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Theorizing the Player-Playable Figure Relationship
Center for Computer Games Research of the IT University, Copenhagen.
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Media Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5247-6807
2022 (English)In: Narrative (Columbus, Ohio), ISSN 1063-3685, E-ISSN 1538-974X, Vol. 30, no 2, p. 240-254Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper revisits a central question in the study of characters in digital games: Do players of, for example, a racing game steer the virtual car directly themselves, or are they controlling the body of a virtual driver? This seemingly technical question is shown to be primarily cognitive and conceptual: players draw ontheir real-life and fictional frames of reference in an ongoing epistemological processof situating themselves vis-à-vis gameworld and playable figure. The traditional metaphor for this relationship, that of a cyborg, neither captures the variety of relationships suggested by games, nor the range of interpretations open to players. To overcome this limitation, I propose six conceptual types, based on the significance that tools and vehicles have for the playable figure. I ask: is there a co-dependence between equipment and user, is it permanent, and do they have a metonymic relationship to eachother? These abstract categories are shown to be connected to archetypical proto-narratives epitomized by characters from mythology and popular culture, which players implicitly refer to in conceptualizing their relationship to the gameworld. The essay, then, offers a framework for the conceptual variety of player-playable figure-relations,which, in drawing on cultural history, should be equally transparent to scholars of game studies and narratology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Baltimore: Ohio State University Press, 2022. Vol. 30, no 2, p. 240-254
Keywords [en]
videogames, digital games, popular culture, character, epistemology
National Category
Media and Communication Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-49089DOI: 10.1353/nar.2022.0014ISI: 000830388000009Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85132584184OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-49089DiVA, id: diva2:1661274
Available from: 2022-05-26 Created: 2022-05-26 Last updated: 2022-11-08Bibliographically approved

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Lankoski, Petri

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • harvard-anglia-ruskin-university
  • apa-old-doi-prefix.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-harvard.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-oxford.csl
  • Other style
More styles
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
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