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Are Free-to-Play Games Evil? Reopening the Debate on Exploitation

Most commercially successful free-to-play games balance on the verge of exploiting the player, although it is still very difficult to explain where fair play ends and exploitation begins. To draw this line, I turned to the labour theory of value (LTV) by Karl Marx to find out that it explains ludic exploitation in a satisfactory logical manner.

“The change can only come from within the industry” – PAIDIA in conversation with games labour

Talking about Marx, labour, games and play from an academic perspective was one of our main goals for this special issue. However, we don’t want to stay in our ivory tower. We want to show the interrelations of labour, games and play and we want to hear not only the voices of academics but of workers, too. PAIDIA sat down with a member of Game Workers Unite Germany. Lily (name changed) talked to us about their experience in the games industry, about bad labour conditions and their underlying problems, and what has to change in the industry.
The interview was conducted by Tobias Unterhuber.

From Deep Blue to Blade Runner – The Portrayal of Artificial Intelligence in the Fallout Game Series

Wissenschaft steht immer wieder im Zentrum der postapokalyp­tischen Welt von Fallout, (( Interplay Productions: Fallout. 1997. )) sowohl auf der Ebene der Narrative als auch auf derjenigen der Spielmechanik. In diesem Artikel lassen wir jedoch Kern­energie, Genetik und Robotik beiseite und konzentrieren uns auf die Darstellung von Künstlicher Intelligenz (KI) in den vier Hauptteilen der Rollenspiel Reihe. Wir analysieren die wachsende Bedeutung der KI-bezogenen Erzählungen innerhalb der Spiele, ergründen die Kontexte, aus denen diese Geschichten stammen und arbeiten heraus, welche sich wandelnden Vorstellungen von KI im Laufe der Spielereihe hervorgerufen werden. Wir argumentieren, dass die KI-Darstel­lun­gen in Fallout tief in der zeitgenössischen Populärkultur verankert und durch zahlreiche Bezüge zur Science Fiction angereichert sind. Auch wird auf reale KI-Forschung Bezug genommen, allerdings verlieren diese An­knüp­fung­spunkte im Verlauf der Spielereihe an Bedeutung. Während die KI-Narrative immer wichtiger werden, sind diese vermehrt von Anthro­po­morphismus geprägt und auf ethische Fragen bezogen.

Digital Games and the Collaborative Construction of Knowledge

In this paper, I analyze digital games in their fundamental role as cognitive artifacts that promote new ways of formulating knowledge in collaborative communities. To illustrate these concepts, I analyze Foldit, a digital game whose main objective is for players to map protein folding through a series of puzzles. The data generated by players is analyzed by scientists and incorporated into actual research. Digital games can be powerful tools to generate new knowledge in collaborative communities of players, by joining the computational power of digital games and the creative problem-solving skills of engaged players.

“Concise and clear” – PAIDIA in conversation with Nina Freeman

PAIDIA talked to Nina Freeman creator of Cibele ( ) and level designer at Fullbright Company about the influence of poetry on her videogames, the artistic potential of the medium, coming of age-narratives in videogames and the coming of age of videogames as well as her design principles and practices.
The interview was conducted by Tobias Unterhuber.

The Art of Congruency – PAIDIA in conversation with Karla Zimonja

PAIDIA talked to Karla Zimonja the co-founder of The Fullbright Company about their game Gone Home, their upcoming project Tacoma 1 and her design philosophy. We spoke about a variety of topics: from the importance of agency and trust in the actions of the player to the problem of underrepresentation and the thematization of love ...

Role-playing Romances and the Fantasies of Fans

The following article examines the representation of romantic relationships, gender, and sexual orientation in the RPGs of the Canadian game developing company Bioware. It critically analyzes how plot and game dynamics present romantic contexts in general and how those presentations relate to Western heterosexual norms; thus opening a discursive connection between 'gaming' and 'mainstream' culture.

Posthuman = Postgender? (De)stabilising Binary Oppositions in ‚Mass Effect‘

The Science fiction series Mass Effect take part in an ongoing discussion of the ‘posthuman’ – they negotiate, and, at times, question or even transgress our notions of what it means to be human. The series is influenced by the concepts of “popular culture posthuman” and “theoretical posthumanism” The first is based on a Cartesian separation between mind and body and likes to imagine techno-science as a chance to overcome humanity’s physical weakness and perfect the body. In contrast, the latter rejects these remnants of Humanism and casts ‘the human’ as an unstable and ever-changing concept; theoretical post¬humanism enjoys radical experimentation and seeks to overcome the oppressive binary oppositions that have empowered the ideal humanist subject since the Enlightenment. This paper will show, that the Mass Effect games are influenced by both trajectories; the results can be fruitfully traced in the way gender issues are depicted.