Critical Play: Radical Game Design

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MIT Press, 2009 - Computers - 353 pages
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For many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But whatif certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but ameans for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? InCritical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games-- games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry -- and argues thatgames designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.

Flanagan provides a lively historical context for critical play throughtwentieth-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art: her examplesof "playing house" include Dadaist puppet shows and The Sims. She looksat artists' alternative computer-based games and explores games for change, considering the wayactivist concerns -- including worldwide poverty and AIDS -- can be incorporated into gamedesign.

Arguing that this kind of conscious practice -- which now constitutes theavant-garde of the computer game medium -- can inspire new working methods for designers, Flanaganoffers a model for designing that will encourage the subversion of popular gaming tropes through newstyles of game making, and proposes a theory of alternate game design that focuses on the reworkingof contemporary popular game practices.

 

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Contents

1 Introduction to Critical Play
1
2 Playing House
17
3 Board Games
63
4 Language Games
117
5 Performative Games and Objects
149
6 Artists Locative Games
189
7 Critical Computer Games
223
8 Designing for Critical Play
251
Notes
263
Bibliography
293
Index
319
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

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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