Play's the Thing: A Framework to Study Videogames as Performance
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Performance studies deals with human action in context, as well as the process of making meaning between the performers and the audience. This paper presents a framework to study videogames as a performative medium, applying terms from performance studies to videogames both as software and as games. This performance framework for videogames allows us to understand how videogames relate to other performance activities, as well as understand how they are a structured experience that can be designed. Theatrical performance is the basis of the framework, because it is the activity that has the most in common with games. Rather than explaining games in terms of ‘interactive drama,’ the parallels with theatre help us understand the role of players both as performers and as audience, as well as how the game design shapes the experience. The theatrical model also accounts for how videogames can have a spectatorship, and how the audience may have an effect on gameplay.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Comparative Media Studies
Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory
Digital Games Research Association
Fernandez-Vara, Clara. "Play's the Thing: A Framework to Study Videogames as Performance." 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory (September 2009).
Author's final manuscript