Topologies of invention: An anthropological approach to the rhetoric of games
Pound, Christopher Brian
Tyler, Stephen A.
Doctor of Philosophy
A study of rhetorical practice in the design and interpretation of games, this dissertation draws on culture theory and ethnographic interviews to comprehend invention as a social act. Although only role-playing games written in English are considered, the approach taken to understand the structures of attention emergent in gaming is generalizable as a means of investigating the informal social and rhetorical aspects of other kinds of games. The textual and visual rhetorics of numerous games are examined as self-situating lessons for acquiring and focusing interest. The intrinsic gap between reading and following a rule is explored as a phenomenon mediated by rhetoric. Experienced players' reflections on styles and motives are translated into ratios in a grammar of rhetorical invention. Finally, the game designers are interviewed for their professional life histories relative to the development of particular games, and the matters they emphasize are read as configurations of cultural knowledge animated by personal rhetorical resources and heuristics.
Cultural anthropology; Language; Rhetoric; Composition