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  Subjects -> SOCIOLOGY (Total: 553 journals)
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Games and Culture
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.625
Citation Impact (citeScore): 1
Number of Followers: 29  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 1555-4120 - ISSN (Online) 1555-4139
Published by Sage Publications Homepage  [1175 journals]
  • Level Design Processes and Challenges: A Cross Section of Game Development

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      Authors: Tobias Karlsson, Jenny Brusk, Henrik Engström
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article examines level design processes and challenges at professional game studios. Thematic analysis of data, recorded through field studies and semi-structured interviews, identify four key themes: level design as an interdisciplinary effort; who is the level designer; the role of narrative in level design; and challenges of managing creativity in the level design process. Results indicate that while the role called level designer is often assigned to specific disciplines, the process of level design is usually highly interdisciplinary. Furthermore, this interdisciplinary collaboration requires management to maintain both creativity and efficient pipelines, by distributing ownership and facilitating communication and planning. The level design process seems particularly vulnerable to suboptimal interdisciplinary communication and planning, due to significant reliance on narrative design, game design, art, sound design, and tool development. While this article addresses level design specifically, most observations are comparable to previous findings on game development in general.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-11-21T05:41:05Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221139229
       
  • Chinese Gold-Farming in the 2000s: Worker Empowerment and Local
           Development Through Video Games-Based Digital Labor

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      Authors: Matthew Ming-tak Chew
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This study investigates how gold-farming contributed to worker empowerment and local development in China in the 2000s. Adopting a critical development studies perspective, I appraise the positive social impact of gold-farming but also explicate how it is constrained by the capitalist economic and authoritarian political contexts. I find that gold-farming offered workers informational mobility and low-overhead entrepreneurship opportunities and that it created employment and enhanced social order in marginalized localities. But it provided only slightly better wages and work conditions than the average Chinese factory. A major reason was exploitation by global capitalist corporations and local officials. My primary dataset was collected between 2005 and 2008 from participant observation and interviewing in three gold farms, multiple and in-depth interviews of over 40 insiders, and online documentary sources.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-11-18T06:54:38Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221134459
       
  • Designing the Future' The Metaverse, NFTs, & the Future as Defined
           by Unity Users

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      Authors: Ryan Scheiding
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The “metaverse” and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), though not necessarily “new” terms or technologies, have risen to mainstream prominence post-2020. This paper, based on survey data obtained from Unity Technologies, examines the metaverse, NFTs, and the future of development within the Unity engine from the perspective of current Unity users. Specifically, the paper examines how users define the metaverse, their goals in metaverse and NFT development, and their future questions and concerns concerning these concepts. This data is then used to place the metaverse and NFTs into broader historical, present, and future contexts. The paper ultimately argues: (1) the metaverse and NFTs follow previous historical trends in communication technology development, (2) development within Unity will continue to be split between game development and non-game development, and (3) arguments of the “newness,” “uniqueness,” or “future-facing” of the metaverse and NFTs help to obfuscate legitimate concerns about these technologies.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-11-16T05:57:43Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221139218
       
  • “Go. Just take him.”: PTSD and the Player-Character Relationship in
           The Last of Us Part II

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      Authors: Stephen Michael Johnson
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The Last of Us Part II is an unrelenting examination of the effects of trauma and violent cycles of revenge. The game's complex narrative structure, its use of the player-character (PC) relationship, and the PC-switch near the game's midpoint have prompted strong reactions (both negative and positive) from players. These elements come together to confront players with their own understandings of trauma, revenge, empathy, and acceptance in powerful and effective ways, ultimately forcing players to choose between a flexible, adaptable, and complex interpretation of their relationship to the characters of The Last of Us Part II, or a rigid, inflexible one that does not allow for growth or change.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-11-15T07:05:55Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221139216
       
  • A Virtual Reality Educational Game for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage
           Repatriation

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      Authors: James Hutson, Ben Fulcher
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The technology of virtual reality and the gamification of education has had proven educational benefits and has the ability to immerse students in a participatory learning experience. To capitalize on the strengths of the new digital medium, including immersion, engagement, and presence, a new educational game aims to teach the ethics of cultural heritage repatriation through the lens of art history. The use of games to address current issues and conceptualize a framework for understanding the complexities of geopolitics is not new but aligning these considerations with the pressing need to protect cultural heritage as seen in modern-day Ukraine is. This study investigates the process of game design and development from preproduction to postproduction. The final version of The Museum of the Lost provides a model for other institutions with game design and art history departments to collaborate and create educational experiences that optimize the user experience and learning outcomes.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-10-18T06:53:10Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221131724
       
