Considering play: From method to analysis

Jasper van Vught, René Glas


This paper deals with play as an important methodological issue when studying games as texts, and is intended as a practical methodological guide. After considering text as both the structuring object as well as its plural processual activations, we argue that different methodological considerations can turn the focus towards one of the two (without completely excluding the other). After outlining and synthesizing a broad range of existing research we move beyond the more general advice to be reflective about the type of players that we are, and explore two methodological considerations more concretely. First of all, we discuss the various considerations to have regarding the different choices to make when playing a game. Here we show how different instrumental and free strategies lay bare different parts of the game as object and/or process. Secondly, we consider how different contexts in which the game and the player exist, can function as different reference points for meaning construction and the way they can put limitations on the claims we can make about our object of analysis.


Play as method, games as processes, games as objects, instrumental play, free play, game context, player context, ludoliteracy

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.