Leeds University Library

PIED3810
Module Reading List

Video Games: Politics, Society and Culture, 2017/18, Semester 1
Dr Nick Robinson
N.Robinson@leeds.ac.uk
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Books, Journals and Research Sources

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Textbooks

The best textbook for this course is:

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2016) Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction (London: Routledge), 3rd edition. Given that this module is genuinely a research-led one it is perhaps inevitable that no book can be perfect (it is our job to develop the perfect book!). However, this book has something to say about almost all of the topics and it is written with real enthusiasm for the subject.

A brilliant book to actively use!

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT press). This is an excellent book recently released in paperback. Bogost sets out his argument centred on the ways in which games can have persuasive potential, with extensive illustrations and practical examples offered within the text. It is thus highly useful as an exemplar of the critical review task. It is however a book with an argument and not a textbook in the conventional sense of the word. Thus it does not cover the scope of the course or provide background/context for a number of the topics.

The next best textbook is:

Newman, J. (2013) Videogames (London: Routledge), 2nd Edition. Newman’s book is both highly accessible and covers a number of the key themes on the module as a whole. You will see frequent references to it, in terms of highlighted chapters below. The first edition (whilst quite dated) does contain some very good chapters.

Other alternatives that you might consider are:

Bogost, I. (2011) How to do things with videogames (University of Minnesota Press). [Bogost is arguably the key author for the course as a whole and his work is consistently compelling. This is an exciting and highly accessible book which contains a number of short essays across a variety of topics].

Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A. and Schott, G. (2006) Computer games : text, narrative and play . (Cambridge: Polity). This contains a number of really useful chapters and is nice and accessible.

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books). Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wide-ranging and highly readable celebration of the importance of videogames.

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture . (London: Sage). A useful contextual textbook with some interesting chapters on theory, the history of games and games and social change. Whilst taking a predominantly historical-linear approach each chapter begins with a nice (and brief!) treatment of social and political context, which is highly useful.

Perron, B. and Wolf, M. (eds.) (2009) The video game theory reader 2 (London: Routledge). This contains a number of interesting essays.

Poole, Steven (2004/13) Trigger happy : the inner life of videogames (London: Fourth Estate). Available at: http://stevenpoole.net/blog/trigger-happier/ . The afterword (updated for the USA release is at): http://stevenpoole.net/trigger-happy/afterword-2004/ . Poole is a brilliant writer, with a frequent column in Edge. His book is highly accessible, and covers much of the course. This book has the advantage of being freely available! The 2013 edition takes a slightly different form, acting as an anthology of Poole’s brilliant columns in Edge. It is only available as a Kindle e-book.

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2011) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). This has an excellent collection of essays and covers a very wide range of topics. We have 4 copies of the 2005 hardback edition in the library. What I am uncertain about is whether the 2011 paperback is the same content simply in soft jacket or has been revised!

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Routledge). A number of useful chapters covering: history; what games are; games and gender; games and violence, and games and learning. Also there is extensive coverage of theory.


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Reference, Websites etc.

An important element of this module is to get you to engage with reflecting both on games themselves but also to consider games in their social and political context. There are a number of what may be termed ‘reference works’, some of which contain critical commentary on games and others of which are focused on reviews.

The best range of material of this sort is:

The well-played series which are hosted at: http://press.etc.cmu.edu/wellplayed

There is a series of four anthologies of writing on the website on videogames. The reviews themselves are rather variable in quality and whilst some of them are excellent some of them do not provide a very good template for the critical review. But the good news is that this is open access and some of the stuff is worth a look. You can also buy volume 3 for for 80p if you have the kindle ap!

The third edition is at: http://www.etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/content/well-played-30-video-games-value-and-meaning

The second edition is at: http://www.etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/content/well-played-20-video-games-value-and-meaning

The first edition is at: http://www.etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/content/well-played-10-video-games-value-and-meaning


Other useful sources are:

Berens, K. and Howard, G. (2008) The rough guide to videogames (London: Rough Guide Books)

Byron, S., Curran, S. and McCarthy, D. (2006) Game on! : from Pong to Oblivion : the 50 greatest video games of all time . (London: Headline)

Curran, S. (2004) Game plan : great designs that changed the face of computer gaming (Hove: Rotovision)

Mott, T. (ed) (2013) 1001 videogames you must play before you die (London: Cassell). [Whilst a little populist in tone this is useful as contextual background on the scope of the videogame medium].

Newman, J. and Simons, I. (2007) 100 videogames (London: BFI Publishing).


An excellent source of critical/engaged writing is:

http://www.gamasutra.com/ [lots of features and critical commentary. Whilst some of it is targeted at the industry it contains a wealth of interesting material].

http://www.bogost.com/ [Ian Bogost is probably one of the most important scholars on games writing at present. He has a particular capacity to engage with games in a highly critical way and is one of the leading exponents of a call for critical games studies].

http://www.gameology.org/ [There is a combination of writing here – some pseudo academic, some reviews and other content – it is of variable quality!]

http://stevenpoole.net/trigger-happy/ [A thoroughly enjoyable column by Steven Poole appears each month in Edge. He publishes a copy online – well worth a read].


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Sources which tell you what has happened in the games industry are:

GamePolitics.com – where politics and video games collide. This is an excellent site. It encompases detailed news, with considerable comment on the way in which games are discussed by the political establishment. Whilst much of its coverage is US-centric (perhaps inevitably) there are comments on developments around the world. The URL is: http://www.gamepolitics.com/

Gamesindustry.biz This is an excellent site which provides some engaged writing and commentary from within the industry. As a student you can get a free account and subscribe to the newsletter which pops into your inbox at about 5pm each day. The URL is: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/

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Videogames Magazines

If you are interested there is also real benefits to be derived from reading one of the better multi-format games magazines widely available from newsagents.

GamesTM. This, in my view, is the best magazine out there. Whilst arguably not as well written as Edge it has a strong editorial commitment to the discussion of the political, social and cultural role of games. Match this with an exacting reviewing policy and you have a very interesting publication indeed.

Edge. Whilst viewing itself as ‘the industry standard’, Edge has fallen somewhat short over the last year or so. Whilst unrivalled in terms of the quality of its writing and with some of the best columnists in the business, unfortunately it has changed its editorial stance such that it seldom comments on the relationship between games and their social and political context. This is a shame, as it had some wonderful material a year or so ago – although I am rather grateful to them for publishing a letter of mine which yielded me a DS!

Podcasts

There are a number of quite engaging podcasts out there. One which is particularly interesting is that by ‘One Life Left’ – it is free through I-Tunes.If you have any thoughts of suggestions here then please let us all know!


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Good Examples for the Critical Review

If you are uncertain of what the critical review entails, there are some good examples out there. These may not follow precisely the format which we are looking for here but what they do is to reveal how to look for messages and demonstrate how to engage with a critical reading of a game:

Atkins, B. (2003) More than a game : the computer game as fictional form (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Whilst using a particular approach (literary-based approaches) this book contains huge numbers of examples.

Bissell, T. (2011) Extra lives : why video games matter (London: Vintage Books). [Provides a number of reviews of important games such as GTAIV, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 etc. Whilst a little variable they do raise some interesting issues and can be considered useful background].

Bogost, I. (2006) ‘Videogames and Ideological Frames’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 165-183. [This gives excellent examples of how games can contain political messages and should give some insights into the format for the critical review of a game]

Bogost, I. (2007) ‘Persuasive Games: The Reverence Of Resistance’, Gamasutra: The Art and Business of Making Games. Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1689/persuasive_games_the_reverence_of_.php [This is a wonderful piece which shows in a very engaged way how to set out and discuss the critical reaction to a game].

**Bogost, I. (2008) ‘The Rhetoric of Video Games’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), 117-40. Lots of great examples in this paper. [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3 ]

Ciccoricco, D. (2012) ‘Narrative, Cognition, and the Flow of Mirror’s Edge’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 4, pp. 263-80. [Faith is a very important character in the debate on positive female models within games and hence this article is useful for the discussion of games and gender. The article also offers useful insights into the reading of games].

Garrelts, N. (ed.) (2006) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co. Inc.). Lots of detailed reading of this seminal series.

Loguidice, B. and Barton, M. (2009) Vintage games : an insider look at the history of Grand theft auto, Super Mario and the most influential games of all time (Oxford: Focal Press). [This is a genuinely useful book for the critical review although most of the games chosen are slightly odd-ball e.g. pole position etc!]. Available electronically.

Montes, R. (2006) ‘Ghost Recon: Island Thunder: Cuba in the Virtual Battlespace’ in J. Williams and J. Heide Smith (eds.) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co. Inc.), Ch. 8.

Raessens, Joost (2006) ‘Reality Play: Documentary Computer Games Beyond Fact and Fiction’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 213-24 [An interesting paper which looks both at specific examples of documentary games but also which probes at them]

Ruch, A. (2012) ‘Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City and Modernist Literature’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 5, pp. 331-48. [This offers a nice example of an article which offers a detailed reading of a game. There is also discussion of the relationship between method and how that can be used to read games. There is also a useful section which discusses the debates on the definition of a game. Given that this game is about GTA it can also be considered of interest to the discussion of games and race, albeit tangentially].

