We may think of video games as being "fun," but in The Art of Failure, Jesper Juul claims that this is almost entirely mistaken. When we play video games, our facial expressions are rarely those of happiness or bliss. Instead, we frown, grimace, and shout in frustration as we lose, or die, or fail to advance to the next level. Humans may have a fundamental desire to succeed and feel competent, but game players choose to engage in an activity in which they are nearly certain to fail and feel incompetent. So why do we play video games even though they make us unhappy? Juul examines this paradox. In video games, as in tragic works of art, literature, theater, and cinema, it seems that we want to experience unpleasantness even if we also dislike it. Reader or audience reaction to tragedy is often explained as catharsis, as a purging of negative emotions. But, Juul points out, this doesn't seem to be the case for video game players. Games do not purge us of unpleasant emotions; they produce them in the first place. What, then, does failure in video game playing do? Juul argues that failure in a game is unique in that when you fail in a game, you (not a character) are in some way inadequate. Yet games also motivate us to play more, in order to escape that inadequacy, and the feeling of escaping failure (often by improving skills) is a central enjoyment of games. Games, writes Juul, are the art of failure: the singular art form that sets us up for failure and allows us to experience it and experiment with it. The Art of Failure is essential reading for anyone interested in video games, whether as entertainment, art, or education.
Game analysis allows us to understand games better, providing insight into the player-game relationship, the construction of the game, and its sociocultural relevance. As the field of game studies grows, videogame writing is evolving from the mere evaluation of gameplay, graphics, sound, and replayablity, to more reflective writing that manages to convey the complexity of a game and the way it is played in a cultural context. Introduction to Game Analysis serves as an accessible guide to analyzing games using strategies borrowed from textual analysis. Clara Fernández-Vara's concise primer provides instruction on the basic building blocks of game analysis--examination of context, content and reception, and formal qualities--as well as the vocabulary necessary for talking about videogames' distinguishing characteristics. Examples are drawn from a range of games, both digital and non-digital--from Bioshock and World of Warcraft to Monopoly--and the book provides a variety of exercises and sample analyses, as well as a comprehensive ludography and glossary.
In life, uncertainty surrounds us. Things that we thought were good for us turn out to be bad for us (and vice versa); people we thought we knew well behave in mysterious ways; the stock market takes a nosedive. Thanks to an inexplicable optimism, most of the time we are fairly cheerful about it all. But we do devote much effort to managing and ameliorating uncertainty. Is it any wonder, then, asks Greg Costikyan, that we have taken this aspect of our lives and transformed it culturally, making a series of elaborate constructs that subject us to uncertainty but in a fictive and nonthreatening way? That is: we create games. In this concise and entertaining book, Costikyan, an award-winning game designer, argues that games require uncertainty to hold our interest, and that the struggle to master uncertainty is central to their appeal. Game designers, he suggests, can harness the idea of uncertainty to guide their work. Costikyan explores the many sources of uncertainty in many sorts of games -- from Super Mario Bros. to Rock/Paper/Scissors, from Monopoly to CityVille, from FPS Deathmatch play to Chess. He describes types of uncertainty, including performative uncertainty, analytic complexity, and narrative anticipation. And he suggest ways that game designers who want to craft novel game experiences can use an understanding of game uncertainty in its many forms to improve their designs.
This book draws on aesthetic theory, including ideas from the history of painting, music and dance, to offer a fresh perspective on the video game as a popular cultural form. It argues that games like Grand Theft Auto and Elektroplankton are aesthetic objects that appeal to players because they offer an experience of form, as this idea was understood by philosophers like Immanuel Kant and Theodor Adorno. Video games are awkward objects that have defied efforts to categorize them within established academic disciplines and intellectual frameworks. Yet no one can deny their importance in re-configuring contemporary culture and their influence can be seen in contemporary film, television, literature, music, dance and advertising. This book argues that their very awkwardness should form the starting point for a proper analysis of what games are and the reasons for their popularity. This book will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in the increasingly playful character of contemporary capitalist culture.
