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The difficult and definitive guide to what video games are
Author: David Myers

The nascent field of game studies has raised questions that, so far, that field has been unable to answer. Among these questions is a foundational one: What is a game?

Despite the widespread appeal of games, despite the rise of digital games as a global cultural phenomenon, vexing problems persistently confront those who design, play, and think about games. How do we reconcile a videogame industry's insistence that games positively affect human beliefs and behaviors with the equally prevalent assumption that games are “just games”? How do we reconcile accusations that games make us violent and antisocial and unproductive with the realization that games are a universal source of human joy?

In Games are not, David Myers demonstrates that these controversies and conflicts surrounding the meanings and effects of games are not going away; they are essential properties of the game's paradoxical aesthetic form.

Buttressed by more than three decades of game studies scholarship, Myers offers an in-depth examination of games as objects of leisure, consumption, and art. Games are not focuses on games writ large, bound by neither by digital form nor by cultural interpretation. Interdisciplinary in scope and radical in conclusion, Games are not positions games as unique objects evoking a peculiar and paradoxical liminal state – a lusory attitude – that is essential to human creativity, knowledge, and sustenance of the species

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Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and globalisation’s new uncanny
Barry Murnane

Since its release in 1997 critics have interpreted Michael Haneke’s Funny Games in terms of European counter-cinema’s deconstruction of Hollywood genre film. Such accounts have drawn on a range of provocative statements by the Austrian director, who has gone on record to state that his intention in making the film was to ‘rape the viewer into independence’ and thus

in Globalgothic
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Our Mother’s House (1967)
Neil Sinyard

its depiction of childhood, is René Clément’s great film, Jeux Interdits – Forbidden Games (1952) which is also about how children come into contact with, and adapt to their own purposes, the rituals surrounding death. ‘The time must shortly come’, said Clayton in a note to his screenwriter Jeremy Brooks (6 July 1966), ‘when we must decide what Our Mother’s House is trying to say’. The novel had

in Jack Clayton
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David Myers

Play as a kind of assimilation has the potentiality to retreat increasingly from its original objects of reference. The toy itself, which signals the first such departure, then makes possible a series of increasingly remote responses depending on the resident fantasies within the players’ experience. (Sutton-Smith, 1984 , p. 19) How can we interpret a claim such as the one above in light of the explosive growth, since 1984, of digital games and digital game industries and the relatively (and somewhat curiously) lesser

in Games are not
David Myers

As games and gameplay have become increasingly popular and widespread, the products of games – most particularly digital games – have become increasingly profitable, and digital game design has become increasingly influenced by the digital game industry. Given these circumstances, it is tempting to view digital games and gameplay as consumer products subject to conventional market forces of supply and demand. In this chapter, I point out how digital games and gameplay avoid market valuations and how the lusory attitude associated with gameplay, in

in Games are not
David Myers

The first order of business is to demonstrate how and why games – and, most particularly, game rules – are paradoxical . Fortunately, Bernard Suits ( 1978 ), who has offered the clearest and most pointed definition of games and game rules available, has also offered a flawed set of conclusions regarding the non-paradoxy of games. This provides an excellent opportunity for one-stop shopping: to reiterate Suits’ emphasis of the importance of game rules and, simultaneously, to repudiate his disallowance of game paradoxy in favor of non-paradoxical and

in Games are not
David Myers

Games are – and are not – something else . This includes narratives. Over the past half century, the Holy Grail of game design has been to provide a game experience analogous to the aesthetic experience provided by stories and storytelling. Games and stories have had a long and troubled history in this regard, with neither emerging unscathed by the requirements and expectations of the other. In this chapter, I offer an alternative solution to the dilemma of how to make games and stories compatible: Quit trying. If an ideal marriage were possible

in Games are not
David Myers

I may believe something. I may believe that God does not exist. I may believe Tuesday follows Monday. Is my belief that Tuesday follows Monday so resolute that I cannot disbelieve it? In this chapter, I examine the fate of belief in games and gameplay. There are those who claim that some beliefs are so resolute that it is difficult, if not impossible, to disbelieve them. Given the nature of games and gameplay, I argue in this chapter otherwise. Under the influence of a lusory attitude, under the influence of the rules of a game, it is not only

in Games are not
David Hesse

5 Only the strong: Highland Games It has been a good day in Puster Valley. The mountain sun and healthy pints of Tyrolean beer have made the Highlanders’ faces shine. Now the hills are bathed in evening light, the bar works triple shifts, swords and pitchforks are safely tucked away. A folk band has taken to the open air stage, kilts are flying, and the dancing begins. The South Tyrolean Highland Games have been a grand success, even if who has won the competitions remains a mystery to most. Many warriors have skipped the award ceremony in order to get a bite

in Warrior dreams
David Myers

In this final chapter, I make one last argument, a bit different from the others. Rather than argue what games are not, I argue that games are art. But there is this twist: The claim that games and gameplay are not art is precisely the claim required for games and gameplay to be art. And no other claim will really do. 12.1 Sports and games Whether games – and, closely related, sports – should be considered art is an unresolved issue. A rolling, off-again and on-again debate concerning the artistic potential of sports – lively at times

in Games are not