Discourse at play: construction and professionalism of video-based game reviews

Jacobs Ruud S Duyvestijn Zino
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

As a growing but already massive entertainment medium, games are discussed in all social environments, uncovering an unexplored area of cultural criticism. YouTube in particular acts as a vast library of game reviews that are posted by both consumer and professional reviewers. The current study investigates how these reviews construct a discourse of games. A quantitative content analysis on 150 randomly sampled video-format reviews applied discourse categorizations found among film reviewers complemented with a coding frame specifically designed for the gaming YouTube format. Results show that high-art discursive styles typically found with professional critics of traditional media now apply to a continuum of YouTube creators, while the consumer-oriented popular aesthetic discourse is not mirrored as closely. Reviewers can set themselves apart by offering interpretations of the games they play, for example, or reviewing from a first-person perspective. Conclusions includes avenues for further research on specific game reviewing discourse.


The representation of gender and ethnicity in digital interactive games

Janz Jeroen Martis Raynel G.
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The actual content of games is an understudied area in social scientific research about digital interactive games (DIGs). This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of game content, in particular with respect to the portrayal of men, women, and people of different ethnic origin. Earlier studies by Provenzo [14], Gailey [8], and Dietz [6] concluded that games were dominated by stereotypic male characters with a few stereotypic females in minor roles. Nowadays, quite a few DIGs have women in leading parts. We want to establish if this change resulted in a multiplicity of meaning in the representation of gender and ethnicity [10]. This paper reports a content analysis about the ways in which gender and ethnicity are represented in the game. We concentrate on the portrayal of the leading character, and supporting role in the introductory film of the DIG. Our sample consists of 12 games that run on ‘Next Generation Consoles’ (PS2, X Box, Game Cube). Among the titles studied are games with a female leading character (for example, Tomb Raider, Parasite Eve), and with a male leading character (for example, GTA ViceCity, Splinter Cell). Characters in supporting roles are diverse: colored, and non-colored men, as well as colored and non-colored women


The Diverse Worlds of Computer Games: A Content Analysis of Spaces, Populations, Styles and Narratives

Brand Jeffrey E. Knight Scott Majewski Jakub
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The Diverse Worlds Project analysed 130 computer and video games (CVGs) to understand their textual landscape. Titles were sampled from the five gaming platforms dominant in 2002. Blending the quantitative content analytic tradition and the Bordwellian approach to formal film analysis, characters, settings, narrative and stylistic factors were studied in four units of analysis including box, handbook, opening cinematic sequences, and game-play. “Diverse Worlds” contradicts the popular stereotypes about CVGs presenting exaggerated, violent characters in simplistic, formulaic, worlds lacking in aesthetic nuance and texture. Games are painted using a vast array of visible features and locations. Narrative structure and progression varies depending on genre and goes beyond “shoot the bad guy.” Graphic stylisation tends toward a mid-point between animation and photo-realism with the latter more often used for rendering environments and the former for characters. Limitations of character representation include the use of stereotypes found in traditional mainstream media. An earlier version of this work was presented at the International Ratings Conference in Sydney, Australia, September 2003.


In the army now – Narrative elements and realism in military first-person shooters

Breuer Johannes Festl Ruth Quandt Thorsten
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

From their early beginnings until today computer and video games have always been substantial parts of the so-called military-entertainment complex. Especially the genre of first-person shooters (FPS) has always been closely associated with the military due to its typical contents and gameplay mechanisms. This paper presents a content analysis of narrative elements in military-themed FPS games from 1992 to 2010 (n=189). The results show that particular conflicts, locations and fractions appear very frequently in these games. The wars and conflicts are almost exclusively portrayed from an American or Western perspective and the degree of realism differs depending on the respective topics and settings. Based on the results of the content analysis, we develop a typology of levels of realism in FPS. The findings are discussed with regard to potential effects of military-themed FPS on their players as suggested by narrative persuasion theory.


The Narrative and Ludic Nexus in Computer Games: Diverse Worlds II

Brand Jeffrey E. Knight Scott J.
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

To examine relationships between narratological and ludological elements in computer games, we undertook an empirical study of 80 contemporary titles. We drew inspiration from Jenkins’ 2004 paper on dimensions of narrative architecture and Aarseth, Smedstad and Sunnanå’s (2003) paper on a typology of ludological factors in games. Although these two groups of concepts have not been fully explicated, we defined them in concrete terms, citing example game titles. We intersected six groups of narratological factors with seven groups of ludological factors and present the data in this paper. Of the four dimensions of narrative architecture, evoked was most problematic and of the typology of ludological factors, topography and pace of time were least useful. The nexus between narratological and ludological factors is most obvious in the relationship between embedded and emergent narrative and player structure, determinism and strategic objective. We present implications, many game examples and future research ideas.