Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kucklich, Julian. "Perspectives of Computer Game Philology." GAME STUDIES 3.1 (2003).

Another example of research in the emerging field of 'game studies.' Here are the first three paragraphs of the paper:
Playing a game, like reading a novel, can be regarded as a form of semiosis, an interaction of signs. This constitutes the basic similarity between games and literature the following paper tries to explore. Taking the process of reading as a model for the process of playing might seem like an oversimplification, but this is not the fault of the critical analogy, but rather of our simplistic understanding of the interaction between reader and text. In order to understand this interaction properly, we must take into account the context, or contexts, in which the phenomenon of digital games is embedded. While it seems obvious that computer games fall into the category of games, which is notoriously hard to define, many of them transcend this category by virtue of their ability to tell a story. Therefore, games must be seen as part of the tradition of narrative literature as well as that of games. Furthermore, games can be seen as media, i.e. as devices that enable players to interact meaningfully with each other. In the following paper, I will focus on the literary context of computer games. However, this does not mean that I regard the ludic and the media context as less important. On the contrary: my interest in the study of computer games from a literary viewpoint derives from their hybrid nature, from their being neither fish, flesh nor fowl, as it were. Therefore, this attempt to locate computer games in the context of literature must not be misconstrued as an attempt to "colonize" the field of digital games. Ultimately, this approach aims at establishing computer game studies as an independent aesthetic subject, rather than a sub-discipline of literary studies. The suggestions made here should not be construed as a form of "theoretical imperialism," to use Espen Aarseth’s term, but rather as a display of what literary studies can contribute to an interdisciplinary cooperation. In the first section of this paper I will give a brief overview of attempts undertaken so far to approach the field of computer games from a literary perspective. I will then single out what appear to be the three central problems of these approaches, and try to provide solutions for them. The problematic issues I address are 1) the dichotomy of text and code, 2) interactivity and 3) narrative. Although I think that literary theory provides models to describe these phenomena, as well as a terminology that allows us to discuss them appropriately, in discussing the above-mentioned problems I rely on other theoretical concepts as well, especially from semiotics and second-order cybernetics. Thus, the approach followed here extends well beyond the field of traditional philology, while remaining firmly rooted in literary studies. . . .
Read the entire paper here:

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