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Title: Situated knowledges through game design : a transformative exercise with ants
Authors: Westerlaken, Michelle
Gualeni, Stefano
Keywords: Games
Games -- Design
Artificial intelligence -- Social aspects
Animal welfare -- Moral and ethical aspects
Animals and civilization
Issue Date: 2016-11-04
Publisher: University of Malta. Institute of Digital Games
Citation: Westerlaken, M., & Gualeni, S. (2016). Situated knowledges through game design : a transformative exercise with ants. Philosophy of Computer Games 2016, Valletta.
Abstract: The increasing body of knowledge in fields like animal ethology, biology, and technology has not necessarily led to the improvement of animal welfare. On the contrary, it has enabled humans to exploit animals more functionally and on increasing scales of magnitude. Building on approaches that stem from posthumanism and critical animal studies, we argue that instead of aiming for more general production of scientific knowledge, what is needed to counter exploitation and oppression is an increased sensitivity towards animals that arises from local, partial, and ‘situated knowledges’. In the first part of this paper we articulate an argument that proposes how such knowledges can arise from the practice of game design as a form of ‘doing multispecies philosophy’. The second part of this work expands this notion with an understanding of design as a practice of configuring and prefiguring situations in which we can enter in a relationship of response and attention with other ‘selves’, in other words, with entities that are alive. To explore the practical consequences of this framework, in the third part of this paper we discuss a game design project that involves some unexpected designerly negotiations with a colony of black ants. We conclude that our wider perspective concerning notions of knowledge, (game) design, and selves could elicit changes in our empathy towards other beings and help us develop new ideas and knowledges that favour less anthropocentric futures.
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