Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, and the coauthor of Newsgames: Journalism at Play (MIT Press, 2010).

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    Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter

    A single line of code offers a way to understand the cultural context of computing.

    This book takes a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text—in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources—that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.

    • Hardcover $32.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Newsgames

    Newsgames

    Journalism at Play

    Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer

    How videogames offer a new way to do journalism.

    Journalism has embraced digital media in its struggle to survive. But most online journalism just translates existing practices to the Web: stories are written and edited as they are for print; video and audio features are produced as they would be for television and radio. The authors of Newsgames propose a new way of doing good journalism: videogames.

    Videogames are native to computers rather than a digitized form of prior media. Games simulate how things work by constructing interactive models; journalism as game involves more than just revisiting old forms of news production. Wired magazine's game Cutthroat Capitalism, for example, explains the economics of Somali piracy by putting the player in command of a pirate ship, offering choices for hostage negotiation strategies.

    Videogames do not offer a panacea for the ills of contemporary news organizations. But if the industry embraces them as a viable method of doing journalism—not just an occasional treat for online readers—newsgames can make a valuable contribution.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $18.95
  • Racing the Beam

    Racing the Beam

    The Atari Video Computer System

    Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost

    A study of the relationship between platform and creative expression in the Atari VCS.

    The Atari Video Computer System dominated the home video game market so completely that “Atari” became the generic term for a video game console. The Atari VCS was affordable and offered the flexibility of changeable cartridges. Nearly a thousand of these were created, the most significant of which established new techniques, mechanics, and even entire genres. This book offers a detailed and accessible study of this influential video game console from both computational and cultural perspectives.

    Studies of digital media have rarely investigated platforms—the systems underlying computing. This book (the first in a series of Platform Studies) does so, developing a critical approach that examines the relationship between platforms and creative expression. Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost discuss the Atari VCS itself and examine in detail six game cartridges: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. They describe the technical constraints and affordances of the system and track developments in programming, gameplay, interface, and aesthetics. Adventure, for example, was the first game to represent a virtual space larger than the screen (anticipating the boundless virtual spaces of such later games as World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto), by allowing the player to walk off one side into another space; and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was an early instance of interaction between media properties and video games. Montfort and Bogost show that the Atari VCS—often considered merely a retro fetish object—is an essential part of the history of video games.

  • Persuasive Games

    Persuasive Games

    The Expressive Power of Videogames

    Ian Bogost

    An exploration of the way videogames mount arguments and make expressive statements about the world that analyzes their unique persuasive power in terms of their computational properties.

    Videogames are an expressive medium, and a persuasive medium; they represent how real and imagined systems work, and they invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them. In this innovative analysis, Ian Bogost examines the way videogames mount arguments and influence players. Drawing on the 2,500-year history of rhetoric, the study of persuasive expression, Bogost analyzes rhetoric's unique function in software in general and videogames in particular. The field of media studies already analyzes visual rhetoric, the art of using imagery and visual representation persuasively. Bogost argues that videogames, thanks to their basic representational mode of procedurality (rule-based representations and interactions), open a new domain for persuasion; they realize a new form of rhetoric. Bogost calls this new form "procedural rhetoric," a type of rhetoric tied to the core affordances of computers: running processes and executing rule-based symbolic manipulation. He argues further that videogames have a unique persuasive power that goes beyond other forms of computational persuasion. Not only can videogames support existing social and cultural positions, but they can also disrupt and change these positions themselves, leading to potentially significant long-term social change. Bogost looks at three areas in which videogame persuasion has already taken form and shows considerable potential: politics, advertising, and learning.

    • Hardcover $45.00
    • Paperback $25.00
  • Unit Operations

    Unit Operations

    An Approach to Videogame Criticism

    Ian Bogost

    In Unit Operations, Ian Bogost argues that similar principles underlie both literary theory and computation, proposing a literary-technical theory that can be used to analyze particular videogames. Moreover, this approach can be applied beyond videogames: Bogost suggests that any medium—from videogames to poetry, literature, cinema, or art—can be read as a configurative system of discrete, interlocking units of meaning, and he illustrates this method of analysis with examples from all these fields. The marriage of literary theory and information technology, he argues, will help humanists take technology more seriously and hep technologists better understand software and videogames as cultural artifacts. This approach is especially useful for the comparative analysis of digital and nondigital artifacts and allows scholars from other fields who are interested in studying videogames to avoid the esoteric isolation of "game studies."

