Ludosity, Radical Contextualism and a New Games History: Pleasure, Truth and Deception in the Mid-20th Century London Arcade

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This article offers a social history of funfairs and arcades in mid-20th-century urban England. Critiquing existing histories of games for often neglecting players and the specific locales in which games are played, it draws on both new cinema history and cultural studies’ conception of “radical contextualism” to outline what the article describes as a game’s ludosity. Ludosity, the article proposes, is the condition or quality of game partcipation as shaped by a range of agents, institutions, and contexts. Utilizing mass observation records, it offers a detailed analysis of the ways in which social interactions influenced ludic experiences of pinball tables and crane machines and posits that games history needs to center players in order to fully conceptualize games in history.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalGames and Culture
Early online date11 Sep 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Sep 2019


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