Category:Productive Play

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Social media, language learning apps, dating apps, mood-tracking apps, etc: the language of games repurposed in the context of data-extractivist software are just some of the examples of the blurring lines between play, leisure and labour releasing our collective dopamine for profit.
This trimester, gamification in its many forms will serve as a stepping stone to explore the many ways videogames, explicitly or implicitly, are making us more, not less, productive: predatory monetization schemes ( in-game advertising, micro-transactions, loot boxes, downloadable content, etc.), aspects of mod and fan culture, gold mining, etc.
Furthermore, according to author Vicky Osterweil, even when considered outside the direct sphere of production, videogames perform a reproductive role through the representation of capitalism as a system of natural laws through the dissemination of dominant ideologies, helping people function in an otherwise dysfunctional economy and society. Moreover, they may provide necessary down time and relaxation, allowing the worker to be regenerated and ready for another day.
Nonetheless, leisure is a contested space which is still unequally distributed. Associate professor Shira Chess proposes that feminist work must not only pay attention to leisure, but also to improving the quality of said leisure.
As such, how can we contribute to this project? Get ready to turn some of your leisure time into homework instead as we prod and poke the billion-dollar industry that always wants more.

Here you can find the summaries of the SI17 group meetings: SI17 summaries of group meetings

Week 1

Tuesday, January 11th

  • Kick-off Special Issue #17



Week 2

Tuesday, January 18th

With: Lidia, Manetta, Michael and Steve

  • Defining play and games
  • Blurrying the lines between labour and play: gamification and playbour
  • Getting started on a glossary of productive play

Today's pad:
One sentence game ideas pad:



Wednesday, January 19th

  • Reading, Writing and Research Methods (RW&RM) session with Steve. Ideology, Old and New; in the aquarium 11:00-17:00


1) Today we will be looking at the development of the idea of ideology, referring to these three historical texts:

Marx and Engels (19th Century) - The Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas

File:Marx & EngelsRuling ClassRuling ideas.pdf

Gramsci (early 20th Century)- The History of the Subaltern Classes


Hebdidge (Late 20th Century) - Subculture: The Meaning of Style

File:Dick Hebdige - Subculture The Meaning of Style -Routledge (1979).pdf

2) Reading ideology in everyday objects. We will break our day of reading and annotation with considerations of how ideologies are expressed in our day to day life.


Chad McCail robots run zombies for wealthy parasites...

Notion publicity material: The Story of Tools and the Future of Work.

How to organise your academic life: Notion for Students


16:00 Presentations = reading objects as objects of ideology


Group 1 HAIR

Group 2 NOISE CANCELLING DEVICES (kamo chae grgr mitsa)

HOMEWORK: Between now and your next session with Lidia, form reading groups and review the texts we have been looking at so far...make sure record is made of notes and discussions arising from your readings...

Week 3

Tuesday, January 25th

With: Lidia, Manetta, Michael and Steve

  • Games as reproductive technologies: the base-superstructure model, Adorno and Horkheimer's critique of the cultural industry, Stuart Hall's deconstruction of the popular
  • "Turning players into payers" / Predatory monetization schemes: in-game advertising, micro-transactions, loot boxes, downloadable content, NFTs, etc.


Further Reading:

Today's pad:

Assignment: Go into the reading or/and the mapping groups and further process the materials in the way you find the most helpful. And don't forget the weekly one-sentence game idea:

Week 4

Tuesday, February 1th

With: Lidia, Manetta, Michael and Steve

  • Digestive morning: Crystallizing thoughts on gamification, predatory monetization schemes in videogames, ideology and counter-hegemony
  • Individual tutorials for discussing first thoughts and ideas

Today's pad:


  • Individually or in groups, read and annotate Chapter 2:"Game Modding: Cross-Over Mutation and Unwelcome Gifts" from "The Player’s Power to Change the Game" by Anne-Marie Schleiner (File:Annemarie.pdf)
  • Individually or in groups, select a game (boardgame, videogame, folk game, puzzle etc.) to play and play it. Similarly to what you were doing with Steve and reading ideology in everyday objects, read the ideology in these games: how is it present, both in terms of content, but also in terms of the mechanics, marketing, merchandising, etc?

Wednesday, February 2nd

RW&RM Session with Steve

NO NEW STUFF = we spend some time with the things we have already looked at.

11:00-16:30 we compile a glossary of terms.

16:30 group feedback session.

Glossary of productive play

At the end of the session we agreed to


1) Transfer the definitions &c from the pad

to the wiki page

2) make sure all the key terms we have been using are in the glossary (ideology/gamification/hegemony &c) are on the wiki page

3)Feel free to add new ones

Week 5

Monday, February 7th



Pad of the day:

For next week: Bring a mini-game or puzzle that you made to class! Games and puzzles can be presented in a printed or digital form, that's up to you. Make sure that your game/puzzle is ready to be played by others.

Tuesday, February 8th

  • Modding and fan culture: ambivalence between incorporated prosumerism and tactical media


Further reading:

  • File:Themodernage.pdf "The Modern Age" in Edge Magazine #126 "The mod scene: What happens when gamers build games?"

Today's pad:



  • Individually or in groups, read and annotate "Chapter 2: PWNing Leisure" from "Play Like a Feminist" by Shira Chess. For our next session, prepare the following:
    • One discussion point / question
    • One insight
    • One doubt
    • Do you agree/disagree/neither/both with the author's answer to "Does productivity negate the usefulness of leisure?"
  • Bring one (or more) examples of videogames which you consider that, in one way or another, escape the dominant logic of mainstream videogame culture.

Wednesday, February 9th

Public Lecture & Private Feedback Session:


Week 6

Monday, February 14th


Pad of the day:

Tuesday, February 15th

pad of the day:

  • Videogames as a possible arena for contesting feminist leisure
  • Production mode: engage


  • "Chapter 2: PWNing Leisure" in "Play like a Feminist", by Shira Chess

Recommended/Further reading:

Wednesday, February 16th

  • RW&RM with Steve in the large project space:

11:00-17:00 some writing exercises

pad of today

Week 7

Study Week

Wednesday, February 23rd

Public Lecture:

Week 8

Spring Holiday

Week 9

Monday, March 7th


Pad of the day:

Tuesday, March 8th

  • Production mode: engage

Pad of the day:

Public Lecture:

Week 10

Monday, March 14th

Tuesday, March 15th

Week 11

Monday, March 21th


Tuesday, March 22th

Friday, March 25th

  • Launch!


Collective Description

[add 100-150 words of collective description of the special issue here]

Personal Reflections

Pages in category "Productive Play"

The following 6 pages are in this category, out of 6 total.