Theorising wandering game experiences: post-phenomenology, navigation and narrative

Jack Lowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


From the crafted fictional worlds of walking simulators to playful re-imaginings of physical landscapes through locative, AR and mixed-reality media, acts of wandering in games have been considered to enable distinctive domains of experience. This has included the sublime ‘authentic emotion’ associated with the Romantics and urban explorers (Carbó-Mascarell, 2016), or feelings of ‘attunement’ with one’s surroundings as participants embody the affordances of game rules and mediating technologies through play (Ash, 2010; Klausen, 2014). Yet phenomenological research has only recently begun to consider how these digital game experiences – enacted through relationships of interfacing technologies, designed representational worlds, diverse bodies and social contexts – come into being. In this paper, I draw specifically on ‘post-phenomenological’ approaches in Geography as a framework for theorising how wandering game experiences are produced, which understand mediated experiences as emerging from ‘dwelling’ within an unfolding ecology of both human and non-human agents, rather than being located solely within individual human subjects (Ash and Simpson, 2016). This discussion is informed by two autoethnographic research studies on walking simulators and Geocaching, which apprehend the interrelationship between navigation and narrative that is central to how we make sense of what we encounter when playing wandering games. By unpacking the processes through which our mental models of traversed game worlds are produced, arising from continual constructing and undoing of connections between affects and perceptions during mediated play, I ultimately illuminate the usefulness of geographical approaches and design concepts in comprehending the evental meaning-making process that takes place through playing wandering games.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheorising & Navigating session at Wandering Games Conference 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Jul 2019
EventWandering Games Conference 2019 - Bangor University, Bangor, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Jul 201912 Jul 2019


ConferenceWandering Games Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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