Category Archives: readings

New issue of Analog Game Studies

For your analog interests, here is Volume II, Issue VII of Analog Game studies.

Manipulating Environments in American Freeform – Jason Cox

Playing With Portals: Rethinking Urban Play With Ingress – Kyle Moore

The Eurogame of Heterotopia – Devin Wilson

The First Nations of Catan: Practices in Critical Modification – Greg Loring-Albright

In this final issue of the year, we are exploring material components of analog gameplay. The materiality of games is important to consider as it lends insight into the ways that games can be located within the clear parameters of space and time—often despite the best efforts of players and designers to otherwise construe them as timeless or nostalgic media. Additionally, materialities help to remind us of the limitations of play. Our bodies must navigate black-box theater rooms and city spaces, as manipulate pawns, chits, meeples, cards and other trappings of board games. These deliberate, sometimes awkward, yet often tacit negotiations help to remind us of the always-present stakes of materiality.

Jason Cox’s essay “Manipulating Environments in American Freeform” offers a starting point for those curious about the ways in which emerging practices of larp design offer more to players than just narrative—they tell stories about spaces as well, and attend to how environments affect our bodies. This is also what is at stake in Kyle Moore’s essay, “Playing With Portals: Rethinking Urban Play with Ingress,” a theoretical sketch of the ways that the game, formerly a Google product, compels players to experience urban space in new and often challenging ways. Finally, the last two essays in this issue, Devin Wilson’s “The Eurogame as Heterotopia,” and Greg Loring-Albright’s “The First Nations of Catan: Practices in Critical Modification”—both in dialogue with last year’s AGS essay by Will Robinson—take up critiques of the abstracted representations characteristic of Eurogames. Wilson’s piece argues for a new and less oppositional reading of abstract game materials, positioning them as a space of polysemic and potentially revolutionary interpretation. In contrast, Loring-Albright moves forward from the problematic of abstraction established by Robinson by offering a new critical ruleset for Catan that accounts for the erasure of indigenous peoples in the game’s narrative. And, in the spirit of materiality: we’ve included the rules as a bonus to our readers.

Thank you, readers, for an excellent year, and keep an eye out in the coming months for more exciting content!

-The Editors
November 9, 2015


Futures: Journal of Virtual Worlds Research issue 8, 2

For your theory itchJournal of Virtual Worlds Research issue 8, 2.

This issue presents six papers each reflecting on one angle to the future of virtual worlds: Four concrete views relating to: bots, head mounted displays (HMD), neuroscience and meditation, and eSports; as well as two theoretical views relating to the focus of virtual worlds research, and looking at virtual worlds as a mediator between “technology trends” and the “digital transformation of society and business.”

From the point of view of 2015: the virtual is becoming the real and the real is becoming the virtual.

Table of Contents

Editor In-Chief Corner

Toward the Futures of Real AND Virtual Worlds PDF
Yesha Y. Sivan


Three Real Futures for Virtual Worlds PDF
Tom Boellstorff
Is a Technological Singularity Near Also for Bots in MMOGs? PDF
Stefano De Paoli
Conceptualizing Factors of Adoption for Head Mounted Displays: Toward an Integrated Multi-Perspective Framework PDF
Ibrahim Halil Yucel, Robert Anthony Edgell
Being There: Implications of Neuroscience and Meditation for Self-Presence in Virtual Worlds PDF
Carrie Heeter, Marcel Allbritton
The eSports Trojan Horse: Twitch and Streaming Futures PDF
Benjamin Burroughs, Paul Rama
The Metaverse as Mediator between Technology, Trends, and the Digital Transformation of Society and Business PDF
Sven-Volker Rehm, Lakshmi Goel, Mattia Crespi


Katherine Isbister: How Games Move Us

How Games Move Us

Set for launch in February 2016, we are proud to present the fifth book of the Playful Thinking Series. Katherine Isbister’s How games Move Us: Emotion by Design is an examination of how video game design can create strong, positive emotional experiences for players, with examples from popular, indie, and art games.

This is a renaissance moment for video games—in the variety of genres they represent, and the range of emotional territory they cover. But how do games create emotion? In How Games Move Us, Katherine Isbister takes the reader on a timely and novel exploration of the design techniques that evoke strong emotions for players. She counters arguments that games are creating a generation of isolated, emotionally numb, antisocial loners. Games, Isbister shows us, can actually play a powerful role in creating empathy and other strong, positive emotional experiences; they reveal these qualities over time, through the act of playing. She offers a nuanced, systematic examination of exactly how games can influence emotion and social connection, with examples—drawn from popular, indie, and art games—that unpack the gamer’s experience.

Isbister describes choice and flow, two qualities that distinguish games from other media, and explains how game developers build upon these qualities using avatars, non-player characters, and character customization, in both solo and social play. She shows how designers use physical movement to enhance players’ emotional experience, and examines long-distance networked play. She illustrates the use of these design methods with examples that range from Sony’s Little Big Planet to the much-praised indie game Journey to art games like Brenda Romero’s Train.

Isbister’s analysis shows us a new way to think about games, helping us appreciate them as an innovative and powerful medium for doing what film, literature, and other creative media do: helping us to understand ourselves and what it means to be human.

