Creating Second Lives: Reading and Writing Virtual Communities, Bangor University, 24-25 October 2008

Early bird registration closes on 31st July for
Bangor University, 24th/25th October 2008

Games and virtual environments are playing an increasingly powerful role in Western entertainment and narrative culture. Of particular importance are the constant re- and de-construction of the embodied playing self and the post- industrialist, customisable fluidity of personal and social identity. This interdisciplinary conference will shed light on how virtual communities are ‘read’ and ‘written’, i.e. constructed textually through linguistic and semiotic en- and decoding, by producers and receivers of video and massively multiplayer online games as well as virtual worlds such as Second Life.

The conference’s major intention is to bring together researchers from a wide range of different areas, who share an interest in semiotics, stylistics, codification, new media design, 3D programming and media/cultural studies but do not always speak the same ‘language’. The conference will facilitate cross- disciplinary dialogue and understanding by providing room and material for discussions between scholars, scientists and professionals from the gaming industry. By doing so, it will help experts identify and debate current and future developments particularly in relation to the textual construction of subjectivities, communities and ideologies.

Major themes include:
– How do we ‘read’ and ‘write’ virtual communities, i.e. how are identities, communities and ideologies constructed textually and discursively in video games and other digital environments?
– How are user identities ‘coded into’ virtual communities?
– To what extent and to what effect can we apply contemporary stylistic and semiotic theory and analysis to virtual, interactive communities?
– How do avatars impersonate networks, communities and societies?
– What are the roles of body and mind in virtual communities? Do they separate or amalgamate?
– To what extent do we need to revisit the notions of ‘virtual’, ‘actual’ and ‘real’ in relation to entextualised social and communal worlds and realities?
– How does and will 3D graphic design contribute – now and in the foreseeable future – to the construction of social identity?
– What programming tools and methodologies are/may be used to create virtual communities and inter-‘personal’ relationships?

Keynote speakers will include Prof Espen Aarseth, Co-founder and Editor-in- Chief of and author of Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, and Fred Hasson, founding CEO of TIGA, the UK Games Development Trade Association.

Abstracts, registration details and provisional programme are available here.

Conference organisers: NIECI Research Centre for Video Games and Virtual

Environments (Dr Astrid Ensslin, Dr Eben Muse, Xavier Laurent)

For further enquiries, please contact Simon Holloway, Conference Officer, at cos605 [at]