the international journal of computer game research


volume 5, issue 1
october 2005

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Jesper Juul is an assistant professor at the IT University of Copenhagen.
His book Half-Real will be published on MIT Press in November 2005.

Where the Action is

by Jesper Juul, issue editor


The young field of computer game studies is in a state of productive chaos. It is an amalgam of researchers from different disciplines bringing wildly contradictory assumptions to the table, yet also an area with its own set of conferences, associations, and journals.

While it may not be obvious from the midst of the fray, this is close to being our ideal state, this is as good as it gets. And this is our Scylla and Charybdis: As one of the youngest academic fields to appear after the advent of the Internet, we must try to accumulate knowledge and vocabulary and spread the word, while avoiding the dogma that tends to lie at the end of that road.


I am therefore pleased that the present issue of Game Studies is highly focused but nevertheless the most eclectic issue of the journal yet.

This special issue of Game Studies originated at the Game Design Research Symposium and Workshop held at the IT University in Copenhagen in May 2004. The event was organized by Staffan Björk, Aki Järvinen, Jussi Holopainen, Steffen P. Walz, and Espen Aarseth.


Game design research is one of the current frontiers of game studies, a place where we can quickly lay to rest any prejudices that researchers are locked in their ivory towers or that game developers never spend the time to think above a specific game. There is a shared interest in thinking about the medium, exploring what experiences are to be had from a specific design, wondering in what direction games can develop. Today, nary a game developer gathering will pass without calls for seeing game design as an exploration of a design space, as research, by way early prototyping, playing, playtesting.


In this issue, Davis, Steury and Pagulayan's article provides an overview of how Microsoft Game Studios use playtesting during game development, and Ermi and Mäyrä call for early involvement of players in scenario studies for game design.

Manninen and Kujanpää examine player-to-player interaction in multiplayer games.

Lindley examines the theoretical question of how to understand ludic systems using semiotics, and Grünvogel explores a just as basic question: Why and how games can be considered formal models, and how we can use this to analyze specific games.

One thing often missing is the in-depth analysis, and this issue includes Chaim Gingold's detailed review of Nintendo's charming WarioWare, and Timothy Burke's discussion of the early years of Star Wars: Galaxies.

Finally, for a view from the trenches, Celia Pearce interviews Raph Koster, one of the chief creative forces behind Star Wars Galaxies.


What is happening with Game Studies

We modestly plan to return to a brisker pace of publication.

Additionally, in recognition of the rapid expansion of our field, we plan to publish more issues on specific themes in the future.