New Issue of Game Studies Journal Out Now (Vol 10, Issue 1)

Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research has just published its latest issue (Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2010).

All articles are available at

This issue of GS includes not only articles but also 4 book reviews, 1 interview and 1 Call for Papers.


Diminutive Subjects, Design Strategy, and Driving Sales: Preschoolers and the Nintendo DS
by J. Alison Bryant, Anna Akerman, Jordana Drell

Designing for the youngest consumers is a daunting task for video game producers, who historically have focused on more “hard core” game fans. This article chronicles the research and design process involved in creating Nintendo DS games for a preschool audience. By integrating multi-method research into the creative process, game producers can better understand the game mechanics related to different technologies in the context of such young players. This research process is discussed not only with respect to how it was used to help develop DS games for preschoolers, but also in regard to the roles of exploratory and formative research in creating new titles, more generally, for this youngest set. In addition to a set of best practices from a process perspective, we discuss our key findings and design tips when it comes to preschoolers and their cognitive abilities, motor skills, and design preferences. By understanding the unique needs of preschoolers, we can continue to improve the interfaces that we create for them on any chosen system, and better integrate educational and other “serious” content into games for this target audience.

Tags, Threads, and Frames: Toward a Synthesis of Interaction Ritual and Livejournal Roleplaying

by Sarah Wanenchak
What does online interaction look like? How does it fit with established theories of interaction? The examined setting is an online roleplaying game where the action is entirely transacted through text. The structure of observable interactions within the context of the game is explored. The paper concludes with an analysis of how the observed online interactions are understandable through traditional sociological conventions of face to face interaction.

Rarity and Power: Balance in Collectible Object Games

by Ethan Ham
For collectible card games (CCGs), game designers often limit the availability of cards that have a particularly powerful gameplay effect. The conventional wisdom is that the more powerful a card is, the more rare it should be. The long-term implications of such an approach can have negative consequences on a game’s suitability for casual play. Digital Addiction (a company that produced online, collectible card games in the 1990s) developed a different game design philosophy for balancing collectible card games. The approach called for the most obviously and generally useful cards to be the most common and to equate rarity to specialization rather than raw power.

Virtual Worlds Don’t Exist: Questioning the Dichotomous Approach in MMO Studies

by Vili Lehdonvirta

I argue that much influential scholarship on massively-multiplayer online games and virtual environments (MMO) is based on a dichotomous “real world vs. virtual world” model. The roots of this dichotomy can be traced to the magic circle concept in game studies and the cyberspace separatism of early Internet thought. The model manifests on a number of dimensions, including space, identity, social relationships, economy and law. I show a number of problems in the use of this model in research, and propose an alternative perspective based on Anselm Strauss’s concept of overlapping social worlds. The world of players does not respect the boundaries of an MMO server, as it frequently flows over to other sites and forums. At the same time, other social worlds, such as families and workplaces, penetrate the site of the MMO and are permanently tangled with the players’ world. Research programs that approach MMOs as independent mini-societies are therefore flawed, but there are many other kinds of research that are quite feasible.

The Ending is Not Yet Written: A Conversation with Rand Miller

by Celia Pearce
Rand Miller, who with his brother Robyn designed Myst, the first blockbuster CD-ROM, talks about his legacy of vanguard game design, and the complex history of its multiplayer sequel Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. This interview, conducted via e-mail, took place shortly before the third re-opening of Uru.

Book Reviews
A “Digital Culture, Play and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader” Reader
by Richard Bartle
Review of “Digital Culture, Play and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader” edited by Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg, (MIT Press, 2008).

Gaming Culture at the Boundaries of Play
by Frans Mäyrä
Review of “Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames” by Mia Consalvo, (MIT Press 2007).

Unplaying an Unreview of Critical Play
by Cynthia Haynes
Review of “Critical Play: Radical Game Design” by Mary Flanagan (MIT Press, 2009)

The Productive Paradox of Critical Play
by Ragnhild Tronstad
Review of “Critical Play: Radical Game Design” by Mary Flanagan, (MIT Press, 2009).

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