The Game Culture Reader

Edited by Jason C. Thompson and Marc Ouellette

Jason C. Thompson and Marc A. Ouellette’s edited collection of essays The Game Culture Reader begins with an attack on established game studies—or perhaps not so much an attack as a very pointed prodding to shake off existing lethargy and “game culture by culturing games” (5). To that end, each of the twelve essays making up the collection investigate game studies within broader humanities traditions, from gender studies to Burkean rhetoric to Bourdieu’s cultural capital. Continue Reading

Voluntary Constraints

How Players Can Impose an Ethical Critique

Developers and publishers may seek to define what constitutes gaming capital through engagement with the player community, but it is the players that typically have the final word on what gaming capital is and how best to accrue it. As such, the production of more paratexts through player-authored walkthroughs, popular YouTube channels or mod communities has a sympathetic relationship with the exchange of gaming capital. Consalvo concludes the book by re-articulating the shaky definition of “cheating” in games and how that relates to “cheating” outside of games, where players that would never cheat outside of digital worlds think nothing of tapping out IDDQD for god mode in Doom. She uses this fracture to suggest that “we need a better understanding of how ethics might be expressed in gameplay situations, and how we can study the ethical frameworks that games offer to players.” (187). I’d like to extend some of Consalvo’s work on paratexts and gaming capital into the realm of voluntary or non-coded constraints that players impose upon themselves. Continue Reading