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

Olli Tapio Leino

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


    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 (neuro)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 (broadly speaking) 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. (cf. Smith 1979, Moran 2006) 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 (transmedial) game’. I derive the notion of gameplay condition3 from the overlap of the player’s “lusory attitude” (Suits 2005: 54) and the materiality of the single-player computer game artefact as it appears in the player’s experience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games conference 2009
    PublisherDepartment of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo
    Publication date2009
    ISBN (Electronic)82-91670-57-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventThe Philosophy of Computer Games 2009 - oslo, Norway
    Duration: 13 Aug 200915 Aug 2009
    Conference number: 4th Conference


    ConferenceThe Philosophy of Computer Games 2009
    Number4th Conference
    Internet address


    • games
    • phenomenology
    • philosophy
    • methodology


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