Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan is Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities, Director of the Tiltfactor game research laboratory, and Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT Press).

  • Values at Play in Digital Games

    Values at Play in Digital Games

    Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum

    A theoretical and practical guide to integrating human values into the conception and design of digital games.

    All games express and embody human values, providing a compelling arena in which we play out beliefs and ideas. “Big ideas” such as justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation—as well as other kinds of ideas, including violence, exploitation, and greed—may emerge in games whether designers intend them or not. In this book, Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum present Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. Values at Play can also serve as a guide to designers who seek to implement values in the conception and design of their games.

    After developing a theoretical foundation for their proposal, Flanagan and Nissenbaum provide detailed examinations of selected games, demonstrating the many ways in which values are embedded in them. They introduce the Values at Play heuristic, a systematic approach for incorporating values into the game design process. Interspersed among the book's chapters are texts by designers who have put Values at Play into practice by accepting values as a design constraint like any other, offering a real-world perspective on the design challenges involved.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £24.00
    • Paperback $20.00 £14.99
  • Critical Play

    Critical Play

    Radical Game Design

    Mary Flanagan

    An examination of subversive games—games designed for political, aesthetic, and social critique.

    For many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But what if certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but a means for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? In Critical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games—games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry—and argues that games designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.

    Flanagan provides a lively historical context for critical play through twentieth-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art: her examples of “playing house” include Dadaist puppet shows and The Sims. She looks at artists' alternative computer-based games and explores games for change, considering the way activist concerns—including worldwide poverty and AIDS—can be incorporated into game design.

    Arguing that this kind of conscious practice—which now constitutes the avant-garde of the computer game medium—can inspire new working methods for designers, Flanagan offers a model for designing that will encourage the subversion of popular gaming tropes through new styles of game making, and proposes a theory of alternate game design that focuses on the reworking of contemporary popular game practices.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £20.95
    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00
  • re:skin

    re:skin

    Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth

    Skin as boundary and surface, metaphorically and physically: creative and critical perspectives on skin and bodily transformation as it intersects with digital technologies.

    In re:skin, scholars, essayists and short story writers offer their perspectives on skin—as boundary and surface, as metaphor and physical reality. The twenty-first century and its attendant technology call for a new investigation of the intersection of body, skin, and technology. These cutting-edge writings address themes of skin and bodily transformation in an era in which we are able not only to modify our own skins—by plastic surgery, tattooing, skin graft art, and other methods—but to cross skins, merging with other bodies or colonizing multiple bodies.The book's agile crossings of disciplinary and genre boundaries enact the very transformations they discuss. A short story imagines a manufactured maternal interface that allows a man to become pregnant, and a scholar describes the evolution of "body criticism"; a writer uses "faux science" to explore animal prints on faux fur, and fictional lovers experience one another's sexual sensations through the slipping on and off of skin-like bodysuits. Ubiquitous computational interfaces are considered as the "skin" of technology, and questions of race and color are shown to play out in digital art practice. The essays and narratives gathered in re:skin claim that the new technologically mutable body is neither purely liberating nor simply limiting; instead, these pieces show us models, ways of living in a technological culture.

    Contributors Austin Booth, Rebecca Cannon, Model T and Sara D(iamond), L. Timmel Duchamp, Mary Flanagan, Jewelle Gomez, Jennifer Gonzalez, Nalo Hopkinson, Alice Imperiale, Shelley Jackson, Christina Lammer, David J. Leonard, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Melinda Rackham, Vivian Sobchack, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Bernadette Wegenstein

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $5.75 £4.99
  • Reload

    Reload

    Rethinking Women + Cyberculture

    Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth

    An anthology of feminist cyberfiction and theoretical and critical writings on gender and technoculture.

