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Inaugural Address Joost Raessens and PhD thesis Douglas Rushkoff online

Joost Raessens’ inaugural address Spelenderwijs. De ludische wending in de mediatheorie (“Homo Ludens 2.0 The Ludic Turn in Media Theory“) on the occasion of accepting the Chair of Media Theory at Utrecht University in November 2010 has now been published through open access in both a Dutch (here) and English version (here).

Please note that Douglas Rushkoff’s PhD dissertation Monopoly Moneys : The media environment of corporatism and the player’s way out is also available through open access and can be found here.

PhD Defense Douglas Rushkoff

We are proud to announce that Douglas Rushkoff will defend his PhD dissertation on June 25. Below you can find the description of his thesis, titled Monopoly moneys: the media environment of corporatism and the player’s way out, from the Utrecht University website:

By analysing corporatism through the lens of media ecology, Douglas Rushkoff shows how an invented set of rules became – like any totalising media environment – indistinguishable from nature. He concludes that while the corporatist rule set may have become the default operating system of our economy, it is not necessarily closed to intervention.

While a closed economic operating system may have been consonant with the closed, top-down media of the print and broadcast eras, as Rushkoff argues, interactive technology does offer new avenues for resistance and redesign. This “playability,” as he describes it, might yet return to economic systems in the form of digital innovations such as peer to peer exchange, decentralised value creation, and even new alternative currencies. This playability would be a positive development for the way it would allow for human intervention in a mechanism that has disproportional influence over our society.

When: June 25, 16:15
Where: Academiegebouw – Domplein 29, Utrecht

Rushkoff’s PhD defense takes place during the Citizen Science On The Move Conference.

Vacancies: 2 PhD Researchers ERC Project ‘Charting the Digital’ (2,0 fte)

Good news: Sybille Lammes’ Charting the Digital research project is now looking to fill two PhD positions! Here’s the text for the job as found on the Utrecht University vacancies website:

Job description
Two PhD positions are now available as part of the ERC funded project ”Charting the Digital: Digital Mapping Practices as New Media Cultures”.

The key objective of this research programme is to investigate to what extent and how digital maps can be considered as new techno-cultural phenomena that have altered our way of being in and moving through our spatial environments. Digital maps allow a greater degree of interaction between users and mapping interfaces than analogue maps do. Instead of just reading maps, users have far more influence on how maps look. Whether a navigation device that adjusts its route-display according to where the driver chooses to go, or a map in a computer-game that is partly created by players, maps have become more interactive and are now co-produced by their users.

This project works from the notion that digital mapping always takes place via interfaces. As the term already indicates, interfaces facilitate interaction between map and user. However, this study will not view interfaces as empty vessels that let this interaction ‘come to pass’ but as material signs that are inscribed with socio-spatial ‘programs of action’ (Latour 1999,1993).

The main task of the students will be to contribute to a critical inventory of the corpus of digital mapping practices that exist, by analysing and comparing them through this theoretical lens. The candidates will focus on how interfaces as technological artefacts act as such mediators – creating and prescribing links between users and spaces – and how they compare in this respect. The aim is to look for similarities and differences between various kinds of digital mapping interfaces in terms of what spaces they produce and connect.

For their dissertation both students will concentrate on one kind of mapping interface, that will be analysed and compared in more detail, as representing an important point in the overall spectrum of digital mapping interfaces. It will be essential that the students are able to situate this case in this broader spectrum, which requires a firm theoretical and interdisciplinary understanding of the role that digital media play in daily life.

Candidates with a strong background in New Media Studies, Science and Technologies Studies (STS) or Human Geography who are interested in crossing disciplinary boundaries are encouraged to apply. The positions will be available to applicants on a competitive basis and to whom, in their research proposal, can clearly demonstrate the academic excellence that is relevant to the project.

The candidate is offered a full-time position for 4 years. Salary starts at € 2,042.- and increases to € 2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment.

The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

The research group will provide the candidate with necessary support on all aspects of the project.

About the organisation
The Department of Media and Culture Studies is the faculty home of all researchers in the programmes Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Communication and Information Studies and Musicology. The department’s research concentrates on the performance character of media and the performing arts from three different perspectives: heritage, transmediality and media and culture in daily life.

Within the department, the New Media and Digital Culture group consists of an enthusiastic international team of scholars that investigate diverse phenomena such as games, social media, data visualizations, software, mobile technology, and digital music. We encourage a study of new media technologies in their specific social, cultural, and political contexts.

Additional information
Interviews with selected candidates will take place in the second half of May. An assessment questionnaire will be part of the procedure. The projects will start in September.

For an informal discussion about the posts, please contact Dr. Sybille Lammes (project leader):


Please send with your application a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, your research proposal (in English and not exceeding 1000 words) and the contact details of at least two references.

Apply until: 31/03/2012

NEWMEDIA_studies Magazine issue #5: Serious Gaming

The students of our New Media & Digital Culture MA program have put together a special issue on games for the NEWMEDIA_studies Magazine called Serious Gaming!

Edited by Eline Muijres and Anna Sonnemans, this issue is, however, not all about what has become known as “serious games”. Instead, also expect articles on a wide variety of topics including judaism in El Shaddai, recursive structures in Red Dead Redemption, a critical look on game journalism, techno-intimacy in Japanese dating sims, and the concept of a “gamer dead point”. Enjoy!

