Workshop October 1: Computer Games and Game Rules

Game rules and goals are often taken to be the defining features of games, and the study of these rules and goals to be what distinguishes the study of games from the study of representational media. Traditional games, like board games and sport, depend on rules that serve to turn a piece of physical reality into a input-output system that provide game-based motivations for a player. The physical system may to smaller or larger extent build upon physical laws and restrictions, from relatively arbitrary in the case of chess, to the very dependent in the case of sport. In computer games, however, the relationship between the physical system and the “rules” is changed, perhaps fundamentally, since these games instead provides a “game mechanics” by way of programmed affordances. Rather than being applied to a  pre-existing physical system, the “rules” of computer games are integral to the system itself.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss whether the notion of traditional game rules apply to computer games, or whether these systems require a different theoretical approach. It will discuss the role of the programmed game environment in guiding player behavior and whether the notion of game rules can appropriately be substituted for alternative notions like algorithms or simulated laws. It will also look at adjacent issues that more generally concern the foundations for meaning production in a game mechanics, such as the relationship between game mechanics and fictional pretense, the distinction between necessary affordances and prescribed directions for play, and the ontology of game rules.

The workshop is open to anyone with an interest in the theme, but there are a limited number spots available. Send an email to johnrs () if you would like to participate.


October 1 -2013, Bergen, Norway

10.00  Introduction.   John Richard Sageng, University of Oslo.

10.10 On Rules, Regularities and Laws: Some Terminological Considerations.  Andreas Gregersen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

11.10 Artificial Laws and the Constitution of Agential Properties. John Richard Sageng, University of Oslo, Norway

12.10 Lunch

13.00 Gameworlds. Rune Klevjer, University of Bergen, Norway

14.00 Algorithms or Patterns of Play: Varying Perspectives on the Origins of Gameplay. Anne Mette Thorhauge, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

15.00 On the Inseparability of Materiality and Process in Computer Game Play. Olli Leino, School of Creative Media City University of HK, Hong Kong

16.00 Chess and Computer Chess: an Ontology of Rules. Ivan Mosca, University of Turin, Italy

17.00 Rules, Mechanics, and Meaning. Paul Martin, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China