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Constructing and measuring an ‘audience’ for digital games

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What is the ‘audience’ for digital games? This article argues that measurement is a crucial component of conceptions of the audience, exemplifying the complexities of translating theories and models of the audience to digital games. Beginning with mass communication studies, the common audience conception based on invisibility, exposure, institutional agreement, advertising value, and technological measurement found widespread resistance from game studies. This model gave way to reception studies’ focus on interpretation and sociocultural context, more readily aligned with game studies’ emphasis on interactivity. However, the shift towards a constructionist model of the audience, as a discursive construct separate from actual people and reified by measurement technologies, has not been widely applied to digital games. Ultimately, this article argues that a constructionist approach complicates naturalized notions of game ‘players’ and ‘cultures’ as the medium both integrates into and disrupts traditional conceptions of the audience.
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Keywords: audience measurement; constructionism; exposure; game players; gaming culture; reception studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Glasgow

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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