Friday, 9 February 2007

Cult Game Studs

I've just read an awesome manifesto by a Canadian sociologist for a kind of culturally oriented game studies that I'm interested in:

The potential for game studies in my view lies in the possibility of offering an analysis of computer games and game cultures as critical locations for understanding the role of digital technologies in mediating and constituting the social interaction and organization of subjects in late modern information societies.

Simon, Bart. "Beyond Cyberspatial Flaneurie - On the Analytic Potential of Living With Digital Games" in Games and Culture, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.62-67 (2006), DOI: 10.1177/1555412005281789

This was from the fist issue of Games and Culture, the new journal from Sage which began last year. I really must go over these back issues. It looks like there's a lot of great material there.


Gareth R White said...

I've been tracing other scholarly articles about games and culture. Here are a couple of highlights,

These are some of the questions that Boellstorff believes we can address with a cultural orientation to game studies:

"What does it mean to be a person? What does it
mean to interact? What is a body? What does it mean to be equal or unequal, similar or

And here he discusses the practical applications,

"In the remainder of this article, I would like to argue that a close alliance with
anthropology can benefit game studies. The moniker games and culture accurately
reflects how for the emerging discipline of game studies culture acts as a secondary
pivot term alongside game to define the field of inquiry. Indeed, culture is often
described as encompassing the notion of game (and the notion of play, to which game
is closely allied in English). Given this state of affairs, anthropology (a) can provide
game studies with frameworks for theorizing culture and (b) can provide a
methodology—participant observation—for investigating games and culture."

Gareth R White said...

I'd also like to quote a couple of little snippets from the abstract and conclusion to Joost Raessens "Playful Identities, or the Ludification of Culture" (Games and Culture, 2006; 1; 52, DOI: 10.1177/1555412005281779)

While this text appears to be concerned with a debate between narratology and ludology, the questions and issues it raises are critical to the development of a more culturally oriented game studies, as this is orientation is a practical way to move beyond the prior binary arguments as well as enabling researchers to explore more diverse and potentially more valuable territory.


One of the main aims of game studies is to investigate to what extent and in what ways
computer games are currently transforming the understanding of and the actual construction of personal and cultural identities. Computer games and other digital technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet seem to stimulate playful goals and to facilitate the construction of playful identities. This transformation advances the ludification of today’s culture in the spirit of Johan Huizinga’s homo ludens.

Concluding remarks:

Do we as an academic community of game researchers accept the coexistence of competing frameworks of interpretation, in accordance with the tradition of the humanities? This seems to be Jenkins’s position, and it is one I agree with, when he states that both narratology and ludology can be equally productive. Or, do we adhere to the paradigmatic character of academic progress following Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy of science? This seems to be Aarseth’s position when he rules out narratology as an outdated paradigm. If we want game studies to really come of age academically, we should not only further develop different theories and methods but also make the latter the object of our research and discussion.

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