Gameplay Rhetoric: A Study of the Construction of Satirical and Associational Meaning in Short Computer Games for the WWW

Madsen Helene Johansson Troels Degn
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

This paper maps out the construction of non-narrative rhetorical meaning in short computer games. Setting off from the recent emergence of short satirical computer games on the World Wide Web, it observes that at least some computer games do have potentials as a medium of artistic expression; that regardless of the possible narrative powers of computer games. Drawing on Leonard Feinberg's categories of satire and George Lakoff's theory of metaphor, the article describes the basic rhetorical mechanisms of satire and association in computer games and suggests that satire and especially allegorical association in this context appear as two sides of a common theme: the call for immortality and the mastery of computer games.


Do We Need Real-Time Hermeneutics? Structures of Meaning in Games

Arjoranta Jonne
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

Games differ from most other forms of media by being procedural and interactive. These qualities change how games create and transmit meaning to their players. The concept of “real-time hermeneutics” (Aarseth 2003) is analysed in order to understand how temporality affects the understanding of games. Temporal frames (Zagal and Mateas 2010) are introduced as an alternative way of understanding time in games.


More Than A Craze: Photographs of New Zealand’s early digital games scene

Swalwell Melanie
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

"More Than A Craze" is an online exhibition consisting of 46 photographs of New Zealand's early digital games scene, in the 1980s. The exhibition includes the work of some of New Zealand's best known documentary photographers – Ans Westra, Christopher Matthews, Robin Morrison – with images from the archives of Wellington's Evening Post and Auckland's Fairfax newspapers. These photographers captured images of games, gamers and gameplay in the moment when these were novel. These images are significant in that they offer insights into the early days of digital games. They are an important primary source material for researchers interested in the history of play and interactive entertainment. The exhibition has been curated by Melanie Swalwell and Janet Bayly. It is an online exhibition, hosted by Mahara Gallery, Waikanae ( It is one of the outcomes of Swalwell's research into the history of digital games in New Zealand, in the 1980s.


Three Shadowed Dimensions of Feminine Presence in Video Games

Cosima Rughiniș Răzvan Rughiniș Toma Elisabeta
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Representations of femininity in video games and other media are often discussed with reference to the most popular games, their protagonists and their sexist predicament. This framing leaves in shadow other dimensions. We aim to identify some of them and to open a broader horizon for examining and designing femininity and gender in games. To this end we look into games with creative portrayals of feminine characters, diverging from the action-woman trope: The Walking Dead, The Path, and 80 Days. We talk in dialogue with scholars, but also with a digital crowd-critique movement for films and games, loosely centered on instruments such as the Bechdel-Wallace test and the TV wiki. We argue that the central analytical dimension of female character strength should be accompanied by three new axes, in order to examine feminine presence across ages, in the background fictive world created by the game, and in network edges of interaction.


The Cheating Assemblage in MMORPGs: Toward a sociotechnical description of cheating

Paoli Stefano De Kerr Aphra
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper theoretically and empirically explores cheating in MMORPGs. This paper conceptualises cheating in MMORPGs as a sociotechnical practice which draws upon a non-linear assemblage of human actors and non-human artefacts, in which the practice of cheating is the result or the outcome of an assemblage. We draw upon the assemblage conceptualizations proposed in [16] and [8] and on empirical data taken from a pilot study we have conducted during the period September-November 2008 and from an ethnography we are conducting in the MMORPG Tibia ( since January 2009. This game in particular was chosen because CipSoft, the company that develops the game, launched an anticheating campaign at the beginning of 2009.


The Poetics of Game Design, Rhetoric and the Independent Game

Grace Lindsay D
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper approaches the question about games as art from a fundamentally different perspective. Instead of asking questions of visual aesthetics and pursuing analogies to film or commercial arts, it demonstrates an even clearer analogy to poetic forms. Allying common practices in independent games in particular, this paper serves as an illustrative demonstration of the poetics of game design, emphasizing the poetic properties of independent game designs. It frames game design in terms of the rhetorical devices used to create an experience. Such framing is useful to independent game designers, developers of persuasive and critical gameplay, and archivists seeking an effective way to catalog digital games that is driven by structure instead of subject or play mechanic.


The game boy’s network. A network analysis of the German digital games industry

Kröger Sonja Domahidi Emese Quandt Thorsten
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper aims to map the German digital games industry. Using expert interviews and social network analysis, the current paper focuses on the industry development in Germa-ny, identifying structures of organizational and personal networks in the digital games in-dustry. Following a holistic approach, it is argued that while actors of the standard value chain are key units in the digital games industry, stakeholders who influence the political and social discourse have to be taken into account as well. The results show, that not only console manufactures have an outstanding role in the German digital games industry. Considering in-degree and eigenvector centrality, trade associations (e.g. GAME, BIU) and political organizations (e.g. USK, KJM) are well connected and consequently im-portant actors too.


Video Games, Walking the Fine Line between Art and Entertainment

Folkerts Jef
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper is partly a response to the ongoing debate in the game world about whether games can be art, and partly an excerpt from my Ph.D. research. I aim to offer some insights in the cognitive experiences gamers have while playing - hopefully useful to both designers and scholars. I will argue that an art experience is a particular kind of cognitive experience, namely a distinctive type of imagination. The essence of an art experience is the mental representation of a signification process, a sort of mirrored representation that is also known as mimesis. I hope to demonstrate that it is a universal feature of art to mirror life, or more accurately, a deliberate view on it. And that what constitutes art is not defined by the properties of an artefact, but by our experience of it, by our mental actions. Along the same line I maintain that the boundaries between what we usually label entertainment and what art can not be as sharply defined as we generally assume. The main arguments in the aforementioned debate concern affective features, perceivable aesthetic qualities (as opposed to artistic properties), and the uniqueness of a game. I will set out explaining why most expert assumptions seem not discriminating enough to distinguish an art experience from an entertainment experience. Next I present some theoretical perspectives on both kinds of experiences, after which I will explain how they are being mixed and intertwined in everyday practice. Some gameplay examples should finally illustrate this inevitably condensed theoretical framework, drawn from my more detailed and elaborated dissertation on signification, imagination and mimesis in games.


A Procedural Critique of Deontological Reasoning

Togelius Julian
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper describes a prototype game that learns its rules from the actions and commands of the player. This game can be seen as an implementation and procedural critique of Kant’s categorical imperative, suggesting to the player that (1) the maxim of an action is in general underdetermined by the action and its context, so that an external observer will more often than not get the underlying maxim wrong, and that (2) most ingame actions are morally “wrong” in the sense that they do not contribute to wellbalanced game design. But it can also be seen as an embryo for an authoring tool for game designers, where they can easily and fluidly prototype new game mechanics.


Subversive Game Design for Recursive Learning

Mitgutsch Konstantin Weise Matthew
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

How are players' expectations challenged through subverting common design patterns in digital games? The following paper outlines a game design experiment that combines state of the art learning research with game design. The goal of the game project is to explore how subversive design patterns can be created that force the players to rethink their expectations and interpretations. In the developed game Afterland various paradigm shifts subvert common gameplay patterns in order to encourage players to modify their anticipations. This is designed to provoke a corresponding paradigm shift in the players, forcing them to reassess certain expectations and to adopt new mental models, strategies, and goals other than those commonly found in games of this genre. The paper introduces recursive learning as a theoretical foundation for the game design process and offers constructive insight derived from this particular research-based game design project conducted at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.