Well Played 4.2 – Learning and Games


Well Played: volume 4 number 2
Stephen Jacobs and Ira Fay et al. 2015


Medulla: A 2D sidescrolling platformer game that teaches basic brain structure and function
Joseph Fanfarelli, Stephanie Vie

Play or science? a study of learning and framing in crowdscience
Andreas Lieberoth, Mads Kock Pedersen, Jacob Friis Sherson

Barriers To Learning About Mental Illness Through Empathy Games – Results Of A User
Study On Perfection
Barbara Harris, Mona Shattell, Doris C. Rusch, Mary J. Zefeldt

Zombie-based critical learning – teaching moral philosophy with The Walking Dead
Tobias Staaby
Distributed Teaching and Learning Systems in Dota 2
Jeffrey B. Holmes

An Analysis of Plague, Inc.: Evolved for Learning
Lorraine A. Jacques

Purchase from, or Download for free

Video Games and Insightful Gameplay: Special Issue of COMPASO

The Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology has a new special issue on Video games and insightful gameplay, guest edited by Doris Rusch.

Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN 2068 – 0317
Special issue: 
Video games and insightful gameplay
Volume 6, Number 1

Guest Editor: Doris C. Rusch


Doris C. Rusch / Video games and insightful gameplay
[Full text / pdf]

Research articles – Special issue on Video Games and Insightful Gameplay
Matt Bouchard / Playing with progression, immersion, and sociality: Developing a framework for studying meaning in APPMMAGs, a case study
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Ioana Cărtărescu-Petrică / Those who play together stay together. A study of the World of Warcraft community of play and practice
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Joanna Cuttell / Arguing for an immersive method: Reflexive meaning-making, the visible researcher, and moral responses to gameplay
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Daniel de Vasconcelos Guimarães / Apocalyptic souls: the existential (anti) hero metaphor in the Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes games
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Mikhail Fiadotau / Paratext and meaning-making in indie games
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Sonja Gabriel / Serious games – How do they try to make players think about immigration issues? An overview
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Enrico Gandolfi / Once upon a bit: Ludic identities in Italy, from militant nostalgia to frivolous divertissement
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Kishonna Gray & Wanju Huang / More than addiction: Examining the role of anonymity, endless narrative, and socialization in prolonged gaming and instant messaging practices
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Scott Hughes / Get real: Narrative and gameplay in The Last of us
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Youn Jung Huh / Making sense of gender from digital game play in three-year-old children’s everyday lives: An ethnographic case study
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Xeniya Kondrat / Gender and video games: How is female gender generally represented in various genres of video games?
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Alina Petra Marinescu-Nenciu / Collaborative learning through art games. Reflecting on corporate life with ‘Every Day the Same Dream’
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Elisabeta Toma / Self-reflection and morality in critical games. Who is to be blamed for war?
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Max Watson / A medley of meanings: Insights from an instance of gameplay in League of Legends
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]


Other research articles
Yitzhak Alfasi, Moshe Levy & Yair Galily / Israeli football as an arena for post-colonial struggle: The case of Beitar Jerusalem FC
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Gautam Ghosh / An ‘infiltration’ of time? Hindu Chauvinism and Bangladeshi migration in/to Kolkata, India
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Adediran Daniel Ikuomola / An exploration of life experiences of left behind wives in Edo State, Nigeria
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Andra Jacob / Migrant’s houses as places and objects of cultural consumption and status display
[Abstract]          [Full text / pdf]

Book reviews
Alin Constantin /Book review – Roland Cvetkovski & Alexis Hofmeister, An Empire of Others: Creating Ethnographic Knowledge in Imperial Russia and the USSR, Central European University Press, Budapest, 2014.
[Full text / pdf]

Game Research Methods book out (for download)

ETC Press is excited to announce the release of “Game Research Methods: An Overview,” by Petri Lankoski & Staffan Björk, et al.
Games are increasingly becoming the focus for research due to their cultural and economic impact on modern society. However, there are many different types of approaches and methods than can be applied to understanding games or those that play games. This book provides an introduction to various game research methods that are useful to students in all levels of higher education covering both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. In addition, approaches using game development for research is described. Each method is described in its own chapter by a researcher with practical experience of applying the method to topic of games. Through this, the book provides an overview of research methods that enable us to better our understanding on games.
For more information, and to purchase or download a copy, visit:


Well played volume 4, number 1

For your theoretical pleasure:

ETC Press is excited to announce the release of the first issue of the fourth volume of
Well Played: a journal on video games, value and meaning, co-edited by Sean Duncan and Caro Williams

Sean Duncan, Guest Editor

Where’s BattleTech in MechWarrior Online? A Case Study in Game Adaptation
Hans-Joachim Backe

One Click at a Time: Playing Porpentine’s howling dogs
Hanli Geyser

Cause No Trouble: The Experience of “Serious Fun” in Papers, Please
Oscar Moralde

Playing for the plot: Blindness, agency, and the appeal of narrative organization in Heavy Rain
Fanny A. Ramirez

Spore’s Playable Procedural Content Generation
Gillian Smith

PART TWO: Games Learning Society

Elder Scrolls Online: How ESO encourages group formation and cooperative play
Michelle Aubrecht, Jeff Kuhn, Justin Eames

Acting in the Light and on Fayth: Ritualized Play in Journey and Final Fantasy X
Kyrie Eleison H. Caldwell

Well Played & Well Watched: Dota 2, Spectatorship, and eSports
Chris Georgen

Magic the Gathering: A Learning Game Designer’s Perspective
Dan Norton

For the Records – Understanding Mental Illness Through Metaphorical Games
Doris C. Rusch

Gaming a Non-Game? A Long Term (Self)-Experiment about FarmVille
Heinrich Söbke

The Stanley Parable
Phil J. Dougherty III

*These essays were part of the Well Played Sessions at GLS 10, the 2014 Games+Learning+Society Conference in Madison, WI, as well as the Well Played Sessions at the 2014 DiGRA conference in Salt Lake City, UT.