Against Flow: Video Games and the Flowing Subject

May 4, 2021
Against Flow: Video Games and the Flowing Subject

A critical discussion of the experience and theory offlow (as conceptualized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) in videogames.Flow—as conceptualized by the psychologist MihalyCsikszentmihalyi—describes an experience of "being in the zone," ofintense absorption in an activity. It is a central concept in thestudy of video games, although often applied somewhat uncritically.In Against Flow, Braxton Soderman takes a step back and offers acritical assessment of flow's historical, theoretical, political,and ideological contexts in relation to video games. With closereadings of games that implement and represent flow, Soderman notonly evaluates the concept of flow in terms of video games but alsopresents a general critique of flow and its sibling, play.