January 12, 2023

Fictional Games out with Bloomsbury Publishing

  • Tagged:
  • Staff Work

Fictional Games: A Philosophy of Worldbuilding and Imaginary Play is the title of a new, exciting volume published by Bloomsbury Publishing. It combines perspectives from game studies, literary theory, the philosophy of fiction, film studies and science fiction studies, this pioneering work focuses its attention on an overlooked aspect of our relationship with games, that is games that exclusively exist as fictional props.

This new book by our own Prof. Stefano Gualeni (Institute of Digital Games) and Prof. Riccardo Fassone (Università di Torino, Italy) is the first systematic attempt to answer questions such as 'What roles do imaginary games have in story-telling?' and 'Why do fiction authors outline the rules of a game that the audience will never play?' To do so, they introduce five key functions that different types of imaginary games have in worldbuilding.

  1. First, fictional games can emphasize the dominant values and ideologies of the fictional society they belong to.
  2. Second, some imaginary games function in fictional worlds as critical, utopian tools, inspiring shifts in the thinking and political orientation of the fictional characters.
  3. Third, a few fictional games are conducive to the transcendence of a particular form of being, such as the overcoming of human corporeality.
  4. Fourth, imaginary games within works of fiction can deceptively blur the boundaries between the contingency of play and the irrevocable seriousness of “real life”, either camouflaging life as a game or disguising a game as something with more permanent consequences.
  5. And fifth, they can function as meta-reflexive tools, suggesting critical and/or satirical perspectives on how actual games are designed, played, sold, manipulated, experienced, understood and utilized as part of our culture.

Discussing examples from over 90 fictional games across a variety of media (and with several illustrations in every chapter bringing the imaginary games to life), in this new volume Gualeni and Fassone ask us to consider fictional games not as moments of playful reprieve in a storyline, but as significant and multi-layered expressive devices.

The book will soon be available both at the library of the University of Malta and as part of the collection of the Institute of Digital Games. Have fun!