Vanolo, A. (2012) ‘The political geographies of Liberty City’, City : analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. , vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 284-98. [This provides a deep reading of both Grand Theft Auto as game but also of liberty city as place and so is a good example for students. There are also interesting themes here in terms of the discussion of games and capitalism].

Wright, J.T., Embrick, D.G. and Lukács, A. (eds.) (2010) Utopic dreams and apocalyptic fantasies : critical approaches to researching video game play (Lanham, MA: Lexington Books), Ch. 5 for a reading of Metal Gear Solid.



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Weekly Outline

The weekly outline is subdivided by topic with reading for both the lecture and seminar contained below.

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Introduction (seminar, week 1)

Obviously there is no reading for this week as this is largely an organisational and orientation session. However to get us going we will turn our mind to a couple of questions:

Introductory questions

Q1) What is your favourite game and why?

Q2) Which game did you find the most interesting?

Q3) Thinking about the political, cultural and social reaction to games – are they generally seen in a positive or negative light? Provide some evidence for your view and discuss why that is and what the impact is.


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Games Matter! What are Games? Why Study them? (lecture, week 1; seminar, week 2)

Introductory question

Q1) How and why do video games matter?

Key Seminar Questions

Q2) What is a game? Games are often seen in terms of genre – is this helpful?

Q3) Games are often seen as ‘the fastest growing entertainment sector’. But is it the case that they are more important than say the film or music industries?

Q4) ‘Technology drives games – such is its importance they cannot be considered art’. Discuss.

Textbook reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/14) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), Ch. 2 on the nature of the industry; Ch.3 on what is a game? ; Ch. 4 covers the history of the games industry. NB the new edition is literally just out so I will update this when we have it in the library.

Newman, J. (2004/13) Videogames (London: Routledge), Ch.1 on why study games; Ch. 2 covers what games are; Ch.3 covers the evolution of the industry.


Key reading

Aarseth, E. (2001) ‘Computer Game Studies, Year One’, Game Studies, vol. 1, no. 1. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/editorial.html

Jenkins, H. (2005) ‘Games, the New Lively Art’ in J. Raessens and J. Goldstein (eds.) Handbook of Computer Game Studies (Cambridge: The MIT Press). Also available at: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/GamesNewLively.html

Johns, J. (2006) ‘Video Games Production Networks: Value Capture, Power Relations and Embeddedness’, Journal of economic geography , vol. 6, no. 2, 151-80. On the global political economy of the industry – remains a landmark.

Film

‘How Videogames Changed the World’. [great overview – a really good introduction to the module as a whole. Charlie Brooker is also great fun!]. Available at: http://bobnational.net/record/188831/media_id/190908

Please also look at some of the data e.g.

Nesta (2014) A Map of the UK Games Industry . Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/map_uk_games_industry_wv.pdf

Useful overviews which cover lots of themes

Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A. and Schott, G. (2006) Computer games : text, narrative and play . Cambridge: Polity. This contains a number of really useful chapters and is nice and accessible. Ch. 1 is a useful introduction; Ch. 2 covers genres.

Perron, B. and Wolf, M. (eds.) (2009) The video game theory reader 2 (London: Routledge). The introduction is particularly useful here.

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Sage), Ch. 1 provides a useful introduction; Ch. 2 sets out the history; Ch.3 covers the market for games.


On the nature of what games are:

Crawford, G. (2011) Video gamers (London: Routledge). Ch. 1 on what is a game? ; Ch. 4 on the demography of game players.

Elverdam, C. and Aarseth, E. (2007) ‘Game Classification and Game Design: Construction Through Critical Analysis’, Games and Culture , vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 3-22. This is a rather complex paper but does critically engage with the question of how we should classify games, arguing for a new form of typology.

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games : gamework/gameplay : London: Sage, Ch. 2 for an overview of games – classification and history.

McAllister, K. (2004) Game work : language, power, and computer game culture (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press), Ch. 1 [This chapter is concerned with looking at games in a macro sense – as mass culture, as sources of moral panic, as economic objects etc]. BOOK ON ORDER.

Raessens, Joot (2006) ‘Reality Play: Documentary Computer Games Beyond Fact and Fiction’, Popular communication. , 4 (3), 213-24. [An interesting paper which looks both at specific examples of documentary games but also which probes at them. Maybe a little too detailed for this weeks session. Assuming that it is, then it would need to be used elsewhere. ] Available electronically.

Ruch, A. (2012) ‘Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City and Modernist Literature’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 5, pp. 331-48. [This offers a nice example of an article which offers a detailed reading of a game. There is also discussion of the relationship between method and how that can be used to read. There is also a useful section which discusses the debates on the definition of a game. Given that this game is about GTA it can also be considered of interest to the discussion of games and race, albeit tangentially].


On why they should be studied

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch. 1 offers a passionate defence of the value of games.

Klevjer, R. (2008) ‘The Cultural Value of Games: Computer Games and Cultural Policy in Euope’ in Ludes, P. (ed.) Convergence and Fragmentation : media technology and the information society (Bristol: Intellect), Ch.6. This is available electronically via the Library OPAC system. [The chapter is interesting for week 1 – context and development of interest in games and is also of interest for the topic games and the political establishment (i.e. showing how games are of increasing interest to the political establishment)]. Available electronically.

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture (London: Sage), Ch. 1.

Nieborg, D. and Hermes, J. (2008) ‘What is game studies anyway? ’, European Journal of Cultural Studies , vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 131-47

**Poole, Steven (2004) Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Videogames (London: Fourth Estate) , Ch. 1. Available at: http://stevenpoole.net/blog/trigger-happier/

Steinkuehler, C. (2006) ‘Why Game (Culture) Studies Now? ’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no.1, pp. 97-102.

On the historical evolution of the games industry:

**Poole, Steven (2004) Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Videogames (London: Fourth Estate). [Ch. 2 covers the history of the industry. Poole writes in a thoroughly engaging style]. Available at: http://stevenpoole.net/blog/trigger-happier/,

Boron, D. (2007) ‘A Short History of Digitial Game Space’, in F. Borries, S. Walz and M. Böttger (eds.) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag), pp. 26-43.

Castronova, E. (2007) Exodus to the virtual world : how online fun is changing reality (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 2.

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch. 2-3 on history.

Consalvo, M. (2006) ‘Console Video Games and Global Corporations: Creating a Hybrid Culture’, New media and society. , vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 117-37. This is interesting in showing the cultural homogeneity of the games industry, and of offering a portrait of the market as a whole. Available electronically.

Donovan, T. (2010) Replay : the history of video games (Lewes: Yellow Ant). [This is a very thorough, engaging and well written (if populist) overview of the history of games. Highly useful].

Dovey, J. and Kennedy, H. (2006) Game cultures : computer games as new media . Maidenhead: Open University Press, Ch. 3 covers the political economy of the games industry and is useful in explaining the nature of the market (why it is what it is etc.).

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds : (Boston: Little Brown & Co), Ch.2.

Juul, J. (2009) A casual revolution : reinventing video games and their players (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). [whilst it is nominally focused on the evolution of the casual gamer and casual games it is more comprehensive than that and offers an accessible overview of the evolution of the industry more broadly].

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games : gamework/gameplay : London: Sage, Ch. 3 on the evolution of the games industry

Kerr, A. and Cawley, A. (2012) ‘The Spatialisation of the Digital Games Industry: Lessons from Ireland’, The international journal of cultural policy. , vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 398-418.

Kushner, D. (2003) Masters of Doom : how two guys created an empire and transformed pop culture (London: Piatkus). Whilst this is largely a biography of John Carmack and John Romero and the evolution of the games industry, it touches on some interesting issues e.g. Doom and Columbine; controversy surrounding Doom; mods; Marine Doom etc.

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture (London: Sage), Ch. 3-7. [Clearly you can’t read all of this book but it takes a historical approach to the study of games. The book uses history to raise themes which is also interesting – one to keep at hand for a number of weeks!]

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 2.

Russell, J. (2012) Generation Xbox : how videogames invaded Hollywood (Lewes: Yellow Ant). A highly accessible history of the link between the videogames industry and Hollywood.


Useful Reports on the Industry

Edery, D. and Mollick, E. (2008) Changing the game : how video games are transforming the future of business (Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press/Prentice Hall). [covers the nature of the games industry].

Greenberg, B.S. et al.(2010) ‘Orientations to Video Games Among Gender and Age Groups’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 41, no, 2, pp. 238-59. This is most useful for getting a handle on who plays games and how/why they play, showing that men/boys do conform to certain stereotypes of being higher users with higher focus on action oriented games.

