“This volume gives evidence of many years of careful research and reflection. It is a sound study of the influence of the landowning southern aristocracy in state and national affairs. Members of the Clay family, like many others of the antebellum period, combined law, agriculture, and politics. They lived the ‘good life’ of the planter class and struggled to defend what they considered southern rights. The Clement C. Clays, father and son, both distinguished themselves in the U.S. Senate [and] the latter also served in the Confederate Senate.”--Mississippi Valley Historical Review
“The history of one of Alabama’s most distinguished families. . . . The author succeeds in the difficult task of making the past come alive again, and she does it by the skillful employment of a multitudinous number of sources.”--Alabama Review
Computer games have become ubiquitous in today’s society. Many scholars have speculated on the reasons for their massive success. Yet we haven’t considered the most basic questions: Why do computer games exist? What specific circumstances led to the creation of this entirely new type of game? What sorts of knowledge facilitated the requisite technological and institutional transformations?
With Computer Game Worlds, Claus Pias sets out to answer these questions. Tracing computer games from their earliest forms to the unstoppable commercial and cultural phenomena they have become today, Pias then provides a careful epistemological reconstruction of the process of playing games, both at computers and by computers themselves. The book makes a valuable theoretical contribution to the ongoing discussion about computer games.
Of all developments surrounding hypermedia, none has been as hotly or frequently debated as the conjunction of fiction and digital technology. J. Yellowlees Douglas considers the implications of this union. She looks at the new light that interactive narratives may shed on theories of reading and interpretation and the possibilities for hypertext novels, World Wide Web-based short stories, and cinematic, interactive narratives on CD-ROM. She confronts questions that are at the center of the current debate: Does an interactive story demand too much from readers? Does the concept of readerly choice destroy the integrity of an author's vision? Does interactivity turn reading fiction from "play" into "work"--too much work? Will hypertext fiction overtake the novel as a form of art or entertainment? And what might future interactive books look like?
The book examines criticism on interactive fiction from both proponents and skeptics and examines similarities and differences between print and hypertext fiction. It looks closely at critically acclaimed interactive works, including Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden and Michael Joyce's Afternoon: A Story that illuminate how these hypertext narratives "work." While she sees this as a still-evolving technology and medium, the author identifies possible developments for the future of storytelling from outstanding examples of Web-based fiction and CD-ROM narratives, possibilities that will enable narratives to both portray the world with greater realism an to transcend the boundaries of novels and films, character and plot alike.
Written to be accessible to a wide range of readers, this lively and accessibly-written volume will appeal to those interested in technology and cyberculture, as well as to readers familiar with literary criticism and modern fiction.
J. Yellowlees Douglas is the Director of the William and Grace Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication, University of Florida. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on the subject of hypertext and interactive literature.
In our unprecedentedly networked world, games have come to occupy an important space in many of our everyday lives. Digital games alone engage an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide as of 2020, and other forms of gaming, such as board games, role playing, escape rooms, and puzzles, command an ever-expanding audience. At the same time, “gamification”—the application of game mechanics to traditionally nongame spheres, such as personal health and fitness, shopping, habit tracking, and more—has imposed unprecedented levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life.
Drawing from his own experience as a game designer, Patrick Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games, including StarCraft, Candy Crush Saga, Stardew Valley, Dys4ia, Braid, and Undertale. Beyond a diagnosis of gamification, Jagoda imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced notion of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. The result is a game-changing book on the sociopolitical potential of this form of mass entertainment.
Video and computer games in their cultural contexts.
As the popularity of computer games has exploded over the past decade, both scholars and game industry professionals have recognized the necessity of treating games less as frivolous entertainment and more as artifacts of culture worthy of political, social, economic, rhetorical, and aesthetic analysis. Ken McAllister notes in his introduction to Game Work that, even though games are essentially impractical, they are nevertheless important mediating agents for the broad exercise of socio-political power.
