#SAA2017 Archaeogaming Symposium

It’s time to start planning for next year’s conferences, because this stuff starts very, very far out. The Society for American Archaeology’s Annual Meeting will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from March 29 – April 2, 2017. I’m currently involved with planning two sessions, one for Project #Moonstuff, and one on archaeogaming.

While this is an organized session, it’s not a closed one. If anyone is interested in participating, they should get in contact with me and I’ll be glad to talk about the session, and provide information on how to submit an abstract to it. I’m particularly interested in having diverse voices within the papers, so varied backgrounds and experience levels are welcome.

The abstract for the proposed archaeogaming symposium is:

Archaeogaming: Studying Material Culture in Immaterial Worlds

Archaeogaming posits that immaterial worlds, such as those found in single and multiplayer video-games, are viable spaces in which to study material culture, recognizing that created cultures are the inherited product of cultural influences from within our own “real” world. By examining each game space, we can isolate the particular culture of the created world, can apply archaeological and ethnographic techniques, and can address larger issues of theory and practice in non-destructive, replicable ways. Within this session, practitioners involved in the emerging four fields of archaeogaming will discuss their work. Papers focus on the archaeology of video-games and related technologies via real-world excavation, archaeology within video-games via digital excavation, the creation of archaeological video-games, and critical examinations of archaeology and cultural heritage in video-games.

The abstract for my proposed paper within the session is:

Codifying Ethical “Field” Methodologies Within Immaterial Spaces

As archaeogaming posits that immaterial space is a valid sphere in which to study material culture, it is necessary to determine how common archaeological practices can be performed within that sphere, and whether the performative acts are, given the limitations and bounds of immaterial space, still appropriate as method. In addition, the ethical ramifications of common practice require reconsideration, as their performance occurs in contexts and involves situations where AI actors may be unable to consent to engagement or participation in potentially problematic fieldwork. Through both discussions of theory and case study examples, the argument will be made that it is only through a conscious application of an applied ethics policy that fieldwork conducted in immaterial space can be considered valid archaeologically.

There’s more to archaeogaming than Tomb Raider, but the ethics of how to engage in archaeogaming within Tomb Raider are critically important.