Media-ludic approaches: Critical reflections on games and research practice


Submission deadline: September 1st, 2017

Publication: Spring 2018

Guest editors: Torill Mortensen, IT University of Copenhagen,, and Emma Witkowski, RMIT University Melbourne,

Issue editor: Claus Toft-Nielsen, Aarhus University,


In 2001, Game Studies was introduced as an emerging and viable academic field (Aarseth, 2001), and has grown steadily into a rich crossdisciplinary field of study bringing together new knowledge on areas such as virtual economies, interactivity, embodiment, and leisure cultures. Game Studies as media studies is now represented in most of the larger media conferences, and is a self-evident part of the academic study of digital media (Aarseth, 2015). Media studies has long recognised the importance of games; as a driver for introducing advanced computers to private users, and as an engine of media mutations, as new participants enter the arenas of Youtube, Twitch and other hybrid technologies via an interest in games. But despite the maturing field of game studies and the surface intersection between games and media studies, richer dialogues remain to be produced on how we research these dynamic media moments and intertwined materials/mediums of play. With the continued and varied growth of games as media into mobile and domestic media space, it might be an important time to take stock and reflect on what has been discovered or reinvented since that first open invitation to study games, and examine the substance and productions of games and media studies research. This issue addresses the methodological challenges involved in doing research in such dynamic fields of play, and looks to encourage considerations of new research methodologies and techniques that further the production of knowledge around games.

This issue of MedieKultur calls for explorations on the analytical and methodological intersections as well as the diversions between games research and media studies, contributing to a deeper understanding of how we conceive of and study games as media, prompting questions around new media-ludic methodologies, and extending the knowledge exchange between games research and media studies. Specifically, this volume asks: what can games research and media studies teach us about doing researching on dynamic mediated interactions, socio-technical relationships and communication in spaces of play?


The goals of this volume are in part to:

  • Explore questions on games and media studies methods, collaborations and productions, and to ignite critical considerations of existing and imaginable alternative instruments of study.
  • Examine the gaps and precarious methods in games research methods, for example covert ethnographic research, big data, socio-phenomenographical research, approaches to mixed methods (qualitative-quantitative) research, and small or single case studies.
  • Question how research concepts from the study of games have travelled and how they are exportable to media and communications and other game/play fields.
  • Expand on how the study of games raises new practical and ethical questions of established user/audience methods and theories.


By focusing on the question of methods in games research and media studies, this edition of MedieKultur presents a collection of innovative research perspectives, which can reach beyond the growing field of game studies and engage with interrelated subject areas such as audience studies, media sport studies, digital broadcasting, political economy, and leisure cultures research.

Aarseth, E. (2001). Computer Game Studies, Year One. Retreived from


Aarseth, E. (2015). Meta Game Studies. Retreived from


Melcer, E., Nguyen, T. H. D., Chen, Z., Canossa, A., El-Nasr, M. S., & Isbister, K. (2015). “Games Research Today: Analyzing the Academic Landscape 2000-2014." Foundations of Digital Games 2015.