Jank Accounts: We Should Study 'Broken' Games

Daniel Bennett, Elisa Mekler

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


We argue that HCI games research can benefit by understanding experiences of "jank". Jank is a gaming vernacular term for game-elements that are somehow “off”: sloppy, glitchy, or clumsy. Examples include frustrating control schemes, primitive visuals, absurd physics errors, and NPCs with wooden, alienating behaviour. Importantly, ‘jank’ is no straightforward term of abuse: players use the term appreciatively, even with affection. Attention to the “paradox” of jank-appreciation can help us understand the limits of usability in understanding player experience. It can clarify conditions which foster reflection and appreciation of adversity, and shed light on games as aesthetic experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI PLAY Companion '23
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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