The politics of game canonization: Tales from the frontlines of creating a national history of games

Glas René van Vught Jasper
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

In this paper, we provide insight into the politics of forming a national games canon by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, one of the biggest audiovisual cultural heritage institutions in the Netherlands. From a historiographical perspective, the paper investigates how different stakes and commitments of the different actors involved (the authors included) during the different stages of admission and selection are inherently connected. From a unique insider's perspective, we recognize that more pragmatic concerns around preservation and archival efforts of the Institute collapse with the socioculturally-driven aims of the canon as a history of Dutch games, a process we call the politics of acquisition.


Considering play: From method to analysis

van Vught Jasper Glas René
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper deals with play as an important methodological issue when studying games as texts and is intended as a practical methodological guide. After considering text as both the structuring object as well as its plural processual activations, we argue that different methodological considerations can turn the focus towards one of the two. After outlining and synthesizing a broad range of existing research we move beyond the more general advice to be reflective about the type of players that we are, and explore two methodological considerations more concretely. First of all, we discuss the various considerations to have with regards to the different choices to make when playing a game. Here we show how different instrumental and free strategies lay bare different parts of the game as object or process. Secondly, we consider how different contexts in which the game and the player exist, can function as different reference points for meaning construction and the way they can put limitations on the claims we can make about our object of analysis.


Paratextual Play: Unlocking the Nature of Making-of Material of Games

Glas René
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Similar as to how films are accompanied with bonus features and extras on their dvd release, digital games too are sometimes released with supplemental materials which provide insight in the creative development process. Examples of these are behind-the-scenes documentaries, concept art, audio commentaries, and so on. In the study of digital games this material could easily be overlooked or primarily seen as marketing material outside and therefore not part of a game itself. This paper will discuss a shift in the paratextual location and function of making-of material from an external to internal or even integral part of the digital game experience. In some contemporary games, making-of material has become a feature which has a visible presence during play, and at times can only be accessed by unlocking them, which invites players to forms of paratextual play. In these play situations, paratext and text entangle, resulting not just in a potential shaping of the understanding but also of the playing of digital games, making them part of players’ gaming capital. By engaging with this type of making-of material, players are not just framed as knowledgeable insider in the creative process of game design but also acknowledged expert in terms of gaming prowess, requiring us to rethink how we approach making-of material as paratexts.


Playing another Game: Twinking in World of Warcraft

Glas René
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper investigates one the more controversial player practices in MMORPG's, twinking, not in terms of value judgment but as a play from negotiating, working against and even transforming a MMORPG's intended structure and design. Making use of participatory ethnographic observations of one of World of Warcraft's particular forms of twinking, this devious behavior is discussed as being luxury play, dominance play, transformative play and standardized play, each form having its own influence on the way these virtual worlds are experienced by the player community and, notably, twinkers themselves.


Breaking Reality: Exploring Pervasive Cheating in Foursquare

Glas René
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper explores the notion of cheating in location-based mobile applications. Using the popular smartphone app Foursquare as main case study, I address the question if and how devious practices impact the boundaries between play and reality as a negotiated space of interaction. After establishing Foursquare as a prime example of the gamification phenomenon and pervasive gaming, both of which require us to rethink notions of game and play, I will argue that cheating in location-based mobile applications challenges not just the boundaries of play, but also of playful identity.