Slides for keynote talk at the Nordic Game Research Network PhD-seminar 'Computer Game Research - Theory and Method' June 17-19 2008, InDiMedia / VR Media Lab, Aalborg University (DK) and Dronninglund Slot, June 17–19, 2008.
Are Computer Games
Patrick J. Coppock <email@example.com>
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
Computer Games: Half-Real or
Jesper Juul (2005) suggests computer games are “half real”
Playing computer games is a real world activity people take part
People feel involved with games and care about what happens
when playing them
Game-playing has (or may have) negotiable consequences in the
So why can we not just say that computer games are “real”?
OK. But what do we actually mean by
Here: and first and foremost,”Cultural
Tangible, Intangible & Mediated
“Open” [Aesthetic] Works
“Open works” are communicative strategies designed by
authors with an active interpretational role for their readers in
mind (Eco 1984)
“An open text cannot be described as a communicative
strategy if the role of its addressee (the reader in the case of
verbal texts) has not been envisioned as at the moment of its
“The reader as an active principle of interpretation is a part
of the picture of the generative process of the text.”
Speed Runs as Narrative Processes
Openness and Negotiation of
It is necessary to describe the relationship between the
game activity and the rest of the world, e.g. between:
Variable and quantifiable outcomes of games
Emotional attachments of players to various types of outcomes
Key sources and issues
Player conjectures about, conceptions of, (past, present and
future) actual and possible consequences for self and others.
Narrower (more “local”) and broader (more “global”) pertinence
and identity issues
Factuality and Fiction
The actual world as a cultural construct (Eco):
The experienced world as a “multitude of world pictures or
stated descriptions […] epistemic worlds that are frequently
Fictional possible worlds:
“Small worlds”;“Handicapped worlds”;“Parasitical” on the
actual world. “Constructed by human minds and hands”.
“Even though the real world is a cultural construct, one might
still wonder about the ontological status of the described
The Cultural Role of Fictional
Fictional characters live in a handicapped world.When we
actually understand their fate, then we start to suspect that
we too, as citizens of the actual world, frequently undergo our
destiny just because we think of our world in the same way
as fictional characters think of their own.
Fiction suggests that perhaps our view of the actual world is
as imperfect as that of fictional characters.
This is the way that successful fictional characters become
paramount examples of the “real” human condition.