Volume III, Issue II

Emergence or Convergence? Exploring the Precursors of Escape Room DesignScott Nicholson

Indigenous Board Game Design in The Gift of FoodElizabeth LaPensée

Urban Codemakers: Decompiling the Player – Steven Conway and Troy Innocent

This issue of Analog Game Studies considers three unique examples of how analog game design facilitates specific interactions with material environments. Through analyses of escape rooms, situated board games, and pervasive games, the authors in this issue explore the ways that game mechanics can affect how players think, behave, and interact with their environments.

In “Emergence or Convergence? Exploring the Precursors of Escape Room Design,” Scott Nicholson engages with the recent surge in popularity of “escape rooms” and explores the rich variety of historical precedents that led to the emergence of this genre. Nicholson contests the claim that there is single (and relatively recent) point of origin for the escape room, and explores examples of invisible, unsung precursors to this genre of immersive, environmental play. Next, Elizabeth LaPensée attends to culturally responsive games and collaborative design processes in “Indigenous Board Game Design in The Gift of Food.” In this design-oriented essay, LaPensée outlines the design process and final outcome of a unique board game that contributes to the revitalization efforts of certain Pacific Northwest Native communities and shows how games can be powerful tools for facilitating the transmission and retention of community knowledge, particularly about specific ecosystems. Finally, in Urban Codemakers: Decompiling the Player,” Steven Conway and Troy Innocent use case studies from the Australian alternate reality game, Urban Codemakers, to exemplify their SOC (Social // Operative // Character) model for game analysis, a model that pushes against the arbitrary rigidity of categorical models of analysis that characterize some game studies scholarship. Conway and Innocent show how the design affordances of pervasive games provide opportunities for players to perceive their immediate environments in new ways, transforming the world into a gamespace.

We hope you enjoy this issue, and that it encourages you to explore new ways of playing with the world.

-The Editors,
March 7, 2016

Featured image “Look the World with your Eyes” by Robin Photography and Arts @Flickr CC BY-NC-SA.