To the extent possible under law, TAG has waived all copyright and related or neighbouring rights to this statement of values. Please feel free to use it as a basis for your own.
This document represents the collective effort of TAG staff, administration, and faculty and student members to clearly state a vision for what the Technoculture, Art, and Games Research Centre stands for and wants this community to be. We (the members of this community) intend our Values Statement to be a living document subject to change as the makeup of the community changes over time. The Values Statement and Protocols & Code of Conduct were drafted in 2018/2019 by the TAG directors, creative director, information liaison, and one student representative, in consultation with all student and faculty members. It is the hope of these co-authors that the documents will be revisited periodically and updated to ensure the continued endorsement and support of the TAG community. It was last updated on March 9, 2022.
RESEARCH, CREATION & SHARING
TAG is first and foremost a research centre dedicated to generating knowledge. Being in dialogue with others through sharing is instrumental to that goal, so we encourage our members to circulate their work amongst each other and to the broader public.
The university is an institution for the rigorous development of new knowledge. We want to facilitate our members’ research in every way possible, from bringing in speakers to helping you get your hands on books and equipment. But research doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and needs to be communicated to be useful. Sharing our prototypes, our writing, and our projects with each other makes us stronger, better academics. It’s important that members think about disseminating their work diligently, not only to other community members, but outside the academy as well using open, accessible language. This is why we ask our members to share their works-in-progress, give talks, and keep us up to speed to help us champion their accomplishments.
INCLUSIVITY & SOLIDARITY
At TAG, we stand together with the most vulnerable members of our community, and determine the nature of that community as a group. We welcome people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and make space for the many intersectionalities that our members and guests bring to the table.
The TAG community aims to make space for marginalized people in our lab and at our events, and support people of different experiences once they are in our community, regardless of ability, culture, socioeconomic status, race or ethnic origin, sexuality, age, body type, gender, trauma history, marital status, religion, or nationality. Our ongoing goal is to make the space better for both our peers and ourselves, and to use our collective power to help make change. Our commitment as a group to inclusivity and solidarity also manifests itself in concrete ways in day-to-day lab life. Activating the values of inclusivity and solidarity within ourselves can mean:
- Addressing gaps in our own knowledge regarding privilege and oppression when they’re called to our attention, and being willing to hold space for others and learn.
- Respecting the rights of others to define and communicate their identity.
- Resisting making assumptions about our peers’ identity, experiences, or pronouns .
- Actively trying to use the language that others would like us to use to describe them (such as pronouns, names, etc).
- Avoiding singling out one person about their identity (i.e. asking everyone for their pronouns and giving our own in exchange, or not questioning individuals about their heritage based on appearance or affect).
- Making space for others, and being aware of how much space we are taking (i.e. in conversations).
- Listening to people’s boundaries and respecting them.
- Actively resisting language that is racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, cissexist, ableist, etc.
- Being generous and patient in comments and questions, and in our interpretation of other people’s intentions.
- Acknowledging that each person’s physical and mental health needs are unique, while understanding and respecting individual health boundaries, requests, and wishes.
We strive to concretely manifest TAG’s commitment to inclusivity and solidarity, not just through internal actions and behaviour, but also in our external messaging and programming. TAG is committed to developing and supporting initiatives, campaigns, and other actions that benefit the most vulnerable members of our community.
COMMUNICATION & COMPASSION
The TAG community relies on open and considerate communication. This means giving each other the benefit of the doubt and acting in good faith, while also expressing our ideas with their impact in mind.
An openness and willingness to communicate freely is key to the health of any community, and TAG is no exception. However, in order to empower community members to feel comfortable sharing and communicating about difficult topics, we also need to proactively value compassion, composition and response. Not only should we compassionately evaluate each others’ statements, but we should also compose our initial articulations of those statements carefully and compassionately as well. Basically, think before you speak, but offer each other the benefit of the doubt and a chance to rearticulate.
PLAYFULNESS & EXPERIMENTATION
TAG embraces a playful attitude in all its projects, without the expectation that every undertaking will work out and with an openness to failures being as generative as successes. We recognize that experimenting with and collaborating on unusual endeavours often leads through messy terrain on the way to new ideas.
Investigating games and playful media often goes hand in hand with a playful attitude and an open mind. We encourage our members to take a chance on new concepts, methodologies and ideas: even a dead end can be useful, when you turn back around and retrace your steps to find a new perspective. This means that there’s never a wrong way to use your time: allow yourself to break prototypes, let ideas percolate, or start again from scratch. We want our members to think about play as a gateway to great research, which is where experimentation comes in — not just experimental as in creative but also experimentation as in testing concepts in a systematic way. We are actively seeking ways to support our members in order to enable this.
ACCOUNTABILITY & RESPECT
We expect our members to act in good faith, respect each other’s boundaries, and take ownership of their actions. Mistakes are bound to happen, but they can help us grow and better ourselves if we take them as opportunities to learn.
We each have to take responsibility for our conduct, both proactively and reactively. You owe your peers and this space respect, and are owed the same in return. This can mean respecting boundaries and personal property, keeping the lab tidy for others, or aiming to be respectful and inclusive in all of our interactions. It is also important to recognize TAG does not operate with total autonomy, and sometimes external forces may act in our community (such as the University and other institutions). This makes it challenging for us to implement certain resolution methods, such as releasing acknowledgements of harm or directly removing someone’s membership status. A key part of accountability may sometimes mean involving other mediators or outside adjudicators.
The basis of accountability and respect is open, conscientious communication. If you feel you’ve said something awkward, it’s good to acknowledge it right away. Similarly, if you feel comfortable addressing something you experienced or observed that was problematic, that too is something you may consider responding to immediately, carefully, and compassionately. If you need help addressing a situation, there are options available to you, from informal resolution processes to official university policies (and you can find resources for doing so in the protocols and code of conduct section of this document).
