Well Played is a concept of providing in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found through the experience of playing a game. Around Halloween in 2020, the Well Played Journal started its 10th volume. Looking back, the first “well played” presentation and article was in 2003, with the first book coming out in 2009, and the first journal issue released in 2011. We thought this would be a good time to both celebrate and reflect on Well Played, what it is, and how it has worked well or could be better.
Thinking of a Well Played retrospective during these times caused us to notice the solace we found playing games, as well as the new ways we were playing. As such, we issued a call for essays that articulate how games have been a part of our pandemic experiences, and the value and role games have had in people’s lives this past year. This is not meant to make light of the pandemic, but to acknowledge how games have seemed to help a lot of us in getting through this. This Well Played retrospective, along with companion essays on games during the pandemic, capture a critical history of Well Played and highlight how much games can matter in our lives.
The retrospective essays and the pandemic essays have resonant themes, so we’ve woven them together to share a written tapestry of Well Played and games, value, and meaning. This collection shares a sense of the value and meaning of all of the books, presentations, essays, videos, and issues across the years.