Topic 1.4 – Games

What makes a game ‘social’ – is it the type of game, who you play it with, or something else?  (Is there a line between playing and being social, or are they part of the same sort of experience?)

You can play a game alone or with friends. If you play the game alone, you are playing the game, but when you add people to the mix, you are socially playing. These are different forms of entertainment and create different experiences. When you play with others, you learn to work together to solve a common problem.

Are videogames the first indigenous form of digital media? Are videogames fundamentally different from past games and types of play?

Video games are the same as previous games in that they generate play, assist in hand/eye coordination and present puzzles that require solving. However, video games can also be more insular and more social than previously experienced with tangible games (you can’t play monopoly in your house against 40000000 other people). Video games have also given us the ability to create new worlds, and to create new ways of visualising our real world. You can’t really play tetris without it being electronic, and the world of MMORPGs is impossible without the internet. This makes videogames an evolution from physical games of the past.

Can, as Jane McGonigal suggests, videogames and game players change the (real) world?


Absolutely. Her theory seems based in reality and to have a solid foundation. Games increase our ability to solve problems, seek creative solutions and to work cohesively with others and these are core elements to changing human nature from its natural ‘negative’ state to a more hopeful positive one.

Core Reading

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. TED Talks. Retrieved from (20 minutes)

Klastrup, L. (2010). Understanding Online (Game)worlds. In J. Hunsinger, L. Klastrup, & M. Allen (Eds.), International Handbook of Internet Research (1st ed., pp. 309-323). Springer. [eReserve]

Rossi, L. (2009). Playing your network: gaming in social network sites. Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory. Proceedings of DIGRA 2009, (2009). Retrieved from

Costikyan, G. (2002). I Have No Words & I Must Design: Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games. (F. Mayra, Ed.) Proceedings of Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference. Retrieved from

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