The Playful Citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture
In cooperation with Amsterdam University Press and the Utrecht Center for Game Research
How can digital games encourage and develop civic engagement? Can players be turned into ecological citizens? And could games revise oppressive social structures? This playful evening, visitors will be treated to an overview of the potential and limitations of citizen engagement in the digital age.
With the emergence of digital and mobile technologies, our conceptions and hopes of what citizen participation entails have changed profoundly. It seems as though interactive, networked, and cheap technologies have greatly democratized how literacies, knowledge, and power structures are generated and perceived in everyday life and that they have increased—and have further potential to increase—the degree of civic engagement. From playing, modifying, and designing games and interactive documentaries, and using playful tools and games for the production of alternative knowledges, to becoming protest-cartographers or pollution measurers, citizens appear to engage with, alter, and probe media technologies to a far greater extent than ever before. At the same time, we should be critical of what exactly these apparently enabling technologies do, and question what the drawbacks and the possibilities of digital media are for civic engagement.
Unifying all these topics is a sustained focus on what we consider to be ludic, or playful, engagement. The Playful Citizen seeks to further our interdisciplinary understanding of how media and citizenship can converge in contemporary culture through the lens of play. In an era in which play has left the traditional playground and has pervaded domains traditionally perceived as non-playful, we need to get a better analytical purchase on how this shift has changed our approaches to citizenship as well as to media. The ongoing ludification of culture prompts us to rethink what citizenship is and how it can be understood, enacted, analyzed, and conceptualized in relation to media and play.
If we have become more playful as citizens, how is this manifested in our daily lives? Which media practices show the reciprocal relationship between ludification and citizenship? And should these practices be viewed as new ways to enhance and change the agency of citizens, or rather as facilitating and maintaining dominant hegemonies or assemblages of power?
About the speakers
Sybille Lammes is full professor of New Media and Digital Culture at Leiden University.
Jeroen Jansz is full professor of Communication and Media at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Joost Raessens is full professor of Media Theory at Utrecht University.
Ingrid Hoofd is assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University.
Michiel de Lange (moderator) is assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University.
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