Design Concepts for Empowerment through Urban Play

Ferri Gabriele Hansen Nicolai B. van Heerden Adam Schouten Ben
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

Playfulness intertwined with city-related themes, such as participatory planning and civic media are becoming more popular. In the last ten years, game designers have taken up the theme of play in relation to the urban environment. In this paper, we present a conceptual mapping of “urban play,” through the analysis of eight examples of urban games. Better conceptual tools are necessary to discuss and reflect on how games draw on, or deal with, urban issues. While urban games are diverse in medium, intent, and experience, across the spectrum analyzed in this paper, they hold the potential for various player experiences emerging through play that may be useful to designers. These are: a sense of agency and impact; feelings of relatedness and empathy; an awareness and understanding of complexity, perspective-taking and scenario-building, and either planning or taking action. The conceptual mapping offers scholars and practitioners a more nuanced vocabulary for designing games and playful interventions that might be used to tackle societal issues that either require or could benefit from genuine public involvement as engaged citizens.


Narrating machines and interactive matrices: a semiotic common ground for game studies

Ferri Gabriele
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Between playing a game and enjoying a narration there is a semiotic and semantic common ground: interpretation and meaning-making. A semiotic methodology to describe situated gaming practices will be presented in three phases. At first, the intuitive concept of "meaning" will be discussed and substituted by the generative semiotic notion of "content". Then the structuralist semiotic notion of "text" will be criticized and substituted by the the concept of "interactive matrix" and "game-text", referring also to Rastier's differential semantics, Peirce's diagrams and other recent proposals in semantics of perception. Situated gaming practices will be the focal point of the last part of this paper, showing how these practices and the game-text mutually influence and modify each other during interpretation and meaning-making.


Understanding Play Practices: Contributions to the State of the Art [Panel Papers]

Coppock Patrick J. Compagno Dario Meneghelli Agata Catania Alessandro Ferri Gabriele
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Semiotics draws inspiration for its qualitative methodologies from many fields of scientific and cultural discourse. It aims to understand cultural production and interpretation practices by way of core theoretical notions such as narrativity, enunciation, encyclopedia, and textual openness. A continual refinement and renewal of these notions is driven by comparative analyses of problematic empirical objects. One such object is computer games which are among the hottest contemporary objects of study in new media semiotics. A central theoretical notion used today to understand computer games is practice, which is seen as standing in opposition to the more traditional notion of text. Panel participants will discuss gameplay practices from various theoretical standpoints, with the common goal of describing these practices in ways that open for dialogue and interaction with theoretical approaches by other disciplines and fields of study. The panel will open by discussing how, in computer games, the reader-text interface has been radically reconfigured, opening up for more effective forms of player agency. Some contemporary play practices will be discussed on the basis of video footage of actual game sessions, highlighting the role of player bodies in gameplay space. The role of keys in RPGs will be foregrounded to show how effects of player action in games may be constrained by game objects. Finally, we shall focus on gameplay practices that go beyond single computer games - in commercial and political Alternate Reality Games. The focus will be on how A-R games create innovative mimetic relationships with real life, engaging players in transworld transmedia practices.