Fiction As Play

Fiction as Play. Reassessing the Relation of Games, Play, and Fiction. Proceedings of the Fourth »The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference«, August 13-15, 2009 Oslo University, Oslo, Norway.
Final version, PDF.

How do fiction and video games relate? There is a common folk theory that video games are »nothing but« fiction with something »added«, i.e. »interactive fiction«. Within game studies, some scholars hold that elements of fiction might pop up in video games, but are not a necessary component of games as such. Others think that the combination of fiction and game play is what makes video games unique.

This paper argues that evolutionarily and historically, both fiction and games descend from (pretense) play. They are united by a social pragmatic license that renders fictional/played activities and communications without consequence, and a peculiar experiential and semantic quality I characterize as »make-believe«. I summarize the shared tenets of the five major fiction-as-play scholars, and list the main advantages a game-and-fiction-as-play account offers to the study of video games.