CeRch Seminar, King's College London "Learning from Games at the Digital Humanities Campsite" (Erik Champion, Aarhus University)

24 Apr 2013 - 00:00

CeRch Seminar, King's College London

"Learning from Games at the Digital Humanities Campsite"
Erik Champion, Aarhus University

Tuesday April 30th 2013, 18.15

Anatomy Theatre and Museum
Strand Campus, King's College London


Some critics may have you believe that computer game studies lack theoretical rigor, that games cannot afford meaningful experiences. I agree with them, sometimes, but I also believe that a richer understanding of computer games is possible, and that this understanding can shed some light on related issues in the wider field of Digital Humanities.

My main area of research has been designing and evaluating how contextually appropriate interaction can aid the understanding of cultures distant in time, space, and in understanding to our own. This field is sometimes called Virtual Heritage. In Virtual Heritage, tools of choice are typically virtual reality environments, and the projects are very large in scale, complexity, and cost, while my projects are often prototypes and experimental designs. I have many challenges, for example,  morphing technological constraints into cultural affordances, and avoiding possible confusion between artistic artifice and historical accuracy, all the while evaluating intangible concepts in a systematic way without disturbing the participants' sense of immersion. To help me judge the success or failure of these projects I have shaped some working definitions of games, culture, cultural understanding, cultural
inhabitation, and place. However, these concepts and definitions are not enough. I also have to now tackle the issues of simulated violence, artificial "other" people, the temptation of entertainment masquerading as education, and the difficulties inherent in virtually evoking a sense of ritual.

  My lecture, then, is a discussion into how game-based learning, and the study of culture, heritage and history, might meaningfully intersect.


Dr Erik Champion is Project Leader of the new Digital Humanities Lab Denmark, led by a consortium of four Danish universities, and he is also a task head for DARIAH.eu  http://dariah.eu/ . Until 2012 he was an Associate Professor and the Director of Postgraduate Studies and Research at the Auckland School of Design, Massey University, where he taught critical studies, design history, design research methods, and digital media. An Australian Research Council Scholarship supported his doctoral thesis on cultural learning in virtual environments, and the industry partner was Lonely Planet Publications.

His latest publication is the edited collection of chapters for "Game Mod Design Theory and Criticism" published by ETC Press in 2012, he also wrote "Playing with the Past", Springer, 2010. He has written a chapter on virtual heritage and digital history for the upcoming Oxford University Press Handbook of Virtuality, and he has edited or co-edited special issues for /Leonardo Online: Creative Data/, /Games & Culture/, /Technic/, /the International Journal of Architectural Computing (IJAC): Between Man and Machine/, and /the International Journal of Heritage Studies: Sense of Place/.

Past keynotes and invited talks have been for /u21: Interfaces - Digital studies of culture and cultural studies of the digital/, Sweden, 2012; /ESF:/ /Networked Humanities: Art in the Web/, Italy, 2010; /Virtual Systems and Multimedia/ /2007, /Australia; /Digital Applications in Cultural Heritage (DACH) 2007/, Taiwan; /State of Play 2007/, Singapore; and /Cyberarchaeology 2006,/ Spain.