Games Research Network

Researching analogue and digital games

Book Review: Understanding Counterplay in Video Games

Understanding Counterplay in Video Games

By Alan F. Meades

London: Routledge: 2014. ISBN: 9781138804920

An insightful and interesting read, Alan F. Meades’ Understanding Counterplay in Video Games explores one of the most problematic issues within multiplayer video games: the antisocial and oppositional forms of play, such as cheating, hacking, griefing and illicit game modifications, which is known collectively as ‘counterplay’. Meades’ intention is reframe the debate, away from the suggestion that these acts are simply ‘childish’ or ‘malicious’, to recognise the meaningful value(s) that counter players attribute to transgressing the authority of game rules. The book shows that the motivation to cheat the game, modify the system or grief another player, is a complex and often contradictory experience, one which reveals a key tension within Western play philosophy: that violent, destructive and unrestricted play is not only pleasurable, but often provides the impetus for social and political change. Meades navigates this argument carefully, across seven chapters, and draws from ethnographic research with counter players to consider the moral imperative(s) that underwrite their transgressive behaviour.

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Building Materials

New research has been published that investigates the use of Minecraft to teach college students in the US about materials science.

The interdisciplinary research team (which included a materials scientist, two chemists, and a games design expert) developed a ‘mod’ for Minecraft, a game about placing blocks and going on adventures in which the default protagonist is a character called Steve. The ‘Polycraft World’ mod enables players to use material science and chemistry to complete specific in-game activities. These activities range from the harvesting and processing of natural rubber to make pogo sticks, to the conversion of crude oil into a jetpack via chemical synthesis and distillation techniques. The students are also provided with instructions on how to complete these activities and the underlying theory behind them via an accompanying Wiki.

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The cost of eSports

Brendan Sinclair’s gamesindustry.biz article ‘eSports market to hit $696 million this year’ confirms the exponential growth of eSports, predicting a continued rise in the eSports economy with figures predicted to rise by 41.3% in 2017 from an estimated $493 million in 2016. By 2020 Newzoo (providers of market intelligence covering the global games, esports, and mobile markets) predict that the eSports market will reach $1.5 Billion. You can read Sinclair’s analysis in full here.

The huge sums of money coming into eSports, from brands, games companies, and audiences, have significant implications for the nature of video games as play. Tom Brock (a member of this network) explores some of these implications in his article ‘Roger Caillois and eSports: On the Problems of Treating Play as Work.’ Recently published in Games and Culture, in a special issue on Caillois’ work, the article extends Caillois’ sociology of games to eSports to warn against turning play into work, presenting a critical account of the impact that electronic sports has on human psychology. You can read this article in full here: Tom Brock, ‘Roger Caillois and eSports; On the Problems of Treating Play as Work,’ Games and Culture. There’s a pre-print version of the article here for those without access to Games and Culture.

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C4P: 6th EAI International Conference

Here’s an upcoming conference on interactivity and games design that may be of interest to members of the Network.

6th EAI International Conference: ArtsIT, Interactivity & Game Creation
Colocated conference DLI 2017
OCTOBER 30–31, 2017 | HERAKLION, CRETE, GREECE


ArtsIT, Interactivity & Game Creation 2017 is meant to be a place where people in arts, with a keen interest in modern IT technologies, meet with people in IT, having strong ties to arts in their works. Since 2009 the event has become a leading scientific forum for dissemination of cutting-edge research results in the area of Arts, Design & Technology – now extended to include the open related topics Interactivity (Interaction Design, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality etc) and Game Creation (e.g. Serious Games, Gamification, Leisure Gaming, GamePlay, etc.).

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Call for Papers: Playful Learning 2017

After last year’s inaugural event, Playful Learning conference, run in conjunction with the ALT Games and Learning SIG, returns 12 to 14 July 2017 at Manchester Metropolitan University.  Playful Learning is pitched at the intersection of learning and play for adults. Playful in approach and outlook, yet underpinned by robust research and working practices, the conference provides a space where teachers, researchers and students can play, learn and think together. A space to meet other playful people and be inspired by talks, workshops, activities and events.

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