TAG, You’re It: In Conversation With Lynn Hughes

interview-lynn-hughes

TAG, You’re It:  In Conversation With Lynn Hughes

 

Clicking pens and clacking keyboards reverberate through the halls of Concordia University’s Engineering and Visual Arts Building. Diligent students gaze upon their notes with serious faces. In this academic milieu, I meet with Lynn Hughes, co-founder and director of the TAG (Technoculture, Arts and Games) research centre.

 

At TAG, the subject of interest is games and why not? As Hughes puts it, “Games are one of the oldest forms of culture.” Of course, she’s not referring exclusively to videogames but to all games. Among many other angles, the centre explores how games develop, how they reflect on society, and how they can be improved.

 

Lynn Hughes gives me a brief tour of their workshop—a gathering space for a multitude of disciplines. Musical instruments hang from one wall and tools spread out on a wooden counter space. Keyboards clack and pens click. Once we sit down, Hughes gets to the heart of it. TAG promotes interdisplinary collaboration. Many university departments are invited to participate. TAG’s broad approach to research matches well with Lynn Hughes’ own extensive academic background which includes literature, art, and the history and philosophy of mathematics. Everything is connected, she reminds me.

 

On the subject of merging disciplines, she tells me of a new course called Games and/as Literature created by Jason Camlot, chair of Concordia’s English department. It combines the study of English literature with the study of games. Unsurprisingly, the course is very popular among students.  Hughes says, “Students are growing up with them. Videogames are a part of our culture.”

 

With literature and games in mind, Lynn Hughes talks about storytelling and narratives. She remarks that though similarities can be found between game and literary narratives, game narratives offer more offbeat ways of organizing a story. In contrast to literary narratives, game narratives are not uniquely based on linear plotlines or characters. Drawing a closer comparison, Hughes measures the art of playwriting to that of games. Those who write for theatre, as Hughes’ puts it, understand the power of action and agency. Plays revolve around action and action is what games are.

 

Regardless of literature’s inherent limitations, Lynn Hughes is a reader. One of her favourite books is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll because of the many intricate layers within the narrative. The book offers readers many abstractions to consider; among them the theme of aging, the politics of women, and the politics of government. She has a collection of editions in her personal library and would suggest Alice in Wonderland to children and adults alike. Hughes often re-reads classics and is presently reading poetry by celebrated authors like T.S. Elliot and Emily Dickinson.

 

Lynn Hughes is excited to be a participant in the 2017 Blue Metropolis Festival. TAG will be collaborating with playwright Marie-Hélène Larose-Truchon. Lynn Hughes admits that she doesn’t know what to expect but nevertheless, she is very enthusiastic to see the outcome.

 

Sufia Duez is a freelance writer and editor. She also works as a part-time publicist for Metatron, an independent Canadian publishing house. She is the co-producer of Inventions, a monthly series promoting all genres of music and literature in Montréal.