#TJAG (The Just Almost Games, June 30, 2018):
What’s your kill count? Do cats and dogs play to win? Do you like running and racing? Does play express freedom while pushing at the boundaries of reality, materials, & rules? Does normal life lend solidity to games, even though they may be interrupted by reality? Are literature and games both forms of cultural simulation? Would a Martian visiting Earth be able to distinguish work from play? Why can games only be enacted (& not narrated) in real time by the player? Must players be aware of their effects on each other for a situation to be a game? How does nature make its moves? Are the rules of a game arbitrary though not irrational? Can legal moves be illogical and/or unethical? How ‘large’ games can be, & must they be conclusive? Can several mathematical proofs be thought of as (systemic and/or narrative) turn-based games? Are all perfect information games winnable? How are games with imperfect or incomplete information different? Can anything be learnt via play? Why doesn’t game-play develop as fast as the simulation of spaces? Could games be used for ‘serious’ purposes in the future? Would leisure stay free? Or, might games cease to be play even as we bet everything on it? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from literature (Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri, Jadavpur University, Kolkata), logic (Dr. Sujata Ghosh, ISI, Chennai), & game design (Dhruv Jani, Studio Oleomingus, Vapi).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TJAG show.
Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (literature) is Professor of English (Emerita) at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She was educated at Presidency College (Kolkata) and the University of Oxford (UK), where she graduated in English (1975) and completed a D.Phil. in Renaissance English literature (1981). She also represented Oxford University in badminton and karate, winning a University Half-Blue for the former, and holds a second-degree (Nidan) black belt in Kyokushinkaikan karate. She has been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Cambridge (UK), Paris (France) and Virginia (USA). Prof. Chaudhuri’s research interests include English and European renaissance literature, cultural history, modernism, critical theory, translation, and the cultures of sport. She has written and engaged publicly with issues of higher education, the future of the humanities, arts, culture, politics and gender, especially in the context of escalating violence towards women. She has advised on national research and higher education policies for the University Grants Commission (UGC), and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). She has judged major literary awards, such as the Commonwealth, Crossword and Sahitya Akademi prizes, and led many international collaborative research projects. She has written/edited 12 books, over 80 single-author articles, over 150 workshop/conference papers, and numerous collections of translations. Among her recent publications are ‘Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World’ (Routledge, 2018), ‘Fields of Play: Sport, Literature and Culture’ (Orient Blackswan, 2015), and chapters in ‘Sporting Cultures, 1650-1850’ (Toronto UP, 2018), and ‘The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms’ (Oxford UP, 2010). She is a member of the International Shakespeare Association, Vice-President of the Shakespeare Society of India, and on the board of Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespearean International Yearbook, and South Asian Review of English.
Dr. Sujata Ghosh (logic) is currently Associate Professor at the Computer Science Unit (CSU), Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Chennai. She has also held academic and research positions at University of Groningen (The Netherlands), ISI Kolkata, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Visva-Bharati University (Santiniketan) & University of Calcutta (Kolkata). Her research interests include games, strategies and logics, knowledge and belief, social choices, & social cognition. Dr. Ghosh completed her B.Sc. (Mathematics) from Presidency College (1996, Kolkata), and her M.Sc. (1998) & Ph.D. (2005) in Pure Mathematics from University of Calcutta (Kolkata). She has published academic research articles in various international peer-reviewed journals and conferences and co-edited several research volumes. She has also been a part of the Programme Committees of various international conferences on logic, games and artificial intelligence,like AAAI, AAMAS, CLIMA, FEW, ICLA, IJCAI, M4M, MIKE, TARK and others, and have organised various workshops and symposia on logic all over the world. She is involved with the Student Session of ESSLLI (European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information) for the past 8 years, and has been a jury member of the E.W. Beth Dissertation Award of the Association for Logic, Language and Information (FoLLI) for the past 2 years. She is one of the founding members of the Association for Logic in India (ALI) which started functioning in 2009, and has been its secretary for the years 2013 to 2017. She is currently serving as an invited member of one of the committees of the Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL).
Dhruv Jani (game design) is an author at, and the Co-founder of, Studio Oleomingus, a two person game design studio based in Chala. He practices at the intersection of post colonial literature, speculative architecture and games, creating software that seek to understand how spaces, histories and languages respond when expressed within interactive mediums. He has studied exhibition and spatial design at National Institute of Design (NID, Ahmedabad, 2013) and is a self taught game creator. Dhruv is best known for creating a sprawling narrative experiment called, ‘Somewhere’, an anthology of stories about the search for a mythical city called Kayamgadh. His work is currently being supported by The Irregular Corporation, an independent publisher founded by gaming industry veterans and based in the UK, focused on creating and supporting original games for niche markets and communities. Dhruv is the recipient of an Arts Practice Grant from the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA, 2016-till date). He also created two board games, for the ‘Travelling Hand Project’ by Gayatri Kodikal, that sought to simulate stories about the remains of a Georgian Queen in 17th century Goa. His work titled, ‘Menagerie’ was the subject of a paper in the book, ‘Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives’ by Keri Duncan, Jensen and Lucas John (IGN Global). Dhruv has been an artist-in residence at Khoj International Arts Association in Delhi, and has created, taught & exhibited games at multiple galleries, including, at G|39 Gallery in Cardiff (UK), at Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco (USA), at IFA in Bangalore and Goa, at CONA and SEA (School for Environment and Architecture) in Mumbai, at Jawahar Kala Kendra and SIDE (Pearl Academy) in Jaipur, and at Sketchup in Denver (USA). Over the past few years his work has been featured in various videogame publications and has been the subject of several academic works by game-theorists.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TJAG mentions: Jeremy Bentham, Friedrich Schiller, Ernst Zermelo, Franz Kafka, Yasunari Kawabata, Satyajit Ray, Zinedine Zidane, & Ian Bogost, among others.