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Meaningful Play 2018 at Michigan State University

Paper Information

TitleAbject Play
Presenter(s)Stephanie Jennings
SessionDiversity in Games
TimeThursday, October 11, 3:00p-4:00p
LocationMSU Room
FormatPaper Presentation
DescriptionMy paper proposes a theory of abject play through an examination of gendered performances in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. In a number of previous analyses, Isaac's exemplification of abjection relates primarily--if not exclusively--to its representational aspects. To analyze and account for my own engagement with Isaac as a feminine experience, I suggest that abjection is not only a way to examine a game's representational or mechanical elements. Rather, it can be an approach to play--a subversive way of playing a game that may directly refute designer-intended meanings and oppose expected readings and audiences. Abject play occurs in the spaces between representation and mechanics, between game and player. By playing Isaac abjectly, I threaten and tear apart incoherent patriarchal narratives of feminine bodily order and regulation, even as I recognize and enact them by playing within the game's representational and rule structures.

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