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We used to win, we used to lose, we used to play: simulacra, hypo-ludicity and the lost art of losing

By Steven Conway


This article is concerned with the modern design of digital games, in particular their formulation as experiences for consumers rather than players. Utilizing Baudrillard's concept of the simulacra as an analytical probe, this article discusses the simulations of winning, losing and playing evident in today's digital game products. Building upon the author's previous work, which introduced the twin concepts of hyper- and contra-ludicity to game studies, this article argues that the recent invasion of hypo-ludicity into game design sets a dangerous precedent for digital games as games as opposed to entertainment media. While hyper-ludicity empowers and contra-ludicity challenges, hypoludicity is characterized by its emptiness; of empowerment, of challenge, of agency. Anchoring the discussion in analyses of popular game systems, design features and mechanics, the article ultimately illustrates the prevalence of simulacra within today's digital game products, and how this undermines the very notion of winning, losing and even playing

Topics: Digital games, Game design, Game playing, Games, Gaming, Hypo-ludicity, Losing, Play, Simulacra, Winning
Publisher: Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.16997/wpcc.147
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