The Practice of Theory: Seminar of Culture Studies

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I attended the seminar of Society for Cultural Studies in Finland. It is a two-day seminar, so I’m missing part of it as I’m writing this, but the most interesting part has already ended: game(s) research workshop. There was unfortunately only few presentations on games, but at least some of these were useful for me. I also got to meet some of the games researchers in Finland.  In addition, I found a short and cheap (but competent-looking) book on ergodic texts. I’ve been meaning to look for something about that.

But! When I started writing this (seldom updated) blog, I decided that it was not about me, but on things. With that in mind:

One of the most interesting talks on games was about the gap between games research and what is often called gambling studies. The main difference between these two phenomena seem to be money, and the moralistic attitude often associated with it. Games with money at stake are often seen as something other (often lesser) than games, with Caillois even considering gambling a corruption of games. Juul tells us that a possibility of negotiable consequences is needed for something to be a game, and this certainly lacks in games with money at stake. The consequences are decided beforehand, are not negotiable and are often set by the house.

But as Kinnunen noted, it could be useful to note the similarities between gambling and gaming and bridge the oft-artificial line between them in order to understand both (or the one) phenomena better. The addition of money to games changes the nature of the gaming, but does not necessarily make the process something other than gaming. One example of how this view could be achieved in research is the method popular among game researchers: Goffman’s frame analysis.