    The richness of Bogost's comparative approach can be seen in his discussions of works by such philosophers and theorists as Plato, Badiou, Zizek, and McLuhan, and in his analysis of numerous videogames including Pong, Half-Life, and Star Wars Galaxies. Bogost draws on object technology and complex adaptive systems theory for his method of unit analysis, underscoring the configurative aspects of a wide variety of human processes. His extended analysis of freedom in large virtual spaces examines Grand Theft Auto 3, The Legend of Zelda, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and Joyce's Ulysses. In Unit Operations, Bogost not only offers a new methodology for videogame criticism but argues for the possibility of real collaboration between the humanities and information technology.

    • Hardcover $38.00
    • Paperback $25.00

Contributor

  • Super Power, Spoony Bards, and Silverware

    Super Power, Spoony Bards, and Silverware

    The Super Nintendo Entertainment System

    Dominic Arsenault

    How the Super Nintendo Entertainment System embodied Nintendo's resistance to innovation and took the company from industry leadership to the margins of videogaming.

    This is a book about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that is not celebratory or self-congratulatory. Most other accounts declare the Super NES the undisputed victor of the “16-bit console wars” of 1989–1995. In this book, Dominic Arsenault reminds us that although the SNES was a strong platform filled with high-quality games, it was also the product of a short-sighted corporate vision focused on maintaining Nintendo's market share and business model. This led the firm to fall from a dominant position during its golden age (dubbed by Arsenault the “ReNESsance”) with the NES to the margins of the industry with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube consoles. Arsenault argues that Nintendo's conservative business strategies and resistance to innovation during the SNES years explain its market defeat by Sony's PlayStation. 

    Extending the notion of “platform” to include the marketing forces that shape and constrain creative work, Arsenault draws not only on game studies and histories but on game magazines, boxes, manuals, and advertisements to identify the technological discourses and business models that formed Nintendo's Super Power. He also describes the cultural changes in video games during the 1990s that slowly eroded the love of gamer enthusiasts for the SNES as the Nintendo generation matured. Finally, he chronicles the many technological changes that occurred through the SNES's lifetime, including full-motion video, CD-ROM storage, and the shift to 3D graphics. Because of the SNES platform's architecture, Arsenault explains, Nintendo resisted these changes and continued to focus on traditional gameplay genres.

  • Minitel

    Minitel

    Welcome to the Internet

    Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll

    The first scholarly book in English on Minitel, the pioneering French computer network, offers a history of a technical system and a cultural phenomenon.

    A decade before the Internet became a medium for the masses in the United States, tens of millions of users in France had access to a network for e-mail, e-commerce, chat, research, game playing, blogging, and even an early form of online porn. In 1983, the French government rolled out Minitel, a computer network that achieved widespread adoption in just a few years as the government distributed free terminals to every French telephone subscriber. With this volume, Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll offer the first scholarly book in English on Minitel, examining it as both a technical system and a cultural phenomenon.

    Mailland and Driscoll argue that Minitel was a technical marvel, a commercial success, and an ambitious social experiment. Other early networks may have introduced protocols and software standards that continue to be used today, but Minitel foretold the social effects of widespread telecomputing. They examine the unique balance of forces that enabled the growth of Minitel: public and private, open and closed, centralized and decentralized. Mailland and Driscoll describe Minitel's key technological components, novel online services, and thriving virtual communities. Despite the seemingly tight grip of the state, however, a lively Minitel culture emerged, characterized by spontaneity, imagination, and creativity. After three decades of continuous service, Minitel was shut down in 2012, but the history of Minitel should continue to inform our thinking about Internet policy, today and into the future.

  • Now the Chips Are Down

    Now the Chips Are Down

    The BBC Micro

    Alison Gazzard

    The story of a pioneering microcomputer: its beginnings as part of a national Computer Literary Project, its innovative hardware, and its creative uses.

    In 1982, the British Broadcasting Corporation launched its Computer Literacy Project, intended “to introduce interested adults to the world of computers and computing.” The BBC accompanied this initiative with television programs, courses, books, and software—an early experiment in multi-platform education. The BBC, along with Acorn Computers, also introduced the BBC Microcomputer, which would be at the forefront of the campaign. The BBC Micro was designed to meet the needs of users in homes and schools, to demystify computing, and to counter the general pessimism among the media in Britain about technology. In this book, Alison Gazzard looks at the BBC Micro, examining the early capabilities of multi-platform content generation and consumption and the multiple literacies this approach enabled—not only in programming and software creation, but also in accessing information across a range of media, and in “do-it-yourself” computing. She links many of these early developments to current new-media practices.

    Gazzard looks at games developed for the BBC Micro, including Granny's Garden, an educational game for primary schools, and Elite, the seminal space-trading game. She considers the shift in focus from hardware to peripherals, describing the Teletext Adapter as an early model for software distribution and the Domesday Project (which combined texts, video, and still photographs) as a hypermedia-like experience.

