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Gaming: Essays On Algorithmic Culture (Electronic Mediations) [Kindle Edition]

Alexander R. Galloway
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Video games have been a central feature of the cultural landscape for over twenty years and now rival older media like movies, television, and music in popularity and cultural influence. Yet there have been relatively few attempts to understand the video game as an independent medium. Most such efforts focus on the earliest generation of text-based adventures (Zork, for example) and have little to say about such visually and conceptually sophisticated games as Final Fantasy X, Shenmue, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, and The Sims, in which players inhabit elaborately detailed worlds and manipulate digital avatars with a vast—and in some cases, almost unlimited—array of actions and choices.

In Gaming, Alexander Galloway instead considers the video game as a distinct cultural form that demands a new and unique interpretive framework. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, particularly critical theory and media studies, he analyzes video games as something to be played rather than as texts to be read, and traces in five concise chapters how the “algorithmic culture” created by video games intersects with theories of visuality, realism, allegory, and the avant-garde. If photographs are images and films are moving images, then, Galloway asserts, video games are best defined as actions.

Using examples from more than fifty video games, Galloway constructs a classification system of action in video games, incorporating standard elements of gameplay as well as software crashes, network lags, and the use of cheats and game hacks. In subsequent chapters, he explores the overlap between the conventions of film and video games, the political and cultural implications of gaming practices, the visual environment of video games, and the status of games as an emerging cultural form.

Together, these essays offer a new conception of gaming and, more broadly, of electronic culture as a whole, one that celebrates and does not lament the qualities of the digital age.

Alexander R. Galloway is assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University and author of Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

 Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of media studies at New York University and lives in New York, NY. He is the author of four books on digital media and critical theory, most recently The Interface Effect.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2981 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (May 27, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043D1WY8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,146 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good high-level book on game culture December 16, 2006
This is a fun book to read that is written in an accessible and engaging style that contains some really interesting ideas about gaming. Because this is more a collection of interrelated essays than a sustained argument, it makes sense to approach each essay individually.

In the first chapter-essay, to understand the relationship between the player and the game space, the author arrives at a cartesian plane of possible gaming moments: The x-axis moves between the operator's and the machine's actions, and the y-axis moves between diegetic and non-diegetic actions. The result is that some common gaming moments can be reliably plotted in this plane. The author's approach here presents a way to initiate a discussion around action, but the entire argument doesn't hang on the validity of this model. This diagram forces the author to define game diegesis somewhat narrowly within the confines of certain kinds of games, and it seems somewhat arbitrary where he draws the line between diegetic and non-diegetic. However, it's an interesting beginning, and the terms and relationships Galloway sets up here permeate the remainder of the essays, contextualizing them all within the idea of game action.

In chapter 2, the author goes to great lengths to justify his central claim that where film uses the subjective shot to represent a problem with identification, games use the subjective shot to create identification. The problem with first-person or subjective camerawork is that the perspective suggests agency or the ability to interact. It is in these moments in cinema where the camera exposes itself as an agent of looking, and the audience is confronted with its own status as observer.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars focus on visual / film theory November 2, 2006
Interesting book, but not entirely what I was expecting. It takes a very filmic approach to videogames, focusing on gaze and perspective. There are some interesting parallels draw between film and games, but for the most part, the author seems more comfortable in a critical eye outside of games themselves.

I lost interest in the book about halfway through, but I may pick it up again. If you are looking for a book about interaction or theories of play and leisure, this is not the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
College-level students of media studies will appreciate the examination of digital and video culture offered in Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture: examples from over fifty video games are used to construct a classification system of action in video games which blends gameplay with software crashes, network lags, and game hacks. From the origins of the first-person shooter to game structures and new interpretations of images and character, any interested in media and gaming will find this scholarly discourse exciting.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart approach about Gaming and digital culture March 22, 2008
Excellent book. Until now, I have read the first two essays. In the first one, Gamic Actions - Four Moments, the author has developed an analysis framework for games based on the concept of diegesis. In the second, he digs the origins of the First-Person Shooter based on the film history. Definitely, this book will be an important reference in my doctorate research.
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More About the Author

Alexander R. Galloway is assistant professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minnesota, 2006), Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization, and The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (Minnesota, 2007).

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