Huntemann, N. (2010) ‘An Embarrassment of Riches: Video Games and the Recession, Popular communication. , vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 198-202. [Explores claims that the videogames industry is recession proof].

Nichols, R. (2014) The video game business (Basingstoke: Palgrave). [Genuinely useful and pretty up-to-date. This is perfect for the discussion of the political economy of the industry].

The ESA

The US-based Entertainment Software Association is well worth exploring. They are an umbrella group and a lobby group but do offer a number of useful reports. They are at: http://www.theesa.com/

Entertainment Software Association (2012) Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry - 2012 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data (Washington D.C., ESA). Available at: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf

Siwek, S. (2010) Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report (Washington D.C., ESA). Available at: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/VideoGames21stCentury_2010.pdf

UKIE (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (formerly ELSPA)) is the key umbrella group in the UK. They are based at: http://ukie.info/

ELSPA (2006) The UK Interactive Entertainment Industry, 2005 (London: ELSAPA). Available at: http://www.elspa.com/assets/files/0/20060505174657708_319.pdf

UKIE (2011) ‘UKIE Factsheet Q1 2011’ (London: UKIE). Available at: http://ukie.info/sites/default/files/documents/UKIE_Fact_Sheet.pdf

There are some interesting policy papers at: http://ukie.info/content/briefing-sheets-policy-papers

Nesta (2014) A Map of the UK Games Industry. Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/map_uk_games_industry_wv.pdf

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe (the umbrella group for European developers and publishers is at): http://www.isfe.eu/

Gamevision (2010) Video Gamers in Europe, 2010: Prepared for the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE: Brussels). Available at: http://www.isfe.eu/sites/isfe.eu/files/isfe_final_combined.pdf

Data from the ISFE on the economics of gaming is at: http://www.isfe.eu/index.php? PHPSESSID=2flcnkok72h5octuj3fhchjrb5&oidit=T001:8ca835a1574ad46296a34393b4e28c57

Mintel

Mintel (2008) Video and Computer Games: UK – August 2008 (London: Mintel). [this is a really useful industry survey which sets out the scope of the industry, gives good demographic data of players etc. It is similar to the screen digest summaries discussed on the Games Industry Biz website [ http://www.gamesindustry.biz/ ]. The report itself is available via the library URL electronically.Unfortunately we do not have a later version than this as it costs a fortune!].

Film

‘How Videogames Changed the World’. [great overview – a really good introduction to the module as a whole]. Available at: http://bobnational.net/record/188831/media_id/190908


Game Related Examples

First up play/dip into a couple of retro games. There are endless retro games out there, many of which are playable in flash via your PC browser. There are also great examples via PSN, X-box live and on the Wii/Wii U. I think the best thing here would be to simply play some old games! If you are stuck for inspiration how about:

• from the home computer era: Chuckie Egg, Manic Miner or Elite

• from the arcade era: Pac-Man; Defender; Donkey Kong, Robotron or Hyper Sports (Track and Field).

To be honest anything here which is old should get you in the mood!

Second, play something new and use it to contemplate genre, and also the importance of technology to the evolution of games and their form.

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The Military-Entertainment Complex (lecture, week 2; seminar, week 3)

Introductory Question

Q1) Set out the nature of the Military-Entertainment complex thesis. Do you find it convincing?


Key Seminar Questions

Q2) Discuss one key game in which militarization is central to it. What is the message of the game? How does it reflect the views within the Military-Entertainment complex?

Q3) ‘Military games are fundamentally irresponsible’. Discuss this statement in terms of the literature on military games and the military-entertainment complex.

Q4) ‘Games lead to the militarization of society and politics’. Discuss.


Textbook reading

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [Use the index to read his entries on ‘war’].

Key reading:

Der Derian, J. (2009) Virtuous war : mapping the military-industrial-media-entertainment-network (London: Routledge), 2nd Edition. [Der Derian is one of the leading authors in the field].

Lenoir, T. (2000) ‘All but War Is Simulation: The Military-Entertainment Complex’, Configurations : a journal of literature, science and technology. , vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 289-335.
Lenoir, T. and Lowood, H. (2000) Theaters of War: The Military-Entertainment Complex [online]. Standford University. Available from: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPST/TimLenoir/Publications/Lenoir-Lowood_TheatersOfWar.pdf
Power, M. (2007) ‘Digitized Virtuosity: Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Detterance’, Security Dialogue , vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 271-88.

Robinson, N. (2012) ‘Videogames, persuasion and the war on terror: escaping or embedding the military-entertainment complex? , Political studies. , vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 504-22. [This explores the links between Bogost’s persuasive games approach, the militarization of society and also sets out ways in which games can challenge the M-E complex].

Stahl, R. (2006) ‘Have you Played the War on Terror? ’, Critical studies in media communication , vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 112-30. Provocative, interesting, easy to read and by one of the leading authorities on the subject – highly recommended. Available electronically.

Other Reading

Allen, R. (2011) ‘The Unreal Enemy of America’s Army’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 38-60. [There is quite a bit in this article covering a number of themes. It is strong on America’s Army (AA), touches on the ME complex and it offers a comparative discussion of the nature of representations within AA and Conflict: Desert Storm, suggesting that the nature of representations in AA are part of the militarisation of the domestic realm].

Andersen, R. (2006) A century of media, a century of war (New York: Peter Lang Publishers). [Ch. 18 on the military-entertainment complex].

Atkins, B. (2003) More than a game : the computer game as fictional form (Manchester: Manchester University Press). [Ch. 4 covers discussion of Close Combat].

Birkenstein, J., Froula, A. and Randell, K. (eds.) (2010) Reframing 9/11 : film, popular culture and the "war on terror" (London: Continuum), Ch.8. [Whilst mostly centred on film this book clearly has resonance for us as it places the debate on contemporary military games in context.

Borries, F., Walz, S. and Böttger, M. (eds.) (2007) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag). [Part 5 has some interesting content on the portrayal of war in games and how we might understand that].

Crogan, P. (2012) Gameplay mode : war, simulation, and technoculture (University of Minnesota Press). Crogan’s work on militarism is interesting and accessible.

Delwiche, A. (2007) ‘From The Green Berets to America’s Army: Video Games as a Vehicle for Political Propaganda’ in J.P. Williams and J.H. Smith (eds.) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, CN: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch.5.

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) Games of empire : global capitalism and video games (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press). [This forthcoming book offers both a clear sense of how games serve to embed capitalism and support for militarization but also suggest their capacity to challenge them. A classic academic argument which is synthesized in the published article listed elsewhere]. Book on order

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) ‘Empire@Play: Virtual Games and Global Capitalism’, CTheory - Special Issue: Resetting Theory. [Contains a summary of the argument offered in Dyer-Witherford and de Peuter’s book]. Available at: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx? id=608

Gagnon, F. (2010) ‘“Invading your Hearts and Minds”: Call of Duty and the (Re)Writing of Militarism in U.S. Digital Games and Popular Culture’, European Journal of American Studies , vol. 2, pp.1-18. Not in the Library; A pre-release version of this article is at: http://www.dandurand.uqam.ca/uploads/files/publications/rflexions/FG_Call_of_Duty.pdf

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), Ch. 3. [chapter on social realism offers some interesting critical insights into military games]. This chapter is a reproduction of an earlier chapter which is also available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0401/galloway/

Halter, E. (2006) From Sun Tzu to XBox : war and video games (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press). [Whilst a little old this is generally seen as an important book and is extensively cited].

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds (Boston: Little Brown & Co), Ch.16. [This is wonderfully clear in execution].

Höglund, J. (2008) ‘Electronic Empire: Orientalism Revisited in the Military Shooter’, Game studies [electronic resource]. vol. 8, no. 1. [looks at the portrayal of the Middle East in a number of military combat games, finding this to be a clear example of ‘orientalism’]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0801/articles/hoeglund

**Huntemann, N. and Payne, M. (eds.) (2009) Joystick soldiers : the politics of play in military video games (London: Routledge). [A stunning collection of a wide variety of essays].

Jahn-Sudmann, A. and Stockmann, R. (2008) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears . (Basingstoke: Palgrave) [Ch. 8 and Ch. 9 on M-E complex].

Losh, E. (2005) ‘In Country with Tactical Iraqi: Trust, Identity, and Language Learning in a Military Video Game’. Conference Paper given at: Digital Experience: Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference 2005. (University of Copenhagen), pp. 69-78. Available at: https://eee.uci.edu/faculty/losh/virtualpolitik/DAC2005.pdf

Lowood, H. (2008) ‘Impotence and Agency: Computer Games as a Post-9/11 Battlefield’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockman (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 9.

Morgan, M. (ed.) (2009) The impact of 9/11 on the media, arts, and entertainment : the day that changed everything? (Basingstoke: Palgrave). [Whilst doesn’t have any content specifically on videogames this is clearly interesting in that it places much of the debate on contemporary war games into context].