  • “She's Built Like a Tank”: Player Reaction to Abby Anderson in
           The Last of Us: Part II

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      Authors: Sian Tomkinson
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The depiction of female characters in video games is highly contentious. The pushes for increased diversity following Gamergate have heralded more varied representations of women in both independent and Triple A games. One particularly interesting video game in this context is Naughty Dog's 2020 action-adventure title The Last of Us: Part II. The game received extremely divisive criticism in part due to Abby Anderson and her functions in the game. Many players were outraged at her muscular, “masculine” build, considering it inaccurate for a woman living in a post-apocalyptic setting, and a form of virtue-signalling. In this paper I examine these players’ complaints regarding Abby and consider how they fit within gaming discourses of realism, immersion, and escapism. I explore what elements players consider to be acceptable as ‘realism' in the context of a post-apocalyptic action-horror video game, considering a prevalent discourse that video games are being increasingly politicised.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-30T06:48:25Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221123210
       
  • The Voices of Game Worlds: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Disco Elysium

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      Authors: Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Míša Hejná
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article examines how vocal performances of characters can contribute to sociocritical storytelling in video games. We argue that the vocal performances of video game characters–and in particular their accents–can “fill in” the fictional story worlds of video games through associations with real people and places. These associations allow video games to evoke such social themes as are connected with accent, including privilege, conflict, class, and ethnicity. So evoked, these themes can then be critically examined. We apply this perspective in a sociolinguistic analysis of Disco Elysium, an expansive role-playing game in which the characters' vocal performances come to support the player's sociomoral orientation in the game world. Finally, we discuss a result of our analysis that runs counter to previous scholarship, namely that vocal stereotyping can serve to enhance, rather than to undermine, the player's critical apprehension of game worlds.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-22T07:19:02Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115396
       
  • Remediating Video Games in Contemporary Fiction: Literary Form and
           Intermedial Transfer

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      Authors: Marco Caracciolo
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Game scholars have discussed both the ways in which video games structurally differ from literary fiction and the ways in which they remediate motifs and narrative strategies from it. In this article, I reverse the direction of that exchange, arguing that video games are disclosing new perspectives on both literary writing and literary interpretation. My focus is on how literature can integrate ludic strategies on a formal level, rather than by merely thematizing games (as genre fiction does extensively). I thus discuss three formal devices—multimodality, present-tense narration, and loop-like repetitions—that evince considerable literary interest in gaming culture. Through these formal experimentations, literature participates in a media environment that is significantly shaped by games. I argue that this intermedial transfer also offers an opportunity for a literary scholarship to enrich its conceptual and interpretive toolbox through dialogue with both game studies and gaming culture.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-11T06:31:51Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221119980
       
  • Top Shelf Drinks, Bottom Line Play: Examining Representations of Class in
           Bartending and Mixology Games

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      Authors: Scott DeJong, Courtney Blamey
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      There is an emerging body of games that simulate the labor of drink making and serving at the forefront of play through the role of a bartender or artisanal mixologist. Both are working class but the creative variance between them challenges how economic precarity is understood. The authors ask how this translates to video games when these positions are foregrounded. How do play, poverty, and precarity interconnect in drink making and serving games' Through the qualitative analysis of four games that put the player in the position of bartender or mixologist, this paper shows how creative labor and precarity are illuminated or obfuscated through mechanics and narrative. In doing so, it argues how games, as one form of media, obscure or make visible labor and precarity to players and simultaneously reinforce the romanticization of often exploited creative labor. These findings prompt further questions and research directions on representations of working-class labor.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-11T06:31:27Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221119962
       
  • Videogames as an ‘Unheroic’ Medium: The Child Hero's Journey

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      Authors: Emma Reay
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      In this article, I examine two contemporary videogames that engage critically and imaginatively with conventional definitions of heroism. In Röki (Polygon Treehouse) and Knights and Bikes (Foam Sword Games), the child-avatars loosen the connection between maturity and self-reliance by framing interdependence as both an inevitable and a desirable condition of human society. Furthermore, by emphasizing children's supposed malleability, these games insist on the relationality of identities: they suggest that one's identity depends on the interactions one has with individuals and institutions. I suggest that by centering cooperation, these games destabilize myths of independence and autonomy that surround the lone hero of hyper-individualism and thereby challenge assumptions about the kinds of heroism videogames can portray.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-11T06:31:17Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115395
       
  • “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological
           Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games

