Drinking games have a history several millennia long. Yet the global community of game scholars has barely touched drinking and games, leaving the area for researchers of health and safety issues. This article is a think piece that approaches drinking games as games and as play, ponders what the study of games can learn from drinking games, weighs what is at stake in them, and connects them to discussions in contemporary game studies relating to materiality, modding, and criticism of the idealization of play.
The multiple-choice video game Life is Strange was described by its French developers as a metaphor for the inner conflicts experienced by a teenager in trying to become an adult. In psychological work with adolescents, there is a stark similarity between what they experience and some concepts of existentialist philosophy. Sartre’s script for the movie Les Jeux Sont Faits (literally "games are made") uses the same narrative strategy as Life is Strange—the capacity for the main characters to travel back in time to change their own existence—in order to stimulate philosophical, ethical, and political thinking and also to effectively simulate existential "limit situations." This article is a dialogue between Sartre’s views and Life is Strange in order to examine to what extent questions such as what is freedom? what is choice? what is autonomy and responsibility? can be interpreted anew in hybrid digital–human—"anthrobotic"—environments.
In this article, I examine the phenomenon called Let’s Play (LP) and conduct a narrative analysis on two LPs made of Sierra Entertainment’s Phantasmagoria games. The LPs tell viewers a story different from the one told in the games, that is, they tell the story of the player rather than that of the game. In that story, the experience of playing a video game is revealed to the audience. This story would be hidden without the player-narrators know as LPs around the world. I conduct my analysis by describing seven different narrative elements that form the narration of a LP and explain how these elements together form this story of the player.
This article proposes a reflexive approach on the scientific production in the field of game studies in recent years. It relies on a sociology of science perspective to answer the question: What are game studies really about? Relying on scientometric and lexicometric tools, we analyze the metadata and content of a corpus of articles from the journals Games Studies and Games & Culture and of Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) proceedings. We show that published researches have been studying only a limited set of game genres and that they especially focus on online games. We then expose the different ways game studies are talking about games through a topic model analysis of our corpus. We test two hypotheses to explain the concentration of research on singular objects: path dependence and trading zone. We describe integrative properties of the focus on common objects but stress also the scientific limits met by this tendency.
This article is an exploration of players’ understandings of games that offer moral dilemmas in order to explore player choice in tandem with game mechanics. We investigate how game structures, including the presence of choice, a game’s length, and avatar presentation, push players in particular ways and also how players use those systems for their own ends. We explore how players "rehearse their ethos" through gameplay and how they are continually pushing back against the magic circle. It is based on two-dozen semi-structured interviews with players conducted in 2012. It illustrates that there are no clear-cut answers—game structures, including narratives, character designs, length, or save systems, can push players to act in certain ways that may or may not align with their own beliefs and goals.
This article discusses the design and development of two serious games intended to train people to reduce their reliance on cognitive biases in their decision-making in less than an hour each. In our development process, we found a tension between rich and flexible experimentation and exploration experiences and robust learning experiences that ensured the lesson content was easily understood and recalled. In line with game-based learning research, initial designs were oriented toward exploration and discovery. Analyses of interviews, playtesting, logs, and surveys revealed that many players were frustrated or confused by the interface and content of the more complex games, even when consistent differences between levels of visual detail or narrative complexity were not present. We conclude that teaching complex topics such as cognitive biases to the widest range of learners required reducing the games’ playful and exploratory elements and balancing formal training content with simpler visuals and text.
The development of a serious game combines the skills of numerous disciplines, from subject matter experts on the topic being taught; to story developers, game designers, and software developers; to instructional designers, educational assessment scientists, and others. This section provides commentary on the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s unique game development program, Sirius, where multiple games with the same training goal were independently developed and tested by different teams. We compare the experience of two of these teams not only in game design but also in how skills of various disciplines were woven together to produce and validate their games. Lessons learned are reviewed to provide guidelines and takeaway points to assist game development practitioners in their future efforts to create effective serious games.
In this article, we report on a serious game development approach, characterized by combining theory-based design with an iterative development strategy guided by experimental test and evaluation. We describe two serious games that teach the mitigation of cognitive biases (human tendencies to commit systematic errors in thinking that lead to irrational judgments). Cognitive biases tend to be deeply ingrained and early attempts to reduce biases with training have met with little success. We address this training challenge using bias mitigation theory derived from the literature and an instructional framework to establish the educational content of each game. The mitigation effects of the games were measured through multiple experiment cycles, and multiple play-testing campaigns were conducted to inform instructional model and game design revisions. The final game versions achieved a medium-to-large training effect following a single play session.
The recent rise of gamification lead to a revival of the traditional game studies debate on the relationship between games and society, a key theme since Huizinga, Caillois, and Suits. Yet quite surprisingly, the works of these three authors, Caillois in particular, have mainly been used to establish notable antecedents, not been reevaluated nor discussed. The following pages will first explain the reasons behind these overlooking, taking advantage of the gamification debate to compare the actual theories on the relationship between games and society, subsequently recalling Caillois’ position, pointing out analogies and differences between the present and past stances. Secondly, this article will discuss the reasons to introduce the thought of Caillois in the current debate, showing compatibility between his theories and contemporary reflections, suggesting the possibility to use them to understand gamification, by observing the long-term analogies between games and societies and the role performed by mimicry.
The article aims to present, analyze, and discuss the attitudes of the three groups of adults—theorists, hobbyists and "everyday players"—toward play(ful) behavior and activities in relation to character toys. The rhetoric of play theorists is mirrored against the rhetoric of organized players (hobbyists) and (nonorganized) everyday players through in-depth interviews and participatory observation. Questions guiding the exploratory path this article takes include the following: First, what has led to the dominant ideas of the toy as a collectable item and of adult toy consumers as toy collectors? Second, why is the manipulation of toys that happens at adult age considered hobbying and not playing? The results of the analysis indicate that the uses of toys at adult age represent more complex and multifaceted actions and relationships to play than the terms "collecting" and "hobbying" imply.
This article initiates a provocation for a collective discussion of what we might call an unserious epistemology for the study and design of games. How can we find ways of taking the unseriousness of games seriously? Starting with the idea that most players take their games much less seriously than game studies scholars, I reflect on the importance of the idea of unseriousness for the theorization of gameplay as a sociocultural activity of last resort in a contemporary world defined by the grave seriousness of life.
The article aims to problematize the perspective of Roger Caillois beyond the relative more influential Les Jeux et les Hommes for Game Studies and then put the use of his theories to the test. By harnessing the alternative concepts of "symmetry" and "dissymmetry," which are at the core of his approach, a textual analysis is applied to the high acclaimed video game Journey. Further suggestions from philosophy ("deconstruction" by Derrida), cultural studies ("the circuit of culture"), and game design support the study. Thus, symmetric and dissymmetric features (e.g., mechanics, aesthetics) are framed enlightening in-game processes further; conversely, the limits of these notions in game analysis are deepened along with some tendencies in misreading Caillois in the field.
The article aims to explore the reasons why the discipline of game studies requires a shift toward player analysis. This can be done without leaving an object-oriented approach, thanks to the efforts of social ontology, a recent philosophical discipline that investigates social facts. The integration of social ontology into the research on games will be displayed through some mind experiments on the nature of the paradigmatic example of rules. The result of this integration leads to give up the reductionism shared by the majority of game scholars.
