Labour and Love: Play-centrism and Procedurality in Spiritfarer

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Extrapolating from the pioneering work of Ian Bogost (2007) and Miguel Sicart (2011), this essay aims to re-explore the perspectives of procedurality and play-centrism, interrogate their relationship, and show how potential player subjectivities can emerge from that tension. Utilising Thunder Lotus Games’ 2020 release Spiritfarer, the authors aim to demonstrate the complex way that meaning emerges because of, yet beyond, a game’s rules, and how game imperatives are transformed through tensions between the rule set and a game’s semantic layer. Furthermore, this illustrates a similar tension in life, where labour can be used to limit or create an individual’s selfhood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Games Criticism
Issue number1
Early online date16 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Mar 2023


  • Narrative
  • video games
  • play
  • play-centrism
  • procedurality
  • digital poetics


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