Digital Labor calls on the reader to examine the shifting sites of labor markets to the Internet through the lens of their political, technological, and historical making. Internet users currently create most of the content that makes up the web: they search, link, tweet, and post updates--leaving their "deep" data exposed. Meanwhile, governments listen in, and big corporations track, analyze, and predict users' interests and habits. This unique collection of essays provides a wide-ranging account of the dark side of the Internet. It claims that the divide between leisure time and work has vanished so that every aspect of life drives the digital economy. The book reveals the anatomy of playbor (play/labor), the lure of exploitation and the potential for empowerment. Ultimately, the 14 thought-provoking chapters in this volume ask how users can politicize their troubled complicity, create public alternatives to the centralized social web, and thrive online. Contributors: Mark Andrejevic, Ayhan Aytes, Michel Bauwens, Jonathan Beller, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Sean Cubitt, Jodi Dean, Abigail De Kosnik, Julian Dibbell, Christian Fuchs, Lisa Nakamura, Andrew Ross, Ned Rossiter, Trebor Scholz, Tizania Terranova, McKenzie Wark, and Soenke Zehle
This volume is the first reader on video games and learning of its kind. Covering game design, game culture and games as twenty-first-century pedagogy, it demonstrates the depth and breadth of scholarship on games and learning to date. The chapters represent some of the most influential thinkers, designers and writers in the emerging field of games and learning - including James Paul Gee, Soren Johnson, Eric Klopfer, Colleen Macklin, Thomas Malaby, Bonnie Nardi, David Sirlin and others. Together, their work functions both as an excellent introduction to the field of games and learning and as a powerful argument for the use of games in formal and informal learning environments in a digital age.
General game players are computer systems able to play strategy games based solely on formal game descriptions supplied at "runtime" (n other words, they don't know the rules until the game starts). Unlike specialized game players, such as Deep Blue, general game players cannot rely on algorithms designed in advance for specific games; they must discover such algorithms themselves. General game playing expertise depends on intelligence on the part of the game player and not just intelligence of the programmer of the game player.GGP is an interesting application in its own right. It is intellectually engaging and more than a little fun. But it is much more than that. It provides a theoretical framework for modeling discrete dynamic systems and defining rationality in a way that takes into account problem representation and complexities like incompleteness of information and resource bounds. It has practical applications in areas where these features are important, e.g., in business and law. More fundamentally, it raises questions about the nature of intelligence and serves as a laboratory in which to evaluate competing approaches to artificial intelligence.This book is an elementary introduction to General Game Playing (GGP). (1) It presents the theory of General Game Playing and leading GGP technologies. (2) It shows how to create GGP programs capable of competing against other programs and humans. (3) It offers a glimpse of some of the real-world applications of General Game Playing.Table of Contents: Preface / Introduction / Game Description / Game Management / Game Playing / Small Single-Player Games / Small Multiple-Player Games / Heuristic Search / Probabilistic Search / Propositional Nets / General Game Playing With Propnets / Factoring / Discovery of Heuristics / Logic / Analyzing Games with Logic / Solving Single-Player Games with Logic / Discovering Heuristics with Logic / Games with Incomplete Information / Games with Historical Constraints / Incomplete Game Descriptions / Advanced General Game Playing / Authors' Biographies
Known for their visibility and tendency to generate controversy, first-person shooter (FPS) games are cultural icons and powder-kegs in American society. Contributors will examine a range of FPS games such as the Doom, Half-Life, System Shock, Deus Ex, Halo, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty franchises. By applying and enriching a broad range of perspectives, this volume will address the cultural relevance and place of the genre in game studies, game theory and the cultures of game players. Guns, Grenades, and Grunts gathers scholars from all disciplines to bring the weight of contemporary social theory and media criticism to bear on the public controversy and intellectual investigation of first-person shooter games. As a genre, FPS games have helped shepherd the game industry from the early days of shareware distribution and underground gaming clans to contemporary multimillion dollar production budgets, Hollywood-style launches, downloadable content and worldwide professional gaming leagues. The FPS has been and will continue to be a staple of the game market.