Although game studies are widely viewed as an interdisciplinary field, it is unclear how interdisciplinary they actually are. In response, this article reads scientometric data and game studies editorials, handbooks, and introductions through the lens of interdisciplinarity studies to assess game studies’ status as an interdiscipline. It argues that game studies show drivers and hurdles typical for interdisciplines. Yet instead of establishing themselves as the broad umbrella interdiscipline of digital game research, they are becoming one narrow cultural studies multidiscipline within the growing and diversifying field of game research and education. Researchers from fields like human–computer interaction or communication are abandoning game studies venues in favor of disciplinary ones—ironically thanks to game studies legitimizing game research. This article suggests that a design orientation and cross-disciplinary boundary objects such as middle range theories could help to broaden, deepen, and secure future interdisciplinary game research.
Drawing on ethnographic and interview data collected from the United States and Finland on lifestyle ("swinging") events, this article explores the implicit and explicit rules influencing negotiations for group sex as a type of play. Participants maintain a sense of freedom and spontaneity while acting within situational constraints—ethical expectations, preexplicated rules, implicit rules, and complex negotiations that occur during the play itself either openly or more subtly. Because it has implications for the participants’ everyday lives, lifestyle group sex is a phenomenon on the border between games and adult play. Through an analysis of the rules and social contracts arising in group sex, we demonstrate how participants learn to read interactions at group sex events in the way that players learn game systems and how they can and do become "good players" in such situations.
This study critically assesses the Chinese online games industry through problematizing the creativity of Chinese games. I find that between 1995 and 2001, Chinese online games were mostly developed by amateurs, noncommercial, and considerably creative. Between 2002 and 2005, industrial growth allowed some room for local creativity despite commercialization and dominance of imported games. Current scholarly, business, and media discourses unfairly ignore creativity in these first two periods and yet praise the Chinese game industry’s commercial success since the late 2000s. I challenge these discourses by illustrating that between 2006 and early 2009, a new, ethically dubious, and uniquely Chinese business model emerged, became domestically dominant, and quietly and profoundly impacted on global online game design. From mid-2009 to 2015, there is ongoing corporatization based on the dubious Chinese business model on the one hand, and a reemphasis on creativity motivated by browser and mobile game formats on the other.
Hobby board gaming is a serious leisure pastime that entails large commitments of time and energy. When serious hobby board gamers become parents, their opportunities for engaging in the pastime are constrained by their new family responsibilities. Based on an ethnographic study of serious hobby board gamers, we investigate how play is constrained by parenting and how serious board gamers with these responsibilities create opportunities to continue to play board games by negotiating the context, time, location, and medium of play. We also examine how these changes influence the enjoyment players derive from board games across the key dimensions of sociality, intellectual challenge, variety, and materiality.
The widespread popularity of sandbox games, and Minecraft in particular, may be a recent phenomenon, but their appeal may be much older. Rather than representing a wholly new development in gaming, these games may participate in a larger media ecology that flatters a neoliberal worldview. This research calls for greater attention to the coercive economic assumptions encoded in game mechanics. Drawing on scholarship in ludology, postcolonial studies, and phenomenology, it suggests that sandbox games like Minecraft habituate players to myths of empire and capital that rationalize political and economic inequality. More than simply offering a blank slate for player creation, Minecraft rewards players for assuming their entitlement to the world’s resources and thus their superiority over other inhabitants of the game world.
In this article, over 60 definitions of games since the 1930s are reviewed in order to pinpoint what those definitions agree on and, more importantly, what they disagree on. This article is conceived of as a tool game scholars can use to better position themselves in regard to the concept of "game" by working out their answers to the 10 questions regarding game definition presented in here.
Previous studies have examined media portrayals of total control and institutionalization in prison, and a few studies have considered the connection between media portrayals and depictions of prison escape attempts. The current inquiry seeks to fill this gap in the literature through an autoethnographic case study of the video game The Escapists, in which players assume the role of an inmate whose ultimate goal is to escape prison amid an environment populated by other nonplayer character inmates and guards. In this inquiry, specific attention is paid to the player’s experiences as a subject of control from guards, inmates, surveillance systems, and the prison construct, and how these interactions contextualize and potentially motivate the player to attempt escape. Connections between virtual and real-world escape attempts are discussed. Conceptual and theoretical links between total control and interactive experiences of simulated prison life, as well as implications of this study, are examined.
This article approaches the historiography of digital games by suggesting a categorization of four different genres that can be utilized in the presentation of the history of digital games: enthusiast, emancipatory, genealogical, and pathological. All of these genres are based on various conceptions of what is important in the history of digital games and to whom the history is primarily targeted. The article also evaluates the premises of the authors of the histories. The present article’s main objective is to create suggestions for a unique classification that would be especially suitable for the historiography of digital games.
Through a textual analysis of three noted examples—Bioshock, Spec Ops: The Line, and Grand Theft Auto V—This article explores the capacity for ambivalence in violent video games. The analyses bring into dialogue film scholarship which has sought to understand a comparable trend in cinema with games scholarship, most notably Darley’s discussion of narrative "decentering" and Bogost’s notion of "procedural rhetoric." In all three games, the core gameplay in which players are rewarded for repetition of violent behaviors is juxtaposed with ambivalent narrative-contextual aspects. However, in the more overtly "multidimensional" video games medium, this juxtaposition plays out in a more fractured manner than in the flatter visual space of cinema.
This article investigates the impact that the rhythms of game interactions can have on a player’s experience of a computer game. Using a phenomenological approach, the research focuses on rhythmic experience within games and, in particular, on the rhythm of tree chopping within the games Minecraft and Don’t Starve. Graphic, aural, and embodied representations are used to closely analyze and compare a single-player experience within the two games. The analysis reflects on the efficacy of these methods and suggests some possible key factors for designing rhythmically expressive play experiences. It is suggested that combining real-time control with perceivable and performable repetition and variety can give the player expressive creative control over the rhythms of their performed interactions, potentially enriching their experience of repetitive tasks and extending the play life of a game.
The event known as #GamerGate (GG) emphasized the need to take the study of game culture seriously and pursue it across several platforms. It demonstrated how seemingly ephemeral media created echo chambers of anger, and how the outbursts of hypermasculine aggression exemplified by hooligans also can connect to games and play. Starting from how GG gained popular attention, this article outlines and discusses the nature of GG, the relation to the victims, the sense of victimization among the participants, and how it may have been provoked by the long-standing, general disregard of games as a culture and a cultural artifact of value. It discusses GG as a swarm using this metaphor to describe its self-organizing nature. Further comparing GG to hooligans, this article also introduces a class and marginalization aspect to understanding the event, opening up for discourses that complicates the image of game culture as mainly a culture of isolated consumption.
According to various media and academic sources, the virtual worlds landscape underwent a profound transformation in 2008, with the arrival of numerous new titles designed and targeted specifically to young children. Although a growing body of research has explored some of the titles involved in this shift, little remains known of its overall scope and contents. This article provides a mapping of the initial "boom" in children’s virtual worlds development and identifies a number of significant patterns within the ensuing children’s virtual worlds landscape. The argument is made that while the reported boom in children’s virtual worlds has been exaggerated, a number of important shifts for online gaming culture did unfold during this period, some of which challenge accepted definitions of "virtual world" and "multiplayer online game." The implications of these findings are discussed in light of contemporary developments and trends within children’s digital culture and within online gaming more broadly.
