of Science in Comparative Media Studies. As cultural artifacts, abstract games offer unique challenges to critical interpretation. This is largely due to the fact that such games lack a fictional element: there are no characters, no settings, and no narratives to speak of. In this thesis I propose that understanding the various formal elements of games as metaphors can both serve as an effective critical method and offer insights into designing more expressive games. I begin by addressing the ambiguity surrounding the phrase “abstract game ” and offer a definition rooted in Peircean semiotics and Juul’s model of games as consisting of both rules and fiction. I next offer a model of games as consisting of three levels: the system, audio-visual, and affective. This is followed by an overview of Lakoff and Johnson’s concept of “metaphor ” as “understanding one thing in terms of another. ” I then argue that different types of metaphors have a natural affinity for the system and affective levels of games. From this I develop methods for a critical method wherein games are considered to b
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