    Most writing on cyberculture is dominated by two almost mutually exclusive visions: the heroic image of the male outlaw hacker and the utopian myth of a gender-free cyberworld. Reload offers an alternative picture of cyberspace as a complex and contradictory place where there is oppression as well as liberation. It shows how cyberpunk's revolutionary claims conceal its ultimate conservatism on matters of class, gender, and race. The cyberfeminists writing here view cyberculture as a social experiment with an as-yet-unfulfilled potential to create new identities, relationships, and cultures. The book brings together women's cyberfiction—fiction that explores the relationship between people and virtual technologies—and feminist theoretical and critical investigations of gender and technoculture. From a variety of viewpoints, the writers consider the effects of rapid and profound technological change on culture, in particular both the revolutionary and reactionary effects of cyberculture on women's lives. They also explore the feminist implications of the cyborg, a human-machine hybrid. The writers challenge the conceptual and institutional rifts between high and low culture, which are embedded in the texts and artifacts of cyberculture.

    • Hardcover $80.00 £55.95
    • Paperback $32.00 £25.00

Contributor

  • Debugging Game History

    Debugging Game History

    A Critical Lexicon

    Henry Lowood and Raiford Guins

    Essays discuss the terminology, etymology, and history of key terms, offering a foundation for critical historical studies of games.

    Even as the field of game studies has flourished, critical historical studies of games have lagged behind other areas of research. Histories have generally been fact-by-fact chronicles; fundamental terms of game design and development, technology, and play have rarely been examined in the context of their historical, etymological, and conceptual underpinnings. This volume attempts to “debug” the flawed historiography of video games. It offers original essays on key concepts in game studies, arranged as in a lexicon—from “Amusement Arcade” to “Embodiment” and “Game Art” to “Simulation” and “World Building.”

    Written by scholars and practitioners from a variety of disciplines, including game development, curatorship, media archaeology, cultural studies, and technology studies, the essays offer a series of distinctive critical “takes” on historical topics. The majority of essays look at game history from the outside in; some take deep dives into the histories of play and simulation to provide context for the development of electronic and digital games; others take on such technological components of games as code and audio. Not all essays are history or historical etymology—there is an analysis of game design, and a discussion of intellectual property—but they nonetheless raise questions for historians to consider. Taken together, the essays offer a foundation for the emerging study of game history.

    Contributors Marcelo Aranda, Brooke Belisle, Caetlin Benson-Allott, Stephanie Boluk, Jennifer deWinter, J. P. Dyson, Kate Edwards, Mary Flanagan, Jacob Gaboury, William Gibbons, Raiford Guins, Erkki Huhtamo, Don Ihde, Jon Ippolito, Katherine Isbister, Mikael Jakobsson, Steven E. Jones, Jesper Juul, Eric Kaltman, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Carly A. Kocurek, Peter Krapp, Patrick LeMieux, Henry Lowood, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Ken S. McAllister, Nick Monfort, David Myers, James Newman, Jenna Ng, Michael Nitsche, Laine Nooney, Hector Postigo, Jas Purewal, Reneé H. Reynolds, Judd Ethan Ruggill, Marie-Laure Ryan, Katie Salen Tekinbaş, Anastasia Salter, Mark Sample, Bobby Schweizer, John Sharp, Miguel Sicart, Rebecca Elisabeth Skinner, Melanie Swalwell, David Thomas, Samuel Tobin, Emma Witkowski, Mark J.P. Wolf

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00
  • Zones of Control

    Zones of Control

    Perspectives on Wargaming

    Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

    Examinations of wargaming for entertainment, education, and military planning, in terms of design, critical analysis, and historical contexts.

    Games with military themes date back to antiquity, and yet they are curiously neglected in much of the academic and trade literature on games and game history. This volume fills that gap, providing a diverse set of perspectives on wargaming's past, present, and future. In Zones of Control, contributors consider wargames played for entertainment, education, and military planning, in terms of design, critical analysis, and historical contexts. They consider both digital and especially tabletop games, most of which cover specific historical conflicts or are grounded in recognizable real-world geopolitics. Game designers and players will find the historical and critical contexts often missing from design and hobby literature; military analysts will find connections to game design and the humanities; and academics will find documentation and critique of a sophisticated body of cultural work in which the complexity of military conflict is represented in ludic systems and procedures.

