Walt Scacchi, the director of research with UC Irvine's Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds, seeks live bodies rather than virtual ones for a lecture he's sponsoring this afternoon.
His featured speaker is Peter Krapp, professor of Film & Media/Visual Studies, English and Informatics at UCI. He'll be talking about "machinima," the moments and sequences of gameplay that are recorded as significant, interesting or entertaining, independently from the immediate context of their production.
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"This momentary halting of fluid technical as well as semiotic relations illustrates what media history can contribute to computer game studies," states Scacchi's promotional materials. "There are at least two reasons to look at this from the vantage point of gestures. On the one hand, gestures and their citability mark a performative space of puppeteering, theater, or cinema that is cited by machinima. On the other hand, precisely calibrated in-game gestures remain particularly difficult, even for highly accomplished examples of machinima."
Simple character movements like nodding, facial expressions, turning one's head, or pointing without a weapon in hand can be difficult to impossible in many games.
"In machinima, there is a dual register of gestures: trained motions of the player guide in-game images of expressive motion," explains the lecture directive. "Instead of reducing machinima to fan culture or to contributions to an oral history of gaming, its gestures grant access to gaming's historical conditions of possibility, and to a comparative horizon that informs, changes, and fully participates in gaming culture."
If you've thought that hard about gaming, or long to, check out the "Of Games and Gestures: Machinima and the Suspensions of Animation" panel from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in 6011 Donald Bren Hall at UCI. A reception follows. Sure, bring the avatar along.