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2022: Special Issue: Ludomaterialities

Paper and Polygon: Theming and Materiality in Game Studies and Game Design

November 15, 2022


This contribution to the research on games and materiality has two goals. One the one hand, it deals with a problematic generalization in computer game research and, on the other hand, it tries to point out an omission in game studies and gives some hints as to which investigations of game materiality this omission requires. The problematic generalization is that games are themable, meaning that every game can be equipped with an arbitrary representation (theme) without changing, while the omission concerns the lack of research on the decisive role of materialities in the game design process, which has only been taken into account by publications on design practice. The underlying assumption is that there is a relationship between both topics that makes it possible to criticize the generalization with regards to the omission. Accordingly, this paper is divided into three sections: (1) an explanation of critique of the idea of theming; (2) an elaboration on its generalization with reference to pedagogy in the second part, and outlining a proposal for dealing with the materiality of digital games in the third part.