Digital Games as Theater

Dimitra Nikolaidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

Theater has been recently used as the basic reference model to study Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). In this presentation, I will argue that there are indeed good reasons for that, related to the form, content and function of both theatre(play) and digital games/gameplay. Specifically, I will focus on a selected few of these reasons, and employ the narrative, open-world digital game Fallen London (Failbetter Games, 2009)—a liminal case among MMORPGs—to illustrate them. Fallen London exemplifies the similarities and correspondences in the design principles (theme, context, role, frame, sign, strategies), fundamental features (fictional world, narrative, characters, plot, setting, dialogue), operative conventions (text, performance, mise-en-scène), and sociocultural uses of theater and digital games.

Theater and/as Digital Game

Aikaterini Delikonstantinidou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

American theater has tapped into the possibilities that digital games and their affordances present. Theater creators have pushed the interpenetration of the two realms forward. In this way, they allow their works and their audiences to negotiate novel ways of co-owning the theater experience and actively engage in meaning-making processes. Many theater practitioners since the 2000s have figured that borrowing conventions, narrative structures, and plot devices from digital games would open new vistas of possibility for theater's poetics. This presentation offers an overview of exemplary theater projects and their reception, moving from projects in which the digital component of MMORPGs is less conspicuous yet figuratively and narratively present, to those in which digital technology is integral to the conception and production of the works.

The Sociocultural Implications of the Theater-Game Alliance

Dan Barnard (London South Bank University)

Drawing on the content of the first two presentations, this presentation expounds on the sociocultural affordances of (digital) game as theater and theater as (digital) game. Here, I will show that the theater-game alliance entails substantial benefits for both sides of the hyphen, as well as for the social domains of entertainment, art, and learning in which both are involved and which both affect. I will argue that of primary importance among these actual and potential benefits relating to the three aforementioned domains is the replenished productive capacity of attempts at effectuating social change; in other words, the "re-equipping" of such attempts.

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