- VIDEO GAME CULTURE: I'm very interested in contemporary video game culture and especially topics related to gamers' identity politics, fanboy tribalism, trolling, racism, sexism and homophobia in online multiplayer games, the ideology of gamification, and the commodification of game practices in the context of streaming practices. In 2020, I edited GAME OVER, a book that examines these crucial, yet overlooked issues.
- MACHINIMA: I have been fascinated by machinima since its emergence as a medium in the Mid-Nineties. Machinima is both the topic of significant academic research and part of an ongoing artistic and curatorial practice. I am currently working on edited collection of essays with Gemma Fantacci titled Machinima. The State of the Art which will released in 2021. (More about machinima below).
- IN-GAME PHOTOGRAPHY: I am currently investigating the practice of in-game photography with fellow researchers Cindy Poremba, Marco De Mutiis, and Sebastian Moring.
- ART/MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY: I have been working on a book with Henry Lowood on early arcade culture in Northern California which, eventually, will see the light of day.
- PHENOMENOLOGY OF GRAND THEFT AUTO is an interdisciplinary examination of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series, culminating with an anthology of essays by international scholar focusing on the game(s)' cultural, social, political, and aesthetic implications. The book was released in Italy by Mimesis Edizioni in June 2019. On May 10 2019, IULM University hosted a panel titled Grand Theft Studies.
- GAME VIDEOS: I am investigating audiovisual practices related to gaming, including but not limited to machinima, let's play videos, walkthrough, speed running videos, tutorials etc. In 2018, I co-edited with Enrico Gandolfi (Kent state University) the first Italian academic book on the topic, featuring contributions from a variety of international scholars.
- 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) and MACHINIMA! Teorie. Pratiche. Dialoghi (2013, with Henry Lowood), the collection of interviews MACHINIMA. 32 Conversations on the Art of Video Games (2017). My academic research has also translated into curating a series of machinima exhibitions and festivals in Italy and abroad, including GAME VIDEO ESSAY (2019), MILAN MACHINIMA FESTIVAL (2020, 2019, 2018), RE/PLAY (2017), GAME VIDEO/ART. A SURVEY (2016), and TRAVELOGUE (2016, also a book).
- CROSSMEDIA/TRANSMEDIA/INTERMEDIA: Between 2017-2019, I took part in a 2-year research project titled InterArtes at IULM University which explored strategies of translation, adaptation, and transformation of content from one medium to another. My case study was a deconstruction of Alan Butler's monumental artwork On Exactitude in Science (2017), a frame-by-frame remake of Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1982). Read more here.
- GAMES STUDIES: Between 2014-2017, I investigated the racing game genre using the concept of automobility (John Urry, 2004). Racing games have received cursory attention by the game studies community. Through an in depth analysis of Forza Horizon 2 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft, 2014), I discussed both the game's underlying ideology, the player's subjectivities, and the rationale behind their engagement. The outcomes of my research include three books and an art exhibition. The first, Orizzonti di Forza. Fenomenologia della guida videoludica, was released in November 2015 by Edizioni Unicopli in the LUDOLOGICA book 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 screenshots of Forza Horizon 2 and turned into postcards, was published on December 8, 2016 by Concrete Press. The first two books are available in Italian only, the third in English. I also curated an art exhibition, TRAVELOGUE (Mantua, September 2016), inspired by this research. The catalog was published in May 2019. The goal was to provide a series of insights into the range of cultural, social, artistic, and political issues related to simulated driving.
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
M.A. in GAME DESIGN (2017-). IULM University's Master of Arts Program in game design, production, and direction.
CONCRETE PRESS (2013-). My own imprint, located in San Francisco, California & Milan, Italy. Fiercely independent, CONCRETE PRESS specializes in art, media, and culture.
GAMESCENES (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 (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 (2003-2016). I spent a significant part of the Zeroes helping to establish 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, current 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 digital gaming from a variety of perspectives. My own interest focuses on deconstructing the games’ embedded ideologies, rhetoric, and user positions - from urban planning biases in SimCity to the military-entertainment complex(es) of Call of Duty.
AFFILIATIONS & SERVICE TO PROFESSION (SELECTION)
Teaching European History Through Cinema, Milan, Italy (2018)
Independent Game Festival 2017, Los Angeles, California (2016)
ATOPIC Film Festival, Paris, France (2011)
MIT PRESS, New media and game studies (2016-ongoing)
Goldsmith University Academic Press, New media and game studies (2018-ongoing)
AOQU. Achilles Orlando Quixote Ulysses (2020-ongoing)
[in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies (2020-ongoing)
piano b. Arti e culture visive (2020-ongoing)
New Media and Society (2019-ongoing)
Testo a fronte (2018-ongoing)
Well Played Games (2016-ongoing)
Media and Communication (2013-ongoing)
CCA Arts (2013-ongoing)
International Journal of Information Technology (2010-ongoing)
Games & Culture (2010-ongoing)
Conferences (as a reviewer)
DiGRA International (2018, 2009, 2007)
Triennale Museum of Design, Milan, Triennial International Exhibition (2016-2019)
Digital Entertainment Media & Design Master Program, IULM, Milan (2011-2013)
CCA Arts (2013-2016)
UCLA Games Festival (2013, advisor), (2017, curator)
How They Got Game Research Project, Stanford University (2005-ongoing)
Digital Game Research Association (DIGRA) (2004-ongoing)
International Game Developers Association (2011-ongoing)
Stanford Humanities Lab, Stanford University (2005-2010)
Digital Youth Project, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California (2006-2008)
IULM Humanities Lab, IULM University, Milan, member (2005-2010)
DiGRA (Turin, 2018, with Riccardo Fassone)
DiGRA Italia (Milan, 2017, with Paolo Ruffino)
MY (OTHER) WEBSITES
COLL.EO with Colleen Flaherty
GAMEVIDEO/ART. A SURVEY
[email protected] (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.