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Strong and weak procedurality

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This article examines the procedural and constructivist approaches to interpreting political meaning in interventionist video games, i.e., games that are designed to play with the fundamental beliefs of the player to change or reinforce these beliefs. The procedural approach involves the meaning being embedded in the game’s rule set and the constructivist approach asserts that the player constructs the meaning through the performative process of game play. These two approaches are frequently viewed as a binary opposition. This article attempts to reconcile these approaches by introducing a continuum of procedurality, bounded at its ends by ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ procedurality, which favour procedural and constructivist interpretive approaches, respectively. By examining case studies of interventionist games and game play near each end of the spectrum, it makes claims about the relative efficacy of strong and weak procedurality as approaches for designing interventionist video games and advocates for a holistic general game criticism informed by these concepts.
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Keywords: Bogost; Sicart; aesthetics; constructivism; interventionism; procedurality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Swinburne University of Technology

Publication date: 01 June 2013

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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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