The present article brings game studies into dialogue with cultural memory studies and argues for the significance of computer games for historical discourse and memory politics. Drawing upon the works of Robert Rosenstone and Astrid Erll, we develop concepts and theories from film studies and adapt them to respond to the media specificity of computer games. Through a critical reading of the first chapter of the history-based first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops, the article demonstrates how the game’s formal properties frame in-game experiences and performances, and this way predisposes the emergence of certain memory-making potentials in and through constrained practices of play. Subsequently, an analysis of the serious game Czechoslovakia 38-89: Assassination shows the potentials of game design to facilitate meta-historical reflections and critical inquiries.
This article critically evaluates and questions the growth and maturity of game studies as a scholarly set of related approaches to the study of games, by providing an account of studies of sexuality in (mostly digital) games from 1978 to present. The main goal of this article is to highlight overarching themes and patterns in the literature, with a focus on theories and methodologies commonly used and the way game studies is still risk aware, even awkward in its discussions of sexuality. In addition to a review of 37 years of literature, the article employs a chronological and thematic metaphor analysis of past research texts to analyze whether game studies is growing up or in perpetual puberty and whether it really is exploring sexual maturity alongside the games we study. It finds that while different periods of time can be identified in research as far as approaches to sexuality in games go, game studies is still to a large extent engaged in the management of the stigma that discussing sexuality may cause. Rather than a maturation process, the waves are shown to be manifestations of different types of environmentally influenced risk awareness, consecutive risk avoidance, and a resulting awkwardness.
In this study, I use a revised approach of the Frankfurt School in order to critically assess a recent massively multiplayer online video game, Guild Wars 2. Starting with a brief historical overview of the Frankfurt School, I proceed by applying a revision of the school’s main contributions to analyzing Guild Wars 2. This includes an integration of processes of production and distribution, various levels of textual analysis, and audience reception. My main method of investigation is long-term participant observation, and throughout the article, I will argue for the use of such qualitative methods in the critical study of video games. Doing this, I have found that Guild Wars 2 offers a complex experience with enormous appeal and creative potential, while at other times being surprisingly restrictive, culminating in what Walter Benjamin would call a dialectical fairy scene.
Released in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS is the next generation of portal consoles from Japanese gaming company Nintendo. Following the success of the Nintendo DS (Dual Screen), the new console brings with it three-dimensional stereoscopic graphics and the new social software Streetpass. This article adopts a situated approach in order to explore the significance of Streetpass in mediating social encounters within material environments. This article suggests that this software follows a history of mediating encounters through portal consoles, resulting in a training of players to view encounters within a software-sorted logic of value.
Resident Evil 5 is a zombie game made by Capcom, featuring a White American protagonist and set in Africa. This article argues that approaching this as a Japanese game reveals aspects of a Japanese racial and colonial social imaginary that are missed if this context of production is ignored. In terms of race, the game presents hybrid racial subjectivities that can be related to Japanese perspectives of Blackness and Whiteness, where these terms are two poles of difference and identity through which an essentialized Japanese identity is constructed in what Iwabuchi calls "strategic hybridism." In terms of colonialism, the game echoes structures of Japanese colonialism through which Japanese colonialism is obliquely memorialized and a "normal" Japanese global subjectivity can be performed.
Within the study of video games, there is a burgeoning interest in the phenomenon of historical representation; nonetheless, few studies have centered on the reflection of particular eras of History, such as the Middle Ages and the effect of this on interpretations of culture and potential pedagogical applications with respect to this specific period of time. In this study, we present and discuss the compilation and content of a database of over 600 medieval titles released between 1980 and 2013, demonstrating the growing popularity, with producers and consumers, of what we could now refer to as a stand-alone genre. We discuss our categorization of the collection as purely historical or as hybrid and provide what could prove a very rich source of data for researchers on typical plot lines, most and least popular eras or events in history, genres commonly adopted within both types of game.
The postcolonial has still remained on the margins of Game Studies, which has now incorporated at length, contemporary debates of race, gender, and other areas that challenge the canon. It is difficult to believe, however, that it has not defined the way in which video games are perceived; the effect, it can be argued, is subtle. For the millions of Indians playing games such as Empire: Total War or East India Company, their encounter with colonial history is direct and unavoidable, especially given the pervasiveness of postcolonial reactions in everything from academia to day-to-day conversation around them. The ways in which games construct conceptions of spatiality, political systems, ethics, and society are often deeply imbued with a notion of the colonial and therefore also with the questioning of colonialism. This article aims to examine the complexities that the postcolonial undertones in video games bring to the ways in which we read them.
In the mid-1990s, a small group of video game designers attempted to lessen gaming’s gender gap by creating software targeting girls. By 1999, however, these attempts collapsed, and video games remained a masculinized technology. To help understand why this movement failed, this article addresses the unexplored role of consumer press in defining "gamers" as male. A detailed content analysis of Nintendo Power issues published from 1994 to 1999 shows that mainstream companies largely ignored the girls’ games movement, instead targeting male audiences through player representations, sexualized female characters, magazine covers featuring men, and predominantly male authors. Given the mutually constitutive nature of representation and reality, the lack of women in consumer press then affected girls’ ability to identify as gamers and enter the gaming community. This shows that, even as gaming audiences diversify, inclusive representations are also needed to redefine gamer as more than just "male."
Digital gameplay is enacted across many social platforms that can be described as affinity spaces, meaning informal learning environments where players share resources and knowledge. This article examines the ways that a young gamer stitches together several different spaces to play Minecraft. Our study focuses on the play of a single participant, collecting ethnographic data about how he enacts play across several different technologies as both a player and a server administrator. We find that Skype serves as the primary technology that enables gameplay between other spaces (e.g., building a server, playing on that server, and recording gameplay to upload onto YouTube). Relatedly, Skype’s prominence as a communication technology causes some difficulties with backgrounding personal identities during gameplay. Our findings show how everyday interactions in gaming spaces are carried out across affinity spaces and the implications that networked play has for access to the learning opportunities inherent in play.
This article examines the game Papers, Please to demonstrate how the aesthetic experience of gameplay resonates with the cultural logic of contemporary globalist paradigms. The author demonstrates how video games make their players undertake a synthesis of work and play via a process of psychological and physical self-modification. This interrelation between work, play, and subjectivity modification within gameplay experiences embodies the same ideological framework that governs many knowledge-based economies which thrive off of user-generated content. In using the work/play/subjectivity connection to locate similarities between video games and the logic of globalist paradigms, the author presents a revised understanding of what constitutes the political dimensions of video games and the experiences they elicit in their players. This article concludes with an analysis of how the mechanics and narrative of Papers, Please embodies the cultural mind-set of work-as-play while simultaneously challenging the discourses often applied to user-focused information technologies.
In recent methodological scholarship on digital games, a strong connection is noted between "platform studies" and media archaeology. While platform studies has its critics, who primarily lament the limitations of the project, a recent spate of publications in the field suggests considerable dynamism in platform studies as the concept is further developed. This article argues that by examining platform studies from the perspective of media archaeology, it becomes apparent that platform studies establishes an "epistemic threshold". Additionally, platform studies is a historical method which both establish continuities and mark breaks with previous platforms and technologies. From the perspective of this threshold, this article explores epistemic questions that arise from how platform studies forms an archive, and how media archaeology can enrich the method’s explicit concerns and engagements with technology and culture.
