Games Research Network

Researching analogue and digital games

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The problem of treating play like work

BagoGames/flickr, CC BY

Tom Brock writes on ‘The problem of treating play like work – how esports can harm well-being’ in The Conversation this week.

Esports blurs the distinction between play and work by changing how players value the goals of gaming.

You can read the article on The Conversation, and listen Tom discuss the esports industry on The Anthill podcast All the world’s a game. This is a discussion that looks set to continue in academia, with Staffordshire University launching a BA (hons) eSports course in September 2018.

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Book Review: Hacking the Curriculum

Hacking the Curriculum: Creative Computing and the Power of Play

By Ian Livingstone & Shahneola Saeed

John Catt Educational Limited, 2017. ISBN 9781909717824

Given the massive impact of the videogames industry on the UK economy, computing in schools is still catching up to a large extent. Prior to 2014 the ICT curriculum in schools focused on the use of Microsoft Office software and little else; the creative programming skill required to grow a huge games industry was developed by individual hobbyists in their bedrooms rather than through the school system. Acknowledging that our children need to be ready for a digital future, recent curriculum changes have attempted to address this, with coding being described as ‘the new Latin’ by many reformers since 2010 . However, this in turn has landed a mass of new curriculum initiatives on the plates of teachers, many of whom only studied the old ICT curriculum if they studied ICT at all.

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Book review: Gewalt im Computerspiel: Facetten eines Vergnügens

Gewalt im Computerspiel: Facetten eines Vergnügens

(Violence in Computer Games: Aspects of a Pleasure)

By Christoph Bareither

transcript, 2016. ISBN: 978-3837635591

Christoph Bareither’s book is an investigation into the nature of the pleasure offered by the violent aspects of computer games. The approach is neither psychological nor pedagogical, but ethnographic, and there is a deliberate avoidance of the question as to why people like violence in computer games. Given that they do, it investigates instead the nature of that pleasure. The research is based on three main bodies of evidence: an historical survey of computer games magazines covering the period from 1983 until 2014; a selection of “Let’s Play” YouTube videos; and, finally, direct comments from gamers themselves obtained through interviews and through participating in multiplayer games with them. This evidence is used by Bareither to discover the emotional experiences that players have when interacting with computer-mediated representations of physical violence.

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Events: ‘Video Games and Representation’ (May) & ‘Practice and/as Media Industry Research’ (June)

Followers of the website may be interested in these two events:

Video Games and Representation Workshop May 2017
Workshop: Representation in video games / researching representation in industry and production
May 16th UCL Knowledge Lab, Central London
Free to attend, places are limited. Please email me to reserve your place (d.carr@ucl.ac.uk)
Convenors: Diane Carr and Caroline Pelletier
Confirmed speakers: Alison Harvey, Aphra Kerr, Helen Kennedy, Ewan Kirkland, Darshana Jayemanne, William Huber, Nina Seppala, Diane Carr, Caroline Pelletier

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Book Review: Zones of Control

Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming

Edited by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

MIT, 2016. ISBN: 9780262033992

Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s Zones of Control (2016) is the first book in MIT’s ‘Game Histories’ series edited by Henry Lowood and Raiford Guins whose own volume in the series, Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon, was published in June 2016.

While the book inaugurates Lowood and Guins’ new series, Zones of Control is the fourth of Harrigan’s collection on games and gaming to be published by MIT (following in the footsteps of First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game (2004), Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media (2007), and Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives (2009), all edited with Noah Wardrip-Fruin). While the latest volume sees Harrigan joined by a new co-editor the general scope and ambition of the collection will feel familiar to readers of the ‘Person’ trilogy. Zones of Control is a large and impressive volume that brings together a wide range of contributors from diverse backgrounds, writing on a topic that is itself wide ranging and diverse – namely wargaming – both tabletop and digital.

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