- ART/MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY: I am working on a book with Henry Lowood on early arcade culture in Northern California.
- GAME STUDIES: I am co-editing with Henry Lowood a Game Studies/Game Art anthology of essays titled Geografie dei videogiochi. Mappe. Territori. Paesaggi (Geographies of Gaming. Maps. Territories. Landscapes). This book explores notions of spatiality, cartography, and geography in digital games.
- MACHINIMA: For the past decade, I have been studying machinima as a genre of video art. This research took the form of academic books, including MACHINIMA. Dal videogioco alla videoarte (2017, forthcoming) and MACHINIMA! Teorie. Pratiche. Dialoghi (2013, with Henry Lowood), the collection of interviews MACHINIMA. 32 Conversations on the Art of Video Games (2017), and various exhibitions such as GAME VIDEO/ART. A SURVEY and TRAVELOGUE, both in 2016.
- IN-GAME PHOTOGRAPHY. I'm currently investigating the practice of in-game photography with fellow researchers Cindy Poremba, Marco De Mutiis, and Sebastian Moring. This is part of an international research project which will be presented at the DiGRA ITALIA 2017 conference in Milan on May 12, 2017, and in Potsdam, Germany, in July 2017.
- GAME STUDIES: I co-edited with Emanuela Zilio an anthology of essays on gamification ("ludicizzazione", in Italian), ludification, and urban culture, Oltre il gioco, which was released in March 2016 in the LUDOLOGICA book series. Titled Oltre il gioco, it features contributions by fifteen international scholars, game designers, and researchers. Here's a preview:
- GAMES STUDIES: For the past three years, I have been studying the relationship between "real" driving and simulated driving through the concept of automobility (John Urry, 2004). My thoughts have been collected in three books focusing on the racing game genre and in particular on Forza Horizon 2 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft, 2014), set in a fictionalized Italy. The first, Orizzonti di Forza. Fenomenologia della guida videoludica, was released in November 2015 by Edizioni Unicopli in the LUDOLOGICA series. The second, Extra Miles. Estetica della guida videoludica, was released in January 2016 by Concrete Press. The third, BORING POSTCARDS FROM ITALY, a collection of photos shot within Forza Horizon 2 and turned into postcards, was published on December 8, 2016 by CONCRETE PRESS. The first two books are in Italian, the third in English. Additionally, I curated an art exhibition TRAVELOGUE (Mantua, September 2016) directly inspired by this research.
FIELDS OF RESEARCH ACTIVITY (ACTIVE, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
- Contemporary Art
- Conceptual Writing
- Digital Humanities
- Digital Preservation
- Game Art
- Game Studies
- Media Studies
- Media Histories
- Visual & Critical Studies
ARTCADE (since 2016). Indie games in unexpected places.
M.A. in GAME DESIGN (2017). IULM University's Master of Arts Program in game design, production, and direction.
CONCRETE PRESS (since 2013). My own imprint, located in San Francisco, California & Milan, Italy. Fiercely independent, CONCRETE PRESS specializes in art, media, and culture.
GAMESCENES (since 2006): In 2006, I wrote with art critic Domenico Quaranta, GAMESCENES. Art in the Age of Videogames (Johan & Levi), one of the first academic books on videogame-based and videogame-inspired art. Since then, my research has progressed and it has taken different shapes, including GameScenes, a regularly updated blog featuring critical essays, interviews, and news related to this emergent community of practice, and academic courses at California College of Arts and IULM University.
HOW THEY GOT GAME @ Stanford University (since 2005): How They Got Game is a research project launched by the Stanford Humanities Lab in 2000 dedicated to the historical investigation of computer games and other related technologies of leisure. It focuses on the history and cultural impact of interactive simulations and video games. It examines the evolution of computer and video game design from its beginnings to the present: storytelling, strategy, simulation, sports, 3D first-person games. It covers the cultural, artistic, economic, and technical perspectives. Click here to access the site.
