“Serious Play: Counter-actions and Interventional Dissent in the Game Space” presented by Wilson


Session Title:

  • Contested Space, Contested Media

Presentation Title:

  • Serious Play: Counter-actions and Interventional Dissent in the Game Space




  • The game space is the new (post-)urban world, but artists are having a difficult, even perilous time, entering it. In 1982 Chris Crawford made the ambitious prediction that; “Eventually, games will be recognized as a serious art form.” For some time now, the art-world and the video-games industry have occupied distinct spheres with a level of mutual antagonism. Over the last decade, however, this distinction has been dislodged. The increasing prevalence of art-orientated games and artistic interventions within pre-existing games has been the catalyst for such a shift. These art-game projects occupy a slippery status; stigmatised by their association with the mass-market industry of games and dismissed by that very industry and its population of players. Despite its virtuality, the game space is largely an urban imaginary, and within this urban context of the first-person-shooter games, America’s Army and Counter Strike, player’s antagonism toward performative intervention has been especially exacerbated. This paper discusses the emergence of artistic interventions within pre-existing game-spaces as a clash of cultures. It questions whether such a clash is irreconcilable, or whether it opens up spaces: spaces for social commentary, spaces for political critique, spaces for difference within a long-stigmatised medium. In Crawford’s prediction the term ‘serious’ butts against the assumed playfulness of play and in these art interventions it is argued that seriousness is reaffirmed in alliance with play through the formulation of the concept of ‘serious play’.

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