Playing the Field III:
American Studies, Video Games, Immersion
21-23 May 2020 (organizer Damien Schlarb)
at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
The third installment of “Playing the Field,” an international conference where scholars consider video games from an American Studies perspective, focuses on a signature characteristic of video games that invites considerations that reach far beyond their immediate context: immersion. To be immersed means inhabiting fully a space where the rules of behavior and modes of being are completely apparent. Compared to navigating the social world, being immersed in mediated environments—digital or otherwise—affords an intensified, optimal experience. Yet immersion also constitutes an ambivalent state of being, simultaneously connoting the intensification and narrowing of cognitive abilities. Immersive experiences promise authenticity but may also engender addiction. Considering immersion from an American Studies perspective means contemplating questions about the political and aesthetic significance of immersive experiences in the context of contemporary American life and its media history and forms.
Playing the Field III (Program)