Forget the magic circle (or towards a sociology of video games)

Crawford, G ORCID: 2009, Forget the magic circle (or towards a sociology of video games) , in: Under the Mask 2, 5th June 2009, University of Bedfordshire. (Unpublished)

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There have been several sociologists who have written, sometimes quite extensively and informatively, on video games, and more commonly many within video games studies have tapped into wider sociological literatures. However, more generally, the willingness of sociology to engage with video games and gamer analysis has been rather underwhelming, and this is particularly significant, for as Nieborg and Hermes (2008) argue, video games offer a key area for developing our understanding of contemporary audience, consumer and production patterns. Similarly, the general level of engagement with sociological literatures within games studies has at times been fairly limited. Though writers sometimes draw on philosophical/sociological ideas, such as ‘the magic circle’, which they claim are ‘social’ concepts, there is little understanding or engagement with what this actually means. Hence, this paper offers a (further) critique of the magic circle and similar concepts, but argues that the key weakness of these concepts is their lack of engagement with, and applicability to, other spheres of social life. To this end, I suggest that the (also sometimes used in game studies) concept of frame analysis, does offer a more social theory; however, what is truly needed in game studies (reflecting the arguments of early criminological debates in the 1960s and 70s) is a ‘fully social theory’ (Taylor, Walton & Young 1973) of gaming.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Refereed: Yes
Depositing User: G Crawford
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2012 11:16
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 14:03
References: Crawford, G. (2009) ‘Forget the Magic Circle (or Towards a Sociology of Video Games)’, keynote presentation to the Under the Mask 2, University of Bedfordshire. Online at:

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