From Manual to Automated to Digital : On Transmediality, Technological Specificity, and Playful Practice in Mahjong

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-659
Journal / PublicationGames and Culture
Issue number6
Online published30 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


Through a case study of variations in the game of Mahjong differing from each other in terms of the extent of technological assistance involved, this article sheds light on questions of transmediality and technological specificity of games and play. It argues that while the variations in Mahjong can be described as sitting together in a family resemblance, the specificities of the technologies and the sociocultural contexts involved give rise to new kinds of playful practices that are not reducible to the “transmedial Mahjong” but whose understanding nevertheless necessitates knowledge of the rules and conventions of Mahjong. This not only casts critical light on how the “ludological” paradigm of game studies has defined its object of study but also prompts reconsideration of the role of technology when applying perspectives that emphasize the processual nature of games.

Research Area(s)

  • Mahjong, transmediality, technology, play, China