THATCamp Epic Play is an unconference and year-end colloquium hosted by the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group. THATCamp Epic Play invites digital humanists, game scholars, teachers, artists, librarians, students, designers, developers, and enthusiasts to participate in roundtable discussions; lightning presentations of individual and collaborative work; research, scholarship, and pedagogy on games of all sorts; and of course, play. Building on previous years’ colloquia, this year’s THATCamp, broadly themed by the keyword “EPIC,” is the capstone event to a year-long series of workshop sessions on violence, history, fantasy, bodies/sex, and close/distant. THATCamp Epic Play hopes to foster the growing engagement with what it means to study or make or play games.
THATCamp Epic Play will be hosted by the Simpson Center for the Humanities at University of Washington in Seattle on May 24 & 25, 2013.
Thanks also to THATCamp and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University for their support. And thank you to Microsoft Research’s support for Digital Heritage and Humanities!
For more information, if you’d like to help plan THATCamp Epic Play, or if you would like to lead a workshop, contact thatcampepicplay(at)gmail(doc)com.
There is no registration fee for THATCamp Epic Play but you must be registered to attend. We will begin accepting registration applications on January 1, 2013. Applications will be accepted until
January 31, 2013 March 31, 2013 or until all spots are full.
The Keywords for Video Game Studies working group, in collaboration with the Critical Gaming Project at the University of Washington, is supported by the Simpson Center for the Humanities. For more information about the Keywords group, go to: https://depts.washington.edu/critgame/wordpress/keywords/
What is a THATCamp?
THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:
- It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.
- It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, presentations, or product demos. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
- It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants during the first session of the first day, rather than weeks or months beforehand by a program committee.
- It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.
- It’s lightweight and inexpensive to organize: we generally estimate that a THATCamp takes about 100 hours over the course of six months and about $4000 to organize.
- It’s not-for-profit and either free or inexpensive (under $30) to attend: it’s funded by small sponsorships, donations of space and labor, and by passing the hat around to the participants.
- It’s small, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to about 150 participants: most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
- It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, K-12 teachers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs. The topic “the humanities and technology” contains multitudes.
- It’s open and online: participants make sure to share their notes, documents, pictures, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.
- It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.
What is an “unconference”?
The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.