Games and the Magic Circle
In the context of games, the magic circle is the area within which the rules of the game apply, a special space, ideally but not necessarily demarcated by the rules within which play occurs. It need not be a physical space, but can instead be virtual or a frame of mind.
The magic circle is a concept still widely used and referenced by games studies scholars and games designers and is both helpful shorthand and a problematic theory. This entry will look over the history of the concept and explore the issues and controversies it raised, with a particular eye toward games studies’ frequent criticism of the concept. Despite its contested and controversial nature, the magic circle borders on other central concepts of games studies and games design including play, immersion, and suspension of disbelief, and these linkages are also something this entry will explore.
References and Further Reading
- Castronova, E.: Synthetic Worlds. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (2005)Google Scholar
- Huizinga, J.: Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Beacon, Boston (1955)Google Scholar
- Juul, J.: The magic circle and the puzzle piece. In: Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2008/2455/digarec01_03.pdf (2009). Accessed 12 Jan 2015
- Klabbers, J.: The Magic Circle: Principles of Gaming and Simulation. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam (2009)Google Scholar
- Myers, D.: Circles tend to return. Game Stud. 12, 2 (2012)Google Scholar
- Salen, K., Zimmerman, E.: Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, Boston (2004)Google Scholar
- Stenros, J.: In defence of a magic circle: the social, mental and cultural boundaries of play. Trans. Digit. Games Res. Assoc. 1, 2 (2014)Google Scholar
- Suits, B.: The Grasshopper. Broadview Press, Toronto (1978)Google Scholar
- Zimmerman, E.: Jerked Around by the Magic Circle – Clearing the Air Ten Years Later. Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/135063/jerked_around_by_the_magic_circle_.php (2012). Accessed 12 Jan 2015