Playing or Being Played? Choice and Agency in Videogames: Reflecting on The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (2016)

Kleinerman Danielle
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

This paper interrogates how the videogame medium produces an engrossing and complex spectatorial experience, consistently challenging the user’s dimension of engagement. A reflexive analysis of the Witcher III: Wild Hunt (2016) encompasses a principal methodology; considering how play, spectatorship, and engagement merge into one. This paper homes in on how narrative directions and choices manipulate the will of the player, facilitated by preconceived and ongoing spectatorial influences. Semiotics, narratology, cinematography, ludology, and focalization theories fortify a conclusion that deconstructs the inherent fallacy present in narrative-based ludic choices, uncovering that their presence is a more an upholding of an inherent hegemonic structure and its boundaries.


What the spectator expects in the game of watching:, materiality, and game consumption through and beyond spectatorship

Coema Dara
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

Understanding streaming platforms as capable of supporting and promoting new languages, trends, and online consumption practices, this article relates game media itself to cultural phenomena and social processes around play-watch activities in game streams on Analyzing the materiality (structure, affordances, socio-technical and economic aspects) of the leading platform in the live streaming market, we carry out a preliminary understanding of how these digital territories influence and harbor experiences of watching and playing games. Addressing the tools and uses of, we present concepts that help us understand practices within the community that transcend watching and modify gaming – the sociability in participatory communities of play (Hamilton et al. 2014), the co-creation in multiplayer entertainment (Shear 2019), and the interactivity and agency in crossplay –, as well as the role of the industry and its neoliberal agenda on shaping game spectatorship and domesticating subversive conducts in the game of watching.


Game Streaming Revisited: Some Observations on Marginal Practices and Contexts

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai Liao Ming-Chung
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The focus of this paper is on the spectating phenomenon of live streaming gameplay, which has been described as “marginal.” After reviewing important non-gaming factors capable of bringing game streaming from the analytical margins to the center, we discuss the larger context in which game streaming is embedded, plus its implications. Data were gathered via in-depth interviews with game stream viewers, analyses of game streaming-related forum posts, and an online survey. According to our observations, game streaming should not be viewed as only a game-related phenomenon or extended gameplay practice, but also as a type of cross-media entertainment involving multiple media consumption characteristics—a form of stage performance, a space for social interaction, and as entertainment similar to hosted variety shows and reality television. Consumers tend to move among multiple streaming activities serving assorted media functions in search of entertainment, with their identities changing according to personal time restrictions and social situations.


A Three Person Poncho and a Set of Maracas: Designing Ola De La Vida, A Co-Located Social Play Computer Game

Love Lynn H.C. Bozdog Mona
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

Events that bring people together to play video games as a social experience are growing in popularity across the western world. Amongst these events are ‘play parties,’ temporary social play environments which create unique shared play experiences for attendees unlike anything they could experience elsewhere. This paper explores co-located play experience design and proposes that social play games can lead to the formation of temporary play communities. These communities may last for a single gameplay session, for a whole event, or beyond the event. The paper analyses games designed or enhanced by social play contexts and evaluates a social play game, Ola de la Vida. The research findings suggest that social play games can foster community through the design of game play within the game itself, through curation which enhances their social potential, and through design for ‘semi-spectatorship’, which blurs the boundaries between player and spectator thus widening the game’s magic circle.


Understanding the experience of Australian eSports spectatorship

Cumming David
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

This paper investigates the experience of physically attending a live eSports event in Australia. Although Australia has historically been relatively absent from globalised eSports, recent international interest has seen Australia host several major popular eSports events in 2017. To fully understand the appeal of these new prominent additions to the Australian eSports landscape, we must understand what characteristics constitute an Australian eSports event and how attendees experience it within the Australian cultural context. To achieve this, a case study and grounded theory-based approach was employed. 19 semi-structured interviews with attendees at two major Australian eSports events were conducted, observations of the events conducted by the researcher and video recorded of the online event streams. The four characteristics of entertainment, education, socialisation and active support, supported by 10 axial codes were found to constitute the experience of attending a live Australian eSports event in person.


Cosplay – Material and Transmedial Culture in Play

Lamerichs Nicolle
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Through “cosplay” (costume play) fans perform existing fictional characters in self-created costumes, thereby enriching and extending popular narratives. Cosplay is a scarcely studied form of appropriation that transforms and actualizes an existing story or game in close connection to the fan community and the fan’s own identity (Lamerichs, 2011; Newman, 2008; Okabe, 2012; Winge, 2006). The activity can be read as a form of dress up. In the field of game studies, dress up is an often overlooked but significant category of play with its own affordances (Fron, Fullerton, Morie, & Pearce, 2007). While dress up can involve actual costumes or fantasy play, it is also encouraged in digital games and their user-generated content. Customizable characters and “dollhouse” structures in The Sims series are but one example (Wirman, 2011). Similarly, cosplay provides the player with the joys of make-belief and productive play. This paper explores the possibilities of reading the costume itself as a product that facilitates performance and play. I analyze cosplay as a transmedial activity that is constructed at different online and offline sites through small-scaled ethnography and close-reading. The transmediality of cosplay is foregrounded in the methodology that, rather than adopting a player-centered approach, construes a cultural reading that involves both participants and spectators (e.g., photographers, fans, media professionals or outsiders such as parents). Through two case-studies, I focus on the costume’s materiality and emerging performances. The first case details the materiality of cosplay through its consumption culture. Cosplay blurs the relations between labor and play. The activity takes shape at fan conventions but also increasingly at promotional events of the industry itself. Costumes are commodified by fans themselves as well that sell their cosplay photos, commission their dress from others or buy parts of them. Increasingly, costumes and accessories are sold over platforms as eBay and Etsy which will illustrate the dynamics between commerciality and creativity. The second case explores the visuality of the costume through its mediation. While the costume can be experienced first-hand at convention sites, it is also remediated in photography, for instance, thereby extending its potential audience and performative possibilities. I exemplify this transmediality through cosplayer music videos (CMV) that are commonly produced at convention sites. These rich videos are created by and for fans and juxtapose different cosplayers and texts. Informed by work on other fan videos such as “machinima” (Lowood & Nitsche, 2011) I propose a reading of a selected corpus of videos. Thus, this study analyzes the dynamics of costume culture as it transcends the convention grounds.