Like most humanity scholars and historians, we work with historical materials that we compile into a corpus. How does this approach apply to researching digital-born media, such as video games designed for the Amiga computing system?
[Contexte : Cet article fait partie du dossier consacré au salon “Computer”. Celui-ci comprend une série d’articles à venir dans les prochaines semaines. Dans cette première partie, je présente mes choix méthodologiques, le corpus étudié et les principales périodes du salon
par Pierre-Yves Hurel
Dans quel contexte culturel et technologique a émergé le jeu vidéo en Suisse romande ? Quelles sont les particularités de l’informatisation de cette région ? Selon quelles modalités l’informatisation locale a été traitée par la presse ? Pour répondre à ces questions, j’ai décidé d’étudier la couverture médiatique d’un salon de l’informatique lausannois : le salon « Computer ». Ce dernier s’est tenu biannuellement puis annuellement de 1978 à 2004 à Lausanne-Beaulieu. A chaque fois, l’on trouvait dans ces grandes halles la fine fleur de l’informatique mondiale et locale, répartis sur des stands équipés en ordinateurs, goodies et dépliants explicatifs. Entre les allées, des cadres supérieurs venant chercher des « solutions informatiques » et des curieux venir découvrir des machines de pointe.
This paper is part of a dossier about the “Computer” exhibition, taking place in Lausanne 1978-2004. This dossier includes a series of articles to be published over the coming weeks. In this first one, I present my methodological choices, the corpus studied, and the main periods of “Computer”.
by Pierre-Yves Hurel
In what specific cultural and technological environment did video games emerge in French-speaking Switzerland? What are the regional particularities that need to be taken into account here? How was the computerization covered by the local press? To answer these questions, I decided to study the media coverage of the “Computer” exhibition. The show was held biannually, then annually from 1978 to 2004 in Lausanne-Beaulieu. Enormous halls then were home to the world’s and local computer industry’s finest, spread out over multiple stands equipped with computers, goodies, and explanatory leaflets. In between the aisles, senior executives came in search of “IT solutions” and curious onlookers came to discover the newest “cutting-edge” machines.
by Yannick Rochat, Larissa Wild, Pierre-Yves Hurel, Sophie Bémelmans and Eugen Pfister
A project like Confoederatio Ludens requires that we regularly attend conferences in order to present our results, gather constructive feedback, and keep an eye on what our international colleagues are discovering. This year, the annual conference of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) – the main research community in game studies – happened in Seville, Spain, on the site of the universal exposition of 1992. We sent 6 delegates to the conference: Sophie Bémelmans (UNIL), Pierre-Yves Hurel (UNIL), Mela Kocher (ZHdK), Eugen Pfister (HKB), Yannick Rochat (UNIL) and Larissa Wild (ZHdK). Here is an overview of their week.
Our SNSF-Sinergia project unites a dynamic team of 20 researchers across four university locations in Switzerland: The Bern Academy Of the Arts, the University of Bern, the University of Lausanne and the Zurich University of the Arts. We come from different cantons and countries as well as from different research directions and – not but – we are united by a common research interest: The study of the history of digital games in Switzerland.
It is a huge privilege that we can – and in fact are supposed to – do in our project exactly what has driven us in our individual research for years, but now as a collaborative team. Our goal is, therefore, on the one hand, to learn as much as possible from each other and find fruitful ways to synergise with our different methods and research questions. On the other hand, we are considering digital games as a cultural technique that will contribute to a better understanding of the digitalization of Swiss society throughout the past century. Our project will run from February 2023 to January 2027.
On February 2, 2023 we (that is almost all of us) met in the rooms of the HKB for the kick-off of our project. Some of us had known each other for a long time by then. These personal and professional networks proved to be essential in the genesis of the project. I had known Yannick Rochat for five years at that point and among other things we had written an essay highlighting the need for this research in Austria and Switzerland in January 2021. Together with him, we first came up with the idea of submitting a proposal for the SNSF Sinergia funding scheme. In turn, I already knew René Bauer, Mela Kocher and Beat Suter from the internationally renowned gameZ & ruleZ conference, to which they had invited me to give a talk in 2019. Our colleagues from the ZHDK probably have the most comprehensive knowledge of the history of digital games in Switzerland. René and Beat accordingly wrote a three-part essay on the topic for my blog as early as 2021. Finally, I met Tobias Hodel and Addrich Mauch at a Game Studies Community meeting at the University of Bern in February 2021. Shortly after the event, I asked them to join us. I also had the enormous luck to have Arno Görgen at my side as a colleague and partner for more than six years. Inside this constellation, we have been working on the preparations for the application since 2020.
I believe one of the great strengths of our project is the extremely strong dynamic of mutual curiosity and openness in our team, which we also emphasized in the cover letter for our application. In our regular preparation meetings, it became apparent again and again how organically our group worked together. Our research complemented each other perfectly and in doing so we were united by a common interest.