Prof Xenia Zeiler

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Educational Video Games on Indian Culture and Society
Xenia Zeiler, University of Helsinki

Video games provide increasingly complex, interactive virtual worlds and as such, they actively contribute
to construct norms, values, identities, and in short, society. Game narratives impact on meaning making, in
general, and on the construction of society, in particular. Game development and production often is a
complex and highly reflected process, among other things (e.g., business interests) grounded in the
understanding of game developers and many influential actors in society (e.g., politicians) that game
narratives may design and transform society.
Currently and within the larger video game boom in India, we find an innovative development: a wave of
pioneering games from especially indie companies make extensive use of Indian cultural heritage (e.g., via
historical/religious references, music, dance, architecture, dress styles elements). With this, India has
charted a highly interesting and distinctive path in the experimentation with the potential of video games
which currently is done by game developers globally. This includes the potential of games for educational
purposes. This paper aims at presenting an overview of the developments in India and at locating the
educational value in both, games which have not been developed with an explicit educational focus as well
as games specifically produced as educational tools. Questions to be asked are, e.g., how can educational
games be informed by other game genres, and what is the state of the art in India?

Bio:
Xenia Zeiler is tenure track Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her
research is situated at the intersection of digital media and culture and society in India, with a focus on
video games. Other research foci are global Digital Humanities and mediatization. She is the author of
numerous articles and book chapters on digital and mediatized culture in India and the Indian diaspora, on
video games/gaming with a focus on India, and on popular culture in contemporary India. Her past and
current projects include DIG_IN, Digital Humanities Initiative Finland-India, and Video Game Development
and Cultural Heritage in Asia. She is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the open access online journal
gamevironments, www.gamevironments.org.

Company
University of Helsinki

Talks

December 4, 2018, 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm
Educational Video Games on Indian Culture and Society - Room [MR101][MR102]