Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) is an interdisciplinary centre for research/ creation in game studies and design, digital culture and interactive art


Jun 13, 2019

TAG Symposium: Andrei Zanescu Talk

If you want to know what the connection is between The Witcher and Māori culture come by TAG on June 13th at 5pm! Our upcoming symposium will be featuring TAG & mLAB PhD student Andrei Zanescu.

Digital Heterotopias: From the Balkans to Aotearoa as Commodified Game Worlds

What are game worlds? At a general level, they can be replicas of the lived world’s geographic spaces. At a deeper level, they can be irreverent and transgressive critiques of the socio-political regimes under which they are produced. These heterotopias (lit. different worlds) can be employed as counter-cultural accounts that empower or commodities that objectify the cultures they depict. In this talk, Andrei Zanescu discusses the trajectory of his own work’s exploration of cultural representation in game worlds and his move from the Balkan to the New Zealand gaming industries.

Beginning with the Balkans, a liminal space in the European imaginary, and intra-European exceptionalism and discrimination, The Witcher series’ tactical use of culture will be one of the two core areas of this talk. Moving beyond Europe, the second focus will be around Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile and its adaptation of Māori culture, from mythological patterns to colonial motifs as a service commodity and platform. Juxtaposing these games as a form of world building sheds light on what designing game worlds can do for marginalized communities in the here and now, both in these positive and negative sense.

Andrei Zanescu is a second year PhD student in the Communications Department at Concordia University. He is also a member of mLab, a Canada Research Chair lab focused on videogame research and creation. He mainly researches videogames as simulations of culture and heterotopias, which can be mobilized to dismantle or reinforce postcolonial regimes of power. He also writes about videogame production in the Balkans and the cultural practice of Balkanism in the videogame industry. His other research deals with the platformization and gamblification of videogames, specially by Valve Corp., at the Research Chair on Gambling Studies.




WHAT? talk + discussion
WHEN? 13th June, Thursday – 4pm to 6pm
WHERE? TAG (Concordia, EV 11.435, 1515 StCatherine W., Montreal)
WHO? everyone is welcomed

TAG 5a7s are free events happening on Thursdays in the lab from 5 to 7pm. They are open to the public. Come by and say hi!