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Game Studies

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A World of Warcraft® Reader

World of Warcraft is the world's most popular massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), with (as of March 2007) more than eight million active subscribers across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, who play the game an astonishing average of twenty hours a week. This book examines the complexity of World of Warcraft from a variety of perspectives, exploring the cultural and social implications of the proliferation of ever more complex digital gameworlds.

Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds

Play communities existed long before massively multiplayer online games; they have ranged from bridge clubs to sports leagues, from tabletop role-playing games to Civil War reenactments. With the emergence of digital networks, however, new varieties of adult play communities have appeared, most notably within online games and virtual worlds. Players in these networked worlds sometimes develop a sense of community that transcends the game itself.

Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds

A video game is half-real: we play by real rules while imagining a fictional world. We win or lose the game in the real world, but we slay a dragon (for example) only in the world of the game. In this thought-provoking study, Jesper Juul examines the constantly evolving tension between rules and fiction in video games. Discussing games from Pong to The Legend of Zelda, from chess to Grand Theft Auto, he shows how video games are both a departure from and a development of traditional non-electronic games.

New media students, teachers, and professionals have long needed a comprehensive scholarly treatment of digital games that deals with the history, design, reception, and aesthetics of games along with their social and cultural context. The Handbook of Computer Game Studies fills this need with a definitive look at the subject from a broad range of perspectives.

Despite the emergence of computer games as a dominant cultural industry (and the accompanying emergence of computer games as the subject of scholarly research), we know little or nothing about the ethics of computer games. Considerations of the morality of computer games seldom go beyond intermittent portrayals of them in the mass media as training devices for teenage serial killers. In this first scholarly exploration of the subject, Miguel Sicart addresses broader issues about the ethics of games, the ethics of playing the games, and the ethical responsibilities of game designers.

Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games

New technology has brought with it new tools for learning, and research has shown that the educational potential of video games resonates with scholars, teachers, and students alike. In Augmented Learning, Eric Klopfer describes the largely untapped potential of mobile learning games--games played on such handheld devices as cell phones, Game Boys, and Sony PSPs--to make a substantial impact on learning.

Over the last decade, machinima--the use of computer game engines to create movies--has emerged as a vibrant area in digital culture. Machinima as a filmmaking tool grew from the bottom up, driven by enthusiasts who taught themselves to deploy technologies from computer games to create animated films quickly and cheaply. The Machinima Reader is the first critical overview of this rapidly developing field. The contributors include both academics and artist-practitioners.

From Immersion to Incorporation

Digital games offer a vast range of engaging experiences, from the serene exploration of beautifully rendered landscapes to the deeply cognitive challenges presented by strategic simulations to the adrenaline rush of competitive team-based shoot-outs. Digital games enable experiences that are considerably different from a reader’s engagement with literature or a moviegoer’s experience of a movie. In In-Game, Gordon Calleja examines what exactly it is that makes digital games so uniquely involving and offers a new, more precise, and game-specific formulation of this involvement.

New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming

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).

In South Korea, online gaming is a cultural phenomenon. Games are broadcast on television, professional gamers are celebrities, and youth culture is often identified with online gaming. Uniquely in the online games market, Korea not only dominates the local market but has also made its mark globally. In Korea’s Online Gaming Empire, Dal Yong Jin examines the rapid growth of this industry from a political economy perspective, discussing it in social, cultural, and economic terms.

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