Digital games are undergoing a legacy process, as they are presented more and more often in exhibitions and deposited in the collections of memory organizations. In addition, countless online and real-world cultural heritage communities are constantly working to preserve games. Nevertheless, researchers lack a critical understanding of how the cultural heritage of games is built and how different stakeholders are involved in producing it. This dissertation contributes to the construction of a critical reference framework for the cultural heritage of games by developing theory and concepts to understand key phenomena related to the inheritance of games.
The research utilizes a versatile methodology that includes explanatory analysis, perspectives that utilize experiential knowledge and participant observation, as well as theoretical triangulation between cultural heritage research, game research and game deposit research. With the help of these perspectives, the thesis implements a pragmatic theory building related to the inheritance of games and forms critical frames of reference for understanding its phenomena.
The results of the study first show how various social actors, in addition to retro gamers and enthusiasts, should be understood as stakeholders in the inheritance of games. Second, the research forms a high-level ontological understanding for understanding the multifaceted and complex association of games and gaming, which does not stick only to the games that are played. Thirdly, the research shows how games change and are modified through the inheritance process. Fourth, it sheds light on the tensions between the stakeholders of games' cultural heritage and their different inheritance strategies.
The research shows how the complex tensions and processes of games becoming cultural heritage need critical reflection and reflexive practices. An in-depth section of the study discusses strategies that could be used to defuse tensions between ownership rights in games' cultural heritage and to align stakeholder interests. Since it is a theoretical study, the theoretical structures and guidelines made in it should still be confirmed with the help of empirical research.
Publishers: #TampereUniversity (Tampere University)