What needs are satisfied in digital gaming? And what does the shift of these need satisfactions into the digital space say about the social realities in which they are embedded?

Harald Koberg lets gamers themselves have their say and follows their traces of the described fascinations and passions in his latest book Free Play: Digital Gaming and the Longing for Effectiveness (Freies Spiel: Digitales Spielen und die Sehnsucht nach Wirkmächtigkeit). The answers found aim at experiences of efficacy: digital games and the communication spaces around them offer particular opportunities to experience one’s own decisions and actions as relevant and effective. It is not only about narrated stories and interactions with the game, but also about the rules and limits of communication, spaces of unfolding, self-dramatization, and norm-setting.

Using the examples of adolescent search for free spaces, insecure masculinity, and achievement society overload, Harald Koberg shows why critique of the medium of video games must focus on people and how much can be determined about larger social contexts along the way.

Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design with a focus on Digital Game Studies at the IU International University of Applied Science, editor of “Game Studies Watchlist”, a weekly messenger newsletter about Game Culture and curator of @gamestudies at tiktok.

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