To celebrate my 20 years as a curator in the fields of art and video games, in June 2019 I embarked on a world tour that took me to: South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, India, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Ghana and Togo where I got stopped by the Pandemic in March 2020. I am now pursuing my World Tour online, in Africa and in the Middle East, from Togo, where I do live now. By meeting digital artists and independent game developers in the Global South I intend to give a more nuanced overview of the different ways gaming communities across the world are exploring the issue of diversity, with an emphasis on female, queer and decolonial practices. In each country I visited, I interviewed around 20 artists, game makers, curators, activists, hackers and gave lectures and workshops about the relationship between art and video games. The aim is to break the boundaries between the art and the game world and to promote alternative, independent and experimental games to enhance diversity – gender, race and representation – in video games and to promote the use of games as a pedagogic tool and as a tool of expression to raise awareness about social, cultural, political and environmental issues. Meeting media artists and indie game developers and then writing articles about their games or distributing podcasts of their interviews is also a way to better understand local culture through the lens of video games. In each country, I try to focus on meaningful games that deal with culture, history, or politics. My expedition also investigates how we can create new concepts of “working together” and new connections within the worlds of game art, independent games, games DIY art. In Togo, I am now collaborating with different art collectives on mutual game art projects. For Digital Power, I am presenting podcasts of the female, non-binary, transgender artists, activists and game makers that I met during my art and games world tour, and a hybrid documentary in progress, featuring the interviews with video games and artwork recordings.
Isabelle Arvers is a French artist and curator exploring the fields of digital art and video game for over 20 years, on formal as well as ethical and critical approaches. Her work explores the hacking possibilities of video games and mostly materializes in films called machinimas to be screened in on-site performative installation spaces. Arvers’ work is grounded on collaborative experiences and reflects all the possibilities of the “working together” processes. As a curator, she focuses on video game as a new language and as a medium for artists, notable exhibitions include Playtime (Paris, 2002), Mind Control Banana RAM (Italy, 2004), Game Time Reactivate (Australia, 2004), No Fun, Games and the Gaming experiences (Piksel, Norway, 2007), Evolution of Gaming (Canada, 2014), antiAtlas of Borders (Europe, 2013-2016) UCLA Gamelab Festival (Hammer Museum, LA 2015, 2017), Machinima in Mash Up (Vancouver Art Gallery, 2016), TRANS//BORDERS, Nathalie Magnan’s teachings (Marseille, 2018), Technofeminismo (Colombia, 2019). In 2019, she embarks on an art and games world tour in the Global South to promote diversity of gender, sexuality and geographic origin and focuses on queer, feminist and decolonial practices. Working towards an exhibition and an international conference on postcolonial game studies in 2021, her reports on the research tour can be read online in Usbek & Rica, Poptronics, Immersion & Makery. She says: “I think that games are a good reflection of our surrounding world, they can give us a good overview of our current society, they are also a perfect medium to talk about games and the game industry. In 2011, I curated a machinima exhibition on feminism and on player’s freedom inside a video game. I showed the work of Angela Washko and Georgies Roxbie Smith, both renowned for their feminist actions inside WOW or GTA Online. Some years after, we curated an Art Games Demos on queer and feminist movements in video games during The Feminist Fortnight in Marseille. A way for us to raise awareness on sexism in the video games industry and community. Women are still underrepresented in the industry and even if things changed a lot after the Gamergate in the US, there is still a need to change the representation of women in video games and to give more attention to games created by women or trans persons. In western countries, there is a quite new consciousness about it, with conferences on diversity in events like the Game Developers Conference or at Amaze, but I am really interested to discover and meet other feminists in the Global South as well as LGBTQI organizations around the world in order to connect with other realities and create new paths and connections between networks.”