Fictionally Flipping Tetrominoes? Defining the Fictionality of a Videogame Player’s Actions

Nele Van de Mosselaer


In this paper, I use the case of player actions in Tetris to explore possible problems in existing descriptions of videogame actions as fictional actions. Both in the philosophy of computer games and videogame studies, authors often make use of Kendall Walton’s make-believe theory to describe videogame actions as fictional. According to the Waltonian description of fictional actions, however, the actions players perform when playing Tetris, such as flipping tetrominoes, would also be fictional. This is a counterintuitive idea, as players of Tetris seem to be really manipulating the graphical shapes in this game. I will thus discuss two other possible descriptions of fictional actions hinted at by Grant Tavinor (2009). Firstly, the (non-)fictional status of videogame actions might depend on the nature of the affordances to which they are reactions. Secondly, it might be the case that the player must take on a role in the fictional world for her action to be fictional. In the end, I will combine this second idea with a Waltonian description of fictional actions to form a new description of fictional actions that corresponds to and explains videogame players’ experiences.

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