Playing the Game: performance in digital game audiences

Published as: Crawford, G. & Rutter, J., 2007. “Playing the Game: performance in digital game audiences” in Gray, J., Sandvoss, C., and Harrington, C.L. (eds) Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, New York: New York University Press, pp. 271-281.

Research into audiences and their engagement with cultural texts has often followed a trajectory established by Morley (1980), Hobson (1982), Radway (1984), Ang (1985) and Hermes (1995); namely, an emphasis on the consumption of routine – if not mundane – texts in everyday, often domestic, environments. Its sizable contribution to cultural studies has, in no small part, been the way this emphasis has opened up the study of the rich variety of practices, knowledge and discourses that audience members bring to their involvement with everyday cultural texts. Conversely, the research trope which appears to be developing around much of the study of digital games has emphasised the spectacular, the out-of-the-ordinary, the place of digital games in a canon of ‘art’ or possible links to aggressive and violent behavior. This chapter explores the validity of such assumptions by situating digital gaming within a broader socially situated context. We provide a brief introduction to the consideration of digital gaming and gamers as an audience and argue that the literature on media audiences and fans provides useful theoretical tools for understanding the use of digital gaming in patterns of everyday life. In particular it is argued that the concept of ‘performance’ allows parallels to be drawn between the literature on gaming and fans/audiences and how game-related performances and interactions can extend beyond the game interface. Furthermore, we suggest that the inclusion of gaming within debate on audiences and fans can expand our understanding of audience engagement with ‘texts’.

Playing the Game: performance in digital game audiences

Crawford, G. & Rutter, J., 2007. “Playing the Game: performance in digital game audiences” in Gray, J., Sandvoss, C., and Harrington, C.L. (eds) Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, New York: New York University Press, pp. 271-281.

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