Essays on Control in Video Gaming


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About the Book

The word “control” has many implications for video games. On a basic level, without player control, there is no experience. Much of the video game industry focuses on questions of control and ways to improve play to make the gamer feel more connected to the virtual world. The sixteen essays in this collection offer critical examinations of the issue of control in video games, including different ways to theorize and define control within video gaming and how control impacts game design and game play. Close readings of specific games—including Grand Theft Auto IV, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Dragon Age: Origins—consider how each locates elements of control in their structures. As video games increasingly become a major force in the media landscape, this important contribution to the field of game studies provides a valuable framework for understanding their growing impact.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Wysocki is an assistant professor at Flagler College, teaching cinema and media studies. He lives in St. Augustine, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Matthew Wysocki

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7013-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0041-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction (Matthew Wysocki) 1

Section 1: Theories and Definitions of Control
Criticism and Control: Gameplay in the Space of Possibility
(Gerald Voorhees) 9
The Psychology of Control and Video Games
(Paul Toprac) 21
Controller Controls: Haptics, Ergon, Teloi and the Production of Affect in the Video Game Text
(Nadav Lipkin) 34
Just One More Turn: Player Control and Addiction
(Thijs van den Berg) 46

Section 2: Control and Game Design/Play
Controlling a Sandbox (Nick Webber) 59
The Illusion of Agency and the Affect of Control within Video Games
(David Owen) 72
It’s All Part of the Game: The Emergence of Narrative and Meaning in Play
(Meagan Rothschild, Amanda Ochsner and Jonathan Gray) 83
Press Start to Continue: The Effects of ­Pseudo-­Authorial Control on Video Game Narratives
(Shawn Edrei) 96
On Couches and Controllers: Identification in the Video Game Apparatus
(Peter McDonald) 108
Standing in the Way of Control: Relationships between Gestural Interfaces and Game Spaces
(Alison Gazzard) 121

Section 3: Reading Control in Video Games
“Now I know I’m a lowlife”: Controlling Play in GTA: IV, Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire
(Chris Pallant) 133
Perceptions of Control: Open World Formats v. Online Multiplayer First Person Shooters
(Brent Kice) 146
The Good, the Bad and the Neutral: Problems with the Ethical Constructions of Video and Computer Games
(Karl Babij) 158
For Those About to Rock: Gender as Instrument in Rock Band
(Elisa Meléndez) 169
­Obey-­Play: Passive Play and Productive Submission to the Code
(M.-Niclas Heckner) 183
“Would you kindly?” BioShock and the Question of Control
(Matthew Wysocki and Matthew Schandler) 196

About the Contributors 209
Index 213

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