For its first issue, G|A|M|E proposes an inquiry into the diffusion of the videogame medium outside of its established contexts: a phenomenon that leads us to reconsider the object of our research as part of a wider media ecology.
Transformations in interface design make it difficult to map the boundaries of video gaming as a field, and, with the spread of aludic paradigm, many other products are being turned into games.
From the logic of gamification to geo-localization, and from mobile applications to the ludic sociability of Farmville, we are witnessing videogames’ invasion of the spaces and temporalities of everyday life.
We are inviting scholars from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to tackle this subject, focusing on the issues specific to this new challenge in the field of game studies.
Key questions and issues:
Today, the videogame medium is targeting user-friendliness and accessibility through interface design. How do such interfaces encourage traditionally non-gaming audiences to approach and engage with the medium? Who are today’s gamers, and how do they behave as media users? What kind of innovations have emerged from the interfaces of the new generation of consoles and gaming-oriented smart phones (Move, Kinect, Wii Mote, accelerometers, etc.)?
In which ways have these interfaces affected existing gaming practices? Is it possible to trace a genealogy of human-computer interfaces, or do the latest rounds of innovation represent a fundamental break, allowing for an entirely novel set of experiences? Can one find examples of strategies in videogame design that explicitly aim to transcend the previous norms and boundaries of the gaming experience? Is it possible to analyse these strategies? If so, how?
The videogame medium is enmeshed in wider processes of the relocation, mobilisation, and dematerialization of technological devices. The use of mobile machines and the obsolescence of material supports could lead to a rethink of textualization in and of games. Are we in need of new and specific media-theoretical tools? Can we draw analogies between these shifts in videogames and recent changes to the structure, framing, and re-locationof movies and audio-visual media?
Between videogames and other media, we seem to be witnessing an emerging on new, hybrid cultural forms. How successful are these hybrid mediums at extending extant gaming practices beyond their traditional contexts? What kinds of developments and projects are staking a claim on this media space, and on what platforms and devices (interactive films for the iPhone, alternate reality games, applications available through leading companies’ e-stores, etc.)? Within the new genres and styles enabled by these hybrid media, can we find any evidence of the long arm of gamification? What are the consequences of these processes on social practices? In what ways did videogames influence other media by leading them to a reconfiguration of their own strategies and processes? What kind of gaming practices have migrated to the broader context of new media, and what influence did they exert on social interaction?
With the productive and distributive strategies of the videogame industry undergoing profound transformation, alongside sudden changes in the discourses and social practices of the medium, academics and commentators should question their existing methodological choices – particularly in their approach to history. Is it possible to conceive of a historical approach to the study of videogames, balancing the field’s technological focus with a conscious examination of aesthetic and social concerns? Can we identify specific events or conditions in videogame history which anticipated the expansion of this gaming paradigm into other fields of culture?
Social discourses on video games are changing rapidly. The industry promotes a casual and easy-going image of gaming and gamers. The initial scepticism towards video games expressed in the past by columnists, commentators and intellectuals appears to be fading in strength and importance. What is the status of videogames in today’s social discourse? Is the medium moved beyond the margins of culture, and, if so, how can we hope to evaluate its relevance in a contemporary context?
Not only have videogames transcended their role as part of a distinct subculture, but they are exhibiting a profound influence over the form and content of all other media. Non-gaming interfaces are becoming increasingly game-like, social life on the Internet is adopting competitive models, and marketing is ever-more dependant on gaming dynamics. How are videogames changing the marketing, advertising and production models of the entertainment industry? Are there specific examples that might provide subjects for investigation and analysis? Can we see any particular features of videogame and media production which are acting as conduits for the spread of gamification?