Game Lab: The Aesthetics and Culture of Video Games
Abe Geil, Markus Stauff, Joyce Goggin, Toni Pape
Description of the research programme of the research group
This Game Lab provides a forum for researchers and students to critically and analytically engage with video games. At the lab, we test video games and engage with games scholarship with a twofold goal. First, we want to assess the role of games in a changing media landscape. How do games infiltrate other media forms through cross-media or transmedia strategies? How do new gaming platforms - such as the Nintendo Switch and its principle of modularity - shape our habits of media use? Second, the Game Lab wants to analyze the cultural significance of videogames through close aesthetic analysis. Drawing on methods from the field of media studies, the lab seeks to contribute to game scholarship through the analysis of particular game aesthetics. Besides studying the work of different developers or different game genres, the group focuses on the aesthetics of gameplay, working towards a theory and method for analyzing how games take shape in the perceptual ecology of eye-ear-hand. Currently available methods focus on either content/narrative analysis or on game mechanics. While the former approaches tend to neglect the playing experience, the latter cannot grasp the cultural significance of gameplay.
The Game Lab will develop a working theory of gameplay aesthetics that allows for the formal analysis and close reading of videogames within the field of Media Studies. This will be done in monthly meetings, guest lectures, and annual workshops.
Work plan and time schedule
The group meets on a monthly basis. Session themes vary and are determined progressively but follow the specific interest and research goal of an aesthetic of gameplay. The Game Lab will be run for at least two years.
The Game Lab contributes to a better understanding of how video games shape the contemporary media landscape. it does so specifically by discussing how the gaming industry participates in processes of convergence, user activation, and the development of new forms of content. Furthermore, it works towards a better understanding of the cultural significance of videogames, for instance through the close analysis of aesthetic and genre trends.
This research group is active in the following constellations: