Ludology, Narratology and Philosophical Hermeneutics

Arjoranta Jonne, Karhulahti Veli-Matti
2014 DiGRA Nordic '14: Proceedings of the 2014 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

In this article we present the hermeneutic method as a tool for analyzing game studies discourses. We use Markku Eskelinen’s profusely interpreted “The Gaming Situation” (2001) as a case study. Our premise is that whereas the hermeneutic method is academically well-established, its conscious application is not. It is suggested that with conscious application of the hermeneutic method the persistent and problematic questions in game studies, like those related to narrative, definition, and art, gain potential to be treated with increased sophistication.


Baldur’s Gate and History: Race and Alignment in Digital Role Playing Games

Warnes Christopher
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Games studies today are characterised by both the novelty of interpreting the unfolding digital revolution, and insecurity about where the discipline stands in terms of other academic fields of inquiry. The ludology/narratology debate exhibits two important features: anxiety about the proximity of the discipline to the games industry, and a formalist bias that dominates the field. Focussing on race and alignment in role playing games, this paper addresses this bias by asserting the relevance of cultural materialist and postcolonial modes of critique to commercially-produced computer games. It is argued that games like Baldur’s Gate I and II cannot be properly understood without reference to the fantasy novels that inform them. When historicised, the genre of fantasy reveals an implicit reliance on notions of race and moral alignment. The ways these notions re-appear in digital role playing games is shown to be relevant to current political and social realities of the West.


Computer Game Criticism: A Method for Computer Game Analysis

Konzack Lars
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

In this paper, we describe a method to analyse computer games. The analysis method is based on computer games in particular and not some kind of transfer from other field or studies - even though of course it is inspired from other kinds of analysis methods from varying fields of studies. The method is based on seven different layers of the computer game: hardware, program code, functionality, game play, meaning, referentiality, and socio-culture. Each of these layers may be analysed individually, but an entire analysis of any computer game must be analysed from every angle. Thereby we are analysing both technical, aesthetic and socio-cultural perspectives.


Ludologists love stories, too: notes from a debate that never took place

Frasca Gonzalo
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

During the last few years, a debate took place within the game scholars community. A debate that, it seems, opposed two groups: ludologists and narratologists. Ludologists are supposed to focus on game mechanics and reject any room in the field for analyzing games as narrative, while narratologists argue that games are closely connected to stories. This article aims at showing that this description of the participants is erroneous. What is more, this debate as presented never really took place because it was cluttered with a series of misunderstandings and misconceptions that need to be clarified if we want to seriously discuss the role of narrative in videogames.


An affordance based model for gameplay

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

This paper presents a formal model for gameplay based upon the affordances available to the player that are linked to game objects. It has been constructed via an extensive analysis of major first-person games 1998-2008, although it is argued it may extend to all diegetic games. Gameplay can be understood as a network of allowed actions, that can be summarised as a small number of archetypal affordances mediated by a set of parameters that define their functional relationships. As well as the capacity for the model to elucidate the ludic structures of games, it is argued that an affordance based model also provides a means to understand the relationship and role of story and content within a ludological context.


Introducing Applied Ludology: Hands-on Methods for Game Studies

Järvinen Aki
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

The author calls for a more systematic methodology for game studies. The paper introduces a set of methods for 'applied ludology', a practical hands-on analysis and design methodology. It complements theories of games as systems with psychological theories of cognition and emotions. A sample of casual games is used to highlight the use of the methods. In conclusion, the author presents a model that enables analysing the eliciting conditions for game-related emotions, such as suspense.


As if by Magic: On Harry Potter as a Novel and Computer Game

Gunder Anna
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper examines the computer game Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in relation to the novel with the same title. The analysis focuses on the temporal aspects of the works, and differences and similarities regarding both media structure and artistic devices are described. The notion of content space is central and a distinction is made between information content space, action content space, and task content space, which form various kinds of works and structures. Moreover, instead of the traditional pair story and discourse, the four concepts of performed discourse, performed story, omnidiscourse, and omnistory are used to reveal temporal effects and characteristics of the game. Finally, it is concluded that the two works, although different in many ways, play with the same user effects, suspense, curiosity, and surprise, to capture and keep the user’s interest.