Video Game Détournement: Playing Across Media

Barnabé Fanny
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Taking as a starting point the French concept of “artistic détournement” and its application in the context of video games, this paper aims to study creative remix practices that use video games as materials or as matrices to produce derivative works. Precisely, the research examines a diversified range of productions whose common feature is to be created from video games (mods, machinimas, let’s play videos…) in order to question the relationships between the notions of détournement and play. Where is the boundary between these two activities? How to define and categorize the various forms of détournements in the specific context of the video game culture? Can these remix practices that go beyond the frame of the game and extend themselves to other media be described as “playful”? By crossing rhetoric and theories of play, this paper will try to answer these questions.


Glitch Horror: BEN Drowned and the Fallibility of Technology in Game Fan Fiction

2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper seeks to define a burgeoning genre of transmedia narratives — “glitch horror” — using a popular “creepypasta” (a work of online horror fiction) entitled BEN Drowned as a primary source. The horror of BEN Drowned is rooted in the rhetoric of glitches, those infuriating moments when the failures of technology interrupt gameplay and otherwise distort the world of a game. The emergence of the glitch horror genre and the popularity of narratives like BEN Drowned are manifestations of collective anxieties surrounding the fallibility and restrictions of digital technology; it is fiction about the fear of glitchy games, corrupted files, and bad coding. The paper explores glitch horror through the lenses of fan fiction and participatory culture, metafiction, the Freudian uncanny, the fallibility of technology, and fundamental rules of gaming and play.


Critically Approaching the Playful and Participatory Genealogy of MOBAs

Jarrett Josh
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper gives close attention to the term ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’ (MOBA), establishing what it implies in popular discourses as a term with specific generic connotations and more critically, what its short but eventful history represents alongside wider participatory trends across the Internet. Despite its far reaching influence and now commonplace usage, MOBA is not a neutral term and it signals a precise transitional moment towards a new normalisation of playful, cultural and economic control for the genre. Through adapting Foucault’s term of the ‘dispositif’ and applying a genealogical approach towards mapping the transition from the mod of Defense of the Ancients (DotA) to the genre of MOBA, this paper argues that MOBAs continue to be laced in significant bottom-up movements and characteristics. It is these lingering characteristics of playful and participatory residue that many of the genres most notable game design and paratextual aspects can be found. However, it is also here that critical questions surrounding the platformed state of these relations also make themselves evident.


Editors of Play: The Scripts and Practices of Co-creativity in Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

Abend Pablo Beil Benjamin
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Computer games can be described as assemblages which, to use a term from Science and Technology Studies, provide different scripts that set the scene for user practices. These scripts include the game world’s possibilities and restrictions and the degree of freedom provided to the users by the overall gameplay. Lately, a new genre of games challenges these specifics. So-called editor games like Minecraft or LittleBigPlanet, which entered the market with sweeping success, are not games in the traditional sense in which players follow certain rules guided by narrative elements framing the gameplay. Instead, these sandbox games – often labeled as ‘digital LEGO’ or ‘co-creative open worlds’ – afford the construction of a game world rather than playing within one. Following a praxeological approach, this essay will try to make co-creative processes in editor games accessible as a research object, by performing a critical evaluation of established methods within Game Studies complemented by an experimental focus group analysis.


Together we brand: America’s Army

Graaf Shenja van der
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper signals the aesthetic and socio-economic implications of a new generation of commercial media culture in an age of computer network-facilitated participation. It explores the cultural status of the online game America’s Army: Operations (US Army, 2002) that has commerce at the core of its brand identity. The game exemplifies the linkage of commercial goals with cultural texts through creating engaging experiences, initiated by commercial corporations for reasons of promotion and profit, enabled by computer networks, and – to a lesser extent - given form by various members of the public.


Piracy in the Caribbean: The Political Stakes of Videogame Piracy in Chávez’s Venezuela

Apperley Thomas H.
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper will examine the role of videogames in global participatory culture. In particular it will explore the role of software piracy in enabling participation from groups that would otherwise be excluded from accessing videogames due to economic factors. This suggests that piracy in the context of videogames – especially vis-à-vis their role as proselytizers of participatory culture – can be shifted outside of a criminal regime and into one which is concerned with the ability to participate in a global economy as both a consumer and citizen. This issue will be explored through a case study of the gaming situation in Caracas, Venezuela.


“Blacks Deserve Bodies Too!” Design and Discussion about Diversity and Race in a Tween Online World

Kafai Yasmin B. Cook Melissa S. Fields Deborah A.
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

In this paper, we investigate racial diversity in avatar design and public discussions about race within a large-scale tween virtual world called with more than 1.5 million registered players ages 8-16. One unique feature of Whyville is the players’ ability to customize their avatars with various face parts and accessories, all designed and sold by other players in Whyville. Our findings report on the racial diversity of available resources for avatar construction and online postings about the role of race in avatar design and social interactions in the community. With the growing interest in player-generated content for online worlds such as Teen Second Life, our discussion will address the role of avatars in teen/tween identity development and self-representation, and the role of virtual entrepreneurs and community activists in increasing the diversity of avatar parts available.


Patches of Peace: Tiny Signs of Agency in Digital Games

Poremba Cindy
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

One of the more interesting and distinct aspects of digital games is the proliferation of player produced artifacts. The reworking of original game materials is an integral part of game culture that cannot be ignored in the study of these games. This paper explores player authorship in digital games through the rhetoric of select peace-themed game modifications.


A Literary Excursion Into the Hidden (Fan) Fictional Worlds of Tetris, Starcraft, and Dreamfall

Rambusch Jana Susi Tarja Ekman Stefan Wilhelmsson Ulf
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

In this paper, we discuss a part of participatory culture that so far has not received much attention in the academic world; it is the writing and reading of game fan fiction. The focus in this paper is on fan fiction, based on three different games that represent three different game genres: Tetris, StarCraft and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. The aim is to advance our understanding of how players experience and understand the game environment, and promote further research interest in fan fiction based on computer games. We do this by discussing narrative elements in the above mentioned computer games, and the fan fiction that is based on them.