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Arse Elektronika 2012 / Call for Submissions: '4PLAY: Gamifuckation and Its Discontents'

Arse Elektronika 2012
San Francisco, USA

4PLAY: Gamifuckation and Its Discontents

Call for papers, talks, workshops, performances, and GAMES.
[In addition to traditional talks, workshops, and papers, this year we are also accepting submissions of games. This can include digital games, street games, LARPs, social rulesets, procedural game-art, or other forms, for demonstration, presentation, or debut during the conference.]



Gaming, like sex, is a human cultural practice of apparent frivolity. Yet both afford surprisingly deep levels of analysis. How might models of critical gameplay inspire deeper critical reflection on issues of sex, and vice-versa?

What is the history of sexual games, particularly in the pre-digital era? What were the fairground and peepshow precursors in titillation? What was the design history of the “love tester” machine?

Why are game metaphors so prevalent in narratives of sexual conquest, and how did popular games in history influence the thinking of contemporary lovers? What can we learn about Roman gaming culture from Ovid's Ars Amatoria? What determines the many definitions of "cheating" in each of those contexts? How do the procedural rhetorics of modern game design encourage objectification of women?

How might contemplative gaming teach us to free ourselves from the tyranny of the climax?
How does the concept of the 'magic circle' in games coincide with safe spaces for sexual exploration? How do players act out transgressions of sex and gender expectations within the relatively safer spaces of games? What can we learn about social scripts and expectations from looking at society through a ludological lens?

What is the relationship of sex and games to the recent 'non-human turn' in arts, science, and philosophy? How might games engender empathy and understanding towards the non-human? What is the technological equivalent of Alan Moore's plant-sex issue of Swamp Thing? Could a game help you contemplate how a mantis fucks, or what it feels like for a fern to spore?

Beyond the simple human-to-human interfaces of the now-almost-quaint developments of sex machines and teledildonic, how might game design interact with biometrics and haptic feedback to create entirely new techno-sexual situations?  Game-based learning and medical rehabilitation has been used in the past for stroke victims and the disabled to re-learn their bodies; how might those same techniques allow further bodily exploration towards positive pleasure? How much might BDSM simulators borrow from virtual pet trainers? How is predicament bondage like game design, and what can the two learn from one another?

If we are headed towards the 'gamepocalypse' envisioned by Jesse Schell, how might that affect our sex lives and our sexualities?

Is sex in danger of gamification?

If so, how can we stop it?


Deadline: July 1, 2012

Please send submissions to office AT

Posted by johannes, Monday, May 21, 2012 ( General )

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Arse Elektronika 2014. October 2-5, 2014 in San Francisco, USA.

At Chez Poulet, the Center for Sex and Culture and Noisebride.

Trans is a Latin noun or prefix, meaning "across", "beyond" or "on the opposite side". What does that mean for sex and technology?
- Transitions, translations, transgressions, transistors & transducers, transactions, transmission (specifically sexually transmitted infections), transdermal?
- How does sex change as we age? As we grow, as we mature? And what about old age? Sex in nursing homes? Sex when people have lost much of their sense of identity with Alzheimer's Disease and the like, but are still horny, still sexual entities? How do pharma and biotech help/monetize this situation?
- Sex under drugs, sex under other altered states? Is Viagra a drug? At what point does a loss of cognitive function take away our ability to consent?
- Transnationality and sex. What about translations and transitions across cultures? For example: Hacking, porn, dissent in Iran? Purity Balls and the American obsession with virginity whatever that really means?
- How does our sex and our perception of sex change with the introduction of new gadgets? Who are the early (sexual) adopters? And what about the adapters? What about (white male) privilege and new gadgets? Google Glass Ceiling?
- SCOT (social construction of technology) research, such as that of Mackenzie and Wajcman, argues that the path of innovation and its social consequences are strongly, if not entirely shaped by society itself through the influence of culture, politics, economic arrangements, regulatory mechanisms and the like. So if its true that technology itself doesnt matter, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded (Langdon Winner), then what does that tell us about the transition from sex tech into the cultural mainstream?
- Is human sexual behavior transforming our planet? What's the sexual side of the anthropocene?
- Transgression and mechanophila? Is our technological society driven by erotogenic fixation on machinery? What about hardcore pornography such as Fucking Machines? Can this be seen as constituting the limit of current sexual biopolitics?
- Sex puppets, Real Dolls and the Uncanny Valley? A never-ending transition?
- Teagan Widmer's latest app, Refuge Restrooms, highlights the importance of providing safe public accommodations for trans people. How can apps like Widmers help with tasks that most people take for granted, like the ability to use the bathroom?
- Is trans* a controversial label online? How do we develop language-theory-activism in general? Programming languages are designed to be inclusive of "trans" in a broad sense for both binary and non-binary gender modalities. Does it have transmisogynist qualities?
- Feminists, among other critical scholars, have long argued the problems with the notion of the Transcendental. Focusing on the transcendental moves our attention away from the day-to-day struggles involving the material and instead replaces it with transcendent ideas and ideals. How is this manifested through issues of sexuality and technology? What can we do about it? What are the power struggles involved, positionalities afforded and relationships to, that transcendental modes of thought afford for socio-economically marginalized populations? Can we compare and contrast notions of transcendence alongside notions of immanence? What is the role of the body and embodiment with respect to transcendentalism? What are the implications of transcendental for power? Grassroots activism? Citizens' movements? Open source? Hacking? Can we have visions of the future without being transcendental?
- And, last but not least, since sex is a pretty biological thing (insofar as things are biological things), we want to remind of genetics with our theme. Genetic transformation/translation/transcription/transmission.

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