Understanding Games as Played:Sketch for a first-person perspective for computer game analysis

Philosophy of Computer Games 2009 Proceedings (2009)
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Abstract
Researchers interested in player’s experience would assumedly, across disciplines, agree that the goal behind enquiries into player’s experience is to understand the how games’ features end up affecting the player’s experience. Much of the contemporary interdisciplinary research into player’s experience leans toward the empirical-scientific, in the forms psychology, sociology and cognitive science, to name a few. In such approaches, for example demonstrating correlation between physiological symptoms and an in-game event may amount to ‘understanding’. However, the experience of computer game play is a viable topic also for computer game studies within the general tradition of humanities. In such context, the idea of ‘understanding an experience’ invites an approach focusing on the experienced significance of events and objects within computer game play. This focus, in turn, suggests turning to the principles associated with phenomenology, among which is the idea of describing things as they appear, or as they are given, in the experience, from the first-person perspective. From the first-person perspective the challenge lies not in the subjective experience’s inaccessibility but in the inherent personal richness of the experience’s content. Rather than trying to embrace the richness by engaging in direct introspection, it makes sense to focus the search on the conditions of the player’s experience. In this paper, I discuss the idea of “firstperson perspective” in the context of computer game studies. I propose that conditions for player’s experience could be sought from the materiality of the computer game artefact, rather than from the ‘processual’ or ‘ideal game’. I derive the notion of gameplay condition3 from the overlap of the player’s “lusory attitude” and the materiality of the single-player computer game artefact as it appears in the player’s experience.
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