Ofstad Scholar Examines the Semiotics of Play


The Ofstad Reading Series will host scholar Kyle Eveleth at 4 p.m. March 2 in Baldwin Little Theater.

Eveleth is the writing services and tutoring coordinator at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. He has a Ph.D. in contemporary literature and children’s literature from the University of Kentucky. He has been a Ronald E. McNair postbaccalaureate fellow, King/Chavez/Parks future faculty fellow and Dartmouth University Futures of American Studies institute fellow. Eveleth has published widely on video games, graphic narrative and children’s literature. His most recent book, “The Artistry of Neil Gaiman: Finding Light in the Shadows,” co-edited with Joseph Michael Sommers, is available from the University Press of Mississippi. Outside academia, Eveleth enjoys birdwatching, hiking, foraging and amateur game development.

In his lecture, Eveleth will discuss what it means to play a game and how that meaning is tied to both the instructions of the game as well as its actual execution. Play is crucial to the human intellectual enterprise, and no less worthy of scholarly inquiry than any other mode of expression. Like all other expressive media, iterations of play are cultural artifacts, ripe for interpretation, like any novel, poem, film or scientific discovery. Because games communicate, they can be understood via semiotics, the study of meaning making.

This special long-form lecture will begin with an exemplary form of play: the social deduction game. Eveleth will discuss the semiotics of the game, meaning its signs and signifieds. He will also discuss the motivations, styles and values the rules of the game favor. The audience can expect to participate, whether in play or in evaluation of strategy, to better understand how players uncover information and partake in the game.
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