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      Authors: Yansheng Liu, Colin Agur
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Toxic behavior is commonplace in online games and has negative consequences for players. Although previous studies have illustrated common types and features of in-game toxic behavior, it remains unclear what psychological mechanisms can explain why toxic behavior emerges and evolves in gaming environments. To fill this research gap, guided by Online Disinhibition Effect theory, this study applies a qualitative interview approach to understand when, how, and why people engage in toxic behavior in online games. Specifically, by interviewing players of the game Honor of Kings (a popular Chinese mobile multiplayer online battle arena game), this study illustrates the evolving processes of both verbal and behavioral in-game toxic behavior and identifies six major motivations for players’ toxic behavior and three theoretical explanations for how the online gaming environment facilitates players’ toxic behavior. Implications of this study on future research are also discussed.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-08T06:58:34Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397
       
  • Behind the Scenes at ApertureScience.com: Portal and Its Paratexts

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      Authors: Alan Galey
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Portal (2007) presents an unusually complex example for the study of video game paratexts. This article uses the case of the game’s promotional website ApertureScience.com to consider how paratextuality and the associated concepts of ephemerality and materiality may be further refined to open up new dimensions of video games as objects of interpretation and play. The article draws from the field of textual studies, which specializes in the particularities of media, and in the entanglement of technical detail with interpretation and meaning. The first part re-evaluates the nature of the book as an analogy for the materiality of video games, and critiques Gérard Genette’s conception of bookish paratexts and its applicability to video games. The article then offers a detailed analysis of ApertureScience.com as a paratext, including its satirical critiques of positivism and corporate research, and concludes with a discussion of the materiality of digital paratexts.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-04T05:03:15Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221106927
       
  • Enjoying My Time in the Animus: A Quantitative Survey on Perceived Realism
           and Enjoyment of Historical Video Games

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      Authors: Alexander Vandewalle, Rowan Daneels, Emma Simons, Steven Malliet
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This study investigates players’ perceived realism of historical video games. Perceived realism is understood as a multidimensional concept, going beyond the more traditional use of ‘realism’ in historical game studies, where it often refers to the plausibility or accuracy of historical reconstructions. The study further examines how perceived realism relates to players’ enjoyment of historical games. Specifically, this study analyses Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Through an online survey among 1,317 respondents, this study found that the five-dimensional structure of perceived realism holds for historical games. The three games differed in their perceptions of social realism, perceptual pervasiveness, freedom of choice and enjoyment. Finally, perceptual pervasiveness and character involvement were identified as strong predictors of enjoyment in historical games. This study contributes towards further validation of the perceived realism scale across game genres and pleads for a systematic use of the multidimensional term ‘realism’ in historical game research.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-08-02T07:11:21Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115404
       
  • Social Realism in Red Orchestra 2 (2011)

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      Authors: Maxim Tvorun-Dunn
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This research seeks to add to recent critical reevaluations of Alexander Galloway’s seminal “Social Realism in Gaming” through a closer analysis of the texts by Andre Bazin and Gilles Deleuze which inform Galloway’s initial conceptions of social realism. The present work emphasizes social criticism in this esthetic movement and finds the medium specificity of games limits applicability of cinematic terms like neorealism. Procedural rhetoric and effective Brechtian alienation tactics emphasizing player-character subjectivity, can be used to effectively convey the philosophical and ideological tenants of neorealism and broader social realism. This is expanded upon using the World War Two (WWII) game Red Orchestra 2 as a case study. Ultimately this work argues against Galloway’s “congruence requirement” between players real-world contexts and game interactions, rather finding social realism in games as dependent on convergence between a game’s functional and visual rhetoric.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-06-25T12:47:37Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221109128
       
  • Virtual Empire: Performing Colonialism in the MMORPG Runescape

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      Authors: Shayan S. Lallani
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article argues that advancement in the MMORPG Runescape is connected to virtual performances of colonial exploitation. It places in geographic and temporal context various societies represented in Runescape by historicizing in-game cultural representations. Thereafter, it is asserted that players partake in virtual iterations of colonialism to advance their accounts. Analysis is grounded in four case studies exploring the themes of exploitative archaeology, colonial cartography, imperial diplomacy, and resource extraction. Each example represents opportunities for in-game progress. In connecting the virtual advancement of user accounts to performances of colonialism, it is argued that Runescape reproduces historic colonial projects in which European powers commodified other societies to advance their own economic and cultural agendas. Through this analysis, the article seeks to develop a guiding framework for the study of MMORPGs as replicating Eurocentric colonial encounters.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-06-16T10:30:45Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221109130
       
  • Newsgames: The Use of Digital Games by Mass-Media Outlets to Convey
           Journalistic Messages

