Workshops of Our Own: Analysing Constraint Play in Digital Games
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
Related Research Unit(s)
Players are at the heart of games: games are only fully realised when players play them. Contemporary games research has acknowledged players’ importance when discussing games. Player-based research in game studies has been largely oriented either towards specific types of play, or towards analysing players as parts of games. While such approaches have their merits, they background creative traditions shared across different play. Games share players, and there is knowledge to be gleamed from analysing the methods players adopt across different games, especially when these methods are loaded with intent to make something new. In this thesis, I will argue that players design, record, and share their own play methods with other players. Through further research into the Oulipo’s potential contributions to games research, as well as a thorough analysis of current game studies texts on play as method, I will argue that the Oulipo’s concept of constraints can help us better discuss player-based design. I will argue for constraints by analysing various different types of player created play methods. I will outline a descriptive model that discusses these play methods through shared language, and analysed as a single practice with shared commonalities. By the end of this thesis, I will have shown that players’ play methods are often measured and creative. Players create play methods not only to enrich their play, but also to enrich other players’ play and to create new future ways to approach games, and playing them. Furthermore, I will argue that players realise the productive potential in their play, and they record their play both to preserve their adopted methods, but also to realise the creative aspects latent inside their play.