Games without Borders: An International Look at Game Culture

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ahmed ELMEZENY, Technical University of Ilmenau, Germany
Jeffrey WIMMER, co-author, Germany
The area of video games study is robust after extensive research has been conducted within the past years. However, comparative video game studies are still lacking compared to other areas of research. Studies comparing game cultures are especially rare and game cultures are usually studied singularly in an explorative method.

When analyzing videogames (and their cultures particularly) it is important to consider the international/global aspects, especially with the growing rate of online play, where national boundaries are becoming less relevant. Our talk will present the theoretical framework for studying digital game cultures transnationally, in an attempt to find commonalities and differences between exclusive cultures. 

Similar to Hepp’ work on media cultures (2011, 2015), we base our framework on Paul du Gay’s et al. (1997) work on the production of culture. It suggests five different contexts important in the creation of game culture. The contexts of (re)production, identification, appropriation, representation and regulation deal with different aspects; from how games and their players are presented in the media or public discourse, to how gamers identify with certain games, and even how non-producing bodies control game releases and production. Using these different contexts, we propose a comparison of separate game cultures.

Finding commonalities and differences within digital game cultures from different countries (or even games) helps explore the idea that digital game cultures are not bound by national borders, but instead exist as a global, united subculture, or even a cultural cross section, similar to folk, high and urban cultures.  The presentation of the theoretical framework will be accompanied by insights from a pilot study on European and Arabic game cultures, which is qualitative and explorative in nature, using mixed methods for data collection. The selection of these methods is due to the lack of qualitative (and quantitative) research comparing game cultures internationally.