Magic circle and pervasive games

Nokia Games Day 2006 presentations yesterday got me thinking about pervasive games, the subject of my research in previous job.

Markus Montola (2005) has presented that pervasive games can be distinguished from traditional games by using notions of spatial, temporal, and social expansions. Idea is that “regular game is played in certain place at certain time by certain people.” These kinds of predefined and fixed boundaries are refered by the concept of magic circle. A pervasive game extends one or more boundaries (e.g., the game can be played anywhere, anytime, or players cannot distinguish other players from non-players). We have been usign that notion in Pervasive games design and evaluation guidelines for IPerG phase II.

I started to think that there might be an alternative way to approach the qualities of pervasive games vs. traditional games by using Goffman’s notion of framing and frame anlysis. Fine (1983) discusses in Shared Fantasy how frames are switched (e.g., from primary frame to game frame) and how these switches are made visible in table-top role-playing games.

Pervasive games could be thought to obsfuscate some of the frame switches, e.g., not providing clear cut distinctions to players and non-players where a playing area starts and ends (Botfighters vs. soccer).

Montola, Markus (2005). Exploring the Edge of the Magic Circle. Defining Pervasive Games. DAC 2005 conference, December 1.-3. IT University of Copenhagen. Available at:
Fine, Gary Alan (1983). Shared Fantasy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Published by lankoski

Petri Lankoski, D.Arts, is a Associate Professor in Game Studies at the school of Communication, Media and IT at the Södertörn University, Sweden. His research focuses on game design, game characters, role-playing, and playing experience. Petri has been concentrating on single-player video games but researched also (multi-player) pnp and live-action role-playing games. This blog focuses on his research on games and related things.

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