In considering how the languages, images, gestures, and sounds of video games influence those who play them, McAllister highlights the ways in which ideology is coded into games. Computer games, he argues, have transformative effects on the consciousness of players, like poetry, fiction, journalism, and film, but the implications of these transformations are not always clear. Games can work to maintain the status quo or celebrate liberation or tolerate enslavement, and they can conjure feelings of hope or despair, assent or dissent, clarity or confusion. Overall, by making and managing meanings, computer games—and the work they involve and the industry they spring from—are also negotiating power.
This book sets out a method for "recollecting" some of the diverse and copious influences on computer games and the industry they have spawned. Specifically written for use in computer game theory classes, advanced media studies, and communications courses, Game Work will also be welcome by computer gamers and designers.
Ken S. McAllister is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona and Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative, a research collective that studies, teaches with, and builds computer games.
From flight simulators and first-person shooters to MMPOG and innovative strategy games like 2008’s Spore, computer games owe their development to computer simulation and imaging produced by and for the military during the Cold War. To understand their place in contemporary culture, Patrick Crogan argues, we must first understand the military logics that created and continue to inform them. Gameplay Mode situates computer games and gaming within the contemporary technocultural moment, connecting them to developments in the conceptualization of pure war since the Second World War and the evolution of simulation as both a technological achievement and a sociopolitical tool.
Crogan begins by locating the origins of computer games in the development of cybernetic weapons systems in the 1940s, the U.S. Air Force’s attempt to use computer simulation to protect the country against nuclear attack, and the U.S. military’s development of the SIMNET simulated battlefield network in the late 1980s. He then examines specific game modes and genres in detail, from the creation of virtual space in fight simulation games and the co-option of narrative forms in gameplay to the continuities between online gaming sociality and real-world communities and the potential of experimental or artgame projects like September 12th: A Toy World and Painstation, to critique conventional computer games.
Drawing on critical theoretical perspectives on computer-based technoculture, Crogan reveals the profound extent to which today’s computer games—and the wider culture they increasingly influence—are informed by the technoscientific program they inherited from the military-industrial complex. But, Crogan concludes, games can play with, as well as play out, their underlying logic, offering the potential for computer gaming to anticipate a different, more peaceful and hopeful future.
McKenzie Wark Harvard University Press, 2007 Library of Congress GV1469.17.S63W37 2007 | Dewey Decimal 306.487
Ever get the feeling that life's a game with changing rules and no clear sides? Welcome to gamespace, the world in which we live. Where others argue obsessively over violence in games, Wark contends that digital computer games are our society's emergent cultural form, a utopian version of the world as it is. Gamer Theory uncovers the significance of games in the gap between the near-perfection of actual games and the imperfect gamespace of everyday life in the rat race of free-market society.
"Ever since the creators of the animated television show South Park turned their lovingly sardonic gaze on the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft for an entire episode, WoW's status as an icon of digital culture has been secure. My Life as a Night Elf Priest digs deep beneath the surface of that icon to explore the rich particulars of the World of Warcraft player's experience."
—Julian Dibbell, Wired
"World of Warcraft is the best representative of a significant new technology, art form, and sector of society: the theme-oriented virtual world. Bonnie Nardi's pioneering transnational ethnography explores this game both sensitively and systematically using the methods of cultural anthropology and aesthetics with intensive personal experience as a guild member, media teacher, and magical quest Elf."
—William Sims Bainbridge, author of The Warcraft Civilization and editor of Online Worlds
“Nardi skillfully covers all of the hot button issues that come to mind when people think of video games like World of Warcraft such as game addiction, sexism, and violence. What gives this book its value are its unexpected gems of rare and beautifully detailed research on less sensationalized topics of interest such as the World of Warcraft player community in China, game modding, the increasingly blurred line between play and work, and the rich and fascinating lives of players and player cultures. Nardi brings World of Warcraft down to earth for non-players and ties it to social and cultural theory for scholars. . . . the best ethnography of a single virtual world produced so far.”
—Lisa Nakamura, University of Illinois
World of Warcraft rapidly became one of the most popular online world games on the planet, amassing 11.5 million subscribers—officially making it an online community of gamers that had more inhabitants than the state of Ohio and was almost twice as populous as Scotland. It's a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO in gamer jargon, where each person controls a single character inside a virtual world, interacting with other people's characters and computer-controlled monsters, quest-givers, and merchants.
