Towards a Theatre for Gamers : a new paradigm of practice in contemporary live performance as a response to games and interactivity in digital media and performance culture

Foster, GH 2017, Towards a Theatre for Gamers : a new paradigm of practice in contemporary live performance as a response to games and interactivity in digital media and performance culture , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

How can game design, in terms of its concepts, theories, technologies and notions of play, be applied to the design of live performance and engage the new game playing audience within contemporary society? To investigate this I have carried out a practice-as-research project within an ethnographic framework and informed by action research methodologies. This study has created a practical and theoretical framework (expressed as approaches) for the application of gaming methodologies for use in the devising of contemporary performance.

A Theatre for Gamers has been developed upon three pillars, which are inspired from gaming culture and practice: Agency, Interactivity and Play. Jacques Rancière (2007) has suggested the concept of emancipating the spectator and my research links this argument to concepts of agency and argues that games have the potential to address part of this concern. My research develops understandings of interactivity in performance by applying game-based notions of ergodic and cyber text (Espen Aarseth, 1997) to the field of live performance. It also draws upon fundamental game design principles, such as interactive feedback loops and story-worlds, as presented by Eric Zimmerman (2003) and Chris Crawford (2012), amongst other game theorists/designers. A Theatre for Gamers acknowledges play as a cultural form (Huizinga, 1938) and introduces understandings of contemporary gaming culture, such as McGonigal’s four gamer qualities (2011), into live performance.

Several shifts in the approach to live performance for gamers emerge through this research. The focus of activity now centres on the audience and offers them deep interactivity by repositioning them into the roles of players. Performance practitioners become facilitators for live experiences and no longer assume authority over linear, direct storytelling or traditional performance. The process of storytelling focuses more on creating story-worlds, as opposed to story lines (Crawford, 2012), which encourage a more systemic approach to the development of performance and aims to encourage emergent behaviours and narrative.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: GH Foster
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 15:58
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2018 01:38
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/43563

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