Assoc Prof Melanie Swalwell

Playing an original Christchurch-produced Taitronics (Taito) "Super Galaga" arcade machine.
Position/s:Associate Professor
Department of Screen and Media
Phone: +61 8 82012619
Email:
Location: Humanities (278)
Postal address: GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Biography

A scholar of digital media arts, cultures, and histories, Melanie is an ARC Future Fellow and Project Leader of the ARC Linkage Project "Play It Again".  She has authored chapters and articles in both traditional and interactive formats, in such esteemed journals as Convergence, Vectors, and the Journal of Visual Culture.  Significant projects include the Popular Memory Archive, the Australasian Heritage Software Database, and the online photographic exhibition "More Than A Craze".

She tweets as @melswal

Current projects:

Prior to joining Flinders, Melanie taught at Victoria University of Wellington.

Qualifications

BA (Hons), Mq; PhD, UTS.

Honours, awards and grants

In 2013, Melanie received an ARC Future Fellowship, for her project "Creative Micro-computing in Australia, 1976-1992".  

Melanie was the 2009 Nancy Keesing Fellow, at the State Library of New South Wales. A podcast of a public lecture she gave at the Library is here.

Teaching

Teaching interests

As a Future Fellow, Melanie is research-focused at present and so not teaching undergraduates.  She is principal supervisor to 4 RHD students: James O'Connor, Katharine Neil, Helen Stuckey, and Amin Ansari.

Research and supervision

Research interests

Melanie's research centres on newer media with particular attention to media arts and digital games, as well as the intersections of these. She is concerned with questions of aesthetic and affective experience and the implications of these for theories of audience reception, engagement and meaning making. Much of her research attends to experimental media uses, and the issues that are raised by the creations of media artists, modders, and independent game developers. She also undertakes research with different communities of practice (lanners, collectors, home coders).

Since 2004, she has been researching histories of digital games.  As well as current archival research into the production and reception of computer games in 1980s Australia, Melanie is finishing a suite of projects on digital games histories in New Zealand. Outcomes include traditional and interactive journal articles, a monograph (in preparation), an exhibition of historic photographs, an online, community database of early NZ software, as well as revived examples of such software.  In 2011, she launched the Australasian Heritage Software Database, one of several collaborative projects she has undertaken with Denise de Vries, in Computer Science at Flinders.

Melanie's PhD was entitled "Aesthetics and Hyper/aesthetics: Rethinking the senses in contemporary media contexts".

Many full text papers are available here, on academia.edu.

Supervisory interests

  • Aesthetics, politics, philosophy of technology
  • Digital cultural heritage
  • Digital game history
  • Digital media histories
  • History of educational software
  • Microcomputer history
  • Software history

Publications

Book chapters
  • Stuckey, H., Swalwell, M.L. and Ndalianis, A. (2013). The Popular Memory Archive: Collecting and exhibiting player culture from the 1980s. In Arthur Tatnall, Tilly Blyth, Roger Johnson, ed. Making the History of Computing Relevant. Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer, pp. 215-225.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2009). Lan Gaming Groups: Snapshots from an Australasian case study, 1999-2008. In Larrisa Hjorth and Dean Chan, ed. Gaming cultures and place in Asia-Pacific. New York, Oxon, UK: Routledge, pp. 117-136. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2008). Movement and Kinaesthetic Responsiveness: A Neglected Pleasure. In Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson, ed. The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, pp. 72-93.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2008). 1980s Home Coding: the art of amateur programming. In Stella Brennan and Su Ballard, ed. Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader. Auckland: Aotearoa Digital Arts and Clouds, pp. 193-201. [Link]
Refereed journal articles
  • Swalwell, M.L. and de Vries, D. (2013). Collecting and Conserving Code: Challenges and Strategies. SCAN: JOURNAL OF MEDIA ARTS CULTURE, 10(2) [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). A Critique of the Hyper State: Aesthetics, technology and experience. Transformations: Region, Culture and Society, 22 [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). Questions about the usefulness of microcomputers in 1980s Australia. Media International Australia, 143 pp. 63-77.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2009). Towards the Preservation of Local Computer Game Software: Challenges, strategies, reflections. Convergence: The Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies, 15(3) pp. 263-279. [10.1177/1354856509105107]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2007). The Remembering and the Forgetting of Early Digital Games: From novelty to detritus and back again. Journal of Visual Culture, 6(2) pp. 255-273. [DOI:10.1177/1470412907078568]
Refereed conference papers
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). The Early Micro User: Games writing, hardware hacking, and the will to mod. In Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2012 Conference: Local and Global — Games in Culture and Society. Tampere, Finland: DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association). DiGRA Nordic 2012 Conference: Local and Global -- Games in Culture and Society. Tampere, Finland. Jun 2012. [Link]

