Modern and Contemporary Studies (1800−Present)
Play and Media
Play and Media is one of the six research themes of the LUCAS Modern and Contemporary cluster.
Play is an important constituent of all societies and cultures and a wonderful example of our and our media’s fundamental capability to remake and rethink the world as we know it. Researchers within this theme investigate the different manifestation of play in our current mediatized cultures and the histories and heritages at the roots of our contemporary play.
As Leiden University is the ‘home of Homo Ludens’ and Johan Huizinga’s archives, we naturally have a strong interest in the field of game studies, with a particular focus on the wider societal and cultural entanglements and impacts of games. LUCAS scholars furthermore investigate play as it manifests itself in other forms, for instance in the gamification of work or the ludification of politics, as well as in its larger cultural and transmedia contexts. Play manifests itself in diverse artefact and as a range of media practices, which is why our object of studies range from video games and their paratexts, playful media platforms, and location-based art, to ancient boardgames, urban playgrounds, and political arenas. To study play in all these facets, our researchers make use of a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods informed by cultural, media, and heritage studies as well as game analytic and Digital Humanities tools.
We take a particular interest in those aspects of play that function as risky sites of resistance and disruption to dominant power structures, such as ludo-politics, playful methods for research, indie development, or queer gaming. At LUCAS, we do not only ask ourselves how media can invite all of us into new and inclusive forms of play, but are passionate about putting play into practice to think past, present, and future cultures differently.