Game Developers Conference 2017 in tweets: March 1st

Continued from yesterday’s survey of Game Developers Conference 2017 tweets,  here are the most common words on the #gdc17 twitter hashtag for March 1st, 2017, the third day of the conference:

Today: Game Developer Choice Awards, with lots of congratulations.

Biggest talk was Nintendo on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Satoru Takizawa and Takuhiro Dohta, whose names show up.

Windows and Acer are mentioned for mixed reality headsets. (The MR refers to the Nintendo presenters though, not Mixed Reality.)

Noctis from Final Fantasy XI also makes it.

Game Developers Conference 2017 in tweets: February 27

As part of my Game Developers Conference tweet series, here are the most common words on the #gdc17 twitter hashtag for February 27, 2017, the first day of the conference:

This suggests a conference with no dominant theme.

VR and Mobile stand out, but then there are specific events for those happening these two first days.

VR is a less popular tag now than the same day, last year.


PS. I’ve filtered out the tweets where unnamed companies were promising prizes for retweets. This is also what Twitter is becoming.


The Darkening of Play

These are some comments from my keynote at Rutger’s Extending Play conference in 2016, co-presenting with Shaka McGlotten.

Hasn’t our sense of play suddenly become quite dark?

There is a change in our primary conceptions of playing, and game-playing. In Brian Sutton-Smith’s Ambiguity of play, he lists 7 common rhetorics of play, meaning 7 common ways in which play is framed.

When the field of game studies began, we probably used four quite positive rhetorics of play:

  1. Rhetoric of play as progress.
  2. Rhetoric of play as fate.
  3. Rhetoric of play as power.
  4. Rhetoric of play as identity.
  5. Rhetoric of play as the imaginary.
  6. Rhetoric of the self.
  7. Rhetoric of play as frivolous.

This is not surprising. The field of game studies started out arguing against negative views of video games (“they make children crazy!”), and we therefore celebrated play, and games.

We emphasized learning (play as progress), playing with identity, we emphasized the positive creations of the imaginary, and we emphasized the me-time of playing (the self).

But now it seems we are in a darker place. This became clear to me when I rediscovered Howard Rheingold’s 2002 book Smart Mobs. Compared to this book, there is a distinct dystopian feeling now. We rarely discuss internet or game culture as something positive.

We no longer talk about smart mobs, just mobs.

We discuss game culture as a problem, and we think of self-organized online groups as dangerous, both in games, and in, ahem, politics.

Returning to Sutton-Smith, the primary framing of play now seems one of power and domination. Play now appears to be a dark place from which grows discrimination, dominance, and threats of violence.

  1. Rhetoric of play as progress.
  2. Rhetoric of play as fate.
  3. Rhetoric of play as power.
  4. Rhetoric of play as identity.
  5. Rhetoric of play as the imaginary.
  6. Rhetoric of the self.
  7. Rhetoric of play as frivolous.

My hope is simple: I hope we can keep our focus here, that we can be aware of what is happening and do what we can to change things. But also that we don’t become the school that bans recess for fear of lawsuits. That we can be aware of what is happening in the world around us, while we still remember the good sides of play.



Game Studies Volume 16, Issue 2

For your theoretical gratification:

New Special Issue of Game Studies Journal 
Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research has just published its latest issue (Volume 16, Issue 2, December 2016). All articles are available at


by Holger Pötzsch, Philip Hammond
War and games are intrinsically connected. The present editorial maps the war/game nexus, locates the issue in academic discourse, and briefly introduces each contribution included in this special issue of Game Studies.


by Vít Šisler
This article investigates the possibilities and limitations of videogames in dealing with contentious issues from contemporary history; particularly the civilian perspective of war. It presents a serious game we developed, Czechoslovakia 38-“89: Assassination, and critically discusses the design challenges of adapting real people’s testimonies.


by Piotr Sterczewski
The article analyses the representations of civilian experience of war in three Polish games depicting the Warsaw Uprising, focusing on relations between discourses of Polish cultural memory and dominant game medium conventions.


by Adam Chapman
This article explores the relation of WWI popular collective memory to videogames and thus their nature as a form for historical representation. Providing an overview of WWI videogames, it suggests that their lack of engagement with WWI popular memory is partly shaped by the pressures that the videogame form and its perceived cultural role entail.


