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Peer-Review Record

Constructing Digital Game Exhibitions: Objects, Experiences, and Context

Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Born Digital Cultural Histories)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Overall this is an interesting and relevant article providing important first steps towards holistic consideration of digital game exhibition curation, a somewhat recent phenomenon.  I have only a few suggestions regarding details that require some elaboration.

 

In the paragraph beginning at line 77, please elaborate upon what is meant by the transformative nature of play and performance.  “Transformative” is a loaded word that can mean various different things depending on the disciplinary context.  Are you defining transformative as what is ignited the moment the player interacts with the game, and the differences within that interaction given that players experience games in different ways?  Please clarify, and then further explain why this transformative nature poses problems (though perhaps this will be clarified along with the definition ). Also, please complete the reference for Newman 2012b in the reference section.

 

In line 327 can you elaborate in relation to the point about “the role of exhibition curators in making additional artifacts for exhibition is absent.”  Do you mean that the exhibition itself, as an artifact, requires further unpacking and the role of the curator within this should be more explicit? Please clarify.

 

373 – 372 – can you cite some of the main sources of dominant game preservation discourse  

 

In line 328, can you provide an example of an issue related to “tangible versus intangible components” related to context.   


Author Response

In the paragraph beginning at line 77, please elaborate upon what is meant by the transformative nature of play and performance.  “Transformative” is a loaded word that can mean various different things depending on the disciplinary context.  Are you defining transformative as what is ignited the moment the player interacts with the game, and the differences within that interaction given that players experience games in different ways?  Please clarify, and then further explain why this transformative nature poses problems (though perhaps this will be clarified along with the definition ). Also, please complete the reference for Newman 2012b in the reference section.


The section was rewritten and clarified. The term “transformative play” is omitted, and the non-static nature of games is dealt with with the help of less ambiguous terminology. The rewritten version further explores some potential consequences for game exhibitions.


Software artifacts are meant to be played. They are enjoyed in certain situations and by certain people, as fleeting interactive experiences that do not come to life before the act of playing (Stenros and Waern 2011). Players play and experience games in their own various ways (Sicart 2014), and their “distinct playing performances problematize discussions of games as static texts”, which has consequences for game preservation and the art of exhibiting them (Newman 2012b, 136). If game preservation and game exhibitions are interested in providing visitors opportunities for play or in displaying footage of others playing, the heterogeneous nature of play must in some way be taken into account. Displaying examples of play contains an inherently ideological choice of what to present.


Newman, J (2012) 'Ports and patches: digital games as unstable objects.' Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 18 (2). pp. 135-142. ISSN 1354-8565


In line 327 can you elaborate in relation to the point about “the role of exhibition curators in making additional artifacts for exhibition is absent.”  Do you mean that the exhibition itself, as an artifact, requires further unpacking and the role of the curator within this should be more explicit? Please clarify.


The question of museums making artifacts was clarified and a new reference added.


Exhibiting artifacts (games in their various guises) can in some cases produce additional artifacts, like interview videos, replicas, game versions custom made for the exhibition, and so on. Museums and exhibitions do not only display existing artifacts, but are instead active participants in the transition of artifacts into museum objects and in making cultural heritage (cf. Desvallées and Mairesse 2010).


Desvallées, André and Mairesse, François (2010). Key Concepts of Museology. Armand Colin, 2010.


373 – 374 – can you cite some of the main sources of dominant game preservation discourse  


The passage was complemented with references and the bibliography expanded.


Swalwell (2013) and Lowood (2014) provide accounts of the importance ascribed to playable games in hobbyist and collector circles. Academic research has approached games from this angle, as well (eg. Guttenbrunner et al. 2010).


Guttenbrunner, Mark, Christoph Becker, and Andreas Rauber. “Keeping the Game Alive: Evaluating Strategies for the Preservation of Console Video Games.” International Journal of Digital Curation 5, no. 1 (June 22, 2010): 64–90. https://doi.org/10.2218/ijdc.v5i1.144.


In line 328, can you provide an example of an issue related to “tangible versus intangible components” related to context.   


The nature of tangible and intangible artifacts was clarified with new references.


