2022 - Special Issue: Ludomaterialities

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 13 of 13
  • Article
    Game, Play and Material. An Introduction
    Clüver, Claudius; Kanderske, Max; Walsdorff, Finja; Schemer-Reinhard, Timo; Kammler, Arvid; Glaser, Tim (2022) , S. 1-12
  • Article
    On the Reification of Game Culture Using the Example of Sharing. How Multiple Social Practices Have Turned Into a Single Button
    Schemer-Reinhard, Timo (2022) , S. 117-137
    In 2013, Sony introduced a new interface element with the PS4 game controller DualShock 4: its own share button. The article uses this button to open up two thematic fields and bring them together. First, the button is discussed as a basic interface element. It is shown that technically mediated processes, which are to be triggered by buttons, must always have a strong conciseness and a high degree of enculturation. Second, sharing is discussed as a changing social practice. It is shown how practices of sharing have changed and differentiated under the conditions of digital net-worked media in general and in the context of play and games in particular. Against this background, the successful introduction of the PS4 share button shows that sharing in the context of digital games has achieved a level of conciseness and enculturation that is necessary for a button to function.
  • Article
    Paper and Polygon. Theming and Materiality in Game Studies and Game Design
    Raczkowski, Felix (2022) , S. 13-28
    This contribution to the research on games and materiality has two goals. One the one hand, it deals with a problematic generalization in computer game research and, on the other hand, it tries to point out an omission in game studies and gives some hints as to which investigations of game ma-teriality this omission requires. The problematic generalization is that games are themable, meaning that every game can be equipped with an arbitrary representation (theme) without changing, while the omission concerns the lack of research on the decisive role of materialities in the game design process, which has only been taken into account by publica-tions on design practice. The underlying assumption is that there is a rela-tionship between both topics that makes it possible to criticize the gener-alization with regards to the omission. Accordingly, this paper is divided into three sections: (1) an explanation of critique of the idea of theming; (2) an elaboration on its generalization with reference to pedagogy in the sec-ond part, and outlining a proposal for dealing with the materiality of digital games in the third part.
  • Article
    Steam and the Platformization of Virtual Goods. An Analysis of the Weapon Skin Economy in Counter Strike: Global Offensive
    Glaser, Tim (2022) , S. 139-162
    Random reward mechanisms, such as loot boxes, crates and cases, have been increasingly implemented by computer game companies to monetize additional content. These mechanisms have been wildly criticized, especially for being addictive and a digital form of gambling. This paper, however, analyzes the phenomenon from a media-economic and cultural studies perspective in order to determine to what extent random-based reward mechanisms can be regarded as a platformization (according to Helmond, Niebog and Poell) of computer game culture. This connection is exemplified by the weapon skin economy in COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE. The economy consists of virtual goods (skin cases and weapon skins) that can be acquired, exchanged and traded via the platform Steam. Additionally, the labor of users is commodified in the process: the creation of user-generated content (modding) is monetized, on the one hand, and the distribution and evaluation of the content is centralized via Steam, on the other. The analysis of the weapon skin economy thus makes it possible to focus on the entanglement of labor, play and economization.
  • Article
    Video Game Modding and Money. From Precarious Playbor to Reimbursed Labor of Love
    Walsdorff, Finja (2022) , S. 163-188
    As hobbyist game developers, ‘modders’ transform video games by alter-ing and extending their content. Even though the labor they carry out of-ten contributes to the success of games, they usually do not get a monetary share of the value they enhance. Building upon this, modding has been discussed as a form of ‘precarious labor’ in the past, with authors drawing attention to the power imbalance between modders and official developers. At the same time, most efforts of reimbursing modders and ‘paid modding’ have caused controversy within the modding community, and modding is still seen as a voluntary, free-of-charge ‘labor of love’ by many fans. Among modders, however, increasing professionalization tendencies and commercial endeavors can be observed as well. Taking into account past and current efforts to commodify modding and in-depth interviews with modders of Bethesda Softworks games, this article explores different perspectives on modding and money and examines the strategies modders use to commercialize their derivative works and their fannish labor in general.
  • Article
    Papercrafting Utopia. Gaming Literacies from Bauhaus to Nintendo Labo
    Schmidt, Hanns Christian (2022) , S. 189-208
    What does the Bauhaus have to do with Nintendo Labo and the Maker Movement? The text represents a media-pedagogical investigation. It explores the question of the extent to which material studies at the Bauhaus - especially in the preliminary course, the “Vorkurs” – were understood as a field of experimentation in order to test and further develop reform pedagogical approaches. Certain ideals and values are inscribed in this pro-cess, which we can still identify today not only in so-called pioneering communities such as the Maker Movement, but which are also a central component of an educational game such as Nintendo Labo in which we are supposed to use cardboard kits to assemble the components of the Nintendo game console in a new way. These considerations are followed by ideas about play and game literacy, which is outlined here in general terms. Three aspects come to the foreground: (1) a rejection of traditional pedagogical approaches; (2) a fundamental re-evaluation of the possibilities and a radical simplification of the artistic material; and (3) an experimental, playful approach that has an explicitly constructive character.
