Raquel Raj: Game Changer: Participatory Structures in Video Games

Raquel Raj | University of Groningen, Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) | Promo/supervisor: Prof. dr Barend van Heusden (& TBD) | 2017-2021 | R.L.Raj[at]rug.nl

Game Changer: Participatory Structures in Video Games

All video games grant agency to their players, requiring active participation to move the game and narrative forward. Yet this participation is heavily structured and bounded by game rules and code. The tension between the structures of participation in video games, and the ways in which players negotiate the rules of play has the potential to illustrate not only how games work, and how games can work for us, but also offer insight into structures of participation in the non-virtual world. Therefore, this proposal is for the analysis of three popular games to map how games produce effects on players and how players navigate and negotiate game rules. The goal of my research is to create a deeper understanding of how video games work, and how they may work for us, as well as offer insight into the friction between structure and agency, both inside and outside virtual worlds. Analysis will focus on a close reading of three major video games, and in-game research on structures of play, including counterplay, critical play and destructive play. The main research question is: How do games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Grand Theft Auto V create and limit the space for (cultural) participation, and which strategies do players employ to navigate these spaces, either accepting, resisting or circumventing the rules of the game?