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Game Studies

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Video Games and Latin America

Video games are becoming an ever more ubiquitous element of daily life, played by millions on devices that range from smart phones to desktop computers. An examination of this phenomenon reveals that video games are increasingly being converted into cultural currency. For video game designers, culture is a resource that can be incorporated into games; for players, local gaming practices and specific social contexts can affect their playing experiences.

A maker of visually elegant and conceptually intricate games, Jason Rohrer is among the most widely heralded art game designers in the short but vibrant history of the field. His games range from the elegantly simple to others of almost Byzantine complexity. Passage (2007)—acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York—uses game rules and procedurals to create a contemporary memento mori that captures an entire lifetime in five minutes. In Chain World (2011), each subsequent player of the game’s single copy modifies the rules of the universe.

Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf

Video games have become a global industry, and their history spans dozens of national industries where foreign imports compete with domestic productions, legitimate industry contends with piracy, and national identity faces the global marketplace. This volume describes video game history and culture across every continent, with essays covering areas as disparate and far-flung as Argentina and Thailand, Hungary and Indonesia, Iran and Ireland.

The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform

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.

On the Aesthetics of Games and Art

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.

The impulse toward play is very ancient, not only pre-cultural but pre-human; zoologists have identified play behaviors in turtles and in chimpanzees. Games have existed since antiquity; 5,000-year-old board games have been recovered from Egyptian tombs. And yet we still lack a critical language for thinking about play. Game designers are better at answering small questions (“Why is this battle boring?”) than big ones (“What does this game mean?”).

E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming

Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new: the documentary King of Kong memorably portrays a Donkey Kong player’s attempts to achieve the all-time highest score; the television show Starcade (1982–1984) featured competitions among arcade game players; and first-person shooter games of the 1990s became multiplayer through network play. A new development in the world of digital gaming, however, is the emergence of professional computer game play, complete with star players, team owners, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators. In Raising the Stakes, T. L.

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.

Approaches, Issues, Applications

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.

The Secret World of Videogame Creators

Rank-and-file game developers bring videogames from concept to product, and yet their work is almost invisible, hidden behind the famous names of publishers, executives, or console manufacturers. In this book, Casey O’Donnell examines the creative collaborative practice of typical game developers. His investigation of why game developers work the way they do sheds light on our understanding of work, the organization of work, and the market forces that shape (and are shaped by) media industries.

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