by Dom Ford
This article considers Civilization V through a postcolonial lens. It problematizes the homogenous historical narrative the game creates, and analyses the player’s relationship with that history, while questioning the use of the series in education.


by Kevin O’Neill, Bill Feenstra
Twelve Canadian university students played Medal of Honor: Frontline and were interviewed about how “realistic” they thought the game was. Our paper details the strategies players used to make this judgment, and attempts to explain why they thought of commercial videogames as less useful sources of knowledge about the past than any other media.


by Kristine Jørgensen
The article is a study of how focus-group participants describe their experiences with playing the third- person military shooter Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment, 2012), and identifies three techniques used by the game to create a positive sense of discomfort.


by Gareth Healey
This article focuses on the ways in which adolescent boys use sexualized language and bragging to construct their masculine identities when playing Call of Duty: Black Ops (Treyarch, 2010).


by Jaime Banks, John G. Cole
This multi-method study explores military and veteran gamers’ self-directed coping through video games and avatars. Results suggest coping practices are associated with more general motivations for play, avatars support identity-related coping, and fantasy and skill motivations are uniquely tied to coping for those with chronic mental/physical conditions.


by Lykke Guanio-Uluru
Drawing on Espen Aarseth’s discussions of cybertext and ludo-narratives, on rhetorical narrative theory and on Miguel Sicart’s conception of the ethics of computer games, this article analyzes the portrayal of war technology, the nature games and ethical responsibility in three popular fictions.


New issue of the G|A|M|E Journal, 5/2016

For your theoretical perusal.

G|A|M|E – n. 5/2016

vol. 1, 2016 – Journal (peer-reviewed): Games on Games. Game design as critical reflexive practice (edited by Giovanni Caruso, Riccardo Fassone, Gabriele Ferri, Stefano Gualeni, Mauro Salvador)

vol. 2, 2016 – Critical Notes (non peer-reviewed)

Game Studies vol 16, issue 1

New Issue of Game Studies Journal
Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research has just published its latest issue (Volume 16, Issue 1, October 2016). All articles are available at


by Espen Aarseth
There is an ongoing battle for the heart and soul of open-access publishing. And it is not going well.


by Karen Collins
This paper provides an “audio archaeology” of the penny arcades, exploring the uses of sound in the electro-mechanical era of games.
by Maria B. Garda, Paweł Grabarczyk
We argue that “indie game” is a distinct narrow notion within a wider concept of “independent game”. The latter can be explained as a disjunction of three types of independence (financial, creative and publishing) and it is associated, in a given historical period, with different contingent properties determined by the game culture of the era.
by Bjarke Liboriussen, Paul Martin
Game studies is undergoing a regional turn marked by an increase in research conducted in and focussed on areas outside of Western Europe and North America. The development of “regional game studies” will extend the field’s ability to engage with important global issues and enrich game studies with new perspectives and concepts.
by Daniel Reynolds
Describes a confluence of forces that shaped the development of the Nintendo Game Boy. Argues that the Game Boy exemplifies a relationship between technologists, media technology, and users. Encourages theorists to consider the bodily and other material constraints that inform the development of media platforms.
Book Reviews
by Veli-Matti Karhulahti
Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Game and Art (2015) by John Sharp. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262029070. 146 pp.

Wide Screen Journal on Videogame Adaptation

The Wide Screen Journal has a special issue on Videogame Adaptation.

Table of Contents


“Introduction – Videogame Adaptation: Some Experiments in Method” – Kevin M. Flanagan
“Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction” – Bradley J. Fest
“8-Bit Goes to the Movies” – Kyle Meikle
“Subjective and Affective Adaptations: Remediation and the Playstation 2 Videogame” – Cameron Kunzelman
“Visiting the Videogame Theme Park”- Bobby Schweizer
“Playing Los Angeles Itself: Versions of and from the Historical City in LA Noire and the ‘Semi-Documentary’ Noir” – Jedd Hakimi
“Gotham on the Ground: Transmedia Meets Topography in Environments of the Arkham Videogame Series” – Kalervo A. Sinervo
PS. As much as I support Open Journal Systems, there must be a way to cut down the number of clicks I need to make to get to the PDF. At least just take me directly to the PDF when I click PDF, rather than putting the PDF in a tiny frame?