For its part, TAG aims to be as transparent as possible to its members about how decisions are made, where resources are allocated, and what initiatives it takes. There should always be answers for your questions or concerns, and where there aren’t, please let us know — we want to address it and make sure that folks are comfortable coming forward.
COLLEGIALITY & SERVICE
TAG encourages experimentation and playfulness, always framed within a collegial, research-oriented space. We support each other, treat each other with professionalism, and contribute to the lab, its members, and the larger community.
It might be easy to forget around all these dynamic people and fun games and toys that this is a professional space. To that end, we expect our members (students and faculty) to conduct themselves as such. In academia, professionalism often breaks down into collegiality and service.
At TAG, collegiality means being friendly, open, and fair, but respectful of boundaries. Service means giving back to the community proactively through both participation in lab culture and conscientious behaviour, engaging in a reciprocal relationship with TAG. The lab provides resources to members and strives to provide fair compensation, working conditions, and access to opportunities, while individual members contribute their time and participation within their means.
Participation in lab life and in community initiatives can take many forms. Colleagues help each other talk through their work, offer suggestions and encouragement, remember to email each other a great link or reference they thought of in connection with a project, attend each other’s talks, share knowledge with each other about research grants, tell each other where the good ramen is, and show up for other people’s playtests. We encourage participation both in-person and across TAG’s virtual spaces, acknowledging that some of our members cannot physically enter the lab space for a number of reasons. When our community members support each other, we all benefit.
TAG aims to grow and change responsively with the needs of our community as well as the social and academic conversations happening around us. We embrace adaptability, from daily practicalities to larger cultural shifts.
We strive to be adaptable to accommodate our members’ needs. Members should feel welcome to actively ask questions about TAG and make suggestions regarding the space, procedures, activities and events, equipment needs, and this very document.
As both an organization and individual members, we need to be adaptive and responsive together. That means that sometimes we adapt to help each other, from accommodation for accessibility to modulating our own behaviour based on how our conduct impacts each other. In order to adapt, we have to educate ourselves and seek out resources to address gaps in our knowledge and experience. TAG is a living, breathing community whose faces change over time. We exist in a cultural context that is also changing over time, and we aim to change with it, whether to reshape our understanding or to stand up for what we believe in.
The ongoing pandemic has further emphasized the need for community-minded reflexivity. We will continue to collectively revisit TAG’s health and safety policies, building upon the regulations put forth by the university while also recognizing the need to go beyond these regulations, and communicate with our members in order to ensure the physical and mental health of our membership.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
There are a number of key concepts that we’d like you to keep in mind as you conduct yourself both in TAG and outside in the broader world. Understanding these terms will be extremely helpful in understanding where our value system and code of conduct at TAG are coming from, as they are foundational elements to our worldview.
Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe how oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) and our positions within them are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Our identity is formed by the combination of the different positions that we occupy, and the places where these different identities contact each other are sometimes called “intersections”. We then come into contact and intersect with the identities of others in the world as well. For more, feel free to visit Geek Feminism’s wiki on Intersectionality. We should also mention that the university as an institution is definitely a space that isn’t accessible for everyone, and that’s a problem. There are degrees of marginalization and vulnerability within and outside these spaces. We endeavour to widen inclusivity and accessibility wherever we can at TAG, but if you feel your needs aren’t being addressed, please let us know!
Privilege refers to your status in broader society and the advantages you may have navigating a patriarchal, ableist and capitalist culture. You may not notice or understand your own privilege, as in many cases, your privilege is inherent to your birth, upbringing, or heritage. It is easy for privilege to become invisible to those who have it in a particular area. This could mean anything from having more money to having a more resonant voice! However, it’s important to note that privilege is not inherently bad, nor are you a bad person for having it. Checking in with our privilege helps keep things in perspective, and allows openings for positive change. Try to consider your own privilege and how you can use it to lift up your peers who have fewer opportunities.
Oppression is how each of us are subjugated in different ways and to different degrees — kind of the flip side of privilege. It is the systematic construction and upholding of barriers used to marginalize people, preventing them from fully participating in society in equitable ways. Understanding how you and your peers may be oppressed is as important to keep in perspective as the effects of your own privilege. Our interpersonal interactions take place within the larger frame of people’s heritages and personal histories. This dynamic is informed by historically-advantaged and systemically-reinforced positions in our culture. Oppression, like everything else, is intersectional.
Implicit Biases are subconscious attitudes and stereotypes that affect our actions and decisions. Everyone has implicit biases, the question becomes how these interact with Systemic Discrimination (see below). These implicit associations may not be what our stated beliefs are, but they still affect how we interact with the world. We have a tendency to favour people who are like us in some way, particularly in our first assessments of situations. Relatedly, there are behaviours and beliefs that we may not realize are harmful or negative that nevertheless may do harm to someone. For more information, check out the Kirwan Institute’s “Understand Implicit Bias” resource or take this Implicit Bias Test.
Systemic Discrimination synthesizes several of these other ideas in a view of the world where people, knowingly or not, exist under oppressive systems that lift up some while holding others down. We take for granted that historically privileged groups and individuals have a responsibility to their peers to be compassionate and work against these oppressive structures where possible. TAG members are expected to keep this responsibility in mind.
Pronouns and Gender
Pronouns and Gender are an important aspect of communicating with respect at TAG. Many cultures, including our lab culture, recognize the existence of folks outside a rigid binary view of gender. This is why we ask our lab members to volunteer their own pronouns and ask others about their pronouns and to adopt and respect their use. Some common pronouns that you may hear are ”she/her,” “he/him,” and “they/them.” For more context and for some common questions and answers about pronouns, see this Teen Vogue article.