The Meaning of Video Games: Gaming and Textual Strategies

Routledge
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The Meaning of Video Games takes a textual studies approach to an increasingly important form of expression in today’s culture. It begins by assuming that video games are meaningful–not just as sociological or economic or cultural evidence, but in their own right, as cultural expressions worthy of scholarly attention. In this way, this book makes a contribution to the study of video games, but it also aims to enrich textual studies.

Early video game studies scholars were quick to point out that a game should never be reduced to merely its "story" or narrative content and they rightly insist on the importance of studying games as games. But here Steven E. Jones demonstrates that textual studies–which grows historically out of ancient questions of textual recension, multiple versions, production, reproduction, and reception–can fruitfully be applied to the study of video games. Citing specific examples such as Myst and Lost, Katamari Damacy, Halo, Façade, Nintendo’s Wii, and Will Wright’s Spore, the book explores the ways in which textual studies concepts–authorial intention, textual variability and performance, the paratext, publishing history and the social text–can shed light on video games as more than formal systems. It treats video games as cultural forms of expression that are received as they are played, out in the world, where their meanings get made.

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About the author

Steven E. Jones is Professor of English at Loyola University in Chicago. He is author of Against Technology (Routledge, 2006) and Satire and Romanticism, and he is editor of The Satiric Eye: Forms of Satire in the Romantic Period.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Apr 11, 2008
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Pages
198
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ISBN
9781135902179
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Media Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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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.

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