The present study brings personality research into the realm of computer games. We used a novel method—the Prison Tycoon computer game—to explore participants’ attitudes toward rehabilitation and punishment. Forty-two men and 48 women were asked to construct a virtual prison equipped with rehabilitation, correction, and neutral facilities. Financial investment spent on each respective type of facility was treated as an indicator of a participant’s particular attitudes toward punishment. Additionally, participants completed the NEO Five-Factor Personality Inventory. Results indicated that Neuroticism and Openness to experience may be reliable predictors of one’s willingness to rehabilitate prisoners (measured as the amount of money spent on rehabilitation/correction facilities). This novel experimental method sheds new light on the issue of reliably and ecologically measuring attitudes in the lab and provides further evidence that computer games offer a new, effective alternative to classical research methods in this area.
In the cultural controversy surrounding "violent video games," the manufacturers and players of games often insist that computer games are a form of harmless entertainment that is unlikely to influence the real-world activities of players. Yet games and military simulations are used by military organizations across the world to teach the modern arts of war, from how to shoot a gun to teamwork, leadership skills, military values, and cultural sensitivity. We survey a number of ways of reconciling these apparently contradictory claims and argue that none of them are ultimately successful. Thus, either military organizations are wrong to think that games and simulations have a useful role to play in training anything other than the most narrowly circumscribed physical skills or some recreational digital games do, in fact, have the power to influence the real-world behavior and dispositions of players in morally significant ways.
This study investigated problematic mobile gameplay. Adopting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-style criteria for pathological gambling to identify cases of problematic play, the study compared the mobile gaming habits, preferences, and demographics of problematic and nonproblematic game players. Of the 1,950 mobile players sampled, 3% (n = 58) demonstrated signs of possible pathological behavior. The nonproblematic players showed characteristics identifiable with the casual mobile game player, who plays as a quick distraction to pass time when waiting or out of boredom. By comparison, the problematic players were found to play as a means of avoiding responsibilities and as a possible distraction from pain and discomfort. The findings help substantiate claims that mobile gameplay is a casual activity at least for the majority of individuals. However, for some, mobile gaming can interfere with different aspects of life and, in worst cases, may lead to pathological dependence.
This article seeks to examine how the notions of belonging and nativeness are enacted in virtual communities. It draws from an ethnographically inspired study of the players of a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that is explored through three key dimensions: space, time, and language. Drawing on concepts developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, I argue that the notion of nativeness, in the case of virtual communities, is best approached as a performance embedded in the process of becoming. In that sense, one is not but rather becomes a member of a virtual community. This process of becoming entails an exploration of smooth forms of space and the appropriation of a vernacular form of language.
The popularity of video games is at an all-time high among today’s population. Game designers and producers spend years on plot and character development, the creation of appropriate settings, and providing the player with a ludic experience that is both enriching and perplexing. This article looks at the creation of virtual utopian societies as the basis for contemporary video games. Just as the world today sees many conflicts over island rights, island sovereignties, and, sometimes, the creation of artificial islands that seek to escape governance of existing countries, video games have embraced the creation of a separate society for settings that explore new or extreme forms of individual, societal, and political development. Examining the BioShock series, this article looks at how video games and their designers have used utopic theories of society to create new experiences, potentialities, and ethical dilemmas for the players.
Commercial games are rarely studied for their links to civic behavior. Yet small-group games online can affect the social networks that spill into civic life (and vice versa). This study examined players of the world’s most popular personal computer game, League of Legends. Such games are theorized as mirrors that reflect civic tendencies and help some players to retain social resources. Using models of civic voluntarism, the attitudes and behaviors of more than 9,000 gamers were investigated. Gamers were shown to have relatively typical civic lives, except for unusually high rates of peaceful protest. Which gamers protest? As predicted, models for protest improved when considering how players approach their gaming (including recruiting and collaboration preferences). Dispelling some civic fears, there was no evidence that video games distracted from civic life when played in moderation. The findings support an emerging notion of protest as a playful and "expressive" civic mode.
This is a study on the aesthetics and embodied spatial experiences of running. Investigated here are questions on how bodies navigate local terrain through the practice of running, and how running bodies are made visible as networked and gendered agents moving in their public space. It is a qualitative study of networked movement, a feel of running, where the footwork of women in particular is located. To consider such textures of movement, this research works from a phenomenologically inspired sociology of running with a specific playful app in hand, Zombies, Run! This work suggests how playfulness tied to the very basic action of forward movement can cultivate new understandings of being in the world through other kinds of running body practices, prompting new attentions to movement, public space, and one’s position and mobility within it as a gendered body on the run.
This article discusses the application of a phenomenological framework to inform research in computer game worlds like massively multiplayer online games. Based on the phenomenological sociology of Alfred Schutz, this article examines some of the key problems facing researchers in online spaces, such as the absence of the corporeal "Other." In discussing these issues using the vocabulary of Schutz’s phenomenology, this article attempts to clarify some key concepts to contribute to a useful framework for conducting social research in computer game worlds. This article examines how the transcendent nature of online social experiences in game environments like World of Warcraft contribute to a distinct context of meaning. An understanding of the ways in which social game worlds can be constituted as sites of unique experience may be useful for researchers wishing to examine these spaces from ethnographic or similar perspectives.
The headshot burst into the cultural imaginary with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and it has been remediated from historical anxieties about execution and brain death to the eye-popping spectacle of the exploding head to video games, where it has entered a regime that holds virtuosic reflexes as the highest form of capital. By examining the textual and technological history of the headshot, this article develops a theory of mechropolitics: a way of thinking about political death worlds as they operate in the mechanics of video games and digital simulations. Moving beyond questions of whether violence in video games has a direct effect on aggression, mechropolitics mobilizes aesthetic and social justice critique to unmask the affective structures operating within digital death worlds. These prioritize twitch reflexes and offer few consequences—precisely the scenarios that render events like police shootings both legible and likely.
World of Warcraft (WoW) is one of the most successful and longest running multiplayer online games in gaming. Over time, Blizzard Entertainment’s approach to multiplayer activities in WoW has changed. During the past decade, in-game world events, group matchmaking systems, and phasing technologies have been used to increasingly emphasize individual achievement rather than collaborative effort. The game is shifting away from sociable activities in favor of ones that situate players as powerful, atomized characters. WoW’s governmentality now encourages players to see each other as obstacles to success and to see themselves as entrepreneurial subjects. These neoliberal strategies have the potential to impact our ability to collectively imagine and create alternative forms of social interaction and organization.
This article examines the Japanese action puzzle game Catherine, arguing that the game presents a social narrative that comments on Japan’s pressing issue of a declining birthrate and aging population. It also theorizes a strategy for player involvement based on "distanced" (self-reflexive and meta) engagement. Through an examination of the narrative, characters, and gameplay, supplemented with national fertility survey data from Japan, the article argues that Catherine subverts classic game tropes and fosters player engagement with a socially relevant diegesis. Simultaneously, the unique meta-gameplay elements utilize what I term "distanced engagement" to encourage the player to critically self-reflect on both the game scenario and their role as a player. In this way, the article considers how the unique relationship between story and distanced engagement allows video games like Catherine to function as impactful and interactive social narratives.
