Decolonizing play

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Abstract

The past five years have seen the development of what Mukherjee, S. (2018. Playing subaltern: Video games and postcolonialism. Games and Culture, 13(5), 504–520) and Murray, S. (2018. The work of postcolonial game studies in the play of culture. Open Library of Humanities, 4(1), 1–25) (amongst others) term postcolonial game studies. Postcolonial game studies looks at how games represent colonial and postcolonial environments in the story worlds they present, and also considers how these games are consumed by players in postcolonial nations. Fittingly, it is a critique both of how games reproduce colonial tropes. In this essay, I argue that the work of decolonizing games requires that we also decolonize play. Here I shall argue that the foundational theories of play that game scholarship is predicated upon are built upon a racist and xenophobic binary that pits civilization against barbarism. This binary is a consequence of a white European canon of game studies scholarship that has supported a grand theory of play apprehended only through an etic lens. If we are to consider the future of game studies, I think we should work to decolonize play. Crucially, we must attend to how Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) play globally and consider the many other ways—beyond merely games—that this play is articulated.

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APA

Trammell, A. (2022). Decolonizing play. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 39(3), 239–246. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2022.2080844

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