User at Work is a multidisciplinary hybrid conference organized by FRAG collective within the new yearly cycle Beyond the Gaming Principle. The main aim of these events is to bring together artists and gamers, theorists and developers, professionals and enthusiasts to reflect upon or develop new, inclusive and diffractive ways of creating, playing and reflecting upon games.
The introductory lecture of the conference will be presented by Alfie Bown, a British game theorist known for his book Playstation Dreamworld. Two conference panels will follow the keynote lecture. First panel is dedicated to the intertwining of gaming and work (guests: Filip Hauer, Václav Janoščík, Vít Bohal, Dustin Breitling, John Hill, Dita Malečková). The second panel will open with keynote by Peggy Schoenege and will address the theme of the game and space, whether physical, gallery or virtual (Viktor Takáč, Lucia Mendelová, Ondřej Buddeus, Jesper Alvaer, Ondřej Trhoň, Tereza Krobová, Kateřina Kovandová).
First of all, we will discuss the notion that games are of course not just fun, but often, by collecting experience and in-game currencies, they force us to perform repetitive and profit-oriented activities, or directly involve various work activities. In this sense, the games normalize various forms of work, including its intimate connection with entertainment and capitalism. Of course, the gaming medium does not only have to reproduce dominant economic, cultural, political or aesthetic patterns, it can invert, reject or reshape them.
We will try to set the games in a space that is again not just a simple (private) environment of a home computer, but is gaining interest in the sphere of art, galleries or museums. But games do not only enter our spaces directly, by placing them in context, but also through how they transform our ideas about it. It’s not just about general VR technology, but about the more subtle nuances of how games teach us to move, navigate, and share.
Relaxed, non-academic conference that, in addition to the introductory lecture, will offer various theses, observations and perspectives in the form of short 10-minute papers, on the basis of which we will discuss the key problems of gaming and game development. The whole program will be in English and its important part will be the actual live gaming. We will be playing both indie and mainstream titles. The conference will be loosely followed by an exhibition at the GAVU Gallery where playing in a triad of three fundamental human activities will be put into the context of work and rest, and among many other things it will still be possible to play and discuss with the FRAG collective.
Text for the conference: Václav Jánoščík