- Series: MIT Press
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; 49087th edition (August 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262062682
- ISBN-13: 978-0262062688
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,559,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT Press) 49087th Edition
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"In Critical Play, Flanagan uncovers a secret history of games buried deep inside folk culture, experimental media, and the world of art. Critical Play should be required reading for anyone who cares about the cultural importance and future potential of games."--Eric Zimmerman, game designer and co-author of Rules of Play
"…Flanagan has equipped students and practitioners of game design with a generous multi-functional tool, to instruct and inspire." -- Ragnhild Tronstad, Game Studies
About the Author
Mary Flanagan, artist and game designer, is Founder and Director of Tiltfactor Laboratory and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. She is the coeditor (with Austin Booth) of Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture (2002) and re:skin (2002), both published by the MIT Press.
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Flanagan also provides practical guidelines for designing play experiences that encourage critique and subversion. Without going into to detail, I will say that I found this part of the book particularly useful re: the practice of designing "serious" or issues-focused games.
Highly recommended for game designers who are interested in working beyond the entertainment-focused mainstream, and also highly recommended for anyone with interest in the history of play.
The book is broken into eight chapters starting with a look at domestic play ranging from subversive dollhouses to players modding the Sims. Other chapters examine board games (apparently artists love chess, I had no idea) language games, and what I was most interested in, computer games. Because I'm somewhat familiar with serious games now, I recognized a number of the examples from the video games chapter. What I didn't know was that there are a number of contemporary artists working with games or making game-inspired pieces. The book concludes with a brief chapter that I wish were longer exploring methods of designing for critical play. While I won't be making a game any time soon, the final chapter helped me understand the game design process better, and I think has allowed me to better read the games I play now.
I picked up this book because I wanted to deepen my understanding of serious games, but I think it can be appreciated by people from all different backgrounds. Whether you're into art history, social change, media theory, or a range of other topics, "Critical Play" offers a unique lens through which you can view historical events and trends and imagine future possibilities. It provides a plethora of ideas to play with, and the understanding that play can be quite serious. I can't recommend it enough.