Off the board: a brief definition and history of pervasive games

Duggan, Eddie (2015) Off the board: a brief definition and history of pervasive games. In: XVIII Annual International Board Game Studies Colloquium, 15–18 April 2015, Swiss Museum of Games, La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland.

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Pervasive games defy Johan Huizinga’s classic definition of play as being something “outside ‘ordinary life’” with its “own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and an orderly manner” (Huizinga, 1955, p.13).

Pervasive games form a distinct category of games or forms of play that have broached the confines of the magic circle and left the board or, perhaps more accurately, make use of the natural or the built environment as the play-space in a distinct overlap with the real world. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman suggest that the magic circle is a boundary between the real world and the game world, while other game theorists argue that gaming isn’t separate from the real world at all and, far from being “magic”, has become ordinary.

This paper will look at some example of games that have broken away from the board, and will offer some definitions and examples of some popular pervasive games, tracing the evolution of treasure hunts, assassination games, live action role play and alternative reality games.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: games, magic, real world
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GA Mathematical geography. Cartography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HS Societies secret benevolent etc
T Technology > T Technology (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Eddie Duggan
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 09:45
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:45

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