Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart introduces the subject of‘Grief Play’ at the Brunel Digital Games Postgraduate Conference, 2008

Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Post-Doc Research Fellow at SMARTlab, spoke at the Brunel Postgraduate conference on 16 September on Grief Play, and why players do it.

The paper looks at ways in which we can classify ‘griefing’; eg, causing harm or distress to other players in online worlds, beyond the definitions that have previously pigeonholed this social phenomenon, and finds some very different ways in which players protest, interact, fall afoul of each other and cause mischief.

The paper also lifts some preconceptions about the activity. Some types of grief are entirely ludic and have little, or nothing to do with other players. Others are aimed squarely at the companies who make these games. Finally, although griefing can be a disruptive and often distressing element of online games, the unity of social groups is often not only a strong deterrent, but tribal groups often act positively to protect their members and alienate threats.

Esther’s work at SMARTlab investigates the relationship between digital narratives in games, players and learning. Other speakers include Barry Atkins, and Tanya Kryzwinska.


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