What is Strafe Jumping? idTech3 and the Game Engine as Software Platform

Dylan Lederle-Ensign, Noah Wardrip-Fruin


The physics of the everyday world are an accepted constraint for the designers and players of sports and other embodied games. But where do the physics of games in virtual spaces come from? The standard answers (e.g., framing physics as rules) leave some of the most famous physical phenomena of games difficult to account for. This paper demonstrates how one of these phenomena, strafe jumping, can be better explained by turning attention to game engines as software platforms. While platform studies has become an accepted approach in game studies, software platforms have received significantly less attention than hardware platforms, and their particular characteristics are important for understanding strafe jumping. Like hardware platforms, software platforms build up communities of developers and players with expertise and expectations. But unlike the hardware platforms that have received significant scholarly attention, software platforms are more strongly connected to game genres (through technology, documentation, and community), are more easily modified and extended, and crucially are more actively socially negotiated after release (in a network connecting players, engine developers, and engine licensees and modifiers). The intertwined aspects of strafe jumping — as technical artifact, play experience, and site of contention — illuminate not only what it “is” but also the importance of engaging software platforms for a robust field of game studies.


Strafe Jumping; Software Platforms; Game Engines; Quake III Arena; Platform Studies; Software Studies; Code Studies

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26503/todigra.v2i2.35
Published by the Digital Games Research Association.