articles in english

Rezension: Playing at a Distance. Borderlands of the Video Game Aesthetic

26. März 2024 ·
      Sonia Fizek: Playing at a Distance. Borderlands of the Video Game Aesthetic. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press November 1, 2022. 9780262544627. 186 pp., 6 x 9 in, 23 b&w illus. The title of Sonia Fizek's work, Playing at a Distance: Borderlands of the Video Game Aesthetic, provides readers with...
Screenshot aus Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Projects, Situations, Places: a Phenomenological Analysis of the Immersive Sim

17. Mai 2023 ·
This paper explores the immersive sim from a phenomenological perspective, focusing on five structures of existence. Phenomenologically, immersive sim players are engaged in future-oriented projects, developing their avatar’s skill following a path mediated by their own desire and preferred playstyle on the one hand, and the environment they encounter on the other hand. Such projectuality is defining of the immersive sim only when considered alongside the players’ embodied interaction within concrete situations to which they respond by making use of tools possessing a certain equipmentality. These situations take place within strongly atmospheric gameworlds experienced as places. [de] Dieser Beitrag untersucht die Immersive Sim aus einer phänomenologischen Perspektive und konzentriert sich dabei auf fünf Strukturen der Existenz (structures of existence). Phänomenologisch gesehen sind Immersive-Sim-Spielende in zukunftsorientierte Projekte involviert und entwickeln die Fähigkeiten ihres Avatars einerseits durch ihre eigenen Wünsche und ihren bevorzugten Spielstil und andererseits durch die Umgebung, der sie begegnen. Diese Projekthaftigkeit (projectuality) kann nur dann als Bestimmungsmerkmal der Immersive Sim eingestuft werden, wenn sie zusammen mit der verkörperten (embodied) Interaktion der Spieler in konkreten Situationen betrachtet wird. Reagiert wird auf diese Situationen mit dem Einsatz von Werkzeugen, die eine gewisse Ausstattungsqualität (equipmentality) besitzen. Diese Situationen finden in stark atmosphärisch geprägten Spielwelten statt, die als Orte erlebt werden.

A Genre of Hybrids – Structured Hybridity Through Communicative Purpose in Immersive Simulation

17. Mai 2023 ·
The genre of immersive simulation is increasingly difficult to identify as the games within it become more diverse in their gameplay and themes. While players and critics regularly discuss the genre online, academic discourse on the subject is largely absent. This article argues that the genre is defined by the way in which key developers express their communicative purpose in their games resulting in a game structure that is recognisably similar across titles. Through textual and paratextual analysis of Dishonored, the structural build-up of the game is compared to other games in the genre, aiding in understanding why these games are grouped together. [de] Das Genre der Immersive Sims ist zunehmend schwierig zu bestimmen, da die Spiele innerhalb des Genres in Bezug auf Gameplay und Themen immer vielfältiger werden. Während Spielende und Kritiker*innen regelmäßig online über das Genre diskutieren, findet ein akademischer Diskurs zu diesem Thema kaum statt. In diesem Artikel wird argumentiert, dass das Genre durch die Kommunikationsziele führender Entwickler bestimmt wird, was zu einer Spielstruktur führt, die in allen Titeln erkennbar ähnlich ist. Durch eine textuelle und paratextuelle Analyse von 'Dishonored' wird der strukturelle Aufbau des Spiels mit anderen Spielen des Genres verglichen, um zu verstehen, warum diese Spiele unter einem Genre gefasst werden.

Impermanent Aliens – Modifying the digital body in Prey

17. Mai 2023 ·
Self-Enhancement is a prominent feature of 'Prey' (2017), as well as of other games within the concept of immersive sim, such as the 'Deus Ex' series (2000-2016) or 'Dishonored 2' (2016), offering complex opportunities for reflections on body-modification and its role for construction of identity. Even though these strategies aren’t exclusively reserved to immersive sims, the principles of the concept allow a direct connection between the enhancement of the avatar and the influence of chosen approaches of playing on the digital environment. Applying cyberfeminist perspectives to the analysis of decision-making for (or against) modifying the digital body within 'Prey', the immersive sim presents itself as potential game concept for reflections on possibilities of queered identities.

Immersive Sims and Moral Gameplay: A Case Study from Deus Ex

17. Mai 2023 ·
This paper is about immersive sims and moral gameplay. Moral gameplay is defined in terms of opportunities to exercise moral skills associated with the Four Components of moral expertise, and the moral player as someone who engages with a game’s moral content on its own terms, treating moral scenarios as moral and not merely opportunities to maximise ludic outcomes. The Four Lenses, a loose framework derived from the Four Components, is a set of questions and perspectives intended to help developers design moral gameplay by facilitating moral agency. The crux of this paper is that the design philosophy of immersive sims is highly consonant with the Four Lenses framework, and therefore especially well-suited for designing morally engaging gameplay. To illustrate this, I dissect a scene from the immersive sim Deus Ex and show how the Four Components manifest to make for compelling moral gameplay.

Azeroth as Theatre: The history of digital games… as performance(s)?

10. Mai 2023 ·
The preservation and historiography of digital games confronts scholars, institutions, and hobbyists with numerous technical, legal, as well as cultural challenges demanding a variety of sources. Troubles begin with two basic issues: Accessibility and versioning. Games depending on server infrastructures are the most extreme form of this conundrum, as once they are gone, so is the game. Considering how contemporary games, even single player experiences, are distributed, patched and framed by online services, those researching gaming’s past will increasingly encounter digital games as changing entities and temporal events, warranting special approaches. Luckily, game studies already involves itself with a field tackling this very problem – performance studies.

‘The Inevitable Patriarchy’

28. November 2022 ·
In recent memory, whether Netflix Original, Blockbuster or Video Game, historical or historical adjacent fiction frequently finds itself facing ‘controversy’ for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ or ‘strong female characters’ on the notion that such inclusivity damages the verisimilitude and immersive properties of the fiction. Using the example of the Dragon Age series, this paper will address the diegetic inconsistencies of the world of Thedas relative to this notion of historical verisimilitude, and suggest an explanation for the inconsistencies that emerge and the persistence of the discourse at large.
Johann Esaias Nilson: Das Bretspiel . 1765National Gallery of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Quo Vadis German Game Studies? A Commentary

15. Oktober 2021 ·
Sonia Fizek   Game studies have started as an international endeavour; a rich field bringing together scholars from all over the world, where national borders hardly played any role. In this spirit, the first international peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of computer games was inaugurated in 2003 ( and...

Unicorn Symbolism in The Witcher Storyworld

24. September 2021 ·
Introduction Unicorns play an important role throughout The Witcher storyworld: A unicorn serves as Ciri‘s guide between worlds. Yennefer and Geralt are also connected to unicorns: They like to have sex on a stuffed unicorn’s back. This paper will focus on religious symbolism and medieval unicorn discourses involved in The...

Are Free-to-Play Games Evil? Reopening the Debate on Exploitation

21. Januar 2021 ·
Introduction Free-to-play games have been dominating the mobile market since 2011. They originated from the world of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMO).1 Farmville (2009) by Zynga quickly became the most popular game on Facebook; in 2012, it was overnumbered by Candy Crush Saga by Kind Digital Entertainment2. King has a...
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