I've been keeping myself busy in quarantine during 2021 by reading academic papers.
Here's a few papers about games that I've found interesting recently:
No One Plays Alone (Bateman, 2017) about communities of player practice
Towards a Theory of Choice Poetics (Mawhorter, Mateas, Wardrip-Fruin, & Jhala, 2014)
Understanding Procedural Content Generation (Smith, 2014)
Player Types: A Meta-Synthesis (Hamari & Tuunanen)
Design Metaphors for Procedural Generation in Games (Khaled, Nelson, & Barr, 2013)
And one that isn't directly about games but bears on the issue of choice:
Cognitive Economics and the Functional Theory of Stress (Wolfendale, 2018)
I'm not rereading this, but it's an important, short paper about contemporary game design theory which I've talked about elsewhere that I strongly recommend if you're at all interested in designing games:
MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research (Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek, 2004)
Right at the start of the year, I read this book, which I found to be excellent:
Games: Art as Agency by C. Thi Nguyen
Also, check out these two videos by Nguyen that explain elements of the book and combine them with social epistemic analysis: Games, Public Policy, and the Pandemic and Why Games are Good but Gamification is Terrible)
I've put Brian Sutton-Smith's The Ambiguities of Play on my to-read list, since he's the guy who first coined the idea of a "play culture", a term I've used a lot over the past decade and a half, but haven't actually started it yet. It's more strictly about play than games (an important distinction!) but I'm hoping there's some good stuff in there.
In other news, I am currently in two D&D 5e games. I don't love 5e, but the groups are good. One is the same group that I'd been playing 3.x with since early 2018, just switched over to 5e. The other one is a long-running group (20 years) that I've temporarily joined.