Precarious Play: To Be or Not to Be Stanley


Modern game scholarship in the past two decades has known two dominant, yet paradoxical, tendencies in theorizing the subject of play: an interpellationary account and a deconstructivist one. Going from Miguel Sicart's concept of the ethical player as an initial compromise between the two, this article argues for an ideological subject of play that is a split subject. While a 'playing subject', as a phenomenologically present Foucaultian subject constructed by the governing structure of rules, we must recognize the parallel subjectivity of the fixed 'played subject', inherent to – and narrativized by – the game as an avatar, visual narrator or sheer content. In this constellation, the player shows to have a merely precarious position over the played, ready to lose control at the whim of the game.

Author Biography

Lars A.W.J. de Wildt, Leiden University
Lars is a recent RMA graduate from Leiden University aiming to critically re-assess the questions of cultural studies and ideology criticism in the context of digital games, with a specific interest in war propaganda and subversive countergames.


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November 21, 2014