LUDOLOGICA (since 2003). I made significant contributions to the establishment of Games Studies in Italy, both as an academic discipline and an autonomous field of knowledge. Since 2002 I have been co-editing with Gianni Canova, Chair of Communication, Public Relations and Advertising, Film and Media Studies Full Professor, and Provost at IULM University, in Milan, the first academic book series dedicated to in-depth, scholarly analyses of digital games, LUDOLOGICA. Comprising approximately thirty volumes of monographs and anthologies written by Italian and international scholars, the series examines the game medium from a variety of perspectives. Each author applies a specific analytical frameworks, from semiotics to sociology, from anthropology to critical studies. My own interest lies in deconstructing the games’ embedded ideologies, rhetorics, and user positions - from urban planning biases in SimCity to the military-entertainment complex(es) of Call of Duty.
AFFILIATIONS & SERVICE TO PROFESSION (SELECTION)
Independent Game Festival 2017, Juror (2016)
Triennale Museum of Design, Milan, Scientific board committee XXI Triennial International Exhibition (ongoing)
MIT PRESS, New media and game studies book reviewer (ongoing)
Goldsmith University Academic Press, New media and game studies book reviewer (ongoing)
How They Got Game Research Project, Stanford University, member (ongoing)
Well Played Game, peer-reviewed academic journal of game studies, reviewer (ongoing)
GameStudies.org peer-reviewed academic journal of game studies, reviewer (ongoing)
Games & Culture peer-reviewed academic journal of game studies, reviewer (ongoing)
G/A/M/E peer-reviewed academic journal of game studies, advisory board (ongoing)
Conscious Gaming book series, Universitalia, Scientific committee (ongoing)
International Journal of Information Technology review board (ongoing)
CCA Arts journal, advisory board (ongoing)
Digital Game Research Association (DIGRA), member (ongoing)
GamesLab, IULM University, Milan, member, (ongoing)
International Game Developers Association, member (ongoing)
VIGAMUS Museum of Digital Games, Rome, Scientific board (ongoing)
Stanford Humanities Lab, Stanford University, member (2005-2010)
Digital Youth Project, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, member (2006-2008)
IULM Humanities Lab, IULM University, Milan, member (2005-2010)
DIGRA 2018, 2009, 2007 reviewer
ATOPIC Film Festival 2011 (Paris) Jury member
Digital Entertainment Media & Design Master Program, IULM, Milan, Scientific board (2011)
UCLA Games Festival, advisor, 2013
MY (OTHER) WEBSITES
COLL.EO with Colleen Flaherty
GAMEVIDEO/ART. A SURVEY
mbftod@y (my online blackboard, 2001-2012)
Schermi interattivi (mapping the connections between videogames and cinema, in Italian, 2005-2009)
ARCHIVED PROJECTS (SELECTED)
Digital Game Canon (Stanford University)
Between 2008 and 2010, I participated in the establishment of the Digital Game Canon, a project undertaken by University of Stanford University and University of Illinois that aims at preserving videogames as historical, cultural, and technical artifacts. The creation of the Digital Game Canon recognizes the importance of digital game culture. The Canon provides a starting-point for the difficult task of preserving this history inspired by the role of that the U.S. National Film Registry has played for film culture and history. It has an international scope. This project was part of a larger initiative called Preserving America, promoted by the White House in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Digital Media Ethnography (UC Berkeley - USC)
Between 2006 and 2008, I took part in the Digital Youth Project, an ambitious three-year ethnographic study, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and led by by Peter Lyman (University of California, Berkeley) and Mizuko Ito (University of Southern California). The project investigated how young people are communicating, living, and learning with new media in varied settings- at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. The findings were published as a report (Living and Learning with New Media, 2009) and as a book (Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out, 2009) by MIT Press. My specific contribution focused on identity and community formation among North American gamers, which I compared and contrasted to European (mainly Italian) players.
videoludica.game culture (Milan)
Edited by Matteo Bittanti, videoludica. game culture (2005-2006) is a series of books about critically acclaimed and much-loved videogames of the past 40 years. By turns passionate, creative, and always informed, the thought-provoking books in this series demonstrate many different styles of writing about videogames. What binds this series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors - academics, scholars, critics, gamers, and writers - are the cultures that these games spawned after their releases. Each meditation revels in the distinct nature of the chosen game - or game series, or even game genre - providing insightful commentary to an overlooked practice. Available in three formats (Monographs, Readers, and Illustrated), these volumes discuss video games from a broad academic and critical perspective, setting characteristics, themes and techniques in context and exploring the game's significance.