Video Gaming and the Arts Sector


Three rounds of compelling exchanges from the indie gaming industry on community development, ladders of engagement, and cultivating interactivity across creative and commercial activities.

Knowledge Process

Mass Culture, in partnership with Gros Morne Summer Music, is proud to have hosted their very first Play-Go-Round event with content creators from the indie gaming community.

During this event, which was recorded, we explored and discussed ideas surrounding community development, ladders of engagement, cultivating interactivity across creative and commercial activities, discoverability, and working with user data

This event delved into what the arts sector can learn from the video game industry; specifically, indie game studios. In the wake of increased pressure to develop more digitally-savvy practices, arts organizations need to look to adjacent sectors to thrive creatively and commercially in the ever more digital world. The themes covered in this preliminary event will set the stage for further inquiry. 

As a lead up to this event, Sarah Brin, Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan, and Bart Simon each developed a thought piece, spurred from how the not-for-profit arts and gaming sectors can create shared experiences with one another. 

The event, emceed by Naomi Stokes, was an enriching exchange, delving even deeper into their commissioned thought pieces through Mass Culture’s Play-Go-Round conversation inspired by the Art Angel Longplayer project’s Long Conversation format. Audience members were invited to join us in exploring the arts sector’s relationship to digital technology and the implications of a digitized world that gaming embodies. The event concluded with an artistic windup from spoken word poet, Luke Reece.

Thought Pieces

These thought pieces, created by the event’s content experts, provide insights into their areas of expertise within the video gaming industry, as well as where they see opportunities for learning between the arts and gaming sectors.

Sarah Brin

Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan

Bart Simon

The Event, December 8 2021

Artistic Windup from Luke Reece

An excerpt from Luke Reece’s poem, created during and inspired by the event:

It’s connected to power, and how it’s distributed

To create equitable and joyful spaces, the status quo must be disputed

Barriers within institutions can dehumanize us with few solutions

They can be exclusive and elusive

With little room for retributions

And in moments like this we need some institutional revolutions

To allow for a community-wide evolution

As we make fun games in ultra high resolution


Let’s just say it:

Some people dedicate their lives to being racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic trolls

And it’s human beings like us, who have to take that toll-

Let’s take care of each other in this game design and creation

While still having discourse on experimentation


Funding community resources is where we make magic

Unlike the Greek plays, this doesn’t all have to be tragic

Although I did love Age of Mythology – each update, had to have it.

Back to our audience, let’s think about who is testing?

Is it your partner? Is it a designer? What are you manifesting?

Let’s ask ourselves what we’re testing for-

so we’re bringing in the right people

putting forward the right questions

because testing isn’t just numbers, it’s so much more.


But how do you know where your audience is at?

What spaces do they occupy? Do they like dogs, or do they like cats?

And how can you balance the making of your vision

with the translation for the players, and the need for some provisions


If there’s one last thing from this conversation to your heart,

It’s to please remember that


– Luke Reece


Naomi Stokes (She/Her) is a recent graduate from the Arts Administration and Culture Management program at Humber College. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Anthropology but her artistic background lies mainly in Theatre. She has worked as a project coordinator and administrator for Mass Culture, an arts and culture think tank as well as an an administrative assistant at BAND Gallery. Her interests include, photography and videography, music and research. Some of her projects include, co-authoring a chapter for the Alternate Federal Budget under the mentorship of Ben Dick, and a visual video series called Grounds for Leisure in collaboration with Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre. She has experience in client servicing and event management and she is currently working as an administrative assistant for Starvox Entertainment in Canada.

Featured Content Experts

Sarah Brin (She/Her) is a business professional and art historian who specializes in previously unanticipated situations involving technology, the public, and organizational infrastructure. She’s created programs, exhibitions, and publications for organizations like Autodesk, SFMOMA, British Council, MOCA Los Angeles, the European Union and elsewhere. She cares about building just, sustainable and inviting things.

Marie LeBlanc Flanagan  (She/Her), is an artist and consultant working in the playful spaces between people, especially related to connection and community. Marie co-founded the Imaginary Residency, an artist-run online residency; Wyrd Arts Initiatives, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to encouraging, documenting, and connecting creative expression across Canada; and Drone Day, an international day for the celebration of experimental drone music and communities. Marie co-organized GAIA, a 9-session online conference for 150+ game curators around the world.

Bart Simon (He/Him), is the co-founder and director of Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal. His areas of expertise include game studies, science and technology studies and cultural sociology. In the area of games, he works on diverse topics ranging from embodied play and physical interfaces, playgrounds, the cultural politics of indie game development, and Minecraft modding cultures. His current research on liveness in immersive theatre and games is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada.

Spoken Word Poet

Luke Reece (He/Him) is an award-winning spoken word poet, theatre producer and playwright, recently appointed as Soulpepper’s Associate Artistic Director. Through his work as an educator and artistic leader within the national arts community, he advocates for engaging and nuanced storytelling that challenges Canadian audiences. He is one of Toronto’s most decorated slam poets, and has represented the country internationally.

This Event is Made Possible through the Support of

Canada Council for the Arts / Conseil des arts du Canada
Mass Culture logo