Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Talk invite:

Public free talk:

WOW, they're uncontrollable: Online games, censorship and the
crisis of control.

Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey E. Brand, Associate Dean and Head of School,
Communication and Media, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University

DATE: Wednesday 13 May, 2009

TIME: 6:00 to 7:30 pm

Location: Theatre 3, Alan Gilbert Building, The University of Melbourne

Getting there: The Alan Gilbert Building is on the corner of Grattan St
and Barry St in Carlton. The best approach is to enter the Alan Gilbert
Building from the Barry St entrance. Theatre 3 is on level one. Go up
the stairs that will appear directly in front of you - at the top of the
stairs, walk around to your left and keep walking - a clearly sign-posted
entrance to the theatre will be visible in front of you. Lift access is also available to level one.

Abstract: Computer and video games are big business in Australia, just
as they are in many other developed economies. In 2008, the retail sector
traded AU$1.9 billion in hardware, software and peripherals. Of this
total, approximately AU$15 million were MMORPGs such as World of
Warcraft (WOW). Ongoing online game subscriptions such as WOW may have accounted
for another AU$300 million and games downloaded through services such as
Steam and Direct2Drive are not accounted for in domestic retail figures.

Australia is unique among developed states in that it does not provide
for an R18+ or "Adult" rating for computer game content. Yet demographic,
behavioural and attitudinal data indicate that adults are a core market
for games, are the heaviest consumers of massively multiplayer online
games and are savvy consumers capable of considering the risks of playing
games with challenging and confronting content while acting responsibly
when using such games in homes with children. Recent controversy over
whether games that are exclusively played online must be classified to
be legally sold or exhibited in Australia has added to a growing chorus of
criticism over the Australian content regulation regime. Most
online-only games such as and including WOW have not been submitted by their
publishers for classification by the Classification Board. James Beniger's
(1986) notion of a 'crisis of control' will be used to contextualise the contemporary regulatory environment and its failure to accommodate the rapidly changing medium of computer games. Suggestions and probable scenarios will be offered and canvassed to evaluate the policy and
technical trajectory of ratings and classification in Australia.

Speaker: Jeff Brand is Associate Professor and Head of the School of
Communication and Media at Bond University. His research explores the
effects of electronic media on audiences and the policy imperatives that
arise from presumed effects. He conducts most of his research on
computer game audiences and is author of the Interactive Australia series of
studies for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia. Jeff
has published in the Journal of Communication, Journal of Advertising
Research, Educational Leadership, Asia Pacific Media Educator,
Communications & Strategies, Media International Australia and in edited
texts in the field of media. He is co-author (with Prof. Mark Pearson)
of Sources of News and Current Affairs (2001). Jeff has served as a
consultant to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the
Classification Board, the Special Broadcasting Service, and the
Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia. He completed his PhD
in 1995 at Michigan State University.

This is a public lecture. Entry is free.

Sponsors: IEEE-Society for the Social Implications of Technology and The Department of Information Systems, The University of Melbourne.