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Gamer Theory Hardcover – May 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0674025196 ISBN-10: 0674025199

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674025199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674025196
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


One of the more astute media theorists currently at work, Wark is going for major bonus points with Gamer Theory, and he indeed racks them up. Gamer Theory opens a new level for media studies, offering a successor paradigm to the culture industry thesis..l and the spectacle society critique of the Situationists.
-- Vince Carducci (Popmatters)

This is only a book about video games in the way that the story of Noah's Ark is about the weather.
-- Laura Stokes (Brooklyn Rail)

Wark goes deep into many subtle mechanisms... Results are controversial as any Wark effort, but they are provocative and sometimes really inspiring, so often opening new possible paths for interpreting games and even different other digital environments.
-- Alessandro Ludovico (Neural Magazine)

Not since Steal This Book has a book's radical packaging so threatened to upstage its radical content.
-- Julian Dibbell (Village Voice)

Like all great works, Gamer Theory is formed out of a necessity 'to describe what being now is.' In a playful, edgy, and remixological style, Wark opens a new direction in game studies. (Mark Amerika, author of META/DATA: A Digital Poetics)

Gamer Theory is an amazing book, rich and pointed and powerful, and deserving of multiple rereadings. I cannot recommend Gamer Theory too highly. (Steven Shaviro)

In Gamer Theory, McKenzie Wark brings his relentlessly playful mind to the undeniably important medium of the videogame. Like a Mario of media studies, Wark powers up his own in-the-trenches videogaming experiences with secret combos from the big guns of critical theory to arrive at a player-centric and culturally savvy understanding of gaming. An idiosyncratic outflanking of current game studies, Gamer Theory takes scholarship of videogames to a brave new level. (Eric Zimmerman, Co-founder & CEO of Gamelab, and co-author with Katie Salen of Rules of Play and The Game Design Reader)

The release of media theorist McKenzie Wark's new book Gamer Theory is many things at once. If you're interested in the growth of a new medium, it's a media academic's major guide to the key issues. If you're games-savvy, you are just as likely to recoil in horror at Wark's analyses. To proclaim that he has simply expanded on his previous work, a hacker manifesto, ignores what gamer theory is--a study in the catastrophe of reading culture. It's an intensely difficult-to-navigate work but ultimately rewarding for those up to the challenge of the game before them. (Christian Mccrae Realtime)

Innovative, though-provoking. (J. A. Saklofske Choice 2007-11-01)

A crucial addition to a long history of discussion on gaming and play...This is philosophy constructed as and while the author plays the game (which also might include the academic game). This idea is actualised by Wark’s layered breakdown of Gamer Theory into meditations on various digital games like Vice City and SimEarth...It is a distinctive work in that it synthesises aspects from a range of critical discourses that might otherwise have no interest in gaming and play, largely because, as Wark writes: “Games are our contemporaries, the form in which the present can be felt and, in being felt, thought through.” (Terrence Maybury Media International Australia 2008-02-01)

About the Author

McKenzie Wark is Professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Eugene Lang College and The New School for Social Research. He is the author of several books, most recently The Beach Beneath the Street.

More About the Author

McKenzie Wark is originally from Newcastle, Australia, but moved to New York City in 2000.

He is Professor of Media and Culture at Eugene Lang College the New School for the Liberal Arts and Professor of Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By kyle karthauser on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is light on both theory and gaming. There are plenty of references TO theory, and Wark has the nebulously elliptical "the-form-is-the-content" style down pretty pat, but being an avid gamer of 20+ years and a working background in English theory did not prepare me for this book. I'm not sure what would, really. It's not really worth anyone's time to go into the book in-depth, but here are the most puzzling/frustrating aspects of the book:

Wark speaks of a "military entertainment complex" behind the ever expanding reach of video gaming in mainstream culture. He either actually believes this, or uses this phrase in the casually aloof post-structuralist fashion of (I assume) his idols. While the US Army has put out a few games in the last decade, conflating the "military industrial complex" with the video game industry (and its concurrent effect on pop culture) is laziness bordering on absurdity.

Sentences such as: "If history is an endless list of things that should not have happened, boredom is what refuses not to happen," "What the game highlights is a logistics of targeting, an economy of order against time--the battle of alternating between merger with, and separation from, the other," and "The realm of the not-game is the domain in which the gamer cannot act as a gamer."

There are plenty of charts and "illustrations" Wark cobbles together to make his point clearer. These aren't to be missed.

If you're interested in theory and how it can appear to sound as though it applies to a topic, read this book. If you're interested in video games and/or constructive uses of theory, don't.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Dowdle on March 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up through a series of highly fortunate events, and have not regretted in the least the purchase. I agree in part with another reviewer who said that you have to read the book at least twice to understand it: That is not a down side to the book at all.

Wark's understanding of what gaming can and should be is wonderfully expressed. The ideas are complex, accessible, and continuously thought-provoking. I shared excerpts and themes from it to my high school video game class, and though they didn't catch everything, they understood a lot. I wish there were more than just five stars I could give to this book.

It should be noted, however, that there is definitely a lot of theory in this book (which makes sense, given the title). It requires thought to go along with it--just like any good game.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Donohue on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was very good book that kept me reading through every chapter with every intent being to finish it. It's a quick read and I loved not only it's game references but also the other pop culture references that it brings up with simplicity. It had simplicity in it's complexity. The only bad thing I can think of is that it's hard to truly understand unless if you have read it at least twice.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andres Jaquez Garcia on June 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am working on a gamer theory class at the university i work for and this book is simple awesome, funny, insightful and very educative. I think this book is one of the most imppresive philosphical analysis of games. I luv it!
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