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      Authors: Salvador Gómez-García, Teresa de la Hera Conde-Pumpido
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This study explores the way mass-media outlets make use of digital games to convey journalistic messages. Newsgames have been defined by several scholars in the intersection between digital journalism and game studies. However, because of the heterogeneity of this phenomenon, there is still a lack of clarity of what could be considered, or not, a newsgame. This study aims to shed light into this question by exploring how newsgames are used in practice by journalists. We therefore approach the understanding of this phenomenon from a bottom-up perspective to give an answer to the following research question: How are journalistic messages structured within newsgames published by online mass-media outlets' A grounded theory approach is used to analyze 75 games published in a total of 47 mass-media digital outlets from 17 countries. The results of this study have led to the proposal of a more systematic identification and analytical approach for newsgames.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-06-09T06:11:30Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221105461
       
  • Undertale’s Loveable Monsters: Investigating Parasocial Relationships
           with Non-Player Characters

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      Authors: Gabriel Elvery
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Interaction with non-player characters (NPCs) that simulates one-sided social interaction is a common feature of many role-playing video games (RPGs). This kind of interaction may be described as parasocial. Parasocial phenomena have been identified across media, but there are few studies which detail how they function within specific video games. This article marries close analysis of the video game Undertale with theories of parasocial phenomena to examine how effective parasocial relationships (PSRs) are created with its cast of quirky, loveable monsters. The article uses players’ reception of the game in the form of Steam reviews and Let’s play content to evidence players’ attachments to NPCs and uses the concept of parasociality coupled with close reading to explore why. The paper concludes by considering what insights analysis of PSRs in video games can provide regarding both our relationships with the technology that facilitates them, and our off-screen relationships.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-29T11:55:44Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221105464
       
  • The Collector, the Glitcher, and the Denkbilder: Toward a Critical
           Aesthetic Theory of Video Games

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      Authors: Jan Cao
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      To examine the aesthetics of video games, this paper proposes to consider games as a contemporary multi-media version of the so-called “Denkbild,” or “thought-image,” an experimental genre of philosophical writing employed by members of the Frankfurt School that takes literary snapshots of philosophical, political, and cultural insights that interrupt and challenge the enigmatic form of traditional philosophical thinking. While previous scholarship tends to examine the aesthetics of video game as a homogenous, self-contained genre that can be clearly defined and understood within the framework of a variety of dichotomies, thinking of video game through the lens of the Denkbild allows us to understand the diversity, conditionality, and incommensurability of game as a multimedia aesthetic object. By presenting two snapshots of video game players, the collector and the glitcher, this paper argues that the concept of Denkbild allows us to better understand the relationships between game, gamers, and the socio-political context in terms of unexpected bonds, accidental breakthroughs, and moments of absolute freedom.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-26T08:18:40Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221097411
       
  • Last Man Standing: Battle Royale Games Through the Lens of
           Self-Determination Theory

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      Authors: Martha Fernandez de Henestrosa, Joël Billieux, André Melzer
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The highly popular video game genre of Battle Royale (BR) games is characterized by survival and exploration elements that feature a last-man-standing gameplay, thus, motivating players to be the final contestant in the game. Drawing on the Self-Determination Theory the present study investigated the role of personal values, psychological needs and well-being in a self-selected sample of 303 BR gamers recruited online. The association between players’ value orientation and well-being was found contingent on players’ BR gaming experience and their need for relatedness. Whereas frequent interaction with this game genre was associated with the basic psychological need satisfaction of autonomy and relatedness, player preference for BR games was related to their need of competence and autonomy. The present study supports the importance of exploring player motives and provides initial insights into the association between BR gaming and basic psychological needs.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-21T03:51:06Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221101312
       
  • Developing Meaning: Critical Violence and Eudaimonic Entertainment in the
           Seventh Console Generation

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      Authors: Evan Jules Maier-Zucchino
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Violence in videogames has been a controversial topic since the medium’s inception, but how videogames depict violence has changed dramatically over time. During the seventh console generation, several development studios implemented similar design mechanisms that allowed players to engage in ethically challenging virtual violence through morally compromised characters, contexts, and systems. Fourteen AAA games released between the years of 2007 and 2013 encouraged critical reflection on the ethical qualities of that violence, resulting in a phenomenon I term “critical violence”. Following an overview of the ethics of videogames and a brief history of changes in the industry, this paper performs a comparative analysis of four games, two that engage in critical violence and two that do not, elucidating the techniques used to generate such criticality: defamiliarization, narrative character studies, systemic design, and aesthetic style. These approaches demonstrate that violence in videogames can be a useful element for communicating meaningful experiences.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-19T06:51:55Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221100817
       