Ouellette, M. (2008) ‘“I Hope You Never See Another Day Like This”: Pedagogy & Allegory in “Post 9/11” Video Games’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 8, no. 1. [covers both the way that some post 9/11 games have had there plots altered but also makes a number of sharp observations about the link between games, society and the political climate post 9/11]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0801/articles/ouellette_m

Payne, M. (2012) ‘Marketing Military Realism in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 305-27. [This looks specifically at the way in which CoD can be linked to advertising and marketing and so is of clear interest to the discussion of games and capitalism. There is also some material here of tangential interest to the discussion of the military entertainment complex].

Rentfrow, D. (2008) ‘S(t)imulating War: From early Films to Military Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockman (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 9.

Sample, M. (2008) ‘Virtual Torture: Videogame and the War on Terror’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 8, no. 2. [A pretty unique paper which explores the way in which torture is portrayed in games]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0802/articles/sample

Šisler, V. 2008. Digital Arabs Representation in Video Games. European Journal of Cultural Studies , 11, 203-220. [a very clear article which looks in detail at representations (primarily of the ‘enemy’) within games].

Smith, R. (2010) ‘The Long History of Gaming in Military Training’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 6-19. [This is a longitudinal survey which makes it clear that the military has always used games - from Go to videogames. It provides some useful background/context. The second half is more based on the ways in which games can be used for military purposes - again this is primarily useful as context rather than offering any political insights into the implications of military games].

Stahl, R. (2009) Militainment, Inc. : war, media, and popular culture (London: Routledge). [This is a wonderfully articulate and easy to read book on the military-entertainment complex.

Stockwell, S. and Muir, A. (2003) ‘The Military-Entertainment Complex: A New Facet of Information Warfare’, Fibreculture journal [online], 1. Available from: http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue1/issue1_stockwellmuir.html

Susca, M. (2012) ‘Why We Still Fight: Adolescents, America’s Army, and the Government-Gaming Nexus’, Global media journal, vol. 12, no. 20, pp. 1-16. Available at: http://lass.purduecal.edu/cca/gmj/sp12/printable_pdf/sp12Article5.pdf . Overall this is a useful review of the debates on military-entertainment with a specific focus on America’s Army. There is real detail here about the links with the military to the game, to Ubisoft and to NASCAR and whilst the claims for originality are overblown this is highly readable. NB on p.8 the claim that Ubisoft stands to gain ‘billions of dollars’ from console versions of America’s Army are somewhat overblown!

Thomson, M. (2009) 'From Underdog to Overmatch: Computer Games and Military Transformation', Popular communication. vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 92-106. [A nicely written piece which challenges the view that games contain messages which sanitise war and distort the realities of war, instead arguing that they offer a portrait in line with US military strategy, tactics and realities].

Turse, N. (2009) The complex : how the military invades our everyday lives (London: Faber and Faber). [Highly accessible and only about £1 from Amazon!. This is another useful source on the military-entertainment complex, albeit with resonance which is broader than this course].


Literature on games which challenge the Military-Entertainment complex

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), Ch. 5. [excellent discussion of protests and mods as a source of countergaming].

*Gee, J. (2008) What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy . Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2nd Edition, Ch. 6. [Whilst discussing specifically notions connected with learning makes some very useful points related to the critical discussion of the military-entertainment complex].

Haynes, C. (2006) ‘Armageddon Army: Playing God, God Mode Mods, and the Rhetorical Task of Ludology’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no.1, pp. 89-96. [quite a polemical paper by an activist who is advocating production of critical games but it does make some important points].

Huntemann, N. and Payne, M. (eds.) (2009) Joystick soldiers : the politics of play in military video games (London: Routledge). [Section 5 covers ‘resisting the war’].

Souri, H. (2007) ‘The Political Battlefield of Pro-Arab Video Games on Palestinian Screens’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. , vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 536-551. [A good example of how the M-E complex is being challenged in the middle East, also covers America’s Army].

Games related examples are:

• Games which embody the M-E complex: Kuma\War; America’s Army;
• Insurgency games – e.g. Rainbow Six series; Splinter Cell series; Ghost Recon series
• Military combat games – e.g. Army of Two; Call of Duty series; Battlefield series
• Critical games: September 12th; Metal Gear Solid series; Haze; Velvet Strike; Blacksite; Special Ops – the Line; Sunset; This War of Mine

Payne, M.T. (2014) ‘War Bytes: The Critique of Militainment in Spec Ops: The Line’, Critical studies in media communication , vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 265-282.


Film

Film – Militainment, Inc.: Militarism & Pop Culture (2007). This is available at: http://www.esoterictube.com/militainment-inc.html

Top of page

Theory and Method: What are the Tools for Game Studies (lecture, week 3; seminar, week 4)

Introductory Question

Q1) Is games studies worthy of its own discipline?

Key Seminar Questions

Q2) How should we approach the study of games?

(a) Should we look internally so focusing on the game itself? Assuming this, should we read them as ‘texts’ or based on insights from ‘film studies’ or should we prioritise their unique features?

(b) Should we look externally and argue, for example, that the cultural contexts within which we play are crucial to understanding?
Q3) Set out the persuasive games thesis? How convincing do you find it?

Political Question

Q4) Which theory that you have used or are aware of from political science or a cognate discipline is most valuable for the study of games – why do you say that?


Textbook reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/2013/2016) Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction (London: Routledge). [Ch.3 on ‘What is a game? ’ covers matters related to theory; Ch. 8 (Ch. 7 in 2012 edition) generally uses literary theory to interpret games. However, see pp. 190-204 (pp.213-224 in 2012 edition) for a broader sense of the debates here]. NB I will add the 2016 references when the book arrives in the library.

Newman, J. (2004/2013) Videogames (London: Routledge), ch. 6 on theory; Ch.5/6 (2013) on theory. [Highly accessible and easy to read].

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2011) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press) [Part 4 offers a rich array of snappy essays].

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Sage). [Part 2 covers the theory. Ch. 6 on literary theory; Ch. 7 on film studies; Ch. 8 on ‘new media’ which sets out (in part) the argument for a distinctive approach; Ch. 9 on cultural studies.]

Key reading

Bogost, I. (2008) ‘The Rhetoric of Video Games’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), 117-40. [Offers an excellent exposition of Bogost’s approach. This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3]

Corliss, J. (2011) ‘Introduction: The Social Science Study of Video Games’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 3-16. [A nice snappy summary].

Frasca, G. (2003) ‘Ludologists Love Stories, Too: Notes from a Debate that Never Took Place’. In: Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens (eds), Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings. (Utrecht: DiGRA and University of Utrecht). [This interesting paper challenges the idea that there is actually a divide between narratologists and ludologists]. Availalble at: http://www.digra.org/dl/db/05163.01125

Juul, J. (2001) ‘Games Telling Stories? A Brief Note on Games and Narratives’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 1, no. 1. [quite a complex paper but it does make use of a number of empirical examples to show the possibilities and limits of games for story telling]. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/juul-gts/

Konzack, L. (2007) ‘Rhetorics of Computer and Video Game Research’ in J.P. Williams and J.H. Smith (eds.) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company Inc.), Ch.6. [This provides a very good sense of the social and cultural way of understanding games. It sets out a number of rhetorics and also includes discussion of ideology and can be linked with Bogost’s persuasive games approach].


Other reading

Aarseth, E. (1997) Cybertext : perspectives on ergodic literature (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press). [A genuine landmark – see also Murray for the other key early theoretical engagement].

Aarseth, E. (2002) ‘The Dungeon and the Ivory Tower: Vive La Difference ou Liaison Dangereuse? ’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 2, no.1. [A nice sense of the division between academics and game producers with a sense of the evolution of theory]. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/editorial.html

Alexander, B. (2011) The new digital storytelling : creating narratives with new media (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger). Ch. 6 and 7 cover digital storytelling in games.
Atkins, B. (2003) More than a game : the computer game as fictional form (Manchester: Manchester University Press). This is a very detailed book which sets out in detail how to ‘read’ books through literary-based approaches. Ch. 1 is a useful introduction.

Bogost, I. (2006) ‘Comparative Video Game Criticism’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 41-6. Available electronically.

Bogost, I. (2007) ‘Persuasion and Gamespace’, in F. Borries, S. Walz and M. Böttger (eds.) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag), pp.304-11 [on theory and persuasion].

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Bogost, I. et al (2010) Newsgames : journalism at play (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [This is a useful book which builds on Bogost’s earlier persuasive games thesis to offer a normative case for using games to communicate the news].

Bracken, C. and Skalski, P. (eds.) (2009) Immersed in media : telepresence in everyday life (Routledge Communication Series) (London: Routledge) [This is a complex research oriented book with a couple of interesting chapters on videogames. It also contains a nice theoretical framework centred on notions of immersion, it is interesting if a little deep!]

Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A. and Schott, G. (2006) Computer games : text, narrative and play (Cambridge: Polity). Ch. 13. [Whilst a conclusion to the book does give a nice sense of the range of theoretical questions that can and are being asked about games and gaming].

