Special Address – University of Copenhagen

Special Address

Playing the Revolution? Social Upheaval and Cultural Inscription in Board Games

Thu 18 May, 09:15 - 10:00 (KUA3, Room 4A.0.69)

Dr Mary Flanagan
Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities, Dartmouth College, US

In this essay, I focus on a slightly more recent phenomenon in board game history: three exemplar pictorial board games, each from succeeding centuries starting with the 18th, that capture and exemplify revolutions: in history, in culture, and in ideology through reinscribing norms. I will show that increasing complexity on the cultural landscape affected gameplay mechanics, and the pressure to normalize the problematic imperialist practice of colonialism led to new game genres.

Mary Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, is a leading innovator, artist, educator and designer, whose works have included everything from game-inspired art, to commercial games that shift people's thinking about biases and stereotypes. Her interest in play and culture led to her acclaimed book, Critical Play, with MIT Press (2009). Her fifth academic book, Values at Play in Digital Games (with philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, MIT 2014), demonstrates that thinking about values is a key to innovation. Flanagan established the internationally recognized game research laboratory Tiltfactor (http://www.tiltfactor.org) in 2003 to invent "humanist" games and take on social issues through games. At Tiltfactor, designers create and research catchy games that teach or transform "under the radar" using psychological principles.