  • “What are you Bringing to the Table'”: The Something Awful Let’s
           Play Community as a Serious Leisure Subculture

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      Authors: Brian McKitrick, Melissa Rogerson, Martin Gibbs, Bjørn Nansen
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Within the last decade, Let’s Plays, recordings of gameplay with commentary by the person playing, have grown in popularity and attention. The current research examining Let’s Plays has focused on the contemporary popularity of the phenomenon on YouTube. However, the origins of Let’s Plays as an influential media practice have not been fully investigated. In order to address this gap, we conducted a series of interviews with 34 creators from the Something Awful LP subforum—commonly identified to have originated the media form. Transcripts of these interviews were analyzed using concepts of serious leisure studies and cultural/subcultural capital. As a form of serious leisure culture, the members of the Something Awful LP community displayed motivations related to extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, such as increased sense of self-worth and recognition. The analysis of this Serious leisure culture highlights how this subculture was subsequently adopted by larger YouTube communities.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-16T06:16:26Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221101310
       
  • Seeking a Sense of Control or Escapism' The Role of Video Games in
           Coping with Unemployment

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      Authors: Yu-Hao Lee, Mo Chen
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Unemployment can have devastating effects on people’s psychological and social wellbeing. The effects of unemployment can be exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of control over one’s life and the loss of social connectedness. Through a survey of 480 unemployed workers, this study examined how emotion-focused coping using video game can affect the workers’ wellbeing and reemployment. The findings showed that escapism was associated with decreased wellbeing, which reduced job-search efficacy and behaviors. However, when video game playing was viewed as a source of self-determination, it can support the unemployed workers’ intrinsic needs of autonomy and relatedness, which improved their wellbeing, their job-search efficacy, and job-search behaviors. Further comparison of effects between gender, age, race, and income found that unemployed workers who made lower to medium income were more likely to seek escapism through games compared to female unemployed workers.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-12T06:34:44Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221097413
       
  • The Doors of Perception: Horror Video Games and the Ideological
           Implications of Ludic Virtual Reality

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      Authors: David Christopher, Aidan Leuszler
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      With the ‘perfect marriage’ between horror and video games has come a concomitant cultural studies discourse surrounding these games. Previously, while Carol Clover insisted that identification through the perspectival screen is poorly understood, she seminally argued that slasher horror in particular allows for more progressive gender identifications. More broadly, and somewhat conversely, Carly Kocurek observes the most reactionary effects of the horror genre’s reduction of cultural ‘others’ to monsters and the problem with their prurient dispatch in video games. Lastly, Tammy Lin argues that the experience of virtual reality (VR) significantly heightens the experience of horror. In concert, these imply that VR should heighten the ideological effects and gender identifications identified by both Kocurek and Clover, for better or for worse. This paper examines the ways in which both ostensibly reactionary and progressive ideological elements have migrated into horror video games and the implications of VR on this phenomenon.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-11T11:42:20Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221097414
       
  • Why do We Play' Towards a Comprehensive Player Typology

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      Authors: Benjamin Fritz, Stefan Stöckl
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The video games industry has been growing constantly for the past several decades, but there is no empirically validated industry standard for measuring motivation of play. Although there have been a number of player typologies, they display sizable deviations in the player types described, many of which are insufficiently supported by validation studies. The literature thus far lacks an attempt to test these deviations by bringing differences in the specifics on the same scale. A survey (n = 1090) across 440 different games using an 80-item questionnaire found eleven motivations of play: Social, Social Competition, Challenge, Escapism, Role-Playing, Power Fantasy, Creation, Exploration, Completion, Griefing, and Competitive Team-Play. These results map onto some established types, add some new ones that are not as embedded in the literature, and re-contextualize others such as immersion which, while highly present in the literature, were not found to be distinct motivations of play.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-05T05:17:50Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221094844
       
  • The Moral Service of Trans Non-Player Characters: Examining the Roles of
           Transgender Non-Player Characters in Role-Playing Video Games

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      Authors: Aiden J. Kosciesza
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      Before 2020, no big-budget, mainstream video games featured playable transgender characters, relegating them instead to the role of non-player characters (NPCs). Through a textual analysis of Bioware’s 2014 title Dragon Age: Inquisition, Ubisoft’s 2016 Watch Dogs 2, and Naughty Dog’s 2020 The Last of Us Part II—three role-playing games that feature explicitly transgender NPCs—and a discourse analysis of media surrounding the games’ release, this paper examines the narrative roles afforded to transgender characters. Drawing from the “magical Negro” trope in film studies, I propose the term “magical transness” to describe the unique role of transgender supporting characters whose victimization provides the opportunity for cisgender protagonists to act heroically. This paper interrogates transgender representation and its relationship to media discourses about diversity and inclusion and discusses the political implications of transgender NPCs’ placement in roles of moral service.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-28T08:32:42Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221088118
       
