Jonne Arjoranta (PhD thesis): Real-Time Hermeneutics – Meaning-Making in Ludonarrative Digital Games

Jonne Arjoranta, researcher in the ‘Ludification’ project, defended his thesis, titled “Real-Time Hermeneutics: Meaning-Making in Ludonarrative Digital Games” in 24th April 2015 in the University of Jyväskylä.

Jonne Arjoranta’s dissertation is a study of how ludonarrative videogames, videogames that combine game elements with narrative elements, express and convey meaning. This is done as part of game studies, a multidisciplinary approach to studying games. The purpose is twofold: to build a foundation for better understanding of meaning-making in games, and to provide game designers with tools for analyzing issues related to meaning.

The study uses philosophical tools to analyze meaning in games. The philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer is used to compare the meaning-making in games to the interpretation of works of art. The theory of the interpretive process is based on the idea of the hermeneutic circle. Wittgenstein’s concept of language-games is used in examining how games should be defined and how their relations to each other should be understood. These philosophical methods are combined with the study of procedurality, narrativity and players.

Arjoranta’s study shows that ludonarrative games are procedural systems that are interpreted both during gameplay and as a part of the surrounding cultural context.

The dissertation can be downloaded from: https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/handle/123456789/45647.

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