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Playing with Virtuality

Theories and Methods of Computer Game Studies

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Edited By Benjamin Bigl and Sebastian Stoppe

Computer games have fascinated millions of users for more than 30 years. Today, they constitute the strongest sector in the media-entertainment industry and are part of the experience of digital daily life. Computer Game Studies require a deep understanding of functional and communicational mechanisms of games that support the player’s immersion in virtual worlds. Unfortunately, the discussion and the academic research about usage and effects of computer games mostly takes place isolated within different scientific contexts with various theoretical and methodological approaches. Therefore, this anthology combines the perspectives of Media Studies, Game Studies, and Communication Studies, and presents their findings in an interdisciplinary approach.

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CHAPTER 2: METHODS

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114 114 115 GARETH SCHOTT, JASPER VAN VUGHT, RAPHAËL MARCZAK Not knowing: locating player experience between ideal and active play Introduction During the last decade, humanities-oriented studies of interactive digital games have intensified, offering enticing accounts of the way games con- stitute a distinct form of expression and discrete category of cultural ac- tivity. Constantly unsettling and aggravating the progression of theoreti- cal discussions of game-play experience is the constant and frequent ex- periential shifts that occur with each form of technological advancement. Rather than narrative or game invention, it is technological advancement that most often underscores a game’s distinctiveness either from its pre- decessor or its competitors. Game scholarship with an emphasis on play- er experience is therefore required to function within (and correspond to) a shifting culture of engagement that, even during its most technolo- gically durable periods, remains a complex form of engagement that supports idiosyncrasies. At an abstract level game studies recognizes that games exist “in potential” until actualized by the player (Klastrup, 2003), but rarely is this detailed sufficiently in broader player research studies. Scholarly treatment of more “receptive” forms of media (e.g. literature or film) have experienced a gradual shift from seeking to understand “au- thorial intent” to greater recognition of the relevance and value of au- diences’ active interpretative work (e.g. Barthes, 1978). In positioning and distinguishing the qualities of interactive games within an increa- singly expansive and contemporary media-scape, game studies have, from the onset, set out to emphasize the active...

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