Bernard De Koven

Bernard De Koven was a leading game designer and theorist of fun. He was a codirector of the New Games Foundation, a founder of the Games Preserve, the author of the game studies classic The Well-Played Game: A Player's Philosophy (MIT Press), Junkyard Sports, and A Playful Path, and creator of the website deepfun.com.

  • The Infinite Playground

    The Infinite Playground

    A Player's Guide to Imagination

    Bernard De Koven, Celia Pearce, and Eric Zimmerman

    A play-centered invitation to experience the power and delight unlocked by imagination.

    Bernard De Koven (1941–2018) was a pioneering designer of games and theorist of fun. He studied games long before the field of game studies existed. For De Koven, games could not be reduced to artifacts and rules; they were about a sense of transcendent fun. This book, his last, is about the imagination: the imagination as a playground, a possibility space, and a gateway to wonder. The Infinite Playground extends a play-centered invitation to experience the power and delight unlocked by imagination. It offers a curriculum for playful learning.

    De Koven guides the readers through a series of observations and techniques, interspersed with games. He begins with the fundamentals of play, and proceeds through the private imagination, the shared imagination, and imagining the world—observing, “the things we imagine can become the world.” Along the way, he reminisces about playing ping-pong with basketball great Bill Russell; begins the instructions for a game called Reception Line with “Mill around”; and introduces blathering games—Blather, Group Blather, Singing Blather, and The Blather Chorale—that allow the player's consciousness to meander freely.

    Delivered during the last months of his life, The Infinite Playground has been painstakingly cowritten with Holly Gramazio, who worked together with coeditors Celia Pearce and Eric Zimmerman to complete the project as Bernie De Koven's illness made it impossible for him to continue writing. Other prominent game scholars and designers influenced by De Koven, including Katie Salen Tekinbaş, Jesper Juul, Frank Lantz, and members of Bernie's own family, contribute short interstitial essays.

    Contributors

    Ian Bogost, Stephen Conway, Adriaan de Jongh, Elyon De Koven, Rocky De Koven, Mary Flanagan, Gonzalo Frasca, Tracy Fullerton, Holly Gramazio, Catherine Herdlick, Jesper Juul, Frank Lantz, Colleen Macklin, Celia Pearce, Sebastian Quack, Lee Rush, Katie Salen Tekinbaş, John Sharp, Tassos Stevens, Akira Thompson, Greg Trefry, Douglas Wilson, Zach Wood, Eric Zimmerman

    • Hardcover $29.95
  • The Well-Played Game

    The Well-Played Game

    A Player's Philosophy

    Bernard De Koven

    The return of a classic book about games and play that illuminates the relationship between the well-played game and the well-lived life.

    In The Well-Played Game, games guru Bernard De Koven explores the interaction of play and games, offering players—as well as game designers, educators, and scholars—a guide to how games work. De Koven's classic treatise on how human beings play together, first published in 1978, investigates many issues newly resonant in the era of video and computer games, including social gameplay and player modification. The digital game industry, now moving beyond its emphasis on graphic techniques to focus on player interaction, has much to learn from The Well-Played Game.

    De Koven explains that when players congratulate each other on a “well-played” game, they are expressing a unique and profound synthesis that combines the concepts of play (with its associations of playfulness and fun) and game (with its associations of rule-following). This, he tells us, yields a larger concept: the experience and expression of excellence. De Koven—affectionately and appreciatively hailed by Eric Zimmerman as “our shaman of play”—explores the experience of a well-played game, how we share it, and how we can experience it again; issues of cheating, fairness, keeping score, changing old games (why not change the rules in pursuit of new ways to play?), and making up new games; playing for keeps; and winning. His book belongs on the bookshelves of players who want to find a game in which they can play well, who are looking for others with whom they can play well, and who have discovered the relationship between the well-played game and the well-lived life.

    • Hardcover $29.95

Contributor

  • 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.

    • Hardcover $55.00