    Each section begins with a long anchoring chapter by an established authority, which is followed by a variety of shorter pieces both analytic and anecdotal. Topics include the history of playing at war; operations research and systems design; wargaming and military history; wargaming's ethics and politics; gaming irregular and non-kinetic warfare; and wargames as artistic practice.

    Contributors Jeremy Antley, Richard Barbrook, Elizabeth M. Bartels, Ed Beach, Larry Bond, Larry Brom, Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, Rex Brynen, Matthew B. Caffrey, Jr., Luke Caldwell, Catherine Cavagnaro, Robert M. Citino, Laurent Closier, Stephen V. Cole, Brian Conley, Greg Costikyan, Patrick Crogan, John Curry, James F. Dunnigan, Robert J. Elder, Lisa Faden, Mary Flanagan, John A. Foley, Alexander R. Galloway, Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi, Don R. Gilman, A. Scott Glancy, Troy Goodfellow, Jack Greene, Mark Herman, Kacper Kwiatkowski, Tim Lenoir, David Levinthal, Alexander H. Levis, Henry Lowood, Elizabeth Losh, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Rob MacDougall, Mark Mahaffey, Bill McDonald, Brien J. Miller, Joseph Miranda, Soraya Murray, Tetsuya Nakamura, Michael Peck, Peter P. Perla, Jon Peterson, John Prados, Ted S. Raicer, Volko Ruhnke, Philip Sabin, Thomas C. Schelling, Marcus Schulzke, Miguel Sicart, Rachel Simmons, Ian Sturrock, Jenny Thompson, John Tiller, J. R. Tracy, Brian Train, Russell Vane, Charles Vasey, Andrew Wackerfuss, James Wallis, James Wallman, Yuna Huh Wong

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00
  • 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.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £43.00
  • Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat

    Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat

    New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming

    Yasmin B. Kafai, Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner, and Jennifer Y. Sun

    Girls and women as game players and game designers in the new digital landscape of massively multiplayer online games, “second lives,” “modding,” serious games, and casual games.

    Ten years after the groundbreaking From Barbie to Mortal Kombat highlighted the ways gender stereotyping and related social and economic issues permeate digital game play, the number of women and girl gamers has risen considerably. Despite this, gender disparities remain in gaming. Women may be warriors in World of Warcraft, but they are also scantily clad “booth babes” whose sex appeal is used to promote games at trade shows. Player-generated content has revolutionized gaming, but few games marketed to girls allow “modding” (game modifications made by players). Gender equity, the contributors to Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat argue, requires more than increasing the overall numbers of female players. Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat brings together new media theorists, game designers, educators, psychologists, and industry professionals, including some of the contributors to the earlier volume, to look at how gender intersects with the broader contexts of digital games today: gaming, game industry and design, and serious games. The contributors discuss the rise of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and the experience of girl and women players in gaming communities; the still male-dominated gaming industry and the need for different perspectives in game design; and gender concerns related to emerging serious games (games meant not only to entertain but also to educate, persuade, or change behavior). In today's game-packed digital landscape, there is an even greater need for games that offer motivating, challenging, and enriching contexts for play to a more diverse population of players.

    Contributors Cornelia Brunner, Shannon Campe, Justine Cassell, Mia Consalvo, Jill Denner, Mary Flanagan, Janine Fron, Tracy Fullerton, Elisabeth Hayes, Carrie Heeter, Kristin Hughes, Mimi Ito, Henry Jenkins III, Yasmin B. Kafai, Caitlin Kelleher, Brenda Laurel, Nicole Lazzaro, Holin Lin, Jacki Morie, Helen Nissenbaum, Celia Pearce, Caroline Pelletier, Jennifer Y. Sun, T. L. Taylor, Brian Winn, Nick YeeInterviews with Nichol Bradford, Brenda Braithwaite, Megan Gaiser, Sheri Graner Ray, Morgan Romine

    • Hardcover $19.75 £14.99
    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00