  • Horror Video Games and the “Active-Passive” Debate

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      Authors: David Christopher, Aidan Leuszler
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      In Perron’s edited compendium of essays regarding horror video games subtitled Essays on the Fusion of Fear and Play (2009), much of the argumentation orbits debate regarding the definition and creation of the experience of horror compared between an ostensibly passive cinema reception (from whence the games take most of their conventions) and the ostensibly more active reception of ludological horror. As the argument goes, ludic activity creates greater identification with diegetic characters and therefore heightens the player’s experience of horror. But is this true, or is it a specious contention that does not really account for the complex mechanics of identification with characters in the ostensibly “passive” experience of cinema viewing, nor for the fact that lacking realism and “active” gameplay may actually compromise the experience of “transportation”'
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-27T11:55:56Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221088115
       
  • The COVID Season: U.S. Collegiate Esports Programs’ Material Challenges
           and Opportunities During the 2020–21 Pandemic

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      Authors: Amanda C. Cote, Onder Can, Maxwell Foxman, Brandon C. Harris, Jared Hansen, Md Waseq Ur Rahman, Tara Fickle
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      During the COVID-19 pandemic, universities were among the first institutions to shift to an online model. As they did so, nascent collegiate esports program lost access to campus spaces and in-person connections, potentially destabilizing this rising industry. Conversely, universities also worked to provide students remote access to resources, and many components of esports already occur online. Therefore, collegiate esports may have adjusted to distancing measures, potentially strengthening their footholds on US campuses. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with collegiate esports players, student employees, program directors, and administrators to address different programs’ reactions to the pandemic, specifically the challenges and opportunities they faced. Overall, interviews reveal how COVID-19 shifted the understandings of and practices around gaming and esports, highlighted the intermittent relationship of online and offline spheres, and presented various possibilities and challenges for different stakeholders during the global pandemic.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-26T07:58:08Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221088116
       
  • Importance of Social Videogaming for Connection with Others During the
           COVID-19 Pandemic

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      Authors: Mary E. Ballard, Michael T. Spencer
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This study focused on the importance of social videogame play for remaining connected to others early in the COVID-19 pandemic. While social isolation and loneliness negatively affect well-being, social interaction is important for positive outcomes. During the pandemic, online videogame play has offered a safe outlet for socialization. Participants (n = 45) completed a survey rating the importance of gaming for feeling connected to family, friends, and co-workers, before, during, and after stay-at-home orders. As expected, the results indicate that social videogame play and its importance increased significantly during the stay-at-home period and decreased afterward. The importance of gaming with friends and co-workers increased significantly during the stay-at-home period but did not decrease significantly afterward. Social gaming was more important for remaining connected with friends and co-workers than family. Participants likely had more direct interaction with family members, while more effort was necessary to maintain contact with non-family members.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-26T01:22:57Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221090982
       
  • Slow Motion in Videogames—Gameplay Over Style'

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      Authors: Håvard Andreas Vibeto
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article explores a commonly used feature of many different videogame genres, namely slow motion. It discusses the origins of slow motion, its ontological qualities and why it is important to analyze a game mechanic’s audiovisual elements when doing game studies research. Slow motion in videogames can be divided into two broad categories: cinematic slow motion and bullet time. The focus in this article is on bullet time, which allows the player interactive control and an advantage in overcoming enemies and obstacles found in the gameplay. This retooling of slow motion to suit interactive use has consequences for the aesthetic qualities of the effect. Bullet time takes advantage of slow motion’s intrinsic qualities to highlight player control, feedback, and audiovisual spectacle. Bullet time is a good example of how videogames’ gameplay mechanics have a strong focus on rules while also offering an audiovisual experience that creates aesthetic pleasure.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-24T09:21:11Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221090974
       
  • Postphenomenology, Kill Cams and Shooters: Exploring the Code of Replay
           Sequences