  • Article
    Lyonel Feininger's Locomotives and Trains. Experiencing Materials and Colors Through Toys as Learning Materials at the Bauhaus
    Scheffler, Ina (2022) , S. 209-224
    This paper focuses on the “Block-Eisenbahn” (block train), a particular work by Lyonel Feininger, one of the first masters appointed to the Bau-haus in 1919. The block train’s main characteristics are internationality, model consistency and unbreakability – and it is one example of how material and color experiences through toys were discussed in different frames of reference in the context of the Bauhaus. These works were developed, discussed and commercialized in various situations and taken seriously as learning material, but above all, they represented a design task in teaching. Feininger used the term ‘model’ when explaining his work. A model is a representation of an object and all of its physical properties, but not an exact reproduction. Through models, central features of an object are represented abstractly and perhaps even highlighted. This negotiation and upheaval of the original exemplifies how toys, if they are taken seriously and if their innovative strength is acknowledged, can serve as a starting point for educational and didactic figures of thought.
  • Article
    Dice, Cards and Boards. Material Elements of Games and the Play-Form
    Clüver, Claudius (2022) , S. 29-51
    The study of dice games, card games and board games shows that similar material objects as well as the specific moments of attraction attached to them evoke similar games. These objects therefore have the affordance to play those games with them. Dice, for example, lend themselves to games with a component of randomness; Card games have historically undergone a change from luck-based to skill-based games, while the mathematical principles underlying them are developed; Boards invite competition for the space on their geometric surfaces. On the basis of these findings, I propose the notion of a play-form for these object-affordances, which are characterized by being stable, recognizable and functionally related to the game context. In addition to these object-like forms of play, practices such as gestures or infrastructures related to games can also have a formal character. If several forms of play come together and the combination in turn has formal qualities, meaning the combination is also stable, recognizable and functional, I speak of game formats, such as board or card games, that draw on a common inventory of forms. In more modern games it is common to use the entire range of play-forms, whereas stronger format delineations are characteristic of traditional games.
  • Article
    Playing with Light. On the Materialities of Video Game Spaces
    Kammler, Arvid (2022) , S. 52-64
    When playing video games players are encountering light in many different ways. On the one hand the display rendering the game space visible is emitting light into its surroundings. On the other hand the environment itself may become visible in reflections on the display. Both phenomena contribute significantly to the experience of playing video games. Consequently this calls for an investigation regarding the constituent effects of light in the process of playing video games. This contribution is going to question the superimposition of spatialities of light as well as the construction of the space of light in the act of playing. The second part of this contribution deals with the question of the processuality of the light play space. Thirdly, the meta-materiality of light as a constituent element of the video game is of particular interest. Light in video games appears as a process of constant transformation and manifests itself as representation of sand, water and spaceship corridors and other materialities. Since it seems to always be visible only as a reference, the question must be asked whether light is ultimately describable as the simulacrum of the video game.
  • Article
    Materialities of the Mise-en-Game. Playing with Cineludic Forms
    Rauscher, Andreas (2022) , S. 65-86
    The mise-en-game connects the analog game board and the digital playground within a network of cinematic playfulness. It provides a more expanded perspective on a transmedia history of cinema. This article discusses three contexts for the materialization of the mise-en-game that have been prominent since the late 1970s: the social space of arcade gaming, the material adaptations of board games and the emergence of hybrid world-projections initiated by role-playing systems.
  • Article
    Playful Metadata. Between Performance Careers and Affect Modulation
    Abend, Pablo; Kanderske, Max (2022) , S. 87-115
    In the field of specialized hardware for digital gaming, an increasing number of products not only promise ever-increasing precision, but also pro-vide self-tracking functions intended to quantify the player’s gaming activities and actions. We position these developments at the intersection between the Quantified Self movement and the tradition of playful self-measurement. Building on practice theory, we raise the following questions concerning the datafication of gaming practices and the use of what we call playful metadata: What do players and game developers do with data that is generated within, and in relation to, games? How does the emergence of playful metadata modify interactions, both between players and between the players and the game? By analyzing exemplary quantifying practices found in the contexts of speedrunning, competitive gaming and game streaming, we identify three central motives for quantified gaming: 1) the appropriation of games’ spaces and goals by players who define their own parameters of success by quantifying their game-play; 2) the production and communication of individual performance careers aimed at modulating the player’s affects towards their own performance; 3) the production of data for competitive comparability and/or cooperative sharing of knowledge.
  • Journal Issue
    Special Issue: Ludomaterialities
    Spiele lassen sich nicht auf abstrakte Regelwerke oder narrative Strukturen reduzieren. Sie existieren in und gehen aus unterschiedlichen materiellen Spielkulturen hervor. Sie werden unter Einsatz von Ressourcen und Arbeit designt und produziert, sie benötigen Spielbretter, Würfel oder elektronische Interfaces und sie interagieren mit den Körpern der Spieler:innen ebenso wie mit den sie umgebenden Räumen. Das erste englischsprachige Special Issue der Spiel|Formen untersucht Ludomaterialitäten, d.h. die materiellen Korrelate von Spielen und spielerischen Praktiken, aus einer interdisziplinären Perspektive. Es ist ein Beitrag zum wachsenden Feld der Material Game Studies, das Forschungen zu Themen von Körperlichkeit und Materialität im Kontext von Spielen bündelt. Die Ausgabe ergänzt Übersetzungen bereits publizierter deutschsprachiger Artikel um neue Beiträge und Perspektiven und trägt so dazu bei, den deutschen Game Studies Diskurs an den im angloamerikanischen Raum proklamierten “Material Turn" anschlussfähig zu machen. Mit den gesammelten Beiträgen fokussiert der Band die Bereiche Design und Fanproduktion, Interfaceforschung, Geräte- und Datenverwertung, Medienpädagogik und Kunstgeschichte, adressiert dabei gleichzeitig aber auch explizit analoge Spielgeräte. Die Spannungen zwischen Material, Form und Regeln sowie zwischen Arbeit und Spiel sind zentrale Themen, die sich durch das Heft ziehen.