Crawford, G. (2011) Video gamers (London: Routledge), Ch. 2 and Ch. 5 cover theory.

Dovey, J. and Kennedy, H. (2006) Game cultures : computer games as new media Maidenhead: Open University Press. [Ch. 1 is quite a broad contextual discussion of theory; Ch. 2 is more focused on what may be termed traditional gaming debates such as ludology; Ch. 5 on videogames as text].

Flanagan, M. (2009) Critical play : radical game design (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. YY. [This is a theoretically rich source but it only contains one chapter which is specifically on videogames (Ch.7)].

Frasca, G. (1999) ‘Ludology Meets Narratology. Similitude and Differences between (Video)games and Narrative’. Originally published in Finnish in Parnasso 1999: 3, 365–71. Available at: http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm

Frasca, G. (2003) ‘Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology’ in M. Wolf and B. Perron (eds.) The Video Game Theory Reader (London: Routledge), Ch. 10. This is also available online at: http://interactive.usc.edu/members/akratky/W3_Simulation_vs_Narrative.pdf

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). [All in all can be a little demanding but certainly worth the effort!].

Gee, J.P. (2007) What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 2 [You will definitely need to read some of Gee’s work for this module. Whilst this is a little unconventional for this week, it is exceptionally readable and gives a very good insight into how we might start thinking about games in a critical and reflective way. It is also highly useful in placing context at the centre of things].

Gee, J.P. (2011) An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (London: Routledge), 3rd Edition. [Whilst not about games per-se, Gee makes use of games in a number of his chapters to show how they can be used for discourse analysis. See especially pp. 193-200 ‘Appendix’].

Hjorth, L. (2011) Games and gaming : an introduction to new media (Oxford: Berg). Has two or three really useful chapters covering theory.

Jahn-Sudmann, A. and Stockmann, R. (2008) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 1 on theory.

Jenkins, H. (2007) ‘Narrative Spaces’, in F. Borries, S. Walz and M. Böttger (eds.) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag), pp.56-60 [on theory - narrative and game space]

Jones, S. (2008) The meaning of video games : gaming and textual strategies (London: Routledge) [this is quite a difficult book and whilst it does offer a number of examples it tends to be quite wide-ranging thematically].

Juul, J. (2005) Half-real : video games between real rules and fictional worlds (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 3 and Ch.5 [Whilst demanding there is some sharp insight here].

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games : gamework/gameplay . London: Sage, pp.20-38 offers a general theoretical overview. Available as an e-book.

King, G. and Krzywinska, T. (eds.) (2002) Screenplay : cinema/videogames/interfaces (London: Wallflower Press). [The Introduction offers clear exposition of the film/cinema based approach. There are also a number of chapters which offer good examples of particular games/themes].

Kirkpatrick, G. (2011) Aesthetic theory and the video game (Manchester: Manchester University Press). [This is a relatively complex book but has something interesting to say about theory. It is thus of interest to both the more enlightened reader and the more inquisitive].

Losh, E. (2009) Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 2 on digital rhetoric.
Malaby, T. (2007) ‘Beyond Play: A New Approach to Games’, Games and Culture , vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 95-113. [This article becomes progressively more interesting (and relevant) as it goes on. You can probably ignore the beginning and start from p.101]. Available electronically.

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture (London: Sage), Ch. 2. [This is nice and accessible and crucially makes the point that games need to be understood in their context].

Mäyrä, F. et al. (2012) ‘Research Methodology in Gaming : An Overview’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 295-9. [This provides an introduction to a special issue on methods. Whilst the special issue offers a number of articles which are beyond the scope of this module, what is interesting is that it demonstrates that there are a plethora of disciplines which have something interesting to say about games. The articles of particular interest from this special issue are cited elsewhere].

McAllister, K. (2004) Game work : language, power, and computer game culture (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press), Ch. 2 [This chapter is similar to Bogost’s approach in that it places emphasis on both the rules within games and the importance of rhetoric]. BOOK ON ORDER.

Murray, J. (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (New York: Simon and Schuster) [A classic – enough said. This and Aarseth 1997 are key early texts].

Newman, J. (2002) ‘The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame: Some Thoughts on Player-Character Relationships in Videogames’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 2, no. 1. [explores specifically the relationship between player and character. Whilst quite deep it does give a sense of some of the literature on identity and games, amongst other things!]. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/newman/

Nitsche, M. (2009) Video game spaces : image, play, and structure in 3D game worlds (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [This is of general interest for the theory section].

Paul, C. (2012) Wordplay and the discourse of video games : analyzing words, design, and play (London: Routledge). [This book covers issues centred around discourse. As such it is useful for discussions on moral panic around games (i.e. week 9 and week 11) and also for the theoretical discussion of games within society as a whole (i.e. this week on theory)].

Perron, B. and Wolf, M. (eds.) (2009) The video game theory reader 2 (London: Routledge). [The introduction provides a nice overview. There are also a number of other chapters here]. Much of this is available online via Google Books.

Roig, A. et al. (2009) ‘Videogame as Media Practice: An Exploration of the Intersections between Play and Audiovisual Culture’, Convergence : the journal of research into new media technologies. , vol. 15, no.1, pp. 89-103. [This is arguably a little tangential to this week but what is interesting is that it shows the scope of cultural theorising (i.e. looking outside the game itself to understand games in their social context)]. Available electronically

Ruch, A. (2012) ‘Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City and Modernist Literature’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 5, pp. 331-48. [This offers a nice example of an article which offers a detailed reading of a game. There is also discussion of the relationship between method and how that can be used to read. There is also a useful section which discusses the debates on the definition of a game. Given that this game is about GTA it can also be considered of interest to the discussion of games and race, albeit tangentially].

Ruggill, J. E. and McAllister, K. (2011) Gaming matters : art, science, magic, and the computer game medium (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press).

Ryan, M.L. (2007) ‘Beyond Ludus: Narrative, Videogames and the Split Condition of Digital Textuality’ in B. Atkins and T. Krzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester University Press), Ch. 1 [very nice sense of how games can be seen in narrative terms].

Wolf, M. and Perron, B. (2003) ‘Introduction’ in M. Wolf and B. Perron (eds.) The Video Game Theory Reader (London: Routledge), pp. 1-24. [A highly accessible overview of the early history of videogames research].

Wright, J.T., Embrick, D.G. and Lukács, A. (eds.) (2010) Utopic dreams and apocalyptic fantasies : critical approaches to researching video game play (Lanham, MA: Lexington Books). Ch. 2, 3 and 13 cover theory.

Game related examples

In fact absolutely anything will be helpful here. The task is to try to actually use some of the theoretical work (e.g. Bogost) to critically engage with a game. If you are stuck for inspiration try the list at the back of the module under the assessment heading ‘Critical Review’ which provides an extensive list of games.

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [There are endless examples here but see for example pp.266-75 for his discussion of Animal Crossing].

Harper, T. (2011) ‘Rules, Rhetoric, and Genre: Procedural Rhetoric in Persona 3’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 395-413. [This is an interesting piece which offers an indepth reading of Japanese RPG Persona 3]

Higgin, T. (2006) ‘Play-Fighting: Understanding Violence in Grand Theft Auto III’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch. 4. [nice engaged discussion of the meaning of the violence in GTA]

See also all of the literature listed above (examples for the critical review)

Top of page

Games and Race (lecture, week 4; seminar, week 5)

Introductory Question

Q1) Evaluate the claim that games are fundamentally racist. Consider both the work on content analysis and also that on the messages within the games.

Seminar Questions

Q2) Are the Grand Theft Auto games satirical or legitimators of racism?

Political Questions

Q3) ‘‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas particularly, and a ghettocentric virtual reality matters because racism kills... It matters because social justice - the ability of all people to live their lives free of oppressions based on race, class, gender, sexuality, and ideology - is a goal that U.S. society has long forgone for profit at any cost. It has never been “just a game.” It has always been lives, livelihoods, injustice, and a desire for much, much more’ (Leonard, 2006b, p.68). Discuss.

Q4) Set out the thesis centred on the ‘politics of fear’. Evaluate the extent to which games embed the politics of fear.


Textbook Reading:

Nothing!

Key reading:

Chan, D. (2005) ‘Playing with Race: The Ethics of Racialised Representations in E-Games’, International Review of Information Ethics, vol. 4, pp. 24-30. Available at: http://www.i-r-i-e.net/inhalt/004/chan.pdf

Children now. (2001) Fair Play? Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games, (Oakland, CA: Children Now), Published December 2001. http://publications.childrennow.org/publications/media/fairplay_2001b.cfm [covers both race, gender and violence – suggesting that there is significant overlap in many of the themes between gender and race]

DeVane, B. and Squire, K. (2008) ‘The Meaning of Race and Violence in Grand Theft Auto’, Games and Culture , vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 264-85.

