Playing in Public: Situated Play at the Intersection of Software, Cabinet and Space in Japanese Game Centres

  • Author / Creator
    Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon
  • This dissertation examines the phenomenon of play that takes place in Japanese game centres. After reviewing and establishing a history of early amusement centres and video game arcade parlours in Japan and the academic and critical discourses surrounding them, I engage in a close reading of three cases studies of game centre spaces located in Kyoto and Tokyo. The transdisciplinary framework of this investigation draws on situated gaming, theories of design and spatial theory to examine the interinfluences of the game software, cabinet design and spatial structure of game centres. I also introduce the notion of ludo-egregora to discuss the phenomena of human-machine encounters in game centres and the interaction of active and passive users in a ludic context in a public space. Situated gaming in Japanese game centres favour different types of ludo-egregoras based on the spatial conditions and machine design. For example, A-cho, which features many fighting arcade games, is more likely to generate ludo-egregoras influenced by a player/observer performance-based dynamic, while Tsujishōten, due to a small and isolated structure that prevents player observation, more often features intimate ludo-egregoral experiences between small groups of friends or single individuals. The last game centre studied, SEGA Ikebukuro GIGO, uses other types of theoretical frameworks in order to properly account for its function as a physical host of the Japanese media environment. The networked conditions of this space invite us to consider ludo-egregoras on a broader imaginary and national level in which the play experience is compartmentalized and structured to marginalize the development of local practices and interactions.

    This investigation provides a comprehensive image of Japanese game centres based on their internal dynamics as a diverse and multifaceted urban venue. The spatial study of game centres also provides a renewed focus on play as situated experience defined by its empirical context.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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