Cultural techniques of play: a media philosophical approach to the study of time, history and memory in games

Barker, T. (2019) Cultural techniques of play: a media philosophical approach to the study of time, history and memory in games. Configurations, 27(1), pp. 87-110. (doi: 10.1353/con.2019.0003)

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Taking Johan Huizinga's work on games and culture as a starting point—particularly his arguments about how play can be considered as primary to culture—this paper gives a new account of twenty-first-century play as Kulturtechniken (cultural technique). Using examples including the art games and indie games That Dragon, Cancer (Numinous Games, 2016), The Outlands (Haines and Hinterding, 2011), and Superhot (Superhot Team, 2016), the paper explores the way time is ordered in gaming and develops a media theoretical approach to explain the way play might "cultivate" a certain way of living in and thinking about the world, particularly through its time-critical operation. The three examples are chosen because in each of them we can see a different element of digital temporality, including the way time is ordered by computational systems; the way memories and histories are archived and made discoverable by digital systems; and the way interface design can facilitate experiences of being-in-time. By exploring gaming as a cultural technique, the paper enters into a field of debate in media and cultural studies that addresses the concepts of contemporaneity and digital temporality and offers a new way to approach these areas of study through a focus on games.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barker, Professor Timothy
Authors: Barker, T.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Configurations
Publisher:Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA)
ISSN (Online):1080-6520
Published Online:16 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Johns Hopkins University Press and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
First Published:First published in Configurations 27(1):87-110
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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