    Gazzard's account shows the BBC Micro not only as a vehicle for various literacies but also as a user-oriented machine that pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved in order to produce something completely new.

  • Peripheral Vision

    Peripheral Vision

    Bell Labs, the S-C 4020, and the Origins of Computer Art

    Zabet Patterson

    How the S-C 4020—a mainframe peripheral intended to produce scientific visualizations—shaped a series of early computer art projects that emerged from Bell Labs.

    In 1959, the electronics manufacturer Stromberg-Carlson produced the S-C 4020, a device that allowed mainframe computers to present and preserve images. In the mainframe era, the output of text and image was quite literally peripheral; the S-C 4020—a strange and elaborate apparatus, with a cathode ray screen, a tape deck, a buffer unit, a film camera, and a photo-paper camera—produced most of the computer graphics of the late 1950s and early 1960s. At Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the S-C 4020 became a crucial part of ongoing encounters among art, science, and technology. In this book, Zabet Patterson examines the extraordinary uses to which the Bell Labs SC-2040 was put between 1961 and 1972, exploring a series of early computer art projects shaped by the special computational affordances of the S-C 4020.

    The S-C 4020 produced tabular data, graph plotting and design drawings, grid projections, and drawings of axes and vectors; it made previously impossible visualizations possible. Among the works Patterson describes are E. E. Zajac's short film of an orbiting satellite, which drew on the machine's graphic capacities as well as the mainframe's calculations; a groundbreaking exhibit of “computer generated pictures” by Béla Julesz and Michael Noll, two scientists interested in visualization; animations by Kenneth Knowlton and the Bell Labs artist-in-residence Stan VanDerBeek; and Lillian Schwartz's “cybernetic” film Pixillation.

    Arguing for the centrality of a peripheral, Patterson makes a case for considering computational systems not simply as machines but in their cultural and historical context.

  • Between Humanities and the Digital

    Between Humanities and the Digital

    Patrik Svensson and David Theo Goldberg

    Scholars from a range of disciplines offer an expansive vision of the intersections between new information technologies and the humanities.

    Between Humanities and the Digital offers an expansive vision of how the humanities engage with digital and information technology, providing a range of perspectives on a quickly evolving, contested, and exciting field. It documents the multiplicity of ways that humanities scholars have turned increasingly to digital and information technology as both a scholarly tool and a cultural object in need of analysis.

    The contributors explore the state of the art in digital humanities from varied disciplinary perspectives, offer a sample of digitally inflected work that ranges from an analysis of computational literature to the collaborative development of a “Global Middle Ages” humanities platform, and examine new models for knowledge production and infrastructure. Their contributions show not only that the digital has prompted the humanities to move beyond traditional scholarly horizons, but also that the humanities have pushed the digital to become more than a narrowly technical application.

    Contributors Ian Bogost, Anne Cong-Huyen, Mats Dahlström, Cathy N. Davidson, Johanna Drucker, Amy E. Earhart, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Maurizio Forte, Zephyr Frank, David Theo Goldberg, Jennifer González, Jo Guldi, N. Katherine Hayles, Geraldine Heng, Larissa Hjorth, Tim Hutchings, Henry Jenkins, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Cecilia Lindhé, Alan Liu, Elizabeth Losh, Tara McPherson, Chandra Mukerji, Nick Montfort, Jenna Ng, Bethany Nowviskie, Jennie Olofsson, Lisa Parks, Natalie Phillips, Todd Presner, Stephen Rachman, Patricia Seed, Nishant Shah, Ray Siemens, Jentery Sayers, Jonathan Sterne, Patrik Svensson, William G. Thomas III, Whitney Anne Trettien, Michael Widner

  • I Am Error

    I Am Error

    The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform

    Nathan Altice

    The complex material histories of the Nintendo Entertainment System platform, from code to silicon, focusing on its technical constraints and its expressive affordances.

    In the 1987 Nintendo Entertainment System videogame Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, a character famously declared: I AM ERROR. Puzzled players assumed that this cryptic mesage was a programming flaw, but it was actually a clumsy Japanese-English translation of “My Name is Error,” a benign programmer's joke. In I AM ERROR Nathan Altice explores the complex material histories of the Nintendo Entertainment System (and its Japanese predecessor, the Family Computer), offering a detailed analysis of its programming and engineering, its expressive affordances, and its cultural significance.