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      Authors: Dragoş M. Obreja
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The kill cams represent a common feature in many shooters, but little is said about their technological and bodily implications in game studies. By examining postphenomenologically the kill cams code, this article highlights the fact that these gamic cams provoke players to a bodily rethinking of death and failure. The way in which kill cams are embedded is an important topic in understanding their functionality, as it is the very code that determines the power that is attributed to these technologies. Conceiving these kill cams is also a matter of technological mediation, so that one’s own visualization after death produces a sort of objectivity-subjectivity inversion. While the gameplay itself encompasses multiple embodiment relationships, it is noticed that the kill cams’ code of some games completely restricts the player’s agency and rather favors a mere hermeneutic interpretation of its own death.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-24T07:31:26Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221090972
       
  • Growing Pains in Esports Associationalism: Four Modes of National Esports
           Associational Development

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      Authors: Emma Witkowski
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      While million-dollar prize-pools and mega-events dominate esports news, the somewhat elusive entities of national esports associations continue to develop as a critical underbelly. Associations prop up player mobility across all scales of modernisation and play an integral advocacy role for regional esports, providing situated responses to esports governance in society. However, national associations provide sector representation that is often polemic and unwelcome by grassroots, commercial and even state-level representatives. With the continued growth in everyday esports participation and calls for better regulatory frameworks, this article explores the emerging forms and challenges within esports associationalism under the four modes of public, industry, substitute, and early adopter associations. Through qualitative, mixed methods research, these modes are outlined as distinct associational forms with local mobilities, stakeholder pressures and infrastructural challenges involved for associational development and locally tailored esports governance.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-21T07:39:47Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221084449
       
  • Becoming Afflicted, Becoming Virtuous: Darkest Dungeon and the Human
           Response to Stress

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      Authors: James Cartlidge
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      The developers of Red Hook Studios’ 2016 gothic horror “Darkest Dungeon” said that they wanted to “capture the human response to stress.” This paper analyzes how the game does this with its “stress,” “affliction,” and “virtue” mechanics. With reference to research literature on stress, I show how these mechanics, which could easily have been cheap gimmicks, approach the topic of stress with admirable detail, offering a complex reflection on the various aspects, positive and negative, of several possible human responses to stress. They show how different responses include similar symptoms, how stress impacts the people around the stressed person, and make the case that stress can break people, but also fuel heroism. It is a fantastic example of how video game mechanics can be used to educate people about complex subjects without explicitly saying this is what they are doing.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-16T01:10:23Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221084450
       
  • Foreign Yet Familiar: J. L. Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings and Other
           Cultural Ferrymen in Japanese Fantasy Games

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      Authors: Jessy Escande
      First page: 3
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This paper considers J. L. Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings as a vector for the cultural transfer of folkloric, mythological, religious, and literary motifs from foreign cultures to Japanese video games and collectible card games. My analysis relies upon Michel Espagne’s cultural transfer theories and discusses not only the Book of Imaginary Beings but also other vectors of transfer, such as the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. I focus on four specific motifs from different cultural spheres, whose introduction to Japanese video games can be retraced to Borges’ bestiary: The carbuncle, the catoblepas, the peryton, and Kujata. Thus, this paper presents a case study of the cross-cultural influence of literary works on games. Furthermore, it underscores the need for a deeper consideration of the cultural influences found in games and of games as agents of cultural transfers.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-03-04T09:40:48Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120211060258
       
  • Recentering Indigenous Epistemologies Through Digital Games: Sámi
           Perspectives on Nature in Rievssat (2018)

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      Authors: Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam
      First page: 27
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article examines Rievssat (2018), one of the six games developed during the 2018 Sami Game Jam, as a case study to demonstrate how digital games on Indigenous issues afford opportunities to embed Indigenous ways of knowing into the core of game design. In particular, by exploring Rievssat’s themes and game mechanics, this article identifies the way its procedural rhetoric models an understanding of and relationship to the game environment that reflects the dialogic connection with nature and animistic worldview unique to the Sámi people. This article thereby demonstrates the value of new media in recentering Indigenous systems of knowledge and cultural practices by engaging with and incorporating Indigenous epistemologies into the foundation of game design, revealing how Sámi digital games can offer insight into Sámi ways of knowing and experiencing the world to Indigenous and non-Indigenous players alike.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-01-27T06:12:59Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120211068086
       
  • The Data-Driven Myth and the Deceptive Futurity of “the World’s
           Fastest Growing Games Region”: Selling the Southeast Asian Games Market
           via Game Analytics

