Call: Free online game studies seminar on Mod Theory and landscape in computer games

From Peter Andrew Clarke NELSON (

Hello everyone,

I would like to invite you to a small game studies seminar called Mod Theory that I will be streaming over the next two weeks. Mod Theory began in 2019 as an experimental method for discussing landscape in computer games, with a focus on platform studies and the political unconscious. Prompted by the geographical restrictions of 2020 and our interest in using virtual environments as a place for theoretical discussion, this new seminar series will be held in the sandbox environment Garry’s Mod (Facepunch Studios 2003), streamed live, then edited and re-uploaded. We have a great set of speakers and topics for this series and would love to have a live audience for questions. You can find information on our speakers and links to the YouTube streams below:

Speaker schedule:

Seminar 1: Game Objects & Representation. May 18th. 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time.
Speakers: Olli Tapio Leino, Ida Jørgensen, Trevor Strunk, Sebastian Möring.
Stream Link:

Session 1 invites scholars who seek to define what objects in games actually are. Computer games are often misread by focusing on what things look like rather than what they mean to the player. An object in a computer game can function in many flexible ways, but it is inevitably defined by the rules. This seminar invites scholars to respond to the tension between representation (what game objects look like) and ludic ontology (what game objects become as revealed by play).

Seminar 2: Space, Grids and Ruins. May 19th. 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time.
Speakers: Emma Fraser, Clancy Wilmott, Nick Rush-Cooper.
Stream Link:

Seminar 2 invites scholars who are interested in the philosophical status of constructed space within virtual worlds and games. Inspired by the workings of the Digital Geographies Specialty Group (Royal Geographic Society), speakers will to respond to the tabula rasa of the game map, the digital ruin and the game-space.

Seminar 3: Landscapes and Playgrounds. May 25th. 08:00 Greenwich Mean Time.
Speakers: Peter Nelson, Daniel Vella, Bjarke Liboriussen.
Stream Link:

Seminar 3 invites scholars whose compare computer games to both landscapes and playgrounds. Drawing links between sandbox games and the Situationist architecture of Constant Nieuwenhuys (Nelson 2017), we will question whether the ludic space of computer games replicate Situationist psychogeography and derive, or whether we consider games as a process of landscape exploration, or if modding and server surfing is something altogether different.

Seminar 4: The Political Unconscious of the Simulation
Speakers: Peter Nelson, Bogna Konior, Lukáš Likavčan, Stephanie Boluk, Patrick LeMieux.
Stream Link:

Seminar 4 invites scholars who respond to the political unconscious of technological networks, and the ability of these structures to signify the political unconscious (Jameson 1981). With a special focus on climate change and Benjamin Bratton’s theory of planetary scale computation (2015), scholars will reflect on how online environments aggregate user-generated creativity into a portrait of our political unconscious.

Full program:

Best wishes,

Dr Peter AC Nelson

Assistant Professor
Academy of Visual Arts
Creative Media Practice /Research Cluster
Hong Kong Baptist University

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