Date of Award

May 2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stuart Moulthrop

Committee Members

Thomas Malaby, Lane Hall, Shevuan Watson


framework, games, interface, ludology, metalepsis, remediation


In the post-modern "Ludic Century," the foundational information of the 20th century has shifted into dynamic interaction—or been put into play—and reflects a departure from Modernity’s emphases on conformity to traditional, hegemonic social norms that promoted stability and order. This era is now characterized by a skepticism towards the hierarchical institutions of modernity and seeks legitimization instead through the demonstrable successes of outcomes produced by iterative, participatory processes. This dissertation posits that the social solidarity and collective consciousness once facilitated by ritual in the modern era, as conceptualized by Emile Durkheim, are now achieved through games and game-like processes. As such, the videogame, specifically, is a significant cultural artifact of the early 21st century. The first chapter of this dissertation begins by developing an inclusive definition for the term "videogame" via an ontological examination of the global socioeconomic and technological forces that have shaped these entities and concludes with a discussion on the meta-modal framework necessary to attend to those considerations. Subsequently, Chapter Two examines the concept of the interface within this framework, proposing that the computer’s method of remediation functions as emulation rather than mere imitation. Chapter Three is the climax of the dissertation’s overarching themes, examining the alignment of the videogame as a cultural artifact with the societal transformations of the first quarter of the 21st century as I lay out above. Finally, Chapter Four explores the notion of literacy in relation to one's capability to engage with, comprehend, and design digital games and game-like processes (especially in the emerging context of generative AI platforms), assessing how these skills might translate to an understanding of our digitally interconnected, 'real' world. This dissertation not only charts a shift in cultural paradigms but also underscores the evolving role of digital interactivity in shaping collective experiences and societal norms.

Available for download on Thursday, May 21, 2026