Understanding The Role Of Digital Games In Memory Politics P
PhD candidate:

Emil Lundedal Hammar (UiT Tromsø/IKL)

Supervisors:

Holger Pötzsch (UiT Tromsø/IKL)
Miguel Sicart (IT-University, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Abstract:

The research project is designed to explore and construct a theoretical and practical design framework, which highlights and draws out normative implications of memory politics pertaining to conflicts in contemporary digital games. This purpose will be done in relation to (1) the ethical aspects of memory politics in the mediation of conflicts in digital games and (2) the involvement of marginalized groups demarcated by qualifiers of asymmetrical and intersectional oppression based on ethnicity, nationality, gender, class, sexuality, and race in relation to the dominant group by the same signifiers. I do so by applying the state-of-the-art research in the field of game studies, cultural memory studies, cultural studies, and political philosophy in order to analyze and understand how memory politics pertaining to conflicts are mediated in digital games with special emphasis on marginalized groups. In turn, this allows me to draw out any ethical aspects in relation to the proposed research area and its phenomena.

The developed theoretical framework will serve to not only deepen the understanding of how digital games mediate politics and culture in regards to memories of conflict and war, but it will potentially operate as tentative guiding principles to design theory of digital objects. The proposed concept and nuancing of the research area seeks to potentially alleviate and contribute to the design and development of digital games and perhaps similar procedural digital objects. This is augmented through the inclusion of game analysis and audience qualitative data, thereby expanding the research on the ways that digital games function as enacted experiences by virtue of their design. By elaborating on audience receptions of digital games commemorating conflict, specific attention and emphasis will be on a diverse set of intersecting perspectives from groups demarcated by nationality, class, gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, etc. This demarcation rests on being asymmetrically marginalized within the domain of digital games and relevant societal contexts. This is applicable to instances with structural, collective and individual marginalization in those contemporary digital games which mediate memories of conflict.

In order to provide a clearer and more elaborate picture of my selected corpus of digital games, I find it necessary to provide a deeper understanding of how some digital games mediate memory politics of conflicts. Therefore, I look into a qualitative analysis of the state of digital games situating players in cultural memories of conflict pertaining to intersecting marginalized groups in question. Thus, I draw out a specific corpus of digital games relevant for my research trajectory to analyze in a qualitative lens. These games will all revolve around embedding the player into a situation commemorating a conflict with the in- or exclusion of intersectional identities. This means that it is not only fruitful to investigate cases of the presence of intersecting marginalized identities, but also relevant cases where their inclusion would be sensible or relevant, yet they remain excluded, such as the lack of Black American soldiers in World War II games as an example of this form of exclusion. Similarly, I open up the corpus of games to include both macro- and microperspectives on history and memory through what is commonly referred to as simulation-based and singular games, respectively. This study on specific digital games are beneficial in employing textual analysis to provide an investigation of the current state of cultural memories of conflict in digital games.

Both the qualitative interviews as well as the games analysis are strived for in order to first of all highlight potential unexplored areas of my research trajectory and findings, and secondly to lay the empirical groundwork of my research. In this way, my theoretical research is combined with qualitative data of marginalized groups and qualitative studies on the corpus of digital games in question.

Finally, my research proposal is tentatively constructed as to ensure flexibility in my exploration and further demarcation of the relevant research areas. Thus, this proposal functions as a starting point from which my research is able to develop in various directions, whether it is towards broader investigations into other designed digital technologies, and further into memory politics and memorial cultures.


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