Interpretive Cooperation and Procedurality. A Dialogue between Semiotics and Procedural Criticism

Gabriele Ferri, Dario Compagno (Editor), Patrick Coppock (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Theoretical advances in semiotics usually follow analy-
ses of yet-unconventional objects: from fairy tales and
literary narratives, to – amongst others – advertising,
visual arts, fashion, everyday objects and political com-
munication. Semiotics has always managed to re-think
itself, broadening its focus without losing coherence.
Computer games are another kind of difficult objects
for semiotic analysis that could pave the way for advan-
ces in semiotic theory.
Procedural criticism was recently originated by the
developing of the notion of procedure, imported from
computer sciences into game studies and designating
algorithms which control reactions to users’ operations
(Murray 1997; Bogost 2006, 2007). Procedures are used
by – amongst others – computer game systems to regu-
late play and events; procedural criticism is the practice
of describing scientifically the expressive use of proce-
In this sense, a dialogue between semiotics and proce-
dural criticism can be useful to build a common ground
and to avoid duplicating theoretical efforts. A prelimi-
nary exposition of current trends in semiotics of com-
puter games and procedural criticism will be followed
by three examples sketching the procedural figure of
the transdiegetic phone call . Finally, I will present some
considerations on player’s expectations, engagement,
interpretive and pragmatic cooperation as related to
that figure. Those preliminary analyses will not exhaust
the potential of a collaboration between semiotics and
procedural criticism: on the contrary, they will simply
show their theoretical compatibility and the potentiali-
ties of a dialogue between them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


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