Research program Serious I Game I Play
Keywords: media theory, new media and digital culture, game studies, digital cinema, participatory television
Joost Raessens is a specialist in new media/computer games. His research program Serious I Game I Play concerns the ‘ludification of culture,’ focussing in particular on playful identities, on learning through games and on the notion of play as a conceptual framework for the analysis of media use. Raessens is project leader of two externally funded research projects: within the Transformations in Art and Culture-program (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) he co-supervises Playful Identities, within the GATE-program (Game Research for Training and Entertainment) he supervises Design Rules for Learning through Simulated Worlds. His research is part of the research focus area Cultures and Identities and the Utrecht Media Research program.
Playful Identities. From Narrative to Ludic Self-Construction (Summary)
The aim of this interdisciplinary (conceptual-philosophical, media-theoretical, and qualitative-empirical) project is to investigate if, and if so, to what extent and in what way, digital information and communication technologies are transforming the (construction of) personal and cultural identity. To that end we will develop a theory of ludic identity that critically elaborates on Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity. In this theory play and games are not only appropriate metaphors for human identity, but they are also conceived of as means by which people reflexively construct their identity. The theory of ludic identity, the outlines of which have been sketched in some of the principal applicant’s previous publications, will be further developed and critically evaluated in three case studies (three PhD projects) focusing on (the domestication of) three different media, respectively: 1. mobile phones, 2. websites, and 3. computer games. Each case study will examine the way the medium-specific characteristics shape and are being shaped by the participation of the user, and on the implications of this for the reflexive construction of personal and cultural identities. By way of dialectical counterpoint, in each of the case studies the practice of reflexive identity construction will be confronted with a specific development that threatens to subject this reflexive self-construction to the logic of an external system (respectively processes of commercialization, globalization and homogenization). The applicants will not only act as the supervisors of the PhD projects, but will also write a synthetic monograph in which the results of the case studies will be integrated and situated in a wider context of historical and philosophical approaches to culture.
Design Rules for Learning through Simulated Worlds (Summary)
The aim of this interdisciplinary (conceptual, media-theoretical, and qualitative-empirical) research project is to investigate to what extent and in what way media theory in general and game theory in particular can be called upon to improve the design and by that the learning results of educational entertainment and serious games. For that purpose, we develop a theory of serious games and gaming according to which games are not only designed and played to entertain, but also to educate, train, and inform. This theory will be developed and critically evaluated in three sub-projects: 1. The study of storytelling: How narrative structures can be designed to improve learning processes, 2. The study of rhetoric: How rhetorical strategies can be designed to better convince players of certain points of view (e.g., political games), or changes of behavior (e.g., health games), and 3. The study of multiplayer online worlds and games: How design principles underlying multiplayer online worlds and games can be used to improve learning processes (e.g., make it more effective, more efficient and/or more pleasurable). Each sub-project examines the ways in which the media and game theoretical frameworks at stake need to be adapted in order to be used in a productive way for the design of educational computer games. The project leader writes a synthetic monograph in which the results of the three areas will be compared, integrated and situated in a wider cultural-historical context.