Think Design Play: DiGRA 2011 Conference papers online

The digital conference proceedings of the Think Design Play: DiGRA 2011 Conference, held recently in Hilversum here in The Netherlands, are now online. We were fortunate that many papers of our team, our affiliated researchers and (former) students were accepted. Here’s an overview:

Lammes, Sybille – “The map as playground: Locationbased games as cartographical practices” (INFO/Full Text)

Glas, René – “Breaking Reality: Exploring Pervasive Cheating in Foursquare” (INFO/Full Text)

Rao, Valentina – “How to Say Things with Actions I: a Theory of Discourse for Video Games for Change” (INFO/Full Text)

van Meurs, Richard – “And Then You Wait: The Issue of Dead Time in Social Network Games” (INFO/Full Text)

van Zwieten, Martijn – “Danger Close: Contesting Ideologies and Contemporary Military Conflict in First Person Shooters” (INFO/Full Text)

Nieborg, David – “The winner takes all: Standardization and console games” (INFO/Full Text)

van Roessel, Lies, with Jeroen van Mastrigt – “Collaboration and Team Composition in Applied Game Creation Processes” (INFO/Full Text)

Jacobs, Melinda, with Tanja Sihvonen – “In Perpetual Beta? On the Participatory Design of Facebook Games” (INFO/Full Text)

Towards an International Master Degree Game Studies

The Executive Board (College van Bestuur) of Utrecht University has awarded the Faculty of Humanities a subsidy (30.000 euro) to develop an International Master Degree Game Studies. In the academic year 2011-2012 we will organize expert meetings with game research groups of the IT University of Copenhagen (Msc in IT: Games), the University of Potsdam (Digital Games Research Center), the University of West of England (Play Research Group), and the University of Tampere (Game Research Lab).

For more information, contact Joost Raessens (J.Raessens(at)

Handbook of Computer Game Studies paperback out now.

The Handbook of Computer Game Studies, edited by our own Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein for The MIT Press and first released in hardcover in 2005, is finally on sale in paperback edition.

For those who do not own a copy yet, here’s the book description from the MIT Press website. The table of content can be found here.

New media students, teachers, and professionals have long needed a comprehensive scholarly treatment of digital games that deals with the history, design, reception, and aesthetics of games along with their social and cultural context. The Handbook of Computer Game Studies fills this need with a definitive look at the subject from a broad range of perspectives. Contributors come from cognitive science and artificial intelligence, developmental, social, and clinical psychology, history, film, theater, and literary studies, cultural studies, and philosophy as well as game design and development. The text includes both scholarly articles and journalism from such well-known voices as Douglas Rushkoff, Sherry Turkle, Henry Jenkins, Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman, and others.

Contributors consider the “prehistory” of computer games and the development of computer games themselves; game development from the designer’s point of view; empirical research on the psychological effects of computer games, including the use of computer games in clinical and educational settings; the aesthetics of games in comparison to film and literature; the effect of computer games on cultural identity, including gender and ethnicity; the relation  of computer games to social behavior, including, among other matters, the inadequacy of laboratory experiments linking games and aggression and the different modes of participation in computer game culture.

Sybille Lammes receives ERC Starting Grant for “Charting the Digital” research project

More good news! The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded our own Sybille Lammes with a prestigious ERC Starting Grant!Here’s a description of the “Charting the Digital” research project, which will involve Lammes as principal investigator, a postdoc and two PhD positions:

The key objective of this research programme is to investigate to what extent and how digital maps can be considered as new techno-cultural phenomena that have altered our way of being in and moving through our spatial environments. Digital maps allow a greater degree of interaction between users and mapping interfaces than analogue maps do. Instead of just reading maps, users have far more influence on how maps look. Whether a navigation device that adjusts its route-display according to where the driver chooses to go, or a map in a computer-game that is partly created by players, maps have become more interactive and are now co-produced by their users.

Part of this extensive research project investigates how digital maps are related to play. It focusses on a two-fold cultural paradigm shift that occurred since the emergence of digital maps and a parallel process of cultural ludification. Theses two shifts come together in a myriad of playful mapping practices that people nowadays engage with and that will be examined in this project.

The press release from the Utrecht University can be found here (in Dutch).

Teun Dubbelman receives Fulbright scholarship

The Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play congratulates our own Teun Dubbelman with receiving the prestigious Fulbright scholarship!

From the press release:
Teun Dubbelman MA, PhD candidate at the Research Institute for History and Culture (OGC), has received the prestigious Fulbright scholarship for PhD fellows. He will spend three months at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop design guidelines for story-based computer games. Dutch designers of gaming companies have expressed a need for just that kind of knowledge.
Dubbelman’s PhD research is part of the national GATE-project (Game Research for Training and Entertainment), funded by the government to support the growing Dutch game industry. MIT has the right expertise to translate theoretical concepts into the practice of game design. With his research scholarship, Dubbelman hopes to build a bridge between scientific research and the practice of game development.

DNB Magazine focuses on the Dutch game industry


The recent issue of the magazine published by De Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch central bank) focuses on the Dutch game industry. It shows how the 160 companies working on games in the Netherlands right now already have a healthy 150 milj. euro turnover. According to the article however, the industry needs to get more ambitious and competitive in order to grow. Working together as a sector through initiatives like the Dutch Game Garden, and using the knowledge from research projects like GATE, should push the Dutch game industry in the right direction.

The issue of DNB Magazine can be found here.