This article discusses ARMA 3 (2013), a military simulation game from Bohemia Interactive. Through the prominent placement of visual representations of renewable power generation the game offers a compelling vision of the future in which current resistance to low-carbon and renewable economies have been overcome. I argue that the potential of this vision to challenge cultural futures and imaginaries is dependent on its presentation aesthetically and not, as is often suggested, on game mechanics operating in a "persuasive" mode. Instead, I argue that ARMA 3’s aesthetic vision can skirt around the ideological resistances players may have against accepting more didactic modes of engagement with the highly charged and ideologically contested reality of anthropogenic climate change. In this way, I suggest ARMA 3 offers a compelling challenge to current theories about games ability to persuade or influence players.
Establishing genres is the first step toward analyzing games and how the genre landscape evolves over the years. We use data-driven modeling that distils genres from textual descriptions of a large collection of games. We analyze the evolution of game genres from 1979 till 2010. Our results indicate that until 1990, there have been many genres competing for dominance, but thereafter sport-racing, strategy, and action have become the most prevalent genres. Moreover, we find that games vary to a great extent as to whether they belong mostly to one genre or to a combination of several genres. We also compare the results of our data-driven model with two product databases, Metacritic and Mobygames, and observe that the classifications of games to different genres are substantially different, even between product databases. We conclude with discussion on potential future applications and how they may further our understanding of video game genres.
The "fortress simulator" game Dwarf Fortress (Bay 12 Games, 2006-present) allows players the space to conduct experiments in economics. The player is not granted an avatar in the world, but this does not mean the player is granted the role of a transcendent deity either. Instead, the player operates on the relational level—completely managing all economic interactions and assigning social codes to different spaces. Lacking a "win" condition, players are free to engage with the game however they wish, including allowing for the immediate and unsympathetic demise of the community. As play continues, Dwarf Fortress ceases to be a fortress and becomes what the autonomists describe as a "laboratory." The social relations of the fortress are upturned and become the site for experiments in production. The fortress too becomes the site for thought experiments on alternative economies, containing not one but many social laboratories.
The critically and commercially successful first-person shooter Bioshock is widely considered to be one of the greatest digital games of all time. This article traces its canonization by critically examining its marketing and popular reception as a blockbuster "prestige game" that demonstrates the aesthetic potential of games as a medium. In particular, far-reaching discussions of the relationship between narrative and gameplay mechanics in Bioshock have reinforced its canonical status as required playing among critics and scholars. The article concludes by comparing the reception of Bioshock and its "spiritual successor" Bioshock Infinite, showing how popular, critical, and industrial attitudes toward big-budget prestige titles have shifted in recent years.
This paper describes research and development around two gameful courses that reimagined their assessment systems to better support student autonomy and promote engagement. We present results from an ongoing classroom-based research study that signals the success of these designs and, in so doing, explore key elements of what we call gameful design: the process of redesigning core elements of a learning environment to better support intrinsic motivation. We describe this process and discuss a set of promising practices for the design of gameful courses. Results from three studies indicate that gameful course design is positively related to students working harder and feeling more in control of their class performance.
Although much has been written about the potential of games for historical representation and their status as historical texts, there is little research placing games into a broader "cultural memory" framework. In this article, I argue that one unique way games as a medium can participate in constructing cultural memory is by simulating historically situated structural metaphors. To do so, I first introduce the concept of cultural memory and link it to material culture studies. I argue that games can be cultural memory "objectivations," but in order to fully analyze them in this respect insights from game studies, namely, the meaning potential of rules, need to be applied as well. I then discuss how three board games, 1830: Railways and Robber Barons , Age of Steam, and Empire Builder simulate the structural metaphors identified by Wolfgang Schivelbusch that were used by contemporary observers to understand the experiential changes wrought by the railroad. I close by arguing that this type of research is valuable in that it opens up new understandings of how games influence the way a culture thinks about and remembers its past.
EVE Online grants individuals the anonymity and freedom to act in any way they wish, going so far as to encourage and reward in-game criminal behavior toward other players. This design might lead some to expect anarchy within this digital universe. Instead, this virtual world is highly ordered, containing large organizations led by powerful leaders. To gain understanding of how such social structures operate, this project observes speeches made by heads of organizations in EVE Online to determine the categorization tools used to maintain order in a potentially chaotic environment. It finds that by focusing on group identity, leaders emphasize their role and responsibility for creating and maintaining organizational culture. Additionally, by crafting a narrative of territorial conflict and their own role as a warlord and military leader, they encourage ruthlessness on the part of their membership and establish a social system based upon the individual leader.
This article looks at three narratological concepts—focalization, granularity, and the mode of narration—and explores how these concepts apply to games. It is shown how these concepts can be used as tools for creating meaning-effects, which are understood here as cognitive responses from the player. Focalization is shown to have a hybrid form in games. This article also explores the different types of narrators and granularities in games, and how these three concepts can be used to create meaning-effects. This is done by discussing examples from several games, for example, Assassin’s Creed III, Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, and Civilization.
The game designer Jason Rohrer has self-identified as an artist. By doing so enters his work into a critique process that, according to James Elkins, dates back to the Romantic period in which artists are evaluated by peers on an individualized basis according to the ideals and creative direction they produce in the form of written and verbal artifacts. Arthur Danto calls these artifacts "artistic identification" in his essay, "The Artworld," written in 1964. The study applies this critique method to Rohrer’s work in the game medium and asks how it fares when subjected to what Howard Becker calls, "a continuous process of selection" through critique. It asks, finally, how can knowing this methodology help to elucidate the path for the eventual full-fledged integration of games into the Artworld.
We address the subjective experience of social network gamers playing Restaurant City, a game hosted on Facebook. We adopted a netnographic approach to studying the culture of transient Internet communities shaping the player off-line communities. Fieldwork was conducted over the entire life span of the game (3 years). Data were analyzed using a qualitative thematic approach and the software EdEt. The results describe the evolution of the gaming experience through online interaction and its importance in everyday off-line life. Players were observed to play an important role in the production of social meanings associated with gaming and with the gaming community online and off-line. We discuss the implications of our findings regarding how the gaming process is a far more complex scenario than envisaged by a business vision based on acquisition, retention, and monetization.
This article explores the current affordances and limitations of video game genre from a library and information science perspective with an emphasis on classification theory. We identify and discuss various purposes of genre relating to video games, including identity, collocation and retrieval, commercial marketing, and educational instruction. Through the use of examples, we discuss the ways in which these purposes are supported by genre classification and conceptualization and the implications for video games. Suggestions for improved conceptualizations such as family resemblances, prototype theory, faceted classification, and appeal factors for video game genres are considered, with discussions of strengths and weaknesses. This analysis helps inform potential future practical applications for describing video games at cultural heritage institutions such as libraries, museums, and archives, as well as furthering the understanding of video game genre and genre classification for game studies at large.
Comparison of user experience between multiplayer digital games and board games is largely unexplored in the literature, with no instrument found to suitably measure user experience across game formats. This study explores the use of the Social Presence module of the Games Experience Questionnaire to measure user experience in a multiplayer board game involving 12 participants across 3 separate sessions. Scale analysis and correlation with semistructured interviews held with the participants suggest that the instrument is reliable and valid and can thus be used for measurement and comparison of user experience across game formats. The Games Experience Questionnaire can therefore be used to scale-up board game research by diminishing reliance on interviews as well as to assist in the choice between digital and nondigital implementation of gameplay forming part of an overarching story, such as in transmedial productions.
