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Encoding Through Procedure: Unexpected Meaning in Serious Game Design


Encoding Through Procedure: Unexpected Meaning in Serious Game Design

Robinson, William (2018) Encoding Through Procedure: Unexpected Meaning in Serious Game Design. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Robinson_PhD_F2018.pdf - Accepted Version


Encoding Through Procedure explores the creation and transmission of ideas through game design. My primary argument is that rules have an agency that complicates current models of procedural rhetoric. In Chapter 1, drawing from Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding model, I prepare a methodological foundation to demonstrate the unique possibilities and difficulties that game rules offer as a communicative medium. Using Kim Sawchuck and Owen Chapman’s work on research-creation, I deploy a game-design-based method of research. The last methodological step explores Bruno Latour’s Actor Network-Theory both as a method of design and critique. In Chapter 2, I present a literature review of serious games and gamification. Here the field produces avenues for exploration, given the inconsistent positions it holds on serious games. In addressing these, I argue for the benefits of distinguishing gamification from serious games. Chapter 3 explores an additional set of literature interested in emergence and algorithmic representation. The argument here focuses on a lacuna in the field’s conception of procedural rhetoric. I agree with pre-existing literature, that emergent results can lead to convincing arguments. That said, there is no method to date for considering how designers might produce a work which reliably creates emergent results. Instead, I argue the field focuses on post-hoc readings of games successfully communicating authorial ideas. In Chapter 4, to address these concerns, I present my own design practices. I offer three examples of serious games I completed during my doctoral work. These demonstrate the various forces which alter the process of communicating across games. Each provides distinctly different moments of my own practice conflicting with the agency of my games’ rules.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Technoculture, Art and Games
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Robinson, William
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:June 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Wershler, Darren and Simon, Bart and Consalvo, Mia
Keywords:Game Studies, Game Design, Procedural Rhetoric, Research-Creation
ID Code:984364
Deposited On:31 Oct 2018 17:42
Last Modified:31 Oct 2018 17:42


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