Leonard, D. (2006a) ‘Not a Hater, Just Keepin’ it Real: The importance of race- and gender-based game studies’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 83-8. [this article is actually about race. The gendered based remarks are about black women not women in general]

Leonard, D. (2009) ‘Young, Black (& Brown) and Don't Give a Fuck: Virtual Gangstas in the Era of State Violence’, Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies , vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 248-72.

Williams, D. et. al (2009) ‘The Virtual Census: Representations of Gender, Race and Age in Video Games’, New media and society. , vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 815-34. This offers classic content analysis of a whole raft of games, with findings in tune with those of the Children Now report.


Other Reading

Annandale, D. (2006) ‘The Subversive Carnival of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (London: McFarland and Company), pp. 88-103. [on GTA as satire]

Brock, A. (2011) ‘“When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”: Resident Evil 5, Racial Representation and Gamers’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 429-52. [covers the controversy around the release of RE5 and in particular its setting in Africa with the use of Africans as the enemies within the context of a survival horror game – interesting!].

Burgess, M., et al (2011) ‘Playing With Prejudice: The Prevalence and Consequences of Racial Stereotypes in Video Games’, Media psychology , 14:3, 289-311

Curlew, A. (2005) ‘Liberal Sims? Simulated Difference and the Commodity of Social Diversity’, Paper presented at the 2005 Digital Games Research Conference (DiGRA). Available at: http://www.digra.org/dl/db/06276.47199.pdf

Dietrich, D. R. (2013) ‘Avatars of Whiteness: Racial Expression in Video Game Characters’, Sociological inquiry. , 83 (1): 82–105. [Useful review and then active research to demonstrate limited options for creating racially diverse characters].

Dill, K. (2009) How fantasy becomes reality : seeing through media influence (New York: Oxford University Press). [Karen Dill is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of violence and videogames. It is thus important supplementary reading, albeit quite scientific in orientation], Ch. 4 on games, race and gender.

Dill, K. E., Gentile, D. A., Richter, W. A., & Dill, J. C. (2005) ‘Violence, sex, age and race in popular video games: A content analysis’ in E. Cole and J. Henderson- Daniel (eds.) Featuring females : feminist analyses of media (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association), pp. 115-30.

Dill, K. and Burgess, M. (2013) ‘Influence of Black Masculinity Game Exemplars on Social Judgments’. Simulation and gaming. , vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 562-585 [Makes the claim that representations of race in games have powerful influence on those who experience them so suggesting a need for the growth of positive black role models in games. Karen Dill is one of the leading lab-based academics researching games many of her arguments are critical of games and make strong claims for their effects/affects and this article is typical of her other work, most of which is on violence.

Dines, G. and Humez, J.M. (eds.) (2011) Gender, Race and Class in Media: a Critical Reader (London: Sage), 3rd Edition. [We also have a number of copies of the earlier editions if this is out].


DiSalvo, B., Crowley, K. and Norwood, R. (2008) ‘Learning in Context: Digital Games and Young Black Men’, Games and Culture , vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 131-41 [primarily a survey of black players].

Everett, A. (2005) ‘Serious Play: Playing with Race in Contemporary Gaming Culture’ in J. Raessens and J. Goldstein (eds.) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch.20. Available at: http://theunshaven.rooms.cwal.net/FTVMS212PDFs/ [click on Reading 07c]

Everett, A. and S.C. Watkins (2008) ‘The Power of Play: The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), 141-64. [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3]

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), Ch. 4. [chapter on allegories of control offers extensive discussion of Civilisation arguing that it contains racist assumptions within it].

Höglund, J. (2008) ‘Electronic Empire: Orientalism Revisited in the Military Shooter’, Game studies [electronic resource]. vol. 8, no. 1. [looks at the portrayal of the Middle East in a number of military combat games, finding this to be a clear example of ‘orientalism’]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0801/articles/hoeglund

Jahn-Sudmann, A. and Stockmann, R. ‘Anti-PC Games: Exploring Articulations of the Politically Incorrect in GTA San Andreas’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockman (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 9.

Kafai, Y. et al. (2010) ‘“Blacks Deserve Bodies Too!” Design and Discussion about Diversity and Race in a Teen Virtual World’, Games and Culture , vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 43-63. [An interesting paper which reflects on the way in which race is represented when players themselves generate their own avatars in the Teen play space, Whyville].

Leonard, D. (2005) ‘To the White Extreme: Conquering Athletic Space, White Manhood, and Racing Virtual Reality’ reproduced in P. Nayar (ed.) (2010) The new media and cybercultures anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell), Ch. 28.

Leonard, M. (2006b) ‘Virtual Gangstas, Coming to a Surburban House Near You: Demonization, Commodification, and Policing Blackness’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company), pp. 49-69. [a very powerfully argued paper which makes links between the portrayal of race in games and the way in which this legitimates illiberal public policy outcomes].

McDougall, J. and O’Brien, W. (2008) Studying videogames (Leighton Buzzard: Auteur Publishing), Ch.4 on GTA available as an online course reading

Monson, M. (2012) ‘Race-Based Fantasy Realm: Essentialism in the World of Warcraft’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 1, pp. 48-71. This is useful for both the topics on race and for on MMOs. The paper argues that many of the racial tensions within WoW replicate those within the real world.

Ow, J. (2000) ‘The Revenge of the Yellowfaced Cyborg Terminator: the Rape of Digital Geishas and the Colonization of Cyber-Coolies in 3d Realms’ Shadow Warrior’ in B. Kolko, L. Nakamura and G. Rodman (eds.) Race in cyberspace (London: Routledge), pp. 51-68. [Tangentially interesting; written in quite an odd style but gives a clear example of a racist game, Shadow Warrior] Chapter digitised.

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 20.

Schmierbach, M. (2009) ‘Content Analysis of Video Games: Challenges and Potential Solutions’, Communication methods and measures , vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 147-72. [This is not in our library but I will try to order it and upload it to the VLE. Having read the abstract it seems to offer an interesting critical take on the methodologies centred on content analysis. So it would be of interest in terms of the discussion of both race and gender].

Selfe, C. and Hawisher, G. (eds.) (2007) Gaming lives in the twenty-first century : literate connections Basingstoke: Palgrave, Ch.11 [discusses race-based issues with a useful summary of some of the key literature]

Shaw, A. (2012) ‘Do you Identify as a Gamer? Gender, Race, Sexuality and Gamer Identity’, New media and society. , vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 28-44. [this is a slightly different paper which looks at how gamers construct senses of their own identity. It is thus interesting in showing how representations within games could have causal influence, at least at the margins. It also argues that games targeted at particular social groups do not work].

Sisler, V. (2008) ‘Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games’, European Journal of Cultural Studies , Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 203-20.

Games which have something to say about race are:

[the following have been accused of offering negative racial (black) stereotypes]

• Grand Theft Auto series;

• Urban sports games e.g. NBA Street; NFL Street.

• Def Jam Icon

• True Crime: Streets of LA

• 50 Cent: Bulletproof; 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

• Resident Evil 5

NB I am struggling to identify many games which offer positive racial role models but one that does spring to mind is:

· Beyond Good and Evil.

That said, an increasing trend is for games to offer choice of the race/ethnicity of your avatar which is opens up multiple games to analysis.

Brock, A. (2011) ‘“When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”: Resident Evil 5, Racial Representation and Gamers’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 429-52. [covers the controversy around the release of RE5 and in particular its setting in Africa with the use of Africans as the enemies within the context of a survival horror game – interesting!]


Top of page

Games and Gender (lecture, week 5; seminar, week 6)

Introductory Question

Q1) How have women and men been represented in games? What do you think of the view that most games portray women and men in a highly damaging way?

Key Seminar Questions

Q2) ‘Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? ’ Which view best describes Lara Croft?

Political Question

Q3) ‘Games are typical of patriarchal dominance; politically they are highly damaging to women’. Discuss.


Textbook reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/2012/16) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), pp. 161-6; 240-1. Pages in 2012 edition are: 171-5; 274-5 [use also the index on gender]. NB I will add the page references for the 2016 edition when it is in the library.

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Sage), Ch. 11 on games and gender [really clear summary]

Key reading

Cassel, J. and Jenkins, H. (1998) ‘Chess for Girls? Feminism and Computer Games’ in J. Cassell and H. Jenkins (eds.) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat : gender and computer games Games (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 1. [Whilst a little dated, this is arguably the classic account of games and gender]. Available electronically at: http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/justine/publications/gg_introduction.pdf

Children now. (2001) Fair Play? Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games, (Oakland, CA: Children Now), Published December 2001. http://publications.childrennow.org/publications/media/fairplay_2001b.cfm [covers both race, gender and violence, demonstrating considerable overlap between some of the themes within the discussion of gender and race]

Curlew, A. (2005) ‘Liberal Sims? Simulated Difference and the Commodity of Social Diversity’, Paper presented at the 2005 Digital Games Research Conference (DiGRA). Available at: http://www.digra.org/dl/db/06276.47199.pdf

Jansz, J. and Martis, R. (2007) ‘The Lara Phenomenon: Powerful Female Characters in Video Games’, Sex roles. , vol. 56, no. 3-4, pp. 141-8. Available electronically

Jenson, J. and de Castell, S. (2010) ‘Gender, Simulation, and Gaming: Research Review and Redirections’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 51-71. [Offers a wide-ranging review of a great many of the key themes in relation to the debate on games and gender. Overall, a very useful introduction to the subject].