The study of online gaming is changing. It is no longer enough to analyse one type of online community in order to understand the plethora of players who take part in online worlds and the behaviours they exhibit. MacCallum-Stewart studies the different ways in which online games create social environments and how players choose to interpret these. These games vary from the immensely popular social networking games on Facebook such as Farmville to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games to "Free to Play" online gaming and console communities such as players of Xbox Live and PS3 games. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of social gaming online, breaking down when games are social and what narrative devices make them so. This cross-disciplinary study will appeal to those interested in cyberculture, the evolution of gaming technology, and sociologies of media.
For thousands of years, people have been planning attacks, captures, chases, and conquests--in short, they've been playing board games. Now, in The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett investigates the myriad board games that have developed through the ages and around the world. Here are the origins and development of our favorite games, from the Egyptian and Asian ancestors of Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon, to the invention of such modern classics as Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble. Parlett groups the games in different families--such as those based on races or chases, wars or hunts, capture or blockade--and then provides a fascinating history of each family. Throughout the book, Parlett pays close--indeed, loving--attention to traditional games, the charming folk entertainments that have grown up through the centuries, and which exhibit endless local variations. Likewise, he devotes enthusiastic coverage to lesser-known and experimental games. Thus the book is no mere catalog of the familiar, but takes the reader into a world a games they have never known before. And not only does he describe the rules and strategies of the games, but Parlett also draws on 20 year's experience as a professional games researcher, critic, and inventor, to offer many perceptive insights into the thinking involved in creating these games. And, finally, Parlett also illuminates the significance of game-playing as a central part of human experience--as vital to a culture as its music, dance, and literature. Written with great affection and authority, and beautifully illustrated with period art and helpful diagrams that show the finer points of the games, this is a fascinating and accessible guide to a richly rewarding subject.
Incontestably, Future Narratives are most conspicuous in video games: they combine narrative with the major element of all games: agency. The persons who perceive these narratives are not simply readers or spectators but active agents with a range of choices at their disposal that will influence the very narrative they are experiencing: they are players. The narratives thus created are realizations of the multiple possibilities contained in the present of any given gameplay situation. Surveying the latest trends in the field, the volume discusses the complex relationship of narrative and gameplay.
The potential of video games as storytelling media and the deep involvement that players feel when they are part of the story needs to be analysed vis-à-vis other narrative media. This book underscores the importance of video games as narratives and offers a framework for analysing the many-ended stories that often redefine real and virtual lives.
Games and art have intersected at least since the early twentieth century, as can be seen in the Surrealists' use of Exquisite Corpse and other games, Duchamp's obsession with Chess, and Fluxus event scores and boxes -- to name just a few examples. Over the past fifteen years, the synthesis of art and games has clouded for both artists and gamemakers. Contemporary art has drawn on the tool set of videogames, but has not considered them a cultural form with its own conceptual, formal, and experiential affordances. For their part, game developers and players focus on the innate properties of games and the experiences they provide, giving little attention to what it means to create and evaluate fine art. In Works of Game, John Sharp bridges this gap, offering a formal aesthetics of games that encompasses the commonalities and the differences between games and art.Sharp describes three communities of practice and offers case studies for each. "Game Art," which includes such artists as Julian Oliver, Cory Arcangel, and JODI (Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans) treats videogames as a form of popular culture from which can be borrowed subject matter, tools, and processes. "Artgames," created by gamemakers including Jason Rohrer, Brenda Romero, and Jonathan Blow, explore territory usually occupied by poetry, painting, literature, or film. Finally, "Artists' Games" -- with artists including Blast Theory, Mary Flanagan, and the collaboration of Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman -- represents a more synthetic conception of games as an artistic medium. The work of these gamemakers, Sharp suggests, shows that it is possible to create game-based artworks that satisfy the aesthetic and critical values of both the contemporary art and game communities.