DeFragging Regulation: From putative effects to ‘researched’ accounts of player experience


In line with the conference theme for 2013, this paper introduces a research project that is seeking to ‘defragment’ research dealing with player experiences. Located at an intersection between humanities, social sciences and computer sciences, our research aims to achieve greater receptiveness for accounts of games that emphasise “the relationship between the structure of a game and the way people engage with that system” (Waern, 2012, p.1) in the context of game regulation. Working specifically within the context of the New Zealand classification system, which possesses a legally enforceable age-restriction system, the project seeks to strengthen regulators capacity to utilize Section 3(4) of the current Classification Act and support the employment of concepts such as ‘dominant effect’, ‘merit’ and ‘purpose’ when classifying games (OFLC, 2012). Extending an established appreciation within game studies for the way games produce polysemic performances and readings, this paper draws on our mixed methods approach in an exploration of the nature of a players’ experience with Max Payne 3 (Rockstar Vancouver). In doing so, we illustrate the different dynamics at play in its expression and use of violence - dynamics that fail to achieve expression when games are considered more generally within political and social realms.