Kennedy, H. (2002) ‘Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? On the Limits of Textual Analysis’, Game studies [electronic resource]. vol. 2, no. 2. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0202/kennedy/

Richard, G.T. (2013) ‘Gender and Gameplay: Research and Future Directions’ in B. Bigl & S. Stoppe (eds.) Playing with Virtuality: Theories and Methods of Computer Game Studies, (Frankfurt: Peter Lang Academic), pp. 269-284. Available at: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/234082105_Gender_and_Game_Play_Research_and_Future_Directions/file/50463522d2d0c04fea.pdf [Offers a wide-ranging review of a great many of the key themes in relation to the debate on games and gender. Overall, a very useful introduction to the subject.

Williams, D. et. al (2009) ‘The Virtual Census: Representations of Gender, Race and Age in Video Games’, New media and society. vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 815-34. [This offers classic content analysis of a whole raft of games, with findings in tune with those of the Children Now report]. Available electronically.

Other Reading

Behm-Morawitz, E. and Mastro, D. (2009) ‘The Effects of the Sexualization of Female Video Game Characters on Gender Stereotyping and Female Self-Concept’, Sex roles. , vol. 61, 11-12, pp. 808-23.Bryce, J. and Rutter, J. (2002) ‘Killing Like a Girl: Gendered Gaming and Girl Gamers’ Visibility’ in F. Mayra (ed.) Computer Games and Digital Cultures: Conference Proceedings (Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press), pp. 243-56. [moves beyond the textual reading of games to look at games and gender in their social context]. Available at: http://digiplay.info/files/cgdc.pdf

Bryce, J. and Rutter, J. (2002) ‘Killing Like a Girl: Gendered Gaming and Girl Gamers’ Visibility’ in F. Mayra (ed.) Computer Games and Digital Cultures: Conference Proceedings (Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press), pp. 243-56. [moves beyond the textual reading of games to look at games and gender in their social context]. Available at: http://digiplay.info/files/cgdc.pdf

Burrill, D. (2008) Die tryin' : videogames, masculinity, culture (New York: Peter Lang Publishing). This is highly useful for the discussion on games and gender and also contains some nice illustrative commentary.

Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A. and Schott, G. (2006) Computer games : text, narrative and play . (Cambridge: Polity), Ch. 12 on games and gender is really accessible.

Cassell, J. and Cramer, M. (2008) ‘High Tech or High Risk: Moral Panics about Girls Online’ in T. McPherson (ed.) Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), pp. 53–76. [Whilst primarily focused on how women are perceived online generally, it provides useful context for a discussion of portraits of gender and games]. Available at: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/dmal.9780262633598.053

Chambers, D. (2012) ‘Wii play as a family’: the rise in family-centred video gaming, Leisure Studies , 31:1, 69-82.

Consalvo, M. (2003) ‘Hot Dates and Fairy-Tale Romances: Studying Sexuality in Video Games’ in M. Wolf and B. Perron (eds.) The Video Game Theory Reader (London: Routledge), pp. 171-194.

Corneliussen, H. (2008) ‘World of Warcraft as a Playground for Feminism’ in H. Corneliussen and J. Rettberg (eds.) Digital culture, play, and identity : a World of Warcraft reader (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 3 on gender.

Cunningham, C. (2011) ‘Girl game designers’, New media and society. 13 (December 2011): 1373-1388 [nice front end review of the key literature and an interesting series of experiments which demonstrate that environment is key to female empowerment through games development].

Curlew, A. (2005) ‘Liberal Sims? Simulated Difference and the Commodity of Social Diversity’, Paper presented at the 2005 Digital Games Research Conference (DiGRA). Available at: http://www.digra.org/dl/db/06276.47199.pdf

Dill, K. (2009) How fantasy becomes reality : seeing through media influence (New York: Oxford University Press). [Karen Dill is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of violence and videogames. It is thus important supplementary reading, albeit quite scientific in orientation], Ch. 4 on games, race and gender.

Dines, G. and Humez, J.M. (eds.) (2011) Gender, Race and Class in Media: a Critical Reader (London: Sage), 3rd Edition. [We also have a number of copies of the earlier editions if this one is out].

Dyson, L. (2008) ‘Tenage Girls “Play House”: The Cyber-drama of The Sims’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockman (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 19.

Ferguson, C. J. (2012), Positive Female Role-Models Eliminate Negative Effects of Sexually Violent Media. Journal of communication. , 62: 888–899.

Gee, J.P. and Hayes, E.R. (2010) Women and gaming : the Sims and 21st century learning (Basingstoke: Palgrave). Available as an e-book.

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds : (Boston: Little Brown & Co), Ch.14 on gender.

Hjorth, L. and Chan, D. (eds.) (2009) Gaming cultures and place in Asia-Pacific (London: Routledge), Ch. 14.

Jansz, J., Avis, C. and Vosmeer, M. (2010) ‘Playing The Sims2: an exploration of gender differences in players’ motivations and patterns of play’, New media and society., vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 235-51. Looks in detail at the profile of players of the Sims2 and for their motivations for playing, revealing interesting differences of motivation of male and female players.

Jenkins, H. (1998) ‘“Complete Freedom of Movement”: Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces’ in J. Cassell and H. Jenkins (eds.) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat : gender and computer games (Cambridge, MA: The MIT press), Ch.12. This also available electronically at: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/complete.html Available electronically.

Jenkins, H. (1998) ‘Voices from the Combat Zone: Game Grrlz Talk Back’ in J. Cassell and H. Jenkins (eds.) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat : gender and computer games (Cambridge, MA: The MIT press), Ch.14. This also available electronically at: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/gamegrrlz.html

Kafai, Y. et al. (eds.) (2008) Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat : new perspectives on gender and gaming (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). This has a number of interesting studies and can be seen as a follow up to Jenkins and Cassell’s earlier classic. Indeed Jenkins and Cassell provide a retrospective within the book which is available at: http://www.soc.northwestern.edu/justine/publications/Jenkins_Cassell%20BBMK_Forward.pdf

Kennedy, H. (2007) ‘Female Quake Players and the Politics of Identity’ in B. Atkins and T. Kryzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester University Press), Ch. 7.

Martins, N. et al. (2009) ‘A Content Analysis of Female Body Imagery in Video Games’, Sex roles., vol. 61, no. 11-12, pp. 824-36. [incredibly detailed evaluation of avatars which reveals interesting (and contrasting) findings in games targeted at adults and children] O’Riordan, K. (2001) ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’ in S. Munt (ed.) Technospaces : inside the new media (London: Continuum), Ch. 14.

MacCallum-Stewart, E. (2014) ‘“Take That, Bitches!” Refiguring Lara Croft in Feminist Game Narratives’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , 14/2. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/1402/articles/maccallumstewart

Near, C. (2013) ‘Selling Gender: Associations of Box Art Representation of Female Characters With Sales for Teen- and Mature-rated Video Games’, Sex roles. , 68 (2): 252-69. [large n quantitative study which reveals that games with women predominantly on the box sell poorly compared to those which feature male characters/non-human characters].

O’Riordan, K. (2001) ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’ in S. Munt (ed.) Technospaces : inside the new media (London: Continuum), Ch. 14.

Poole, Steven (2004) Trigger happy : the inner life of videogames (London: Fourth Estate). [Ch. 7 covers gender in a very accessible style, see especially pp. 154-64]. Available at: http://stevenpoole.net/blog/trigger-happier/.

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 18; Ch. 19.

Ritterfield, U., Cody, M. and Vorderer, P. (eds.) (2009) Serious games : mechanisms and effects (London: Routledge), Ch. 14 and Ch. 15.

Royse, R. et al. (2007) ‘Women and Games: Technologies of the Gendered Self’, New media and society. , vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 555-76. [Offers a nice combination of summary of existing knowledge, a reading of gender theory and some original empirical work]. Available electronically.

Selfe, C. and Hawisher, G. (eds.) (2007) Gaming lives in the twenty-first century : literate connections . Basingstoke: Palgrave, Ch.9. [Discusses sexuality with a useful summary of some of the key literature].

Shaw, A. (2012) ‘Do you Identify as a Gamer? Gender, Race, Sexuality and Gamer Identity’, New media and society., vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 28-44. [this reflects the other literature on ‘girl gamers etc.’ which looks at how gamers construct senses of their own identity. It is thus interesting in showing how representations within games could have causal influence, at least at the margins. It also argues that games targeted at particular social groups do not work].

