Games, Glitches, Ghosts: Giving Voice to Enchantment in the Gamic Assemblage

By Joseph Thompson.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Video game theory must often concern itself with a distinction between the human and the machine in order to think about the way games function: what kinds of agency a human player has over a machine, within a game world, or over themselves while engaged in game play. But of the agencies that constitute a game play experience, only some are expressed through the diegetic game space; there is always some escape. Because video game theory has typically been focused on the agency of the player and how it is expressed within a game, moments when the game plays back have often been excluded from theoretical frameworks. But vital materialism has the potential to address those moments of enchantment and organize them into a coherent social order. In this paper, I pursue a direction within the ludological framework of video game theory to examine single-player video games, one that privileges different registers through which to conceive of agency in play, so that vitality which circumvents established routes can be detected and given shape. Specifically, I investigate glitches as the most pronounced “voice” of machinic agency in gaming.

Keywords: Video Games, Ludology, Agency, Vital Materialism, First-person Shooter, Magic, Vitality, Magic, Gamic Assemblage, Actor-network Theory

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.85-93. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 295.919KB).

Joseph Thompson

Graduate Student, American Studies, University of Texas, Austin, USA

I graduated from the University of Washington in 2010 with a BA in music and BA in comparative history of ideas. My interests have hovered around various types of cultural studies. Identity and the socialization of difference have remained important way points for my thought as I have moved from critical race theory and Indigenous studies to critical theory and the paranormal. Now at the University of Texas at Austin, one of my ongoing projects is the development of a video game theory which incorporates actor-network theory and vital materialism, recuperating affect and enchantment into technology studies.


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