her body, but to her body in relation to other(s). This paper presents the results of empirical research with game designers, looking specifically at the topic of intersomatic awareness. Drawing on a series of indepth conversations with game designers about their work, I will outline core dimensions of intersomatic awareness, discuss practical body techniques for incorporating this awareness into the design process and make the case for the utility of incorporating an intersomatic framework into conversations of war game design and evaluation.

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