Smith, S. (2006) ‘Perps, Pimps, and Provocative Clothing: Examining Negative Content Patterns in Video Games’ in P. Vorderer and J. Bryant (eds.) Playing video games : motives, responses, and consequences (Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), pp. 57-76.

Thornham, H. (2011) Ethnographies of the videogame : gender, narrative and praxis (Aldershot: Ashgate). [A relatively specialist book with a focus primarily on gender. But does make some interesting points and makes interesting reading for the more advanced student]. This is available as an e-book.

Walkerdine, V. (2009) Children, gender, video games : towards a relational approach to multimedia (Basingstoke: Palgrave) [Genuinely interesting but look at ch.4. ch.6 and the conclusion in particular for this weeks topic].

Wohn, D. (2011) ‘Gender and Race Representation in Casual Games’, Sex roles. , vol. 65, no.3-4, pp. 198-207. [Examines casual web-based games finding that they do not conform to the ‘norm’ in videogames research – i.e. sexual representations are not stereotypical and women are the dominant characters].

Games which have something to say about gender are:

· Examples which have been cited as offering negative gender representations: Tomb Raider; Ninja Gaiden; Soul Caliber;

· Games which are in general seen as gender neutral: The Sims (discuss!); Wii Sports; Sing Star;

· Games which have more positive female leads are: Mirrors Edge; Tomb Raider [although this is heavily debated in the literature]; Metroid Series

Examples of so called ‘games for girls’: Cooking Mama; Barbie Horse Adventure

Atkins, B. (2003) More than a game : the computer game as fictional form (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Ch. 2 covers discussion of Tomb Raider.

Ciccoricco, D. (2012) ‘Narrative, Cognition, and the Flow of Mirror’s Edge’ , Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 4, pp. 263-80. Faith is a very important character in the debate on positive female models within games and hence this article is useful for the discussion of games and gender. There article also offers useful insights into the reading of games.

Top of page

Games, Work and Social Change (Lecture, week 6; seminar, week 7)

Introductory Questions

Q1) What is the nature of contemporary social change? Can games fill the ‘hole’ between home and work?

Key Debate Question

Q2) Can virtual worlds and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) successfully operate as sites for networking and social interaction?

Political Question

Q3) What is the potential of virtual worlds and MMORPGs for political activity?

Textbook reading

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Sage), Ch. 10 on community/identity

Key Reading

Pearce, C. (2006) ‘Productive Play: Game Culture From the Bottom Up’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 17-24

Putnam, R. (1995) ‘Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital’, Journal of democracy. , vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 65-78 [this is the foundation stone for much of the debate on the extent to which the third place is declining. It forms an important backdrop to discussions as to whether or not games can fill in for this decline in social capital].

Schulzke, M. (2011) ‘How Games Support Associational Life: Using Tocqueville to Understand the Connection’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 354-72. [This is an excellent paper which explicitly links to Putnam’s work on social capital to argue that Tocqueville’s work is crucial to understanding the positive potential of videogames in terms of building new modes of political association]

Williams, D. (2006) ‘Why Game Studies Now? Gamers Don’t Bowl Alone’, Games and Culture , Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 13-16.

Williams, D., Ducheneaut, N., Zhang, L., Yee, N. and Nickell, E. (2006) ‘From Tree House to Barracks: The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 4, pp.338-361.

I would also strongly recommend something by Edward Castronova (see main reading list) who is one of the foremost authorities on online gaming.

Other Reading

Bainbridge, W. (2010) The Warcraft civilization : social science in a virtual world (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) [Very useful to students who are interested in culture within online worlds].

Buckingham, D. (2006) ‘Is there a Digital Generation? ’ in D. Buckingham and R. Willet (eds.) Digital generations : children, young people and new media (London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), Ch. 1 [profiles the social changes occurring, showing how technology and generational change combine].

Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A. and Schott, G. (2006) Computer games : text, narrative and play . (Cambridge: Polity), Ch. 6-10 all raise a number of themes of interest in terms of games as social spaces.

Castronova, E. (2001) ‘Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier’, Gruter Institute Working Papers on Law, Economics and Evolutionary Biology, vol. 2, issue 1, article 1. Available at: http://www.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi? article=1008&context=giwp

Castronova, E. (2004-5) ‘The Right to Play’, New York Law School Law Review , vol. 49, no. 1, pp.185-210.

Castronova, E. (2006) Synthetic worlds : the business and culture of online games (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press).

Castronova, E. et al. (2007) ‘What is a Synthetic World? ’, in F. Borries, S. Walz and M. Böttger (eds.) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag), pp. 174-81.

Castronova, E. (2007) Exodus to the virtual world : how online fun is changing reality (Basingstoke: Palgrave), see in particular Ch.4; Ch. 7; Ch. 8; Ch. 9.

Chan, D. (2008) ‘Negotiating Online Computer Games in East Asia: Manufacturing Asian MMORPGS and Marketing “Asianness”’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 18.

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch. 6 covers MMORPG; Ch.8 looks at games and work.

Chee, F. (2006) ‘The Games We Play Online and Offline: Making Wang-tta in Korea’, Popular communication. vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 225-239. [Good sense of on and offline gaming, using extensive original work on Korea]

Corneliussen, H. and Rettberg, J. (eds.) (2008) Digital culture, play, and identity : a World of Warcraft reader (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Crawford, G., Gosling, V. and Light, B. (2011) Online gaming in context : the social and cultural significance of online games (London: Routledge). [A wide-ranging collection of essays covering both representation and ethnography/anthropology of online worlds. There are some important contributors in this volume.

Donovan, T. (2010) Replay : the history of video games (Lewes: Yellow Ant), Ch. 23 and 24.

Ernkvist, M. and Strom, P. (2008) ‘Enmeshed in Games with the Government: Governmental Policies and the Development of the Chinese Online Game Industry’, Games and Culture , vol.3, no.1, pp. 98-126.

Filiciak, M. (2003) ‘Hyperidentities: Postmodern Identity Patterns in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games’ in M. Wolf and B. Perron (eds.) The Video Game Theory Reader (London: Routledge), pp. 87-102.

Grimes, S. (2006) ‘Online Multiplayer Games: a Virtual Space for Intellectual Property Debates? ’, New media and society. vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 969-90. [This is really interesting, covering legal disputes within virtual worlds and also touching on modding and other cultural aspects of virtual worlds].

Guest, T. (2008) Second lives : A Journey Through Virtual Worlds (London: Arrow Books).

Hjorth, L. (2008) ‘Gaming in the Asia-Pacific’, Games and Culture – Special Issue, vol. 3, no. 1. Very useful with a number of the issues from Hjorth and Chan (below).

Hjorth, L. and Chan, D. (eds.) (2009) Gaming cultures and place in Asia-Pacific (London: Routledge) [Lots of useful stuff in here for example Ch. 2; Ch. 4; Ch. 6; Ch. 8; Ch. 10].

Humphreys, S. (2008) ‘Ruling the virtual world: Governance in massively multiplayer online games’, European Journal of Cultural Studies , vol. 11, pp. 149-171.

Humphreys, S. (2009) ‘Norrath: New Forms, Old Institutions’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 9, no. 1. [Quite a detailed piece on Everquest which sets out both the legal and governance aspects of MMOs but also discusses the place of work, user generated content and their relationship to capitalism]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0901/articles/humphreys

Jansz, J. and Martens, L. (2005) ‘Gaming at a LAN event: the Social Context of Playing Video Games’, New media and society. , vol. 7, no.3, pp. 333-55. This offers a combination of the motives for players at LAN parties and a sense of their profile, confirming a number of stereotypes!

Jin, D.Y. (2010) Korea’s Online Gaming Empire (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). [Whilst a little esoteric, Korea is arguably a critical country to study as the society with the most intense use of online gaming in the world], Ch. 6 online gaming

Kryzwinska, T. (2007) ‘Being a Determined Agent in (the) World of Warcraft: text/play/identity’ in B. Atkins and T. Krzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester University Press), Ch. 6.

Lastowka, G. (2009) ‘Planes of Power: EverQuest as Text, Game and Community’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 9, no. 1. [Similarly detailed to the Humphreys article above with an interesting discussion of the difficulties with the application of legal frameworks to game-based disputes]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0901/articles/lastowka

Ludlow, P. and Wallace, M. (2007) The Second Life Herald : the virtual tabloid that witnessed the dawn of the metaverse (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [a fascinating account of the conflict between a virtual newspaper and the ‘controllers’ of online game spaces]

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture (London: Routledge), Ch. 7.

McGregor Wise, J. (2003) ‘Community, Affect and the Virtual: The Politics of Cyberspace’ in B. Kolko (ed.) Virtual publics : policy and community in an electronic age (New York: Columbia University Press), Ch. 4 [whilst not specifically connected with online gaming it offers a lot of very interesting insights into online politics more generally which are clearly applicable].

Monson, M. (2012) ‘Race-Based Fantasy Realm: Essