Methods of Cultural Enquiry: ethnography

See the last slides for more reading and links

Essential reading:

James Clifford (1981) ‘On ethnographic surrealism’, online here:

Further reading: 

James Clifford (1988) The Predicament of Culture: twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Hal Foster (1995) The_Artist_as_Ethnographer in The Return of the Real: the avant-garde at the end of the century, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 171-204.

Seth Giddings (2009) ‘Events and collusions: a glossary for the microethnography of videogames’. Games and Culture 4(2). 

Ben Highmore (2001) Everyday Life & Cultural Theory: an introduction. London: Routledge. 

Catherine Russell (1999) Experimental Ethnography: the work of film in the age of video. Duke University Press. 

Schneider, Arnd & Wright, Christopher (eds) (2010) Between Art and Anthropology: contemporary ethnographic practice. New York: Bloomsbury. 

Simulation theory

Games Design & Art theory workshop on simulation

Preparatory reading:

Gonzalo Frasca (2001) ‘Simulation 101: simulation versus representation’.

Andy Cameron (1995) ‘Dissimulations: illusions of interactivity’, Millenium Film Journal no.28

Further reading:

Lister et al (2009) Simulation, in New Media: a critical introduction (2nd ed.), London: Routledge.

Seth Giddings (2013) Simulation, in Mark J.P. Wolf & Bernard Perron (eds) The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies. New York: Routledge.

interface analysis


A case study of interface and app design:
Seth Giddings 2019 (in press) ‘Configuring the15-second dancers: distributed creativity in design for postdigital play’ [draft], International Journal of Media Creativity 1(1).

Lev Manovich 1995. ‘Archaeology of a computer screen’.

Mia Consalvo & Nathan Dutton 2006. ‘Game analysis: developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of games’ . Game Studies, 6(1).

Johanna Drucker 2011. ‘Humanities approaches to interface theory’. Culture Machine, vol. 12.

Interface Critique journal:

digital games digital culture

Computer and videogames have for decades been one of the most popular instantiations of digital culture, bringing virtual worlds and simulated characters into arcades, bedrooms and – now – mobile phones. This lecture will argue that videogames should be seen as central to both the history and development of digital culture and to key concepts for understanding and exploring it: interactivity, virtual bodies, nonhuman agency, technocultural intimacy, and play.

Set reading:

Giddings, Seth & Kennedy, Helen W. (2006). ‘Digital games as new media,’ in Jason Rutter & Joanna Bryce (eds) Understanding Digital Games, London: SAGE. Online at:

Additional reading:

Mayra, Frans (2008). An Introduction to Game Studies: games in culture. London: SAGE.

Taylor, TL (2011). ‘Internet and games,’ in Mia Consalvo & Charles Ess (eds) The Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 369-383. Online at:

Even more reading:

Games and Culture
New Media & Society

Mobile Media & Communication
Digital Culture & Society
And others, any media journal worth its salt will have articles on game culture… have a browse

Recommended journals are all directly accessible from the Media subject guide:

Online and open access:
Game Studies:
DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association):
Includes a journal – ToDiGRA and a Digital Library of years’ worth of conference papers.
Loading… (Canadian journal of game studies):

A few books (some of these are a bit long in the tooth now, but you can use that to your advantage) They are all in the library:

Atkins, Barry (2003) More Than a Game: the computer game as fictional form, Manchester: University of Manchester Press.
Bogost, Ian (2007) Persuasive Games: the expressive power of videogames, Cambridge MA: MIT Press
Bogost, Ian (2011) How to Do Things with Videogames, Minneapolisa: University of Minnesota Press
Cassell, Justine & Jenkins, Henry (2000) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: gender and computer games, Cambridge MA: MIT Press
Dovey, Jon & Kennedy, Helen W. (2007) Game Cultures: computer games as new media, McGraw-Hill Education
Dyer-Witheford, Nick & de Peuter, Greig (2009) Games of Empire: global capitalism and video games, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Flanagan, Mary (2009) Critical Play: radical game design, Cambridge MA: MIT Press
Giddings, Seth (2014) Gameworlds: virtual media and children’s everyday play, New York NY: Bloomsbury
Kafia, Yasmin et al eds (2008) Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: new perspectives on gaming and gender, Cambridge MA: MIT Press
King, Geoff & Krzywinska, Tanya (2002) ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces, London: Wallflower Press
Mäyrä, Frans (2008) An Introduction to Game Studies: games in culture, London: SAGE
Nitsche, Michael (2008) Video Game Spaces: image, play, and structure in 3D game worlds, Cambridge MA: MIT Press
Salen, Katie & Zimmerman, Eric (2003) Rules of Play: game design fundamentals, Cambridge MA: MIT Press

voodoo methodology



suggested reading:
James Clifford (1981) ‘On ethnographic surrealism’: online here
Seth Giddings (2009) ‘Events and collusions: a glossary for the microethnography of videogames’. Games and Culture 4(2). Online here.
Catherine Russell (1999) Experimental Ethnography: the work of film in the age of video. Durham: Duke University Press.

See the slides below for more references

suggested viewing:
Seth Giddings (2011) ‘Monsters, mini-games, and Mr Happy: a video essay on virtual and actual play’, Audio-Visual: a journal of academic video. Issue 3: online here
Sarah Pink (2014) ‘Doing sensory ethnography’,


Sensory Ethnography Lab, Harvard University
Anne Galloway: Towards fantastic ethnography and speculative design
Digital Ethnography Research Centre (RMIT)