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      Authors: K.T. Wong
      First page: 42
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article aims to illuminate how game analytics have discursively shaped the mainstream perception of Southeast Asia as a regional games market through a qualitative analysis of the data and discourses in three market reports by Newzoo, an influential game analytics company that played a pivotal role in pioneering market research about the region. By reconceiving the futurity of Southeast Asia in terms of capitalist temporality, these reports envision the region as a games market of perpetual capitalist growth through data-led approaches. Despite its limitations, the compelling conception of Southeast Asia as “the world’s fastest growing games market” has become a powerful myth that exerts profound influence on how the public conceive the region as a gaming space.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-15T07:52:00Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221077731
       
  • ‘You Game Like a Girl’: Perceptions of Gender and Competence
           in Gaming

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      Authors: Danielle Kelly, Brona Nic Giolla Easpaig, Paola Castillo
      First page: 62
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      While there is an abundance of research concerning the gendered dimensions of video gaming and online communities, there is a limited focus on gameplay competence. This study examined the relationship between sexism and gendered perceptions of competence in gaming. Three hundred and 85 participants volunteered to take part. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three gendered conditions (female, male or neutral). Participants watched two video game clips within each condition (novice and expert playthroughs). Participants rated the competence and warmth of the players, estimated the number of errors made and completed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. The findings indicated that female and neutral clips were perceived as less competent than male clips in both skill levels. This difference was more pronounced in the expert level. Warmth ratings varied significantly across conditions. Hostile sexism predicted lower perceptions of warmth. The study demonstrates the need for inclusive and safe online gaming environments.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-03-24T05:48:00Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221077730
       
  • Gameplay Bricks Model, a Theoretical Framework to Match Game Mechanics and
           Cognitive Functions

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      Authors: Grégory Ben-Sadoun, Julian Alvarez
      First page: 79
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article investigated whether it is possible to establish correspondences between game mechanics and particular cognitive stimulations. There are many challenges to prevent and treat cognitive decline with aging or neurocognitive disease. Observing difficulties to establish such correspondences in the scientific literature, we proposed to move away from “classification by genre” or any other type of taxonomy that deviates from the framework of the “Rules/Formal schemas” and the “set of rules” component of the gameplay. Thus, we proposed the Gameplay Bricks model as a theoretical framework for Video Game (VG) and Serious Games (SG). We jointly relied on a framework on fractionated executive functions, memory, and attention. The Gameplay Bricks model currently identifies 14 major Metabricks (game mechanics) through seven Metabricks of obligations and seven of prohibitions. We have proposed first correspondences accompanied by examples from the VG-SGs. The limits and perspectives of these first matches were then discussed.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-05-16T10:43:31Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221080925
       
  • Platform-produced Heteronormativity: A Content Analysis of Adult
           Videogames on Patreon

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      Authors: Petri Lankoski, Thomas Apperley, J. Tuomas Harviainen
      First page: 102
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article examines the prominent role of Patreon in the rapidly growing sector of crowdfunded pornographic games. Recent research has indicated that, on average, more people (patrons) are funding pornographic digital games on Patreon than other (non-adult) digital games (Lankoski & Dymek, 2020). Graphtreon’s ‘Top Patreon Creators’ list from 9 June 2021 includes six NSFW game projects among the top 50 projects (ranked by number of Patrons). For example, Summertime Saga (Dark Cookie), the highest-ranked pornographic game, is third in terms of the number of funders, with 27,791 patrons funding $74,657 per month. While Wild Life – An Adult RPG (Adeptus Steve), which reportedly only had 9417 patrons as of 9 June 2021, receives a monthly income of $94,129 from those pledges. The current funding levels for both Patreon projects are considerably higher than when we began our sampling: since January 2020, the funding level for Summertime Saga has risen by 27.86%, while for Wild Life – An Adult RPG it has risen by 21.45%.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-21T07:42:06Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221084453
       
  • “Beyond Their Actual Limits”: Immersion, Interactivity, and the
           Virtual Sublime in Burke and Video Games

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      Authors: Yaeri Kim
      First page: 124
      Abstract: Games and Culture, Ahead of Print.
      This article examines the experience of the sublime engendered by video games and the function of immersion and interactivity in producing this effect. A close inspection of the history of the sublime as an aesthetic principle and related cultural practices reveals that the elements of immersion, interactivity, and virtuality were already integral to Burke’s seminal conceptualization, as well as in architecture and visual media, before the emergence of digital media. The techniques and technologies of the immersive sublime deployed by preexisting spatial and visual art forms are inherited, revised, and enhanced in video games, as demonstrated by the analysis of the undersea exploration game ABZÛ. In this sense, the video game simultaneously marks the continuation of and new developments in the interlinked histories of the sublime and technology.
      Citation: Games and Culture
      PubDate: 2022-04-01T12:21:28Z
      DOI: 10.1177/15554120221084454
       
 
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