Plats: MIT-huset, MA466
Mikael Jakobson, Comparative Media Studies, MIT: Stories of Colonialism Retold Somewhat Lovingly
Colonialism themed board games like Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan have played an important role in popularizing modern board games. As the hobby is growing rapidly in many parts of the world, this theme continues to be frequently represented among new titles. This presentation examines the reasons for this and discusses some related problems.
The presentation identifies a number of significant actors within the board game community of practice (designers, publishers, reviewers, other content providers, and players) and analyzes their roles in the persistence of the colonialism theme. While this by necessity involves a historical look at the emergence of modern board games, the focus of the presentation is on games from the last two decades years, and the reception of these titles.
Colonialism themed board games have received some critical attention from academia in recent years. Based on examinations of the games’ formal and aesthetic properties, issues of representation and simulation have been exposed. This leaves a number of important problems to be addressed.
By bringing in the context of the games: the players and the spatial configuration of play; I offer an additional perspective. Instead of focusing on historical accuracy, I question the choices of which stories are being reenacted, and the casting of the players into colonialist roles. What does it mean to present these historical moments in such a lavish and pleasing form, to then have these artifacts serve as centerpieces to gather around for social interaction at board game cafes, meet-ups, and conventions?
Mikael Jakobsson is a Research Scientist at Comparative Media Studies, MIT and the Research Coordinator for MIT Game Lab. He conducts research and teaches classes on game design and game culture. His current research interests focus on different aspects of co-located collaborative games and design exploration of connections between interaction modes and experience outcomes. He also studies physical and mixed media games and other systems for playful and social interaction. Previous work includes studies of social interaction in virtual worlds and reward systems in games. His most recent publication is a chapter on Achievements in Debugging Game History. A Critical Lexicon edited by Henry Lowood and Raiford Guins and published by MIT Press, 2016. He is currently working on a book about EverQuest for the Landmark Video Games series.