Journal of Games Criticism, Volume 1, Issue 1 (January 2014)


Editorial: Standing on the Horizon of the Second Generation

by N. Hanford

Welcome to the inaugural issue of our open access, peer-reviewed journal. Drawing out the assumptions and ideals of the journal, this text serves as an introduction for the current and future issues of the Journal of Games Criticism.

The Other Side of the Valley; Or, Between Freud and Videogames

by K. Aardse

This paper explores the root of the uncanny valley as based in Freud’s uncanny and posits that the uncanny valley allows us to engage in acts of violence and enjoy a masochistic relationship with the videogame; this relationship would break down if the uncanny valley is conquered.

Invited Articles


Across Worlds and Bodies: Criticism in the Age of Video Games

by B. Keogh

This article highlights the values inherited by game studies that have resisted the creation of a toolkit for close, descriptive analysis of individual texts. It suggests one path forward grounded in the phenomenological pleasures of videogame play across worlds and bodies.

"You're Just Gonna Be Nice": How Players Engage with Moral Choice Systems 

by A. Lange

Are you a Paragon, or a Renegade? Light Side, or Dark Side? I surveyed over 1000 gamers to see how they engaged with moral choice systems in video games. The results are sadly predictable: You're all too nice.

Public Memory and Gamer Identity: Retrogaming as Nostalgia

by D. S. Heineman

This essay adopts a critical perspective to analyze the rise of retrogaming culture and its related practices. Specifically, it considers the role of nostalgia in both constructing a retrogamer identity and in contesting histories of the medium.

Visualizing Game Studies: Materiality and Sociality from Chessboard to Circuit Board 

by A. Trammell & A. Sinnreich

In this essay, we describe a paradigm shift in the social function and reception of games, from metaphors to social instruments. We also offer a taxonomic visualization of the Game Studies field in order to show the history of this paradigm shift.

Book Review


Gaming for Better Life: A Review of Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken

by Q. Ji

Jane McGonigal’s groundbreaking work Reality Is Broken challenged the negative-effects-oriented rhetoric of game criticism by reconciling the contradictory relationship among games, individual well-being, and social change from a game designer’s perspective.