Doctoral dissertation

Niklas Nylund: Game Heritage: Digital Games in Museum Collections and Exhibitions

Niklas Nylund
Digital games are undergoing a process of heritagization, as demonstrated by how they are increasingly displayed in exhibitions and preserved in heritage institution collections, not to mention engaged with by numerous heritage communities both online and offline. What is lacking, however, is a critical understanding of what constitutes game heritage and how it is produced by the stakeholders involved.

In order to provide a critical framework for thinking and working with games as heritage, the dissertation of M.A. Niklas Nylund engages in theory building and conceptualizations around key heritagization issues.

The study utilizes a versatile methodology consisting of interpretive analysis and extensive use of insider knowledge and participant observation, as well as theoretical triangulation between heritage studies, games studies, and game preservation research. With the help of these approaches, the dissertation conducts pragmatic theory building around issues related to the heritagization of games, as well as provides critical frameworks for engaging with it.

In the results, the study shows how social actors beyond retrogamers and hobbyists act as stakeholders in the heritagization of games. Further, the dissertation provides a high-level theoretical ontology for dealing with the complex assemblage of games and play, which looks beyond playable games. After that, the research shows how games are changed and modified when becoming heritagized. Finally, the study sheds light on tensions that exist between various stakeholders and their heritagization strategies.

As such, the dissertation demonstrates how the complex issues and processes that arise when games become heritage are in need of more reflexive practices. In the discussion, the study points towards possible strategies that can be used in order to mitigate stakeholder tensions around the ownership of game heritage. However, further empirical research is needed in order to validate the theoretical constructs and guidelines provided in this study.
 

The doctoral dissertation of M.A. Niklas Nylund in the field of game research titled Game Heritage: Digital Games in Museum Collections and Exhibitions will publicly examined in the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at Tampere University on Friday 9 October 2020 starting at 12 o'clock in Linna building lecture hall K103, Kalevantie 5. The opponent will be Professor René Glas from Utrecht University. The Custos will be Professor Olli Sotamaa.

Because of the coronavirus situation niklas.nylund [at] tuni.fi (registration) is needed to participate in the event.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the doctoral defence can only be attended via remote connection.

The dissertation is available online at
http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-1697-6

Photo: Wilhelmiina Saikkonen