Meaningless play: The psychological experience of shame in computer game play
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
This article draws an analogy to Sartre’s (1943/1993) existentialism to describe qualities of “meaningless” computer gameplay. Silvan Tomkins’ (1962, 1963, 1992) work is used to argue that disjunctive moments of gameplay may elicit an affect of shame that possess an existential tone, and Donald Nathanson’s (1992) “compass of shame” is adapted to identify four different ways of experiencing this shame. However, these experiences may be aesthetically recuperated when games represent existential experiences and/or players employ a Sartrean strategy of confronting such experiences with an attitude of humour and resolve.