The model also fails to deal with issues related to tangible versus intangible components, especially in the understanding of context. Intangible artifacts indicate ”the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills” that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage (UNESCO, 2003). Objects and archive material are examples of tangible context while intangible context includes eg. oral histories and “silent knowledge” related to play cultures (Nylund 2015, 62). Both the tangible and intangible elements of context could be better dealt with in the model.


UNESCO (2003) Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible Cultural Heritage. Paris: UNESCO.


Reviewer 2 Report

It would be good to focus a bit more on the methodologies underlying your research study.

How did you decide on literature sources?

How did you decide on which museums to investigate and what games?

How many games have been sighted. Do different game genres impact on how they are presented in museums. Maintenance of hardware needed to play games. Accessibility to games for visitors with special needs.

Author Response

It would be good to focus a bit more on the methodologies underlying your research study.


The methodologies were clarified by including the following paragraphs into the introduction.


The research is based on a literature review and a systematic thematic analysis of four games on display at the Finnish Museum of Games. In the literature review, research dealing with interactivity and learning complements the game preservation research and allows for a more nuanced understanding of what constitutes the game exhibition experience. The article does not present an exhaustive literature review of game preservation related research (for such a presentation, see Sköld 2018). Instead, it includes the central themes of game preservation research relevant for dealing with the research question.


The systematic thematic analysis identifies artifact categories relevant for the analyzed games. It looks at four games on display at the Finnish Museum of Games and arranges the various artifacts on display into five overarching categories. The findings, informed by the author’s knowledge of museum work practices and artifact categories, are presented in a table. The analysis and resultant table help in building the preservation model presented in the article, and provide insight into how the various parts of games on display interact with each other.


How did you decide on literature sources?


This comment was considered in the answer above.



How did you decide on which museums to investigate and what games?


The selection criteria were described by including the following paragraph into the introduction.


Four games from a set of 70 digital games on display were selected for closer analysis. The games were selected in order to show the many varied approaches to exhibiting games that can be used in game exhibitions, and in order to highlight the existence of the three different aspects of object, experience and context. The framework of museum practices research informs the analysis, as the author has worked at the Finnish Museum of Games, and has inside knowledge to the workings of the museum. Other exhibitions were chosen to provide context to the discussion and provide examples of divergent approaches to the matter of displaying games in public.


How many games have been sighted. Do different game genres impact on how they are presented in museums. Maintenance of hardware needed to play games. Accessibility to games for visitors with special needs.


This comment was dealt with in length, with the first paragraph going into the introduction and the second to the discussion.


For this paper, all 70 digital games on display at the Finnish Museum of Games went through a preliminary evaluation. Based on the preliminary evaluation, four games were selected for the study, based on their exhibitable affordances (Gibson 2011) and the resulting exhibiting techniques. As online games with servers are dependent on the companies or communities that run them, entire game genres (e.g. MMORPGs) cannot be experienced in an exhibition visit timeframe, and other games might be difficult to experience alone or without prior knowledge of the genre, exhibiting playable games is dependent on the game and its properties. Similarly, exhibiting games is also dependent on the hardware used. Game with specialised hardware requirements or unique controllers might not be exhibitable.  These issues inform the selection and curation process in exhibitions, as well as the selection criteria for the games selected for analysis in this paper.


Museums and their exhibitions face many challenges related to their accessibility. Even visitors who do not have any special needs pose challenges for game exhibitions. An exhibition environment cannot exhaustively take into account the different body types and ergonomic requirements of visitors, and displayed playable games are by necessity tailored for the average visitor. As games have not traditionally been designed to be inclusive to special needs of players with various disabilities, the way game exhibitions are designed in most cases (e.g. reliance on “original hardware”) simply does not make them accessible to visitors with special needs. In the Finnish Museum of Games, games were installed into special exhibition structures that can to some extent help visitors with physical impairments, but no effort was made to deal with hearing or visual impairments. Accessibility issues in game exhibitions is a field where further research would be welcome.


Gibson, James J. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. 17th pr. New York: Psychology Press, 2011.


Round 2

Reviewer 2 Report

Thanks for making all suggested changes so quick. Just check for spelling and grammar again.

Author Response

Spelling and grammar were checked for a second time.

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