Psychasthenia studio and the gamification of contemporary culture
What does it mean to say that Games Matter within a new media art context? Conversely, what contributions can artists and scholars exploring the medium make to the cultural conversation around their use and meaning? This contribution highlights the ways in which our interdisciplinary art collective, Psychasthenia Studio, has addressed the cultural effects of games and gamification as they have evolved over the last decade, using a series of videogame art projects as the medium of expression and critique. As Mary Flanagan (2009) suggested in Critical Play, “games carry beliefs within their representation systems and mechanics” (p. 4). Through their thematic content and interaction design, the three videogames developed by us in the interdisciplinary Psychasthenia Studio between 2009-2017 draw attention to those beliefs as they exist not only in the games themselves, but also more broadly in an increasingly gamified contemporary culture. Psychasthenia Studio simultaneously intervenes in the discussion around games in society and pushes the boundaries of what constitutes new media art practice today. By playing the Psychasthenia games, our hope is that users both co-author and witness their own participation in the system.
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