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Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames Paperback – August 13, 2010
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Do not wait: start reading this stimulating book.(Jan H.G. Klabbers Game Studies)
Videogames lack the cultural stature of 'legitimate' art forms because they are widely perceived to be trivial and meaningless. But Ian Bogost makes a powerful argument that they are capable of informing and persuading as well as entertaining; in short, that they possess the power of rhetoric. Backed by numerous examples from the fields of politics, advertising, and education, Persuasive Games is an important addition to the debate over what games are, do, and can be.(Ernest W. Adams, game design consultant and educator)
Bogost's book provides a new lens -- procedural rhetoric -- to use in the analysis of games and an excellent survey of the history of games of this ilk.(Steve Jacobs American Journal of Play)
Bogost creates and writes about serious games, seemingly simple diversions that deliver educational political and advertising content alongside entertainment. In Persuasive Games, he offers an academic but accessible introduction to their potential, and it is very meaty reading for anybody interested in where the interactive arts meet real-world topics.(Scott Colbourne The Globe and The Mail)
Analyzing the power of video games to mount arguments and influence players, Ian Bogost does again what he always does so very well: thoroughly rethink and shake up a traditional academic field -- rhetoric -- while lucidly building the foundations of a new one -- game studies.(James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Arizona State University)
Whether we call them 'serious games', 'persuasive games', or simply 'video games', it is clear that there is much of rhetorical significance to mine from the electronic representations and interactions that have captivated such a large portion of the world's population. Ian Bogost's book is an excellent step towards understanding and appreciating these materials from an intellectual, critical, and humanistic perspective.(Rudy McDaniel Literary and Linguistic Computing)
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Like other forms of rhetoric, procedural rhetoric is based on representations, but while visual or textual rhetoric merely shows the viewer or reader the representation, procedural rhetoric lets *you* engage with the representation, poking at it and interrogating it, and works its power through that interaction. Bogost covers a number of historical examples of games that make good use of procedural rhetoric to engage with issues ranging from tax avoidance to cold-war brinksmanship, as well as discussing where he thinks fruitful further development lies. On the latter point, he puts his money where his mouth is, so to speak, since he also owns a company that makes persuasive games, on issues ranging from presidential elections to food poisoning.
There are two basic audiences for this book. For those interested in how videogames can move beyond entertainment to other areas, Bogost presents a compelling vision of games as an expressive medium, and points to a wide range of things that can be done by thinking of games as playable representations. For media-studies scholars and rhetoricians, Bogost presents a strong case that procedural rhetoric is indeed rhetoric, but a new kind of rhetoric that existing discussion of film or written rhetoric doesn't quite account for.
Most of his examples were enlightening, particularly the ones concerning his game Dean for Iowa, which unintentionally painted political action as a process of human-wealth accumulation removed from any form of actual ideology. Less helpful was his characterization of the infamous escape game as a game that "operationalizes the sensations its services seek to countermand" and how it proceduralizes the "anxiety of office work". I'm far from convinced that any procedural argument here has anything more to do with mountain biking than it does with Klondike bars. This argument struck me as so odd that I'm convinced I misunderstood something.
Personally I found Bogost most interesting when providing details that contextualize his arguments; historical perspectives on rhetoric, educational philosophy, advertising, and even references to old school non-traditional physical input devices that I had never heard of (Joyboard anyone?). On the other hand, I feel like I'm still struggling to get a complete grasp on his concept of a "unit operation", based on the "count as one" concept of Alain Badiou (who I'm less than acquainted with).Read more ›
I do agree with the other review that this book can be very thick at times, but my impression is that you are expected to re-read sentences more than once. The words seem to be carefully chosen and parsed for meaning, something I appreciate, even if it doesn't make the book a speedy reader.
To me, one of the most interesting parts of this book is its implicit call for, or at least emphasis on, a cognitive or rational approach toward expressive game design (and possibly art making in general). Bogost describes games as procedural representations of how the world, or some part of it, works (which, of course, are in themselves processes). Because videogames run on computers and the very nature of computation requires explicit and exact specification, when representing with systems it can be said that one is creating a complete "theory" of what is being represented. The canonical example of a game representing an ideological position through its processes is SimCity. SimCity presents a world that takes for granted that various forms of governmental planning produce very specific results (which are literally hardcoded into the system). Players are placed in a role where zoning, etc. is unavoidable and naturalized. To be successful at the game, players must understand and then enact the rules of the system. Depending on the player's criticality, or how successful the game's procedural rhetoric is (a very important term explored in depth in this book), he or she may accept the solutions to the problems into his or her worldview.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bogost loses focus at times and seems to be nitpicky on many points, such as which video games are actually persuasive, but his term "procdural rhetoric" as he outlines it... Read morePublished on July 2, 2013 by Grace
I really, really disliked this book. I guess at the most basic level, I thought that Bogost was essentially ripping off several other peoples' ideas and packaging them under the... Read morePublished on April 13, 2013 by Duke
An excellent read for anyone who wants to push his/her videogames to the next level, understands why some fail and why some succeed, or just looking for a new approach to analyze... Read morePublished on October 12, 2012 by mtarzaim
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... Read morePublished on October 24, 2011 by A. L. Hochschild
Ian Bogost is both an progressive thinker and eloquent writer, and he applies them both to videogames in a way that is both academic and page-turning. Read morePublished on December 24, 2010 by Mary Jo Mathew
the titel was very promising and that's why I decided to buy the book as there is certainly an issue around persuasion when it comes down to video games. Read morePublished on February 26, 2010 by Bart Norre
The book is purely academic. It fits well if you are preparing a thesis, a dissertation, or a research, but never for practical real life learning of games. Read morePublished on November 15, 2009 by Fadi Mujahid
This is important work but god all mighty is it hard to get through. He's not the most gifted writer but he makes important points about the legitimacy of video games as an... Read morePublished on September 28, 2008 by William J. C. Sellinger