The Players’ Realm

Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming


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SKU: 9780786428328 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

Digital games have become an increasingly pervasive aspect of everyday life as well as an embattled cultural phenomenon in the twenty-first century. As new media technologies diffuse around the world and as the depth and complexity of gaming networks increase, scholars are becoming increasingly savvy in their approach to digital games. While aesthetic and psychological approaches to the study of digital games have garnered the most attention in the past, scholars have only recently begun to study the important social and cultural aspects of digital games.
This study sketches some of the various trajectories of digital games in modern Western societies, looking first at the growth and persistence of the moral panic that continues to accompany massive public interest in digital games. The book then continues with what it deems a new phase of games research exemplified by systematic examination of specific aspects of digital games and gaming. Section One includes four chapters that collectively consider politics and the negotiation of power in game worlds. Section Two details the ideological webs within which games are produced and consumed. Specifically, this important section offers a critical cultural analysis of the hegemony that exists within games and its influence upon players’ personal ideologies. To conclude this analysis, Section Three examines game design features that relate to players’ self-characterization and social development within digital game worlds. Section Four explores the important relationship between the producers and consumers of digital games, especially insomuch as this relationship is giving rise to a community of novices and professionals who will together determine the future of gaming and—to a degree—popular culture.

About the Author(s)

J. Patrick Williams is an assistant professor of Sociology at Arkansas State University.
Jonas Heide Smith has a Ph.D. from the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen and currently heads the university’s MSC program in Digital Design and Communication.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by J. Patrick Williams and Jonas Heide Smith
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 314
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, tables, notes, references, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2832-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: From Moral Panics to Mature Games Research in Action            1

Section 1: Control versus Authorship      17

1. Who Governs the Gamers?      17

2. Terms of Service and Terms of Play in Children’s Online Gaming      33

3. Narrative Power in Online Game Worlds: The Story of Cybertown      56

4. Law and Disorder in Cyberspace: How Systems of Justice Developed in Online Text-Based Gaming Communities      74

Section 2: Discourse and Ideology      91

5. From The Green Berets to America’s Army: Video Games as a Vehicle for Political Propaganda      91

6. Rhetorics of Computer and Video Game Research      110

7. From Margin to Center: Biographies of Technicity and the Construction of Hegemonic Games Culture      131

8. Ghost Recon: Island Thunder: Cuba in the Virtual Battlescape      154

Section 3: Experience and Identity      171

9. The Player’s Journey      171

10. Mutual Fantasy Online: Playing with People      188

11. From Dollhouse to Metaverse: What Happened When The Sims Went Online      203

12. Platform Dependent: Console and Computer Cultures      223

Section 4: Consumption and Community      239

13. Mapping Independent Game Design       239

14. Desire for Commodities and Fantastic Consumption in Digital Games      255

15. Reading and Playing: What Makes Interactive Fiction Unique      276

About the Contributors      299

Index      303