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Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds [Hardcover]

by Jesper Juul
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)


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Book Description

November 4, 2005 0262101106 978-0262101103 First Edition

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. The book combines perspectives from such fields as literary and film theory, computer science, psychology, economic game theory, and game studies, to outline a theory of what video games are, how they work with the player, how they have developed historically, and why they are fun to play.Locating video games in a history of games that goes back to Ancient Egypt, Juul argues that there is a basic affinity between games and computers. Just as the printing press and the cinema have promoted and enabled new kinds of storytelling, computers work as enablers of games, letting us play old games in new ways and allowing for new kinds of games that would not have been possible before computers. Juul presents a classic game model, which describes the traditional construction of games and points to possible future developments. He examines how rules provide challenges, learning, and enjoyment for players, and how a game cues the player into imagining its fictional world. Juul's lively style and eclectic deployment of sources will make Half-Real of interest to media, literature, and game scholars as well as to game professionals and gamers.



Editorial Reviews

Review

"Jesper Juul gives us an insightful analysis of the interplay of rules and fiction. Unlike so much of the academic literature on gaming, it's both concise and readable. Strongly recommended." Ernest W. Adams, freelance game designer



" Half-Real tackles key issues in games, from rules and structure to aesthetics and fiction to the complexities of player experience. Juul puts these topics in the context of current intellectual debates, making the book not just a playful exploration of games themselves but a celebration of the emerging fields of game studies and game design theory. Half-Real is essential reading for scholars, designers, and everyone in between." Eric Zimmerman, Cofounder & CEO, gameLab



"*Half-Real* tackles key issues in games, from rules and structure to aesthetics and fiction to the complexities of player experience. Juul puts these topics in the context of current intellectual debates, making the book not just a playful exploration of games themselves but a celebration of the emerging fields of game studies and game design theory. Half-Real is essential reading for scholars, designers, and everyone in between."--Eric Zimmerman, Cofounder & CEO, gameLab

About the Author

Jesper Juul is a visiting assistant arts professor at the New York University Game Center. He is the author of Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds (2005), published by the MIT Press, and of The Ludologist, a blog on "game research and other important things."


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition edition (November 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262101106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262101103
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My name is Jesper Juul, and I am a Video Game Theorist. My mission in life is to take video games seriously, while admitting how much I enjoy them.

My latest book is "The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Plain of Playing Video Games". In this book I show myself as a sore loser and ask why we play video games even though they often seem to make us unhappy?

I am an assistant professor at the New York University Game Center. Before that, I have worked at MIT, the Danish Design School and the IT University of Copenhagen. I have a PhD in video game theory (these things exist!), and an MA in Nordic Literature. In addition to writing and teaching about video games, I also develop them on occasion.

I grew up in Denmark, but since 2007 I have been living in New York. For updates or comments, visit my blog The Ludologist on "game research and other important things"!

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
(8)
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
In Half-Real, Jesper Juul presents us a not only a new definition for games (computer-based or not), but also an original perspective on videogames and how they operate. Going beyond the 'Ludology x Narratology' discussion, Juul balances the 'Rules' and 'Fiction' elements of video games, emphasizing how they relate to each other.

The book is very insightful, containing information that will be valuable to game designers, academics, gamers and new media enthusiasts. Although you could find some of the its content on Juul's previous articles available on the internet, they are much more complete polished in Haf-Real.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Half-Read but All Great. October 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to purchase this book for an English class where we discuss how we can use videogames to produce fiction, and also how to produce a videogame that is fiction, as well as how the two relate. From what we have covered so far it has really sparked my interest to pursue other literature in this category. Jesper Juul does a great job putting his thoughts out there, and it's been a great read so far.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Approach to Videogame Theory October 4, 2007
By Reader
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very good book on the theory of videogames. Accessible, innovative, thoughtful, and centered on concrete (and popular) examples. He also includes lots of screenshots, which is good.

Juul takes what might be called a "grassroots" approach to game studies, not bringing heavy disciplinary baggage to colonize the area, but instead trying to build a formal theory of games from the ground up. He takes his lead primarily from game and culture theorists like Huizinga, Caillois, Crawford and Sutton-Smith rather than from literary theory or media studies. But he really charts his own course and stakes out his own ground in many ways.

He has a strong interest in game rules, which has led some to criticize him for being overly formalistic, but I find this a refreshing and interesting contrast to the more standard "new media" approach to video games.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For beginners to game design January 19, 2014
By Ryan B
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fantastic book for anyone who is curious about game design but has just started looking into it. Whether you would want to make games later on or just better understand them, this book explains things in a very effective way. Although I understood most of the book already, there were still a few bits I learned from it. Give it to someone who needs to appreciate videogames more.
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