Acts of play : games as experiential performance
- This dissertation addresses a major theoretical problem in performance studies: how to understand games (including play, sports, and so on) as a distinct mode of performance. It considers a wide variety of games across media and genres. Its central goal is to create critical frames that can help performance scholars analyze games alongside other types of performance (such as theater) without eliding their salient qualities, and conversely also help games scholars make use of performance as a way to address play. The first chapter explicates concepts of experience that describe unique and distinguishing qualities of play. It addresses ideas about experience from pragmatist philosophy, interaction design, and popular culture. It uses them to develop a framework for ludic experience that relates games to aesthetic performance, consumer electronics, narrative, efficacy, and affect. The second chapter describes performers other than players in games, which it describes as devices (such as sports equipment) and designs (such as rules). It uses perspectives from speech-act theory, theater criticism, design studies, and object-oriented ontology to help locate the performativity of nonhuman performers in play. It also considers how the device-design analytic merges and blurs in toys and videogames. The third and final chapter investigates how embodiment functions in games. Through further engagement with game studies, theater criticism, and gender theory, it develops constructs called the "game body" and "ludic subjectivity" that help describe how players create new bodies and identities through acts of play. By interpreting several distinct varieties of game practice -- from board games to play with avatars and puppets to tabletop roleplaying -- through the lens of the game body, it reveals a spectrum of modes of embodiment that become manifest in play. In doing so, it outlines a general critical method for examining how play transforms bodies and physical performance.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|St. Clair, Michael
|Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
|Statement of responsibility
|Michael St. Clair.
|Submitted to the Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
|Ph.D. Stanford University 2013
- © 2013 by Michael Aaron St. Clair
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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