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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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19

Videogame Content

Game, Text, or Something Else?

Mia Consalvo

ABSTRACT

This chapter surveys the most recent scholarly work done on videogame content. It identifies several lines of research that have emerged in this area, including debates over the best methods for studying game content, representation-based versus gameplay-based approaches, and theoretical foundations for studying games. In addition to providing a broad overview of recent work in such areas, the essay also provides a more detailed account of how such research works, through an examination of the author's past videogame studies. These include studies that have examined titles such as The Sims and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, among other examples. These studies demonstrate how theory may and may not be useful in studying games, how methods must be adapted to best scrutinize dynamic content, and the many meanings that can be taken from contemporary games. The essay ends with a discussion of how future research on games should proceed, and the identification of the areas most pressing in terms of investigation.

What does it mean to study a videogame, without asking players how or why they play? If we study videogames, is the meaning in the representations the game offers us, in its narrative or story, in the gameplay we enact, or in some combination of those? And if we can agree on where the “meaning” resides, how do we go about figuring out that meaning? This chapter is an exploration of past and current studies ...

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