Connect with Chris Goetz and QGCon

02 Dec, 2013

Connect with Chris Goetz and QGCon

The Berkeley Center for New Media is turning 10! To celebrate, we’d like to share ten stories of BCNM’s life so far over the next ten months leading up to our birthday party on September 25th, 2014. This month, hear how Designated Emphasis Ph.D. candidate Chris Goetz helped launch the successful Queerness and Games conference through his critical research on video games.

When Chris Goetz was seven years old, he asked his parents for a keyboard. His parents promised him his gift had buttons and made noise, but he was surprised when he unwrapped a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Little did they know they had ignited a lifelong passion that would lead Chris to the Berkeley Center for New Media to research videogames.

The Berkeley Center for New Media’s interdisciplinary environment has provided Chris with a research home that allows him to draw from various fields — from psychology to computer science to design.

“It’s thanks to BCNM that I’ve been able to pursue the kind of research I’m doing. It has given me the grants and the academic freedom to take things from many fields and put them into my research.”

A Film and Media Ph.D. candidate, Chris Goetz investigates how users explore the internal world of a videogame using both their own imaginations and the game’s interface to transcend the body and engage in an interactive fantasy. His background in film studies allows him to bridge the gap between narratologists, who study game narratives through the lens of cinema and cultural analysis, and ludologists, who often ignore narrative to focus on game mechanics.

Currently, Chris examines the “fruit-snack aesthetic” of video games: how design elements below the level of narrative and direct gameplay interaction work together to influence the user experience. He analyzes how video game designers and marketers incorporate color theory, behavioral psychology, and cognitive science to capture players’ attention, replay value and consumer appeal.

Chris brought his research into the public when he co-organized the Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon) with Bonnie Ruberg and BCNM’s support. QGCon drew together academics and designers interested in exploring the intersections between representation, identity creation, gaming culture, and queerness inherent in the body transcendence of the gameplay experience. “An oasis” for thought, the conference not only addressed issues of representation in video games and queerphobia in gamer culture, it also analyzed the parallels between identity creation and performativity in gameplay, and human expression of racial, cultural, sexual, and gender identities.

Given the huge, standing-room-only success of QGCon, which garnered media buzz in the Bay Area and a write-up in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Chris and others within the Berkeley Center for New Media hope to host more opportunities for industry and academics to discuss video games and elements of new media culture. With additional funds for programs, they would expand QGCon to include game play workshops and participants from across the globe who could bring transnational perspectives on the issues they’re tackling.

Interested in creating a new fund for graduate student-led conferences or creating more opportunities for industry and academia to collaborate? Help support BCNM to bring together the humanities, arts, and sciences to critically analyze and shape developments in new media from cross-disciplinary and global perspectives by donating today. If you have other ideas to help shape the future of BCNM, please contact us as well.