The Study of Computer Games as a Second-Order Cybernetic System

Kücklich Julian
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

The following paper is part of a larger analytical study of various contexts of computer games. Here, I elaborate on the method on which I base my study of the semiotic process constituted by playing a computer game. This method is derived from a critique of earlier approaches to the field from the perspective of literary and media studies. While most of these approaches employ a twolevel model with undeniable roots in structuralist narratology, the model suggested here is based on the constructivist concept of viability. This presupposes a change of perspective from "naïve objectivity" to informed subjectivity.


The playability of texts vs. the readability of games: towards a holistic theory of fictionality

Kücklich Julian
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Playful interaction occurs not only in games, but in literary texts as well. One cannot describe what takes place between author, text, and reader more accurately than by calling it a game. Games, on the other hand, cannot be reduced to playthings, but must be considered as cultural objects that are being read and interpreted. One does not, however, read solely for the plot. This is why a purely narratological analysis of both digital and analog games is bound to fail. Many games create a fictional world to be inhabited and explored by the players. In this respect, games are similar to literary texts, and a philological approach to games is therefore primarily justified because of their fictionality, rather than their narrative qualities. This is my starting point in an exploration of different models of ‘playability’, and how they can be used to understand the ‘readability’ of games.


MMOGs and the Future of Literature

Kücklich Julian
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Massively multi-player role-playing have created shadow societies that are simultaneously a mirror and a caricature of our own societies. In this respect, they are comparable to the social commentary traditionally provided by literature and film. Over the last 100 years, however, our world has been transformed by new technologies and the myriad ways we have found to use them. Despite these new developments, media generally still rely on linear narrative, a form that seems increasingly inadequate to represent contemporary life. Could it be possible, then, that the MMOG, with its many intertwined and discontinuous narrative strands, is more appropriate to map the changes in global society? This paper tries to answer this question by building on the concept of realism, which plays such an important part both in the discourse of modernism and the popular discourse around digital games, and which will serve as a leitmotif in this media-historical analysis.


Collusion. Mapping the Interplay between Paid and Unpaid Labourers in the Digital Games Industry [Abstract]

Kücklich Julian
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

The basic premise of this paper is the notion that computer game production can be conceptualised as a game played among various players, on a heterogeneous and distributed playing field, and according to rules which are subject to constant changes. The playing field on which digital games production takes place can be regarded as structurally analogous to the gamespace of digital games themselves. Both digital gamespace and digital games production are structured by topological constraints which render some moves possible, and some impossible, and both types of spaces are subject to processes of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation. We can thus conceptualise the playing field of digital games production as encompassing both real and virtual spaces.