The annual conference put on by the ICA (International Communication Association) this year was fantastic! If you were not able to attend, I highly recommend that you try to make it out next year (it will be in Seattle, WA, USA). Not only did I get the chance to catch up with some familiar faces, I was also able to meet a lot of new researchers! Some notable attendees included Richard Bartle and Chris Ferguson!
The game studies pre-conference was a highlight of the trip! With only about 45 participants, the pre-conference provided the opportunity to have at-length discussions with researchers of similar interests while spending the whole day listening to all things games. One of my favorite presentations from the pre-conference was Jayne Gackenbach’s talk “Nightmare Protection as Motivation to Play Video Games.” She not only discussed the potential for video games to protect against nightmares, but also their use as a viable treatment option for PTSD. Fascinating stuff!
There were a number of noteworthy talks at the main conference as well. The work of Vossen, Piotrowski, and Valkenburg from the Amsterdam School of Communication was particularly interesting. Together, they developed a new adolescent measure of empathy and sympathy (AMES) which is quite different from previous assessments as it is able to differentiate empathy from sympathy as well as assess both affective and cognitive empathy. For more information, or for a copy of the scale, feel free to contact Helen Vossen (H.G.M.Vossen@uva.nl).
Overall, the quality of the work presented at the pre- and main conference was exceptional. I fully intend on incorporating ICA into my list of annual conferences (DiGRA being the only other one I currently try to attend every year). If you are also a games researcher, and interested in the work that is done under the ICA umbrella, please consider becoming a member (membership to the games studies group is only $3/yr!). The game studies division of the ICA is currently a special interest group and could use more support to reach full division status. Division status means more conference slots, bigger rooms, and a greater say in what happens within the organization at large. If you have any questions or suggestions for ICA game studies division feel free to contact our current chair, James Ivory (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vice-Chair, Nick Bowman (email@example.com).