The Transformative Power of Speedrun: Deconstruction and Recodification of Pokémon Games’ Communicative Structures

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This chapter proposes to study the video game practice of speedrun, which consists of going through a game from beginning to end as fast as possible and documenting the performance through a video recording. Specifically, I focus on speedruns of Pokémon games, in order to determine how this form of “transformative play”1 (Salen and Zimmerman 2004, 41) reinvents a given fictional universe and how it alters the messages of the works it uses. To do this, I will use the perspective of rhetoric and try to formalize what the “rhetorical figures” of speedrun can be. According to Bonhomme, figures are defined by the “salience” effects they produce in a particular discursive context: “figurative constructions manifest themselves through markings that detach them from their discursive framework”2 (Bonhomme 2014, 31). In addition, far from being mere ornaments, figures perform different communication functions (expressiveness, performance, meta-communication, etc.). Based on this definition, I will try to identify the “salient” features in the speedrun videos and the communicative functions that they exercise, focusing in particular on the relationship they build between the original games and the derivative works produced by speedrunners. What is left of Pokémon games in speedruns? How does the speedrun work relate to its original support? How does speedrun redefine the boundaries of games and play? Following an introduction that resituates the particularities of speedrun as a playful and creative practice, I will detail the rhetorical figures observed in two speedrun videos of Pokémon games. These form two main categories, defined by their functions: the figures of deconstruction (resemantization, antimodel play, exposure, deconstruction of auctoriality) and the figures of formalization (analogy, codification, over-compliance). Through the examination of these figures, we will see that speedrun invites us to reconsider the boundaries of the concepts of game and of work. On the one hand, the rules formalized by speedrunners and the different media they mobilize in their practice have the effect of extending the playing field beyond the strict boundaries of the game and of constructing what I call a “game apparatus”. On the other hand, speedrun is particular in that it is both an athletic and a creative performance. However, the speedrun “product” is not limited to the video recording (which serves as a trace and proof of the performance): it also creates an abstract (and collective) score or script, of which each performance is an actualization and a renegotiation.
langue originaleAnglais
titreJapan's Contemporary Media Culture between Local and Global: Content, Practice and Theory
Les DOIs
Etat de la publicationPublié - 2021
Modification externeOui

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