Savegame pp 129-148 | Cite as

Challenging Challenge

Towards a Redefinition of Games
  • René Reinhold SchalleggerEmail author
Part of the Perspektiven der Game Studies book series (PEGAST)


‘Gamer’ culture perpetuates an oppositional mindset, rather than acknowledging the affective, transformative experiences videogames can provide. The focus on challenge, mastery, and conflict is deeply rooted in most definitions of the medium, but the notions of configuration and cybernetics can help to develop a more dynamic and inclusive understanding. Three examples of videogames that already offer alternative play experiences are discussed here: Prince of Persia (2008), What Remains of Edith Finch (2017), and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (2018). They foster a sense of responsibility and empathy, not empowerment and entitlement. While both Edith Finch and Captain Spirit include elements of challenge, unlike Prince of Persia, here they are primarily used to harness the emotional power of ludic involvement connecting the player to the secondary realities and the characters. This communicates the possibility of an alternative set of societal values where humanity is an inclusive, unified and dynamic notion, based on inter-relationships. An understanding of videogames as designed systems of opportunities, constituted by affordances and constraints, fosters a sense of systemic awareness, leaving players better equipped to critically reflect upon, accept, and internalise the experience of consequences. Thus videogames, more so than any other form of cultural expression, can provide profound moments of personal, but also collective and societal affective transformation. As an inherently cybernetic and configurational medium, they can shape players into truly autonomous and responsible transhuman citizens.


Challenge Affect Empathy Game design Mastery Configuration Cybernetics Edith finch Prince of persia Captain spirit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KlagenfurtAustria

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