Computer Games as Social Sculptures : Rethinking the Discourse of Participation and Its Implications for Digital Game Design

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number241
Number of pages15
Journal / PublicationProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCHI PLAY
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


By drawing on Joseph Beuys's notion of "social sculpture" and bringing together the discussions on participation from participatory art, participatory design, and game design, this paper seeks to expand the notion of participation in digital play. The expansive definition of participation allows us to better grasp computer games as a critical platform for dialogue and action, and computer gameplay as a transformative process of sculpting social fabric. By analyzing existing games in light of the concept of social sculpture, this paper explores how Beuys's central tenet-the discourse of participation-can "politicize" the practice of digital gaming and game design. Furthermore, the paper proposes a participation-centered game design approach that is politically responsible and engaging, attempting to arrive at new knowledge that will help to make games that can function as a platform for participation and social commentary.

Research Area(s)

  • Computer games, social sculpture, game design, participation, serious games, games for change