Show all publications

Book chapters
  • Stuckey, H. and Swalwell, M.L. (2014). Retro-Computing Community Sites and the Museum. In Angelides, Marios C.; Harry Agius, ed. Handbook of Digital Games. Hoboken, NJ: IEEE Computer Society.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2014). How Independent Game Development looked in 2002 (an interview with Julian Oliver and Kipper) In Clarke, Andy; Grethe Mitchell, ed. Videogames and Art. Bristol: Intellect.
  • Stuckey, H., Swalwell, M.L. and Ndalianis, A. (2013). The Popular Memory Archive: Collecting and exhibiting player culture from the 1980s. In Arthur Tatnall, Tilly Blyth, Roger Johnson, ed. Making the History of Computing Relevant. Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer, pp. 215-225.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2010). Hobbyist Computing in 1980s New Zealand: Games and the popular reception of microcomputers. In Janet Toland, ed. Return to Tomorrow: 50 years of computing in New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Computer Society, pp. 157-169.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2009). Lan Gaming Groups: Snapshots from an Australasian case study, 1999-2008. In Larrisa Hjorth and Dean Chan, ed. Gaming cultures and place in Asia-Pacific. New York, Oxon, UK: Routledge, pp. 117-136. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2008). Movement and Kinaesthetic Responsiveness: A Neglected Pleasure. In Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson, ed. The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, pp. 72-93.
  • Swalwell, M.L. and Wilson, J. (2008). Introduction. In Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson, ed. The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, pp. 1-12.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2008). 1980s Home Coding: the art of amateur programming. In Stella Brennan and Su Ballard, ed. Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader. Auckland: Aotearoa Digital Arts and Clouds, pp. 193-201. [Link]
Refereed journal articles
  • Swalwell, M.L. and de Vries, D. (2013). Collecting and Conserving Code: Challenges and Strategies. SCAN: JOURNAL OF MEDIA ARTS CULTURE, 10(2) [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). Questions about the usefulness of microcomputers in 1980s Australia. Media International Australia, 143 pp. 63-77.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). A Critique of the Hyper State: Aesthetics, technology and experience. Transformations: Region, Culture and Society, 22 [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2009). Towards the Preservation of Local Computer Game Software: Challenges, strategies, reflections. Convergence: The Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies, 15(3) pp. 263-279. [10.1177/1354856509105107]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2007). The Remembering and the Forgetting of Early Digital Games: From novelty to detritus and back again. Journal of Visual Culture, 6(2) pp. 255-273. [DOI:10.1177/1470412907078568]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2006). Multi-Player Computer Gaming: 'Better than playing (PC Games) with yourself' Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 6(1) [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2005). Contact Zones: Edge in 'Portable Cities' and 'FragMental Storm' New Zealand Journal of Media Studies, 9(1) [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2003). Multi-Player Computer Gaming: 'Better than playing (PC Games) with yourself' Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3(4) [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2002). New/Inter/Media. Convergence: The Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies, 8(4) pp. 46-56.
Refereed conference papers
  • Stuckey, H.J., Swalwell, M.L., Ndalianis, A. and de Vries, D. (2013). Remembrance of Games Past: The Popular Memory Archive. In S Greuter, C McCrea, F Mueller, L Hjorth & D Richards, ed. Proceedings of IE '13: Matters of Life and Death. New York, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. 9th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Melbourne, Vic. Sep 2013. [10.1145/2513002.2513570]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2013). Moving on from the Original Experience: Games history, preservation, and presentation. In Proceedings of DiGRA 2013: DeFragging Game Studies. Digital Games Research Association. 6th Digital Games Research Association Conference. Atlanta, Georgia. Sep 2013. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2012). The Early Micro User: Games writing, hardware hacking, and the will to mod. In Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2012 Conference: Local and Global — Games in Culture and Society. Tampere, Finland: DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association). DiGRA Nordic 2012 Conference: Local and Global -- Games in Culture and Society. Tampere, Finland. Jun 2012. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2011). More Than A Craze: Photographs of New Zealand's early digital games scene. In Proceedings of DiGRA 2011 Conference: Think Design Play. www.digra.org/dl: Digital Games Research Association. Think Design Play - 5th International DiGRA Conference. Hilversum, the Netherlands. Sep 2011. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2010). Exhibition: "More than a Craze: Photographs of New Zealand's early digital games scene" In 7th Australian conference on Interactive Entertainment. Wellington, New Zealand: Massey University. 7th Australian conference on Interactive Entertainment. Wellington, New Zealand. Nov 2010, pp. 60-62.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2005). Early games production in New Zealand. In Changing Views: Worlds in Play. Vancouver, Canada: DiGRA / Simon Fraser University. Changing Views: Worlds in Play. Vancouver, Canada. Jun 2005. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2004). The History and Development of Lan Groups: an Australasian case study. In Miguel Sicart and Jonas Heide Smith, ed. Other Players. Copenhagen: IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Other Players: a conference on multiplayer phenomena. IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Dec 2004.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2003). "This isn't a computer game you know!": revisiting the computer games / televised war analogy. In Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens, ed. Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference. Utrecht, NL: Universiteit Utrecht/DIGRA. Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference. University of Utrecht, NL. Nov 2003. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2003). Ethics and aesthetics: defamiliarization and the virtual. In Consciousness Reframed: non-local, non-linear, non-ordinary. Perth, WA: John Curtin Gallery. Consciousness Reframed: non-local, non-linear, non-ordinary (Fourth International CAiiA-STAR Research Conference) Perth, WA. Aug 2002.
Journal articles
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2010). A Living Collection: Computer games. SL Magazine, 3(3) pp. 30-31.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2010). The Case for Local Software Preservation. KEEP Newsletter, 2 pp. 6-8. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2006). NZ's Videogaming Past and the Question of its Future. SCRIPT, 64 pp. 14-16. [Link]
Other public research outputs
  • de Vries, D., Ndalianis, A., Stuckey, H. and Swalwell, M.L. (2013). Popular Memory Archive. http://playitagainproject.org[Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. and de Vries, D. (2011). Australasian Heritage Software Database. www.ourdigitalheritage.orgwww.ourdigitalheritage.org.
  • Swalwell, M.L. and Bayly, J. (2010). "More than a Craze: Photographs of New Zealand's early digital games scene" Mahara Gallery website, Waikanae, New Zealand.www.firefly.co.nz/mahara.
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2010). More than a Craze: Photographs of New Zealand's early digital games scene. Waikanae, New Zealand: Mahara Gallery. [Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. (2007). Early New Zealand Software Database. Online at http://nztronix.org.nz/main.php[Link]
  • Swalwell, M.L. and Loyer, E. (2006). Castoffs from the Golden Age. Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular. Los Angeles: University of Southern California. 3[Link]

Show selected publications

Professional and community engagement

Melanie sits on the editorial boards of Convergence: The journal of research into new media technologies (Sage), and Reconstruction: An interdisciplinary cultural studies community.  She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Media Arts and Innovation (CMAI, UTS),  an invited Honorary Associate, Centre for Media History (Macquarie), and a board member of the Digital Games Research Association Australia (DiGRAA).

Expertise for media contact

  • Digital games
  • Digital preservation Software history, early personal computing, obsolescence, preservation
  • Digital media arts
  • Digital cultures
  • Digital histories


inspiring achievement