i3 – Inclusion, Intersectionality, Intergenerational equity: past, future
September 28, 29 and October 1st 2021
Proposal deadline: August 20th noon (Eastern Time)
One could not be blamed for thinking that our circles are more divided than ever. Constant media exposure of ideological conflicts within our universities has accelerated division and discord. Teachers and students are tired, understandably, because of the ongoing sanitary crisis, and dialogue appears more and more difficult in this context. Free speech is constantly under attack (or, at least, we are constantly told). Is it possible that some of the pundits taking part in these debates don’t provide adequate premises to foster dialogue and respect?
Universities are ideal spaces to engage with complexity through dialogue; difficult conservations are still occurring within our walls, in spite of the virtual nature of these gatherings. This 8th instalment of the symposium invites us to restore exchanges and reflect on potential solutions together.
The type of contribution we seek for this instalment of the symposium acknowledges the significant fatigue of the community: we invite participants to submit a short proposal, an idea, a question, a potential solution, or an ongoing reflection which can help us make our communities more inclusive, and which can be summed up in a few minutes at most. We will assemble these submissions in order to organize roundtables in a safe virtual space. These conversations will be private. In order to participate, please send a short abstract of your intervention (150-200 words) to email@example.com, in French or English (please indicate in which language you prefer to discuss).
The symposium will also offer the opportunity to hear many guests who have reflected on the challenges of inclusion, intersectionality and intergenerational equity: Alexis Gros-Louis Houle (studio Awastoki), Alenda Chang (professor, author of Playing Nature), Darshana Jayemanne (professor, author of Performativity in art, literature, and videogames).
The role of history in inclusion and diversity
Writing and documenting history plays a fundamental role in the future representation of diversity. By highlighting today some corpuses and persons, we (researchers) are making others invisible, whether voluntarily or not. With our symposium, we wish to reflect on how to make our partiality the most inclusive it can be.
The approach of this symposium is set in the context of reflections taking place in all parts of our society, as well as inside the field of game studies. In order to show that questions of social struggle are relevant in all domains, the Feminist Media Histories journal recently published an issue dedicated to videogames; the article “Replaying Video Game History as a Mixtape of Black Feminist Thought” by TreaAndrea M. Russworm and Samantha Blackmon (2020) especially struck us. In this text, the authors make a call to consider new methods and new sources to write video game history, thus showcasing voices that have been active for a long time but whose testimony might be completely new in our area (like the black women in commercial positions in the 80s or arcade owners, introduced in the article).
It is also by changing the position of the historian that Zoyander Street reflects in their article “Queering Game History: Complexities, Chaos and Community” (Queer Game Studies, 2017). They offer a queer methodology, or a counter-methodology of game history writing, in order to diminish the impact of current social constructs on research; the result being to humbly accept that we researchers are ignorant in front of people who played a part in history.
For several years, researchers have chosen thematic approaches in order to highlight corpuses that had been ill-represented in our field, for instance studies of platforms considered minors and local histories as opposed to national glorifying histories or american-centered histories. We have seen this tendency evolve for instance in recent outings in the Platform Studies series, with research on local histories following the seminal contribution Gaming the Iron Curtain by Jaroslav Švelch, or with the development of the LGBT Video Game Archive, which served as a foundation for the Rainbow Arcade exhibition at the Schwules museum in Berlin (2018).
Diversity and inclusivity can be expressed in the study of games that don’t match normative canons, or industrial success’ standards. We can observe at the moment a deep interest for games that had been made invisible by game history, for instance the 2020 PhD thesis in sociology by Leticia Andlauer on the otome game for young girls Amour Sucré, or research by Pierre-Yves Hurel on amateur game creation practices. We have come to a moment when it’s imperative to question the games we study, as Mia Consalvo and Christopher A. Paul in Real Games: What’s Legitimate and What’s Not in Contemporary Videogames (2019), reflecting frontally on the “legitimate” status of some games that are given more media and academic attention than others.
