Gestures Gamers Come Up With Are Focus of UCI Gathering

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.

“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.

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