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on March 14, 2006
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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on October 4, 2007
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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on March 22, 2010
I was sorely disappointed with this supposed game studies classic. While charmingly written and enforced with good examples, it offers nothing really significant. The author's definition of games is overly convoluted and not just a bit tautological. He has severely misunderstood both Suits' and Wittgenstein's ideas and thus represents them in a way too negative light. And the titular concept of half-reality is mostly just a useful simplification for speaking to people who have not read semiotics or hermeneutical appropriation theory.

If this is the first book on video game studies you read, it will look damn impressive. If, however, you are more versed in the field, and especially in the study of games and their like outside the video game perspective, it will look just misdirected, outdated and hopelessly shallow.
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on October 24, 2011
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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on December 28, 2014
This was one of the first textbook-length studies of game design I ever read, and there's nothing that I regret about it. Full of tangible and theoretical knowledge, Half-Real is a great study backed up by evidence and themes. As an amateur game designer, and as an educator, the insights to how people engage with interactive content is one of the parts of this book that I really found to be memorable.

While many of the examples are dated (even for when I first read the book years ago), Half-Real is full of useful knowledge for designers, and its theory holds up solid. By connecting the elements of video games with a variety of other disciplines, Jesper Juul may very well change the way that you think about games at a fundamental level.
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on September 25, 2011
This is an interesting read for anyone who wants a perspective about games and gaming from someone who isn't a typical "fanboy" or "industry geek." Some of the insights were a bit typical for what you might expect, but there were a few nuggets that showed that Juul actually took some time to think about the genre and how rules both affect and are effected in games. I found it a bit light on scholarly sources, but since he is a professor, perhaps this book is more what he is teaching in his class than his own research. Not a bad read, if you can stomach some of prose.
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on January 19, 2014
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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on September 27, 2014
Very well-structured, well-researched and readable. Rather than losing us in the theoretical weeds, Juul continually grounds his assertions with very easy-to-understand examples, reflections and quips. A must-read for anyone currently engaged in the tedious "story vs. gameplay" debate.
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on May 29, 2014
An ideal companion for someone looking to venture into the filed of video game studies and a stepping stone to newer critical research happening in the field.
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on June 20, 2015
Needed thiis for class, but want to pay only $1.50 to buy back.
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