"War (and) Games" (discussion)

By Matthew Kirschenbaum (English and MITH)

A conversation about the long history and seemingly unlikely combination of warfare and gaming, and the representation of war and militarism in computer and board games (for example, the official Pentagon recruiting game America's Army). Questions to consider might include: how can the procedural mechanisms of a game capture the chaos of lived experience that is a battle? What are the ethics of "playing" with war? How do we evaluate the professionalization of gaming and simulation in relation to modernity? How do games function as sites of resistance or mobilization among "Generation Kill" (the title of the recent book and miniseries by Evan Wright and David Simon)? This will be an exploratory roundtable discussion for those interested in the topic, not a lecture. Professor Kirschenbaum will have examples on display from his personal collection of several hundred boardgames; attendees are likewise encouraged to bring copies of games they would like to discuss. Part of the ARHU semester on War and Representations of War (www.war.umd.edu).

Matthew Kirschenbaum is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland. He is also an affiliated faculty member with the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Maryland, and a Vice President of the Electronic Literature Organization. Kirschenbaum specializes in digital humanities, electronic literature, virtual worlds, serious games and simulations, textual studies, and postmodern/experimental literature. His first book, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, was published by the MIT Press in 2008. Much of his work at MITH now focuses on born-digital archiving and preservation: he is principal investigator for the NEH funded start-up "Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use" and is also a co-investigator on an NDIIPP-funded project devoted to Preserving Virtual Worlds. He oversees work on the Deena Larsen collection, a vast personal archive of hardware and software furnishing a cross-section of the electronic writing community during its key formative years, roughly 1985-1995. He is Articles Editor for Digital Humanities Quarterly and serves on the editorial or advisory boards of a number of projects and publications, including Postmodern Culture, Text Technology, Textual Cultures, and MediaCommons. He is a regular contributor to the Chronicle Review section of the Chronicle of Higher Education. For more information, see his blog.

Coming up @MITH 11/4: Bethany Nowviskie (University of Virginia), "New World Ordering: Shaping Geospatial Information for Scholarly Use."

View MITH's complete Digital Dialogues schedule here:

  • http://www.mith2.umd.edu/programs/mith_speakers_fall_2008.pdf
  • All talks free and open to the public!
  • Contact: Neil Fraistat, Director, MITH (www.mith.umd.edu, mith@umd.edu, 5-8927).