    Nintendo games were rife with mistranslated texts, but, as Altice explains, Nintendo's translation challenges were not just linguistic but also material, with consequences beyond simple misinterpretation. Emphasizing the technical and material evolution of Nintendo's first cartridge-based platform, Altice describes the development of the Family Computer (or Famicom) and its computational architecture; the “translation” problems faced while adapting the Famicom for the U.S. videogame market as the redesigned Entertainment System; Nintendo's breakthrough console title Super Mario Bros. and its remarkable software innovations; the introduction of Nintendo's short-lived proprietary disk format and the design repercussions on The Legend of Zelda; Nintendo's efforts to extend their console's lifespan through cartridge augmentations; the Famicom's Audio Processing Unit (APU) and its importance for the chiptunes genre; and the emergence of software emulators and the new kinds of play they enabled.

    • Hardcover $42.00
    • Paperback $30.00
  • The Gameful World

    The Gameful World

    Approaches, Issues, Applications

    Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian Deterding

    What if every part of our everyday life was turned into a game? The implications of “gamification.”

    What if our whole life were turned into a game? What sounds like the premise of a science fiction novel is today becoming reality as “gamification.” As more and more organizations, practices, products, and services are infused with elements from games and play to make them more engaging, we are witnessing a veritable ludification of culture.

    Yet while some celebrate gamification as a possible answer to mankind's toughest challenges and others condemn it as a marketing ruse, the question remains: what are the ramifications of this “gameful world”? Can game design energize society and individuals, or will algorithmicincentive systems become our new robot overlords?

    In this book, more than fifty luminaries from academia and industry examine the key challenges of gamification and the ludification of culture—including Ian Bogost, John M. Carroll, Bernie DeKoven, Bill Gaver, Jane McGonigal, Frank Lantz, Jesse Schell, Kevin Slavin, McKenzie Wark, and Eric Zimmerman. They outline major disciplinary approaches, including rhetorics, economics, psychology, and aesthetics; tackle issues like exploitation or privacy; and survey main application domains such as health, education, design, sustainability, or social media.

  • Flash

    Flash

    Building the Interactive Web

    Anastasia Salter and John Murray

    How Flash rose and fell as the world's most ubiquitous yet divisive software platform, enabling the development and distribution of a world of creative content.

    Adobe Flash began as a simple animation tool and grew into a multimedia platform that offered a generation of creators and innovators an astonishing range of opportunities to develop and distribute new kinds of digital content. For the better part of a decade, Flash was the de facto standard for dynamic online media, empowering amateur and professional developers to shape the future of the interactive Web. In this book, Anastasia Salter and John Murray trace the evolution of Flash into one of the engines of participatory culture.

    Salter and Murray investigate Flash as both a fundamental force that shaped perceptions of the web and a key technology that enabled innovative interactive experiences and new forms of gaming. They examine a series of works that exemplify Flash's role in shaping the experience and expectations of web multimedia. Topics include Flash as a platform for developing animation (and the “Flashimation” aesthetic); its capacities for scripting and interactive design; games and genres enabled by the reconstruction of the browser as a games portal; forms and genres of media art that use Flash; and Flash's stance on openness and standards—including its platform-defining battle over the ability to participate in Apple's own proprietary platforms.

    Flash's exit from the mobile environment in 2011 led some to declare that Flash was dead. But, as Salter and Murray show, not only does Flash live, but its role as a definitive cross-platform tool continues to influence web experience.

  • The Future Was Here

    The Future Was Here

    The Commodore Amiga

    Jimmy Maher

    Exploring the often-overlooked history and technological innovations of the world's first true multimedia computer.

    Long ago, in 1985, personal computers came in two general categories: the friendly, childish game machine used for fun (exemplified by Atari and Commodore products); and the boring, beige adult box used for business (exemplified by products from IBM). The game machines became fascinating technical and artistic platforms that were of limited real-world utility. The IBM products were all utility, with little emphasis on aesthetics and no emphasis on fun. Into this bifurcated computing environment came the Commodore Amiga 1000. This personal computer featured a palette of 4,096 colors, unprecedented animation capabilities, four-channel stereo sound, the capacity to run multiple applications simultaneously, a graphical user interface, and powerful processing potential. It was, Jimmy Maher writes in The Future Was Here, the world's first true multimedia personal computer.

    Maher argues that the Amiga's capacity to store and display color photographs, manipulate video (giving amateurs access to professional tools), and use recordings of real-world sound were the seeds of the digital media future: digital cameras, Photoshop, MP3 players, and even YouTube, Flickr, and the blogosphere. He examines different facets of the platform—from Deluxe Paint to AmigaOS to Cinemaware—in each chapter, creating a portrait of the platform and the communities of practice that surrounded it. Of course, Maher acknowledges, the Amiga was not perfect: the DOS component of the operating systems was clunky and ill-matched, for example, and crashes often accompanied multitasking attempts. And Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. But for a few years, the Amiga's technical qualities were harnessed by engineers, programmers, artists, and others to push back boundaries and transform the culture of computing.

