Who Made the Magic Circle? Seeking the Solvable Part of the Game-Player Problem
If the early days of game studies concerned the issue of games and stories, recent discussions appear to be focused on the issue of games and players. This is a discussion of methods and of the object of study: Should we discuss players or should we discuss games? There are two possible perspectives on this: The common “segregationist” perspective implies that games are structures separate from players, structures that players can subsequently subvert. In this talk, I will make the case for an alternative “integrationist” perspective wherein games are chosen and upheld by players, and where players will happily create formal rule systems and boundaries around the playing activity.
I will argue that the question of games and players must therefore be decomposed into a set of smaller problems, each of which must be answered with different methods.
Jesper Juul is a video game researcher at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT game lab in Cambridge. Originally trained in literature, his work has included early discussions of games as non-narrative, game structure, game definitions, the interplay of rules and fiction, player perceptions of failure in games, and video game history. Prior to working at MIT, he worked at the Centre for Computer Game Research Copenhagen. A collection of his writings can be found at jesperjuul.net/text. His blog, The Ludologist, can be found at jesperjuul.net/ludologist