Many scholars have tried to frame what’s a game or, rather, define the essential components of a game. Perhaps one of the most memorable ones comes from Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman:

A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome (2004).

What bugs me with this approach is the “quantifiable outcome” aspect; sure most games follow that pattern and answer to that mental model, which calls for straightforwardness: win or lose. …

A few weeks ago, I was reading Casey O’ Donnell’s inspiring book, Developer’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Videogame Developers. Not only is it an outstanding piece of ethnographic work but it also eloquently humanises an unseen aspect of the game development world. It’s a common misconception to regard the game dev industry as a creative and liberating one, that’s more similar to a practicing a hobby or playing rather than working. Well that’s absolutely gibberish, and O’ Donnell does a fine job illustrating exactly that: that for every masterpiece there are also countless sacrifices, burnouts and relentless crunch.

At some point in his book, Casey O’ Donnell digs into another new job title, Technical…

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“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.”

This is what a representative of Electronic Arts’ (EA henceforth) community team replied to a user of reddit, who was complaining that he could not play as the character of Darth Vader in the latest video-game of the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars Battlefront II, even though he had paid $80 to purchase the title. At the time of writing, that is the most downvoted comment in the history of reddit, with 683,000 votes.

During the last few years, Star Wars as a franchise has undergone a massive transformation both internally and externally. With the former, I am referring to the core’s ideological and structural design, while with the latter, I am referring to its licensing and public image. Most certainly, these two cannot be really distinguished, given how much one bleeds into the other, but I reckon that it would be helpful to approach them separately, so as to better perceive their present influential prowess to what has become one of the most dominant franchises in the history of entertainment. …

Charis Papaevangelou

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