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How to Do Things with Videogames (Electronic Mediations) Paperback – August 5, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What can you do with videogames? Play pranks, meditate on politics, achieve zen-like zone-outs, turn the act of travel back into adventure, and describe how to safely exit a plane—among other things, as Ian Bogost explains in this superb, philosophical, and wide-ranging book on the expressive qualities of games."—Clive Thompson, columnist for Wired and contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine


"Gamers often beg for a critic with the persuasive power and range of a Lester Bangs or a Pauline Kael. With this book, Ian Bogost demonstrates his capacity to take up their mantle and explain to a larger public why games matter in modern culture. The book’s goals are simple, straight forward, and utterly, desperately needed. How to Do Things with Videogames may do for games what Understanding Comics did for comics—at once consolidate existing theoretical gains while also expanding dramatically the range of people who felt able to meaningfully engage in those discussions." —Henry Jenkins, author of Fans, Gamers, and Bloggers: Understanding Participatory Culture

About the Author

Ian Bogost is professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His books include Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames and Newsgames: Journalism at Play.

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Product Details

  • Series: Electronic Mediations
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (August 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081667647X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816676477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Ian Bogost is an award-winning designer and media philosopher whose work focuses on videogames and computational media. He is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair of Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC. His research and writing considers videogames as an expressive medium, and his creative practice focuses on political games and artgames.

Bogost is author or co-author of Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System, Newsgames: Journalism at Play, How To Do Things with Videogames, Alien Phenomenology, or What it's Like to Be a Thing, and 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10. He is a popular academic and industry speaker and considered an influential thinker and doer in both the game industry and research community.

Bogost's videogames about social and political issues cover topics as varied as airport security, consumer debt, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, suburban errands, pandemic flu, and tort reform. His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited internationally at venues including the Telfair Museum of Art (Savannah), the Laboral Centro de Arte (Madrid), Fournos Centre for Digital Culture (Athens), Eyebeam Center (New York), Slamdance Guerilla Game Festival (Park City), the Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon) and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne).

His recent independent games include Cow Clicker, a Facebook game send-up of Facebook games, and A Slow Year, a collection of videogame poems for Atari VCS, Windows, and Mac, and winner of the Vanguard and Virtuoso awards at the 2010 Indiecade Festival.

Bogost holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA. He lives in Atlanta.

Customer Reviews

Just in terms of presentation, pretty much sucked... :(
Ariel Brenes Glenn
As always, I cam away from his books with a different definition of games, and with even more faith and hope for the medium.
Mary Jo Mathew
Provides good insight into the video game world and how each aspect of it is created.
awesome sauce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schaberg on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book's form makes it incredibly accessible and inviting: 20 short essays or occasions through which Ian Bogost invites his readers to think (without any heavy imperative to 'think critically') about how videogames have become a "mature medium."

Bogost describes myriad videogames along the way, and his scene and scenario descriptions are precise and nuanced, yet always concise such that even non-gamers will follow and find solid points of attachment and interest. (I haven't played a videogame seriously since 1992: Metroid II on Gameboy.) In other words, the book is not only an astute and scintillating argument; it is also educational in the most satisfying sense of the word. Speaking of education, I can definitely imagine teaching this book in an undergraduate digital humanities course, as it demonstrates this emergent field at its best: in grounded, lucid, and layered investigations.

In short, "How To Do Things With Videogames" will be of great interest to all sorts of people: everyday gamers and game makers, certainly, but also to non-gamers as well as to scholars and students of contemporary culture--which is to say the book is media studies for the world.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Flaxy on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here's a situation for you: you're at dinner with your parents, or your partner, or your partner's parents, or your partner's friends. They hear that you study or make games for a living, or that games are the primary way that you spend your leisure time. They tell you that their 8-year old nephew would love to hang out with you, because you love doing the same "childish" activity that they do. Or they want to know why you'd spend so much time and mental energy engaging with a violent, masculinist, repetitive, and stupid bunch of artifacts.

Most of these people, they play FarmVille or Solitaire or Tetris or Snood to fill their time. At family gatherings, they're the first to drag out the Scrabble or Monopoly board. They don't quite recognize that games and videogames are already important to them, too.

Instead of getting flustered, now you've got a book to hand them (or, at the very least, you'll have a handy mental volume of examples and arguments to draw from). It will show them that there are games in between what they play and what "gamers" play, games that do things and explore all sorts of terrain that they didn't even know the medium could. Finally, it articulates a future for games and the people who play them that even you (as a gamer, developer, or scholar) probably haven't thought of before.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Trent Hergenrader on January 19, 2012
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I bought this book when it first came out and read it in two sittings. My favorite chapters were probably "Reverence" and "Travel" but there are plenty of good ones that will make you think differently about the videogames you've played, the ones you're playing, and the ones you have yet to play.

More importantly, this book will also make you wonder what OTHER things you can do with videogames. To put it another way: Ian Bogost thought up 20 things you can do with videogames. How many can you think of?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Young Yee on December 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While this is not my favorite book about video games, this is one I finished reading, closed the book and said "finally, a book about games written by a person who actually KNOWS of games". This is not the kind of book I would recommend for gamers. Instead, this is the kind of book I would recommend for people who still think that video games are for children. It is well known that this is far from true since a long time ago, so it's refreshing to see that there are people who actually take games seriously. Bogost goes further than just questioning whether video games incite to violence. He actually did a lot of research and put a lot of effort in explaining why video games are more than "toys": they are another form of media. They have their own implications and meanings, their own form of art. In this book you can find not only references to relatively recent games, but also about well-known movies, advertisements and other kinds of media. Additionally, you can see how they relate to games, and why they are so important nowadays.

If you are still skeptical regarding the subject "video games" as something more than "just another tech junk my nephew plays", you should definitely read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Ante on July 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am giving this book five stars not because I think it's perfect, but because it certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do. Though I found it strange that the Introduction sets up a theoretical framework that mostly disappears from the bulk of the book, the chapters were insightful and easy to read. As an academic, this book isn't really helpful for me in my research (which is obviously not the purpose, since the writing is not meant to necessarily be academic-level writing). However, as a teacher, I am very excited about the way rel-world concepts are connected to gaming in the book. I have decided to design a course on rhetoric using this book as the center, since I think students will really appreciate the approach to video games that also had real world applications.
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By Jonathan on June 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a great book doing a comparative analysis on video games and their benefits. I might not agree with the conclusion, the project being done is worthwhile and important.
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