Given the popularity of video games throughout the world, and, especially in China, it may seem self-evident that they contain the capacity for fun. Yet a central paradox of game studies is that fun, despite being a salient outcome of playing games, is often avoided as a subject of journalistic and scholarly inquiry. Those who study digital gaming in China are confronted with an even more confounding situation, given that in the dominant discourse surrounding digital games in China the capacity for fun is not only absent, but also directly contested. Indeed, in studying government, media, and even academic writing on the subject one could not be faulted for reaching the counterintuitive conclusion that Chinese games and gamers are and have no fun. This talk takes as its starting point the discursive construction of Chinese digital games and gamers via an analysis of recent English and Chinese-language media reports and academic discussions. I first examine how dominant portrayals of both the Chinese gaming industry and Chinese gamers serve to perpetuate the orientalist myth that Chinese games and gamers are incapable of fun. I then turn my attention to the question of why there is so little academic discussion of fun in games studies more generally, and how we might meaningfully conceptualize it. I conclude by considering why a reimagining of the fun of video games in the Chinese context is a necessary step for future scholarship.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Event Speakers

Marcella Szablewicz

Marcella Szablewicz

Dr. Marcella Szablewicz is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Pace University in New York City where she teaches courses about digital media and moral panics about new communication technologies. Her research focuses on contemporary Chinese youth and digital media. She is interested in discourses on technology and online pursuits. 

Event details

Event date

Mon, 7 Aug 2023, 4 - 5:30pm

Event speakers

Marcella Szablewicz