    • Hardcover $30.95
    • Paperback $24.95
  • Inter/vention

    Inter/vention

    Free Play in the Age of Electracy

    Jan Rune Holmevik

    A proposal that electracy—the special skills needed to navigate and understand our digital world—can be developed through play.

    In today's complex digital world, we must understand new media expressions and digital experiences not simply as more technologically advanced forms of “writing” that can be understood and analyzed as “texts” but as artifacts in their own right that require a unique skill set. Just as agents seeking to express themselves in alphabetic writing need to be literate, “egents” who seek to express themselves in digital media need to be—to use a term coined by cybertheorist Gregory Ulmer—electrate. In Inter/vention, Jan Holmevik helps to invent electracy. He does so by tracing its path across the digital and rhetorical landscape—informatics, hacker heuretics, ethics, pedagogy, virtual space, and monumentality—and by introducing play as a new genre of electracy. Play, he argues, is the electrate ludic transversal. Holmevik contributes to the repertoire of electrate practices in order to understand and demonstrate how play invents electracy.

    Holmevik's argument straddles two divergences: in rhetoric, between how we study rhetoric as play and how we play rhetorically; and in game studies, between ludology and narratology. Games studies has forged ludology practice by distinguishing it from literate practice (and often allying itself with the scientific tradition). Holmevik is able to link ludology and rhetoric through electracy.

    Play can and does facilitate invention: play invented the field of ludology. Holmevik proposes a new heuretic in which play acts as a conductor for the invention of electracy. Play is a meta behavior that touches on every aspect of Ulmer's concept of electracy.

  • Codename Revolution

    Codename Revolution

    The Nintendo Wii Platform

    Steven E. Jones and George K. Thiruvathukal

    Nintendo's hugely popular and influential video game console system considered as technological device and social phenomenon.

    The Nintendo Wii, introduced in 2006, helped usher in a moment of retro-reinvention in video game play. This hugely popular console system, codenamed Revolution during development, signaled a turn away from fully immersive, time-consuming MMORPGs or forty-hour FPS games and back toward family fun in the living room. Players using the wireless motion-sensitive controller (the Wii Remote, or “Wiimote”) play with their whole bodies, waving, swinging, swaying. The mimetic interface shifts attention from what's on the screen to what's happening in physical space. This book describes the Wii's impact in technological, social, and cultural terms, examining the Wii as a system of interrelated hardware and software that was consciously designed to promote social play in physical space.

    Each chapter of Codename Revolution focuses on a major component of the Wii as a platform: the console itself, designed to be low-powered and nimble; the iconic Wii Remote; Wii Fit Plus, and its controller, the Wii Balance Board; the Wii Channels interface and Nintendo's distribution system; and the Wii as a social platform that not only affords multiplayer options but also encourages social interaction in shared physical space. Finally, the authors connect the Wii's revolution in mimetic interface gaming—which eventually led to the release of Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect—to some of the economic and technological conditions that influence the possibility of making something new in this arena of computing and culture.

  • The Ecology of Games

    The Ecology of Games

    Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning

    Katie Salen Tekinbaş

    An exploration of games as systems in which young people participate as gamers, producers, and learners.

    In the many studies of games and young people's use of them, little has been written about an overall “ecology” of gaming, game design and play—mapping the ways that all the various elements, from coding to social practices to aesthetics, coexist in the game world. This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners. The Ecology of Games (edited by Rules of Play author Katie Salen) aims to expand upon and add nuance to the debate over the value of games—which so far has been vociferous but overly polemical and surprisingly shallow. Game play is credited with fostering new forms of social organization and new ways of thinking and interacting; the contributors work to situate this within a dynamic media ecology that has the participatory nature of gaming at its core. They look at the ways in which youth are empowered through their participation in the creation, uptake, and revision of games; emergent gaming literacies, including modding, world-building, and learning how to navigate a complex system; and how games act as points of departure for other forms of knowledge, literacy, and social organization.

    Contributors Ian Bogost, Anna Everett, James Paul Gee, Mizuko Ito, Barry Joseph, Laurie McCarthy, Jane McGonigal, Cory Ondrejka, Amit Pitaru, Tom Satwicz, Kurt Squire, Reed Stevens, S. Craig Watkins

    • Hardcover $32.00
    • Paperback $24.00