Much like Alenda Chang in her recent contribution Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games (2019), we also pay very close attention to ecological questions, more specifically the impacts of the videogame industry on our living environments. One cannot promote inclusion of diversity and circumvent questions about intergenerational and international equity. Academic research should not be subjected to the video game industry pressure for perpetual innovation and intolerable rhythm, at the risk of indirectly cautioning the toxicity of work environments and the neoliberal practices which create more precarious game and IT workers all around the planet. We have a responsibility to criticize the established models and to consider methods that are more respectful of the people and the environment. It has today become imperative to consider a declining perspective in order to increase the longevity of the medium we study, and above all ensure that this major cultural industry does not speed up the global climatic tragedy. Furthermore, it is essential to bring into the conversation all workers on the production chain. Studying different work environments brings out the necessity to focus on working conditions and toxicity issues in our quest for a more inclusive society. International movements for unionization take hold, with the essential support from academic and journalistic circles, fuelled notably by Game Workers Unite and ongoing research from Marie-Josée Legault and Johanna Weststar in Labour Studies.
Likewise, the academic domain is a professional field struck by the same social constructs as the rest of society. It is consequently necessary to reflect on diversity and inclusivity in our own work environment, inspired by many recent contributions: “Feminist and Furious, Diversity workers against Game Studies of Empire” by Cody Mejeur, Mahli-Ann R. Butt and Alayna Cole (2020), “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang or “Analyses féministes des rapports de domination dans l’enseignement supérieur et la recherche” by Virginie Dutoya, Sarah Kiani, Amélie Le Renard, Cha Prieur and Florian Vörös (2019). These highlights might be recent, but problems in the academy are evidently not, as bears witness the 1999 book Voices of Women Historians directed by Eileen Boris and Nupur Chaudhuri, tracing obstacles and stakes in being a women historian during the 70s through the 90s and in creating the then new Women Studies.
Pluridisciplinary approaches: let’s talk about everything
In order to support the inclusion of as many different approaches as possible, we invite researchers, teachers and creators coming from all fields of study to join our discussions during the Symposium i3 – Inclusion, intersectionality, intergenerational equity: the past, the future. With this edition, we wish to establish interdisciplinary discussions on diversity and inclusion in a relaxed format: 5 minutes short interventions gathered in roundtables of common interests or themes. The interventions will introduce a questioning, an idea, a project, a way to become more welcoming while keeping the rigor expected by our institutions.
There is no need to be an established historian in order to manifest your interest in this symposium; a plurality of approaches and disciplines will be beneficial to the dialogues and reflections. Our objective is to create open discussions in order to reach practical perspectives that will make the research, education and industry sectors more inclusive, and encourage diversity.
Approaches to diversity include but are not limited to:
- the study of games’ representation of people other than: white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, neurotypical, from affluent backgrounds, able-bodied
- the study of games created by people other than: white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, neurotypical, from affluent backgrounds, able-bodied
- local histories
- the study of culturally diverse workers within the industry
- reflections on university, research or education practices that favor inclusion
- reflections on industry practices
- reflections on ecology related to video games
- questions of mediation of the practice of video games, or transmission of knowledge around video games in general
- questions of video game distribution
- questions of games and works about games’ accessibility, related to physical, mental, cognitive, financial or social issues
Code of conduct
The focus of this symposium provided the organising team with an opportunity to update the series’ code of conduct. The code might be updated following the event to reflect our discussions. Please take a moment to read it at: https://www.sahj.ca/en/statement/
We wish to materialize the discussions created by the symposium by creating a mediation tool accessible on the event’s website. This material will present several of the reflections introduced by the discussion panels, as well as concrete actions.
This document, in any shape or form it might take (pdf, discussion simulator, webcomic), will draw its inspiration from the different discrimination prevention initiatives and inclusion sensibilisation discussed during the symposium. We wish to create a material that will help understand where the stakes for diversity and inclusion really are.
Please send a 150-200 words abstract at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will assemble roundtables according to common topics and reflections, striving to include as many as possible.
We want to make the symposium as accessible as possible. If you need any arrangement (auditory, visual, organisational…), please reach out and we will try to accommodate you (email@example.com)