Project – Textuality and Videogames: Interactivity, Narrative Space and Role Play

Project Co -Directors: Professor David Buckingham, Dr Andrew Burn
Researcher: Diane Carr
Research Associate: Dr. Gareth Schott

Timing: 2001-2003

Project Details – lifted fresh from the website of the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media (see the blogroll for a link).

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board

Project outline
This project involved playing and analysing a variety of computer Role Playing Games (or ‘RPGs’). We examined the overt textual characteristics of these games – the rules systems, narrative elements and imaginary worlds they establish, the visual characteristics they display – and the forms of engagement they invite from players.

Questions
Our central research questions involved interactivity, pleasure, play, narrative, role-play and agency. What are the constituents of the genre, and what are the limits of the ‘interactivity’ that these games involve? How do games incorporate narrative, or construct space and time? What kinds of ‘identification?’are on offer?

Methods
We played the games, interviewed players, recorded play sessions, and spoke with game producers. We also collected and analysed a wide range of secondary texts, mostly from fan communities (fan websites, player forums, magazines) and these were considered in relation to notions of player agency, fan culture, role-play, and communities of practice.

Theory
As well as engaging with computer games theory we drew from and adapted literary and film theory, social semiotic theory and multimodality, cultural and media studies, social philosophy and psychology.

Outcomes – An outcome from this project was the media studies/game studies textbook, Computer Games: Text, Narrative and Play, by D.Carr, D. Buckingham, A. Burn and G.Schott. Cambridge: Polity 2006.

Please see ‘publications’ for other…er…publications.  

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