As we have entered a moment in history when games are more pervasive than ever, while theatrical plays tend to be relegated to the status of elite entertainment, it is vital that we ask: What do theatrical plays and games have in common, for their producers and their spectators? And what can we learn about gaming and about theater by uncovering the links between these media forms?
Recent developments in digital gaming make these questions particularly timely and urgent. The emergence of performing arts games and the popularity of full-body gaming platforms like the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Kinect (best known for its use with Xbox systems) signal a return to traditional theatrical concepts in gaming. These games mandate that players become embodied performers, treat the game space as a kind of stage, and even encourage spectators to cluster around and watch gameplay as if it were a performance for an audience. Although the content of most of these games is dance or music, not theatrical drama, the gaming done via Xbox and Nintendo's Wii systems is fundamentally theatrical in design and effect.
To understand this gaming technology and its social uses fully, we need to look more closely at a historical moment when theater and games were decidedly interdependent media technologies: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or the 'early modern' period. My book turns to this moment in history to argue for games as theatrical media and theater as an interactive gaming technology
Publishers: #UniversityOfMichiganPress (University of Michigan Press)