In My Life as a Night Elf Priest, Bonnie Nardi, a well-known ethnographer who has published extensively on how theories of what we do intersect with how we adopt and use technology, compiles more than three years of participatory research in Warcraft play and culture in the United States and China into this field study of player behavior and activity. She introduces us to her research strategy and the history, structure, and culture of Warcraft; argues for applying activity theory and theories of aesthetic experience to the study of gaming and play; and educates us on issues of gender, culture, and addiction as part of the play experience. Nardi paints a compelling portrait of what drives online gamers both in this country and in China, where she spent a month studying players in Internet cafes.
Bonnie Nardi has given us a fresh look not only at World of Warcraft but at the field of game studies as a whole. One of the first in-depth studies of a game that has become an icon of digital culture, My Life as a Night Elf Priest will capture the interest of both the gamer and the ethnographer.
Bonnie A. Nardi is an anthropologist by training and a professor in the Department of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focus is the social implications of digital technologies. She is the author of A Small Matter of Programming: Perspectives on End User Computing and the coauthor of Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart and Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design.
"Play Redux excels in tying together intellectual traditions that are rooted in literary studies, cognitive science, play studies and several other fields, thereby creating a logical whole. Through this, the book makes service to several academic communities by pointing out their points of contact. This is clearly an important contribution to a growing academic field, and will no doubt become important in many future discussions about digital games and play."
---Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere, Finland
"David Myers has researched video games longer than anyone else. Play Redux shows him continually relevant, never afraid of courting controversy."
---Jesper Juul, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Play Redux is an ambitious description and critical analysis of the aesthetic pleasures of video game play, drawing on early twentieth-century formalist theory and models of literature. Employing a concept of biological naturalism grounded in cognitive theory, Myers argues for a clear delineation between the aesthetics of play and the aesthetics of texts. In the course of this study, Myers asks a number of interesting questions: What are the mechanics of human play as exhibited in computer games? Can these mechanisms be modeled? What is the evolutionary function of cognitive play, and is it, on the whole, a good thing? Intended as a provocative corrective to the currently ascendant, if not dominant, cultural and ethnographic approach to game studies and play, Play Redux will generate interest among scholars of communications, new media, and film.
David Myers is Reverend Aloysius B. Goodspeed Distinguished Professor at the School of Mass Communication, Loyola University New Orleans.
In this edited volume, eighteen scholars examine the increasing role of digital media technologies in identity constructionthrough play. Going beyond computer games, this interdisciplinary collection argues that present-day play and games are not only appropriate metaphors for capturing postmodern human identities, but are in fact the means by which people create their identity. From discussions of World of Warcraft and Foursquare to digital cartographies, the combined essays form a groundbreaking volume that features the most recent insights in play and game studies, media research, and identity studies.
What Is Your Quest? examines the future of electronic literature in a world where tablets and e-readers are becoming as common as printed books and where fans are blurring the distinction between reader and author. The construction of new ways of storytelling is already underway: it is happening on the edges of the mainstream gaming industry and in the spaces between media, on the foundations set by classic games. Along these margins, convergent storytelling allows for playful reading and reading becomes a strategy of play.
One of the earliest models for this new way of telling stories was the adventure game, the kind of game centered on quests in which the characters must overcome obstacles and puzzles. After they fell out of fashion in the 1990s, fans made strenuous efforts to keep them alive and to create new games in the genre. Such activities highlight both the convergence of game and story and the collapsing distinction between reader and author. Continually defying the forces of obsolescence, fans return abandoned games to a playable state and treat stories as ever-evolving narratives. Similarly, players of massive multiplayer games become co-creators of the game experience, building characters and creating social networks that recombine a reading and gaming community.
The interactions between storytellers and readers, between programmers and creators, and among fans turned world-builders are essential to the development of innovative ways of telling stories. And at the same time that fan activities foster the convergence of digital gaming and storytelling, new and increasingly accessible tools and models for interactive narrative empower a broadening range of storytellers. It is precisely this interactivity among a range of users surrounding these new platforms that is radically reshaping both e-books and games and those who read and play with them.