Critical Playing- HumLab Bytes Event

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the first of the new HumLab Bytes events, titled “Critical Playing,” took place. The guest speaker, professor Ghislaine McDayter, presented a close analysis of the historical anecdotes found behind the games played during various periods, including ancient Europe, the Renaissance, and even the contemporary world. Professor McDayter discussed how the rules within these games mimicked the cultural values and social norms of the time, reflecting upon moral and social action and guidelines. Professor McDayter asked the audience to carefully analyze the ways in modern-day board games, such as Life and Monopoly, also reflect the modern concerns of social mobility. The event closed with a riveting discussion about the Digital Humanities (DH) project led by Professor McDayter, titled The Masquerade Project. The Masquerade Project presents a model of the cultural and social rules underpinning the participation of a masquerade ball in 18th century English society. The Masquerade Project is itself a kind of narrative-based video game in which players are presented with various scenarios, and based on their responses to each, the player either advances or loses the game. Themes of elegance, social order, and class all play an essential role in the game. The game incorporates a virtual innovation to allow players to be completely immersed in the game, hopefully leading players to “re-think the past.” To learn more about The Masquerade Project, please visit the project’s page on the DH@Bucknell website.

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