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Object-relation mapping: A method for analysing phenomenal assemblages of play

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Theories of play assemblages and technological agency have met popular acceptance in game studies. However, current approaches to empirically examining these notions are limited to resource-intensive ethnographies not suitable for many types of enquiries, particularly those focusing on micro-level analyses and the lived experiences of play. This article proposes an analytical method called ‘object-relation mapping’ (ORM). ORM incorporates techniques from Actor–Network Theory, social network analysis, phenomenology and Grounded Theory to examine phenomenal assemblages of play at micro-, meso- and macro-levels. In particular, ORM provides a systematic framework for collecting, deconstructing, restructuring and coding data gleaned from players’ subjective experience of play. This article outlines ORM’s theoretical underpinnings, techniques, benefits, challenges and extensions.
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Keywords: actor–networks; assemblage of play; digital games; mixed methods; phenomenology; social network analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: West Virginia University

Publication date: 01 September 2014

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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