Visiting scholar Dr Maria Garda (Univ of Lodz, Poland) and Helen Stuckey (PhD student, Flinders) will present their current research on Tuesday 4th August. 1:30-3:00pm at Flinders Tonsley campus, 4.28.

Abstracts and bios are below. We will meet for lunch at Tonsley cafe, from 12:30. Everyone is welcome.

Local histories of independent games

Maria Garda

Independent games as a phenomenon are usually identified with the recent movement of so called “indie games”. Indie games are strongly connected to the North American scenes and best known for titles such as Braid (Number One, 2008), World of Goo (2D Boy, 2008) or Fez (Polytron, 2011). However, not every independent scene around the world shares the ethos and characteristics of the North American indie movement. The differences run much deeper when we look at a broader temporal frame, looking back at the final decades of the 20th century, especially at the shareware and homebrew scenes of that time.

The presentation will build on my previous research focused on the definition of independent games (Garda and Grabarczyk, forthcoming), exploring this time a more local and comparative perspective on the history of digital game development communities. I will also investigate the possible interrelations with other areas of alternative culture production, such as demoscene or new media art.

Bio: Maria B. Garda is an Assistant Lecturer in the School of Media and Audiovisual Culture at the University of Łódź (Poland) and Investigator on the Polish National Science Center project “New Media PRL”. She is a co-editor of the “Replay. Polish Journal of Game Studies” and co-chair of the annual Computer Game Cultures conference. Her doctoral thesis was focused on the question of genre in video games. She is interested in the history of video game cultures, as well as digital media preservation.


The past is a foreign country: exhibiting historic videogames in the perpetual present of the internet

Helen Stuckey

There is a longing expressed by game fans and even game scholars for the possibility of forever playing historic games on authentic hardware. The reality is videogames hardware and software will fail, compounding the challenges of displaying historic games as meaningful experiences to contemporary audiences. This raises a number of questions about exhibiting historic videogames, including: what types of information can be displayed to assist audiences to appreciate the significant characteristics of historic games? How to explain their gameplay? And represent the broader cultures that enmeshed both their design and play?

This presentation argues that offering playable emulated games, online, located within the materials and discourses as collected by retro gamers, not only enriches the potential gameplay experience for audiences but actually reflects contemporary patterns in games consumption.  Players today learn about games online through accessing player made playthroughs and responding to community comments and reviews. In contrast to the Museum’s traditional focus on the material and the ‘real’ this paper argues that fan practices can teach the museum about the acquisition of the intangible and the online exhibition of videogames.

Bio: Helen Stuckey is a media arts curator and researcher in Australia.  Her recent curatorial practice has focused on the cultural significance of videogames and their collection and exhibition within the gallery. She helped establish media arts in Melbourne in the 1990s, has worked extensively in major arts organizations in Victoria where she was involved in national and international projects. At the Australian Centre for the Moving Image she initiated, produced and curated the Games Lab (2005 – 2008), a dedicated exhibition space for exploring videogame culture.  More recently she was the Director of RMIT University’s Games Program in the School of Media and Communication. She is currently completing a PhD on how the museum can work with online knowledge communities on the preservation and exhibition of videogames and other digital cultural artefacts as part of the ARC Linkage Project – Play It Again: Creating a Playable History of Australasian Digital Games, for Industry, Community and Research Purposes.