The popularity of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) has elicited concern that this is a context for cyberbullying. We used an online survey to examine the prevalence and types of cyberbullying in MMOG play and group differences in bullying behavior. Since most MMOGs are violent and research indicates that electronic mediums have high rates of bullying, we predicted that cyberbullying would be common in MMOG play. The participants (N = 151)—a sample of self-selected MMOG players—frequently reported being cyber-victimized (52%) and engaging in cyberbullying (35%) during MMOG play. Rank was the most common motive for cyberbullying. We found that (a) males perpetrate more cyberbullying in MMOGs than females do; (b) heterosexuals perpetrate bullying at higher rates than lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) participants do; (c) female and LGBT participants experienced significantly higher rates of sexually related cyber-victimization; and (d) opponents are bullied more than teammates. Rates of victimization and perpetration overlapped substantially.
This essay seeks to answer two questions raised by the success of video games where the player looks at the character she is playing rather than seeming to inhabit the same coordinates as the character within the game space. First, why is the experience of playing these games not innately inferior to that of playing games with a first-person point of view, given that the sense of being a character sensing and acting inside the game space could be expected to be much stronger when the character’s body seems to be one’s own rather than a separate entity in the game space? And second, if the first-person point of view is so "immersive" and provides such a sense of being "inside" the representational space as is sometimes claimed, why has it never been so prominent in other audiovisual entertainment media such as film and television?
This article recovers the popular imaginaries surrounding an obsolete video game platform, the Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System (AES), through a thematic discourse analysis of British and North American gaming magazines from the 1990s. Released in Japan in 1990, the Neo Geo AES was marketed as a home video game system capable of bridging the gap between the public space of the gaming arcade and the domestic environment of the home. "Imaginaries" in this context refer to the dreams and fantasies that accompanied the Neo Geo AES’s negotiation of arcade and home spaces as well as the discourses, images, ideas, and beliefs that helped mold its identity as a cultural object. Gaming magazines, I argue, help articulate how the system’s failure was tied to its unsuccessful navigation of cultural tensions during a period when gaming culture underwent a rapid relocation from the arcade to the home.
This article examines social interactions in a Danish online social-casual games community using the Danish social constructs of Hygge and Janteloven. Hygge relates to notions of home, family, safety, and security in small, sheltered surroundings, while Janteloven is a subversive attempt to codify the unwritten rules that enforce equality (or mediocrity) in Scandinavian societies. Off-line, Hygge exists in physical environments where a safe, social atmosphere can be created, similar to sociability in physical third places. In the online setting, we identify the social construction of shared interpersonal spaces where Hygge is achieved and regulated through perceived fairness with respect to constitutive and regulative rules. A sense of belonging moderates players’ behaviors toward others and even their achievements in the game to maintain harmony. The article offers a unique examination of social constructs online, contributing to the knowledge of Danish culture and of how local cultures shape online behaviors.
This article examines the significance of two types of expertise in the popular multiplayer video game League of Legends. Previous research into multiplayer games has explored a variety of expertise models, some which concern only a player’s mastery of the controls and some which take negotiation of a game’s sociocultural context into account. This article analyzes play in League of Legends through the lens of a binary model of expertise, outlining examples of the in-game and out-of-game practices used by players in their pursuit of competitive success. I argue that forms of out-of-game or "metagame" expertise are of particular importance in League of Legends and are of such depth that further research would be highly valuable.
The present article develops the concept of selective realism to understand how design features and narrative frames of first- and third-person shooters (F/TPS) exclude attention to salient, yet unpleasant, features of warfare such as problematic forms of violence, long-term psychological impacts, or sociopolitical blowbacks. Identifying four specific filters that frame player experiences, I argue that the resulting selectivity is significant because it is characteristic of the F/TPS genre as a whole that, through its wide dissemination, impacts upon the cultural framing of actual warfare. The article illustrates features of selective realism before it conducts in-depth analysis of the titles Spec Ops: The Line and The Last of Us to show how critical game design can invite a conscious unraveling of the generic frames and the ideological positions these invite. The article concludes with a reassessment of arguments regarding alleged sociopolitical impacts of war- and violence-themed computer games.
Although video game audiences have greatly diversified over recent years, players who are not the stereotypical straight, White, male "gamer" are still frequently viewed as outsiders to online gaming and face harassment because of this status. However, many choose to play games despite this and have developed specific coping strategies they employ to avoid or respond to harassment. Using grounded theory and in-depth interviews with female gamers, this gender-based case study explores women’s strategies for coping with online game-related harassment. It shows that women are first and foremost an active audience, carefully managing their media environment to help ensure positive experiences. At the same time, their strategies come with limitations, such as hiding their contributions to gaming or provoking further harassment. Although women are capable media managers, their continued status as "outsiders" deeply affects their gaming experiences and demonstrates a need for cultural change in online environments.
This article explores the semiotics of the "roguelike" genre. Most roguelikes reject contemporary advances in graphical technology and instead present their worlds, items, and creatures as American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters. This article first considers why this unusual graphical style has endured over time and argues that it is an aesthetic construction of nostalgia that positions roguelikes within a clear history of gameplay philosophies that challenge the prevailing contemporary assumptions of role-playing games. It second notes that the semantic code for understanding the ASCII characters in each and every roguelike is different and explores the construction of these codes, how players decode them, and the potential difficulties in such decodings. The article then combines these to explore how such visuals represent potential new ground in the study of game semiotics.
Metroid: Other M, the latest game in the Metroid series, was heavily criticized for the contradictory portrayal of its avatar protagonist, Samus Aran. This article analyzes these critiques within the 25-year history of the Metroid series, noting intersections with literary theory, cognitive science, geography, and cinema. "Mapping Metroid" argues that player dissatisfaction is a result of Other M’s inconsistency in balancing gameplay constraints with player agency, and the game’s failure at "imperative" storytelling. The maps in Other M and its predecessors are treated in depth, since the relationship between cartographic and gameworld spaces must be "read" dynamically by players to progress; these maps reflect the affordances of each game, and how those affordances contribute to player enjoyment or frustration. The article concludes with the suggestion that paying attention to signifying spaces may help design better games and help situate video games within a wider discussion of theories of postmodern subjectivity.
Research interest has increasingly focused on the psychosocial factors related to online game addiction. This study examines the relationship of various psychosocial variables to online game addiction, and the mediation effect of avatar identification on the relationship. Questionnaires assessing self-esteem, depression, social skills, game addiction, and avatar identification were completed by 163 third-year middle school students. Correlation and structural equation modeling analyses were conducted. Results indicated (a) that self-esteem and social skills had significant negative correlations with game addiction, while depression had a significant positive correlation with game addiction, (b) that depression had an indirect effect on game addiction via avatar identification, and (c) that social skills had both indirect (via avatar identification) and direct effects on game addiction. Implications and future directions are discussed.
The rapid advancement of digital games has not only brought entertainment to consumers but also triggered gamers’ motivation to play. This study attempts to examine the structure of "attribute–consequence–value" chains of digital games based on the theoretical framework of means-end chains (MECs) and soft laddering interview technique. Results of the study reveal that players pay attention to game attributes including connection system, popular, graphic design, and diverse game genres. From these attributes, players expect consequences such as improve interactivity, cultivate logic and reflex, gain authentic experience, enhance pleasure of senses, and utilize imagination in pursuit of terminal values such as fun and enjoyment of life, sense of accomplishment, warm relationship with others and excitement. The study also covers the differences in the chains for different platforms of digital games and players of different gender. The results showed that different groups have different needs.
We challenge the idea of the paradoxical nature of the concept serious games and ask how researchers and designers need to conceive of serious games so that they at all appear paradoxical. To develop and answer this question, we draw on a theory–method that considers all forms of observation as paradoxical. We then use the tetralemma, a structure from traditional Indian logics, to resolve the paradox of serious games into this larger paradox of observation. Consequently, serious games may only be considered a paradox if we presume realities and define games as deviations therefrom. The increasing gamification of society, however, does not allow realities to be defined in contrast to games anymore. We therefore conclude that serious games do not represent particularly paradoxical forms of games, but rather next levels of reflexivity in communication design and in the self-definitions of next societies.
This study investigates the effects of media frames on attitudes toward video games, perceptions of their users, and consequences. Prior research has shown that gaming is a controversial issue, with media coverage focusing on either risks or opportunities. To examine the effects of these portrayals, the present study used a 2 x 2 experimental design and exposed participants (N = 360) to a news article that framed gaming in terms of risk or opportunity on the journalistic level and on the level of a corresponding expert statement. By examining the perceived negative effects of games, this study extends previous research by combining framing and third-person research. Results showed that framing gaming indeed had an effect on participants’ attitudes. This framing effect was moderated by individual video game use. Despite identifying a traditional third-person perception regarding negative video game effects, we found framing to have no significant influence on third-person perceptions.
The Last of Us plunges gamers into a decimated world, one in which the majority of the human population has succumbed to the Cordyceps fungal infection. Against the crumbling monoliths of human culture, social constructions of morality and culture are explored through the game’s protagonist Joel and the various survivors he encounters. As the narrative unfolds, it asks compelling questions about the nature of morality, the antagonism between the human and natural worlds, and whether or not humanity is worth saving. To this end, the narrative utilizes elements of naturalism and its more modern form, environmental fiction.
Active video games (AVG) take the form of motor play (MP) and resemble active practices. In this article, both types of games (AVG and MP) were analyzed, in an effort to find categorical structural criteria shared by both. The main objective of this research is to analyze and propose valid and viable categorical shared criteria to guide the enhancement of AVG analysis. To this end, a comparative analysis that encompasses a description of shared elements, analysis of the ludic structures, description of the motor requirements, and analysis of across-the-board categorization criteria was conducted. After the analyzing related research literature and developing a study with experts in MP and video game designers and developers, an academic framework for AVG based on knowledge of MP was proposed. The authors hope that this framework will aid designers, developers, and researchers in the categorization and analysis of AVG.
The thematic area covered by computer games is currently a widely discussed zone, analyzed from various research perspectives, yet then again, it still provides an interesting field for analysis. This domain remains quite dynamic, and this dynamic does not resemble slow transformations, which researchers in social studies have been previously used to, but it seems to be assuming the form of a multistage revolution. It is possible to outline several elementary issues representing the material of the analysis proposed within this text. In the first instance, the authors focus on the matter of change that occurs in thinking about what a computer truly is and then undertake an attempt to indicate the preliminary elements, which would determine the new character of games aimed at mobile computers. The Ingress game will constitute an example to depict the specification underlying this type of entertainment, as this will make it possible to delineate likely development scenarios for this particular area, especially based on the augmented reality concept and its influence on a modern approach toward entertainment that makes use of new mobile technologies.
This article illustrates that the Narcissus myth can and has been interpreted as fundamentally about media. Surveying previous interpretations from Mulvey and McLuhan reveals that these rely upon assumptions based in a literate (Mulvey) and electronic (McLuhan) media environment. These interpretations offer insights into the desires and dangers of media, but they do not capture the unique desires of gaming, which are more about the play between self and other than love of self or other. Thus I offer an updated version for digital gaming. This interpretation portrays Narcissus as becoming entranced by the play between self and image, immediacy and hypermediacy, or control and conditions, leading to a better understanding of digital gaming and virtual space as operating via an economy between these pairs rather than an opposition. This economy produces unique desires not encapsulated by previous interpretations of Narcissus, which are frequently applied to gaming.
This article examines the role of corruption, and its use as a rhetorical technique, within survival horror video games. As one of the founding examples of the survival horror genre, Resident Evil will be used as a case study example. Specifically, the game will be critically analyzed for its use of corruption in four forms: corruption of media, corruption of nature, corruption of architecture, and corruption of authority. These instances of corruption will be analyzed through two rhetorical theories, schema theory and expectation violations theory, in order to understand why Resident Evil’s design was so effective at evoking fear in the hearts of millions of gamers. The analysis is followed by a reflection on Resident Evil’s legacy and other future areas of research involving rhetoric and video games.
Few studies examine how massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) players react when they are faced with constraints that prevent them from continuing to play the game or to play as much as they desire. This study used the concept of leisure constraint negotiation process and social capital construct to understand how players deal with the above situation by initiating negotiation strategies to mitigate the constraints. Using partial least squares method as the analytical tool, this empirical study showed that the social interaction element of MMORPG plays a major role in influencing the outcomes of the negotiation process. Social capital plays a role in propelling negotiation strategies, and different types of social capitals are needed to trigger different negotiation strategies. This study further demonstrates: which negotiation strategy is triggered depends on which constraints and negotiation strategies matter most to the leisure seekers. There is also a need for congruence between motivation and negotiation strategy.
This study analyzed the time adolescents spend on active video games, sedentary screen media, and conventional physical activity as well as the interrelationships between these variables. Data were collected from 570 Spanish adolescents (15–16 years old) who completed a self-report questionnaire. A path analysis was carried out to analyze the relationships among the different variables. Time in television, video games, and physical activity were higher in males than in females. The use of television and video games positively predicted the use of active video games, which positively predicted physical activity participation. The findings of this study show that sedentary screen media and physical activity are behaviors that can coexist. The promotion of active video games as part of general strategies for the promotion of physical activity could be desirable, but it is likely to contribute to physical activity levels in only a small way. This article finishes with some recommendations related to the use of active/inactive screen media and the promotion of physical activity.
Narrative has been a means by which to pass culture down through the generations, to help people understand their environments, and to provide a sense community and identity through telling and listening as well as the unique features of the characters and stories themselves. The most familiar surviving stories that connect us to our ancestors take the form of folklore and mythology. Games, too, have served many of the same functions as storytelling. In modern times, games and storytelling are no less prevalent, although the particular forms they take and functions they fulfill have been vastly expanded. Narrative gaming has become extremely popular, allowing for the consumption of both regional heritage and global multiculturalism. This essay will explore the roles of these contemporary narratives and provide an analysis of the transition from the traditional narrative to the live role-playing game.
Exergames aim to make exercise more enjoyable, especially for children and young adults who are accustomed to digital technologies. Calory Battle augmented reality (AR) is a mobile exergame that utilizes context awareness and AR to enable interaction with virtual content. Designing mobile exergames and AR interaction has received little scholarly attention. This article has several contributions to the design discussion: (1) implementation of a mobile AR exergame, (2) discourse on the game design process, (3) evaluation with 29 South Korean elementary school children and university students who suggested a good reception of the game and generated ideas for improvements of usability and AR interaction, (4) analysis of the game with respect to established game motivators and the Immersion, Scientificalness, Competitiveness, Adaptability, and Learning (ISCAL) exergame design model, (5) design principles and lessons learned, and (6) discussion of the flow experience in exergames. These results can be used by designers to create motivating and interactive mobile AR games.
This article investigates discursive procedures in From Software’s 2011 videogame Dark Souls. By combining procedural rhetorics, discourse analysis, and autoethnographical research play, it is argued that Dark Souls features post-Panoptical gameplay mechanics of both continuous surveillance and playful exhibitionism and a hybrid gameplay experience of both subjectivation and empowerment. Players randomly confront one another in a notoriously difficult and unforgiving game space that requires commitment and perseverance. The game, it is shown, provides a metaphor for online surveillance mechanics in which players/netizens are not just democratically gazing at each other but subjected to a procedural system determining who can see whom. Simultaneously, players are offered a number of procedural methods and moral archetypes to normalize and empower them.
Why do people spend time in massively multiplayer online games? This article aims to complement games studies’ analytical toolkit with a material causal perspective on players’ time spent in Chinese World of Warcraft (WoW). I argue that the WoW gameworld is atypically rich in stimuli that have a strong, or supernormal, capacity to activate the moral cognition reasoning systems identified by Haidt and Joseph’s "moral foundations theory." Testimonial data gathered during long-term fieldwork in Wuhan, China, and data from a survey of 545 Chinese WoW players, wherein combat role (healer, tank) predicts frequency and type of in-game moral experience, are presented in support of this argument. Finally, the causal perspectives outlined in this article are styled in a steampunk aesthetic (
When renowned game designer Will Wright designed and developed SimCity, the first "software toy" released by his company Maxis, he was strongly influenced by a 20-year-old text on urban planning written by Jay Forrester of MIT. I will argue in this article that we can only understand Wright’s actions if we think of the game model he developed as a fictional text. Yet Forrester’s work, which had been heavily criticized by urban planners, may also be considered as a work of fiction. I rely here on Gough’s theories concerning the utility of fiction in exploratory research as well as Smithers’ work on exploratory, freeform design work. Both of these models—Wright’s and Forrester’s—may be adapted, altered, or mined to create new fictional models. I will also cite Woolgar’s technology as-text paradigm to explain the ways in which these model texts differ.
The use of commercial video games in combination with other media can provide opportunities to learn skills related to critical thinking, digital literacy, and media production. These media tools offer opportunities for users to participate in the new emerging forms of participatory culture. By means of an ethnographic study carried out in a Spanish primary school, this article presents an analysis of the skills that can be developed through the use of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire video game and movie and how education professionals can use them at school in order to change the way students learn. The results show how students can develop their critical capacity by comparing these two media, and that this enables them to develop processes geared to digital literacy at the same as it helps them become producers through the creation and publication of blogs.
The objective of this article is to highlight the relevance ideological debate plays in the study of popular culture texts and in particular in that of video games. Every text is a reflection of the ideological forces (cultural, economic, social, individual, etc.) generating it. Thus, ideology is essentially an omnipresent entity, which knows no boundaries of class, race, or cultural background. As a matter of fact, games are capable of reflecting ideological stances in a variety of ways. Throughout the first part of this article, we will revisit ideology from a Marxist perspective, that is, as a form of deception, manipulation, and enslavement and subsequently by moving away from such a deterministic/fatalistic approach and discussing it in the light of Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. By providing practical examples, this article will attempt to show how both ideological and hegemonic processes operate in the video game medium.
This article presents a critical view of the concept of rules in game studies on the basis of a case study of role-playing across media. Role-playing in its traditional form is a complex activity including a game system and a number of communicative conventions where one player takes the role of the game manager in order to implement the rules and provide a world for the other players. In online role-playing games, a programmed system simulates the rule system as well as part of the game manager’s tasks, while the rest of the activity is up to the players to define. Some aspects may translate more or less unproblematically across media, others are transformed by the introduction of the programmed system. This reveals some important perspectives on the sort of rules that can be simulated in a programmed system and what this means to the concept of rules in game studies.
From their beginnings until today, digital games have been a substantial part of what has been labeled the "military–entertainment complex" deeply imbued with militaristic messages and imagery. Within cultivation research, this enhanced exposure to war and militarism is supposed to be associated with the adoption of military norms and thinking. Concepts on narrative persuasion specify this relationship between certain narratives and the adoption of story-inherent beliefs. Based on these theoretical concepts, the present study tries to investigate the relationship between aspects of gaming and militaristic attitudes. We carried out a representative survey of 4,500 gamers with an added control group of 500 nongamers. Militaristic attitudes were measured using a newly developed multidimensional militarism scale. Structural equation modeling did not reveal any relationship between gaming and militaristic attitudes. Moreover, neither the gaming type (multiplayer vs. single) nor the gaming frequency or a preference for shooter games was significantly related to militarism.
Our article examines a flexible approach to designing general game components inspired by traditional game components. Our goal is to design digital game systems that offer the players greater choice in dictating the rules, pacing, and sociability of a game session—we describe this as supporting socially negotiated gameplay. We introduce five design principles of flexibility: dispensability, live tweakability, tangibility, mobility, and value. Our work demonstrates this approach with the design of an augmented game system composed of playing cards instrumented with near field communication chips and a mobile device with three digital game components: a Card Viewer, a Score Board, and a Turn Keeper. We report on initial user sessions and articulate two emerging challenges for supporting socially negotiated play: (a) solving interaction costs to enable greater flexibility and (b) managing user expectations for the automatic part of a manual–automatic system.
We are interested in how digital games can be designed for learning in the affective domain. Our studies of how emotions are embedded in games and how games sustain affective learning involve observing gameplay and identifying recurring elements that we identify as design patterns. Design patterns help us think about the role of affect in play, what affect in games looks like, and the different ways affective learning might be achieved in educational and serious games. In this article, we describe and discuss several patterns related to understanding emotions, affective representation, and socioemotional interactions, which are essential components of affective learning. These patterns provide a language to conceptualize how affective learning might be designed into future game projects. To conclude, we discuss the development of a taxonomy of affective patterns to sustain socioemotional learning. We thus hope to stimulate the development of more human-oriented educational games in this domain.
Over the last several decades, video games have become one of America’s most popular pastimes. Sadly, little academic work has studied media coverage of video games during this transformation. Williams’ analysis of news magazines’ coverage from 1970 to 2000 offers the only research into this topic. However, the video game industry has significantly changed since 2000. To remedy this gap, I examine video game coverage in The New York Times over the last three decades. During this period, evaluative articles primarily treat video games as a major threat. However, a small subset of articles rejects this portrayal. During the 1980s and 1990s, this alternative account identifies video games’ functional benefits. This narrative changes in the 2000s to celebrating video games’ artistic merits. My work contributes to the social construction of technology literature in general by documenting how civil society’s cultural understanding of children and entertainment influence the specific narratives The New York Times attaches to video games.
Following the exportation of Japanese media products such as TV dramas, Japanese culture and products have swept across many Asian countries, especially Taiwan. Based on the historical background and unique characteristics of games, this study investigates the cultural effect of Japanese video games on players in Taiwan. This study also presents an analysis of the differences between TV and the video game as cultural vehicles. We used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Results indicate a relationship between game-playing behavior and the identification of Japanese culture. However, the relationship between video game playing and consumption was nonsignificant. This shows the power of video games in nation-building but not in nation-branding, in contrast with TV. This study presents a discussion of the findings to shed light on the cultural effects of video games.