The Digiplay Initiative is a research collective specializing in consumer research in the areas of digital games, adoption of technologies, online well-being and intellectual property crime. It undertakes commercial and academic research as well as providing online information services to the research community.

Cover of Fake Nation report This report is the published summary of work we undertook on the consumption of counterfeit goods including digital games and internet piracy.

The publication details the background, empirical and analytical research undertaken during the Intellectual Property Theft and Organised Crime research project (IPTOC) and provides a robust insight into contemporary consumption of counterfeit/pirated goods and illegal downloading in England and Northern Ireland.

Image of booksThe move of the Digiplay digital games research bibliography to this new Digiplay site is now finished and online!

We've gone through every gaming reference whether it be a journal paper, chapter of conference presentation and checked it, removed duplicates, updates abstracts and added URLs to the full paper. This means that we now list a total of 1933 citations in our games bibliography database.

Celia PearceRon Meiners & Celia Pearce have just launched their new 'Virtual Cultures' blog dedicated to exploring all things to do with online games and virtual worlds. The blog looks at issues including the design, management of online game worlds as well as the study of their community and culture. They have launched the site with their take on the recent IMGDC 2007 Indie MMO conference.

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BBFC LogoThe BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) have just published an extensive new report on video gaming.

The report, produced by Cragg Ross Dawson, looks at what players enjoy about games and explore preferences in UK gamers aged from seven through to players in their early 40s as well as parents of young games players, games industry representatives and games reviewers.

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The School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Arts and Technology (ATEC), with a focus on 3-D Game Design and Online Worlds. They invite applications from scholars and artists working in such areas as serious gaming, modeling and training game development and online multi-participant games.

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Information, Communication and Society, Volume 6, Number 4, p.577-592 (2003)

Keywords:

Genre; narrative; family; relationships; computer games; The Sims

Abstract:

This article examines one of the most popular computer games The Sims to consider whether the shared understanding of the game's "rules' can be understood through the concept of genre. The main argument is that the genre being used is "real life'. The game's creators are assuming the players share with them, and with each other, an understanding of real life, which can be transposed into the game world. The article explores this notion of a real-life narrative that is shared, by considering the ways in which family and other relationships are both conceptualized and played out in the game. Whilst real life as genre is problematized here, the tensions and conflicts of contemporary real-world conceptualizations of family and other relationships do appear to be represented in the game. What is interesting then, given this, are the ways in which players negotiate the gameplay. The article concludes by suggesting that players are active agents negotiating both the game' s version of real life, and their own real-world experiences.

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From special edition of 'Information, Communication and Society' on digital games edited by Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rics/2003/00000006/00000004

Authors:

Flynn, B.

Source:

Information, Communication and Society, Volume 6, Number 4, p.551-576 (2003)

Keywords:

Video games; gender; spatiality; cybernetics; living room; parlour

Abstract:

Console based video games are an increasingly familiar and engaging technology in the living room and as such, warrant critical attention. Considerations of their impact on the home have been widely regarded by new media academics as technological innovation and by social scientists as symptomatic of a decline in social and familial connectedness. In an attempt to move the debate beyond discussions of machine functionality and social crisis, this paper argues for a reframing of some of the ways we think about the impact of entertainment technologies on the home. It presents the notion of the digital hearth as a concept that shows how cultural meanings associated with the home can be transformed through gaming and changing patterns of consumption. The research examines the domestication of the console through cultural histories of the living room, the social context of electronic media, and ethnographic studies. It argues that the concept of the digital hearth represents a re-organization of the spaces in which collective engagement occurs and a shifting of the cultural norms associated with that collective engagement. In these spaces not only does the living room become the site of collective engagement but also the form of that engagement changes with the digital hearth acting as the focal point around social interaction. The paper traces parallels between the appropriation of television and of radio into the home and the domestication of the console while arguing that the console represents a shifting of spatial and social norms of domestication from previous electronic media. In addition it represents gaming in the home as symptomatic of changes from public to private forms of entertainment which constitutes a changing geographic base for social networks.

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From special edition of 'Information, Communication and Society' on digital games edited by Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rics/2003/00000006/00000004

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Information, Communication and Society, Volume 6, Number 4, p.497-522 (2003)

Keywords:

Majestic; pervasive; games; Internet; multi-player; identity

Abstract:

While shows like The X-Files and 24 have merged conspiracy theories with popular science (fictions), some video games have been pushing the narrative even further. Electronic Art's Majestic game was released in July 2001 and quickly generated media buzz with its unusual multi-modal gameplay. Mixing phone calls, faxes, instant messaging, real and "fake' websites, and email, the game provides a fascinating case of an attempt at new directions for gaming communities. Through story, mode of playing, and use of technology, Majestic highlights the uncertain status of knowledge, community and self in a digital age; at the same time, it allows examination of alternative ways of understanding games' role and purpose in the larger culture. Drawing on intricate storylines involving government conspiracies, techno-bio warfare, murder and global terror, players were asked to solve mysteries in the hopes of preventing a devastating future of domination. Because the game drew in both actual and Majestic-owned/-designed websites, it constantly pushed those playing the game right to borders where simulation collides with " factuality'. Given the wide variety of "legitimate' conspiracy theory, alien encounters and alternative science web pages, users often could not distinguish when they were leaving the game's pages and venturing into " real' World Wide Web sites. Its further use of AOL's instant messenger system, in which gamers spoke not only to bots but to other players, pushed users to evaluate constantly both the status of those they were talking to and the information being provided. Additionally, the game required players to occupy unfamiliar subject positions, ones where agency was attenuated, and which subsequently generated a multi-layered sense of unease among players. This mix of authentic and staged information in conjunction with technologically mediated roles highlights what are often seen as phenomenon endemic to the Internet itself; that is, the destabilization of categories of knowing, relating, and being.

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From special edition of 'Information, Communication and Society' on digital games edited by Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rics/2003/00000006/00000004

Authors:

Postigo, H.

Source:

Information, Communication and Society, Volume 6, Number 4, p.593-607 (2003)

Keywords:

Unwaged work; mods; modders; modifications; hackers

Abstract:

In the closing weeks of 2002, video games were featured in various popular American news publications and media outlets such as Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek and Time Magazine. It is becoming increasingly apparent that video games are no longer child's play, but rather that they are poised to become a major entertainment form for the twenty-first century. Social analysts and media scholars must begin to formulate an understanding of this emerging mass-consumer phenomenon because it will increasingly impact social and economic structures of post-industrial societies. Part of the tremendous value generated by the American video-game industry is tied into broad global economic shifts that have created a space where services and ephemeral products, such as software, can be created and cheaply distributed. The predominance of " high-tech' production, the rise of the Internet, and the cultural capital associated with computerization all have contributed to the rise of hobbyist software developers that currently tinker with commercial video games and freely add to them increasing levels of sophistication. This paper sees video-game programmer hobbyists as a source of some of the significant value that the video-game industry generates, and understands the role of the programmer hobbyists through the lens of theories on post-industrial work. My analysis situates the work of hobbyists on the Internet within the context of post-Fordism and explores some of the motivations for this unwaged work. In the sections that follow, I will analyse the potential value of the work hobbyist do as well as analyse its transition to paid work as some commercial software developers experiment with incorporating these fan bases into the game design process.

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From special edition of 'Information, Communication and Society' on digital games edited by Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rics/2003/00000006/00000004

Source:

Information, Communication and Society, Volume 6, Number 4, p.608-627 (2003)

Keywords:

Video-game industry; strategic change; deliberate vs emergent strategy; reception; celebrity

Abstract:

It has been suggested that research business strategy is like studying specimens on a wall. By examining successful stories, one can easily identify the strategic factors responsible for such a success, and the greater the success, the more evident those factors are. Timing, strategic positioning, pricing policies, lead-time - everything goes back to the place where it fits best, like a beautiful mosaic. Even competitors' mistakes become more evident, their dull misunderstanding of what the winner was planning as every successful move leads to an even more successful one. The case of Sony PlayStation, the most successful digital games console ever, is no exception and the temptation to explain the rationale behind such an achievement is almost irresistible. As this paper tries to suggest, sometimes ex- post rationalizations hide or avoid part of the truth. Despite PlayStation's success, Sony's strategic choices were, on more than one occasion, driven more by lucky coincidence than by long-range planning. Furthermore, this paper shows how some of the strategic factors behind PlayStation's winning run sprang from decisions taken by lack of alternatives, and that only in the very end was Sony able to understand their full profit potential.

Notes:

From special edition of 'Information, Communication and Society' on digital games edited by Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rics/2003/00000006/00000004
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