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The Centre for Digital Cultures has kicked off the first half of term one, with lots of new members signing up at welcome events and the centre meet up earlier this month. We have also had the privilege of welcoming two guest speakers as part of our event series.

Luke Goode, Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the University of Auckland, presented a paper on his current research on ‘Evocative stories or “unhinged discourse”? Popular media coverage of artificial intelligence’.

Luke Goode

Professor Goode drew on a number of popular media representations of Artificial Intelligence, including HBO’s Westworld (2016—) and Channel Four’s Humans (2015—) alongside discussions of well-known AI like the humanoid robot Sophia, created by Hanson Robotics. Thinking about the kinds of discourses around the emergences in popular discourse around AI, Luke Goode argued that such discourses provide culturally accessible accounts of AI which are able to stimulate the imagination—and that such ‘evocative stories’ provide entry points into more insightful public debates about AI.

Later in the month, the centre welcomed Dr Rob Gallagher from Kings College London to lead a workshop on videogames and deliver a talk on ‘Volatile Memories: Videogames & the Future of Gaming’.

The workshop invited discussion around a number of readings concerning the representations of gaming as nostalgic, as vehicles of optimism and pessimism, entities that create cultural anxieties, and as objects with geological lifespans of non-biodegradable e-waste. Attendees were able to share their own gaming experiences and reflect on the ways in which games function as texts which connect with their players in different ways.

Rob Gallagher

Dr Gallagher’s talk then developed on the workshop’s conversation topics, looking closely at the ways in which games represent and produce ways of remembering and forgetting. Looking at a number of games, including NieR Automata (2017) and Lose/Lose (2012), Rob Gallagher posed the question: what do videogames want from their players? In a time where games are predominantly played online, Gallagher considered the ways games are able to read their players as much as their players read them. The talk provided a provoking analysis of games as narrative and information, integrating game, play and code.

Photographs: Vicki Williams