Games People Play: A Trilateral Collaboration Researching Computer Gaming across Cultures

Games People Play: A Trilateral Collaboration Researching Computer Gaming across Cultures

Sandy Baldwin (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA), Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang (West Virginia University, USA) and Dibyadyuti Roy (West Virginia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0261-6.ch017
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Abstract

The study of various choices made while producing and playing games allows little opportunity for interrogating video games as a transcultural convergence of multiple subjectivities and institutions. This chapter speaks to this topic by presenting the Computer Games Across Cultures (CGAC) project. CGAC involved humanities researchers from West Virginia University (USA), Bangor University (Wales), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) who over a two-year period sought to understand creative and cultural aspects of gaming. CGAC's researchers employed both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to bridge the gap between the academic explorations of gaming in tandem with industry-specific practices within such spaces. This chapter provides an overview of the resultant work through its analysis of a cross-section of games. Examining both Western mainstream games and lesser known games from places like India and Ghana helped interrogate representational politics in videogames and provide a broader view of the relationship between gaming and game making, in a socio-cultural context.
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Culture And Play

In his seminal study Keywords, Raymond Williams (1976) argued that the term culture involves an “intricate historical development,” with the many connotations of this word existing in the twilight zone between “material production” and “signifying or symbolic systems” (p. 91). While acknowledging the varied manifestations of the same term, Johan Huizinga (1949) argued for the integral role of “play” within cultures, since “all play means something,” acting as material and non-material signifiers within the larger “scheme of life” (p. 1). Any effort therefore to understand culture must consider play. Efforts to understand how games work must emphasize both the act of playing and the games being played, all as vital clues towards decoding the cultures within which these acts are performed and the ways in which games perform cultures. Unfortunately, most attempts at enumerating a history of gaming have been contextually limited, focusing mostly on American games and gaming practices as symptomatic of global conventions. The generalization from the American or Western market to global gaming is easy but deceptive. Computer Gaming Across Cultures (CGAC), a two-year project funded by the British Council, emerged to address this scholarly gap, with the goal of accounting for the various spaces and the multiple mediums in which gamers and gaming practices emerge.

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