Digital Seriality: The Serial Aesthetics and Practice of Digital Games

Sub-Project 12

This project investigates the seriality of digital games and game cultures – their aesthetic forms and cultural practices – against the background of general medial and sociocultural transformations in the wake of the digitization of popular media culture. Seriality is a central and multifaceted but largely neglected dimension of popular computer and video games. It is present not only in explicitly marked game series (with their sequels, prequels, remakes, and other types of continuation), but also within games (e.g. in the series of "levels" or "worlds") as well as on the level of transmedial relations between games and other media (e.g. comics, film, and television). Particularly with respect to the processes of "synchronization" (Vergleichzeitigung) that in the current age of digitization and media convergence are challenging the temporal dimensions and developmental logics of pre-digital seriality (e.g. because once successively appearing series installments are now available for immediate, repeated, and non-linear consumption), computer games are well suited for an exemplary investigation of a specifically digital type of seriality.

The subproject looks at serialization processes in digital games and game series and seeks to understand how they relate to digital-era transformations of temporally-serially structured experiences and identifications on the part of historically situated actors. These transformations range from the microtemporal scale of individual players' encounters with algorithmic computation processes (the speed of which is measurable only by technological means) up to the collective brokering of political, cultural, and social identities. To account for this complexity, the project follows a decidedly interdisciplinary approach, combining media-aesthetic/media-philosophical perspectives with resources of cultural history and American studies. The seriality of digital games is approached both in terms of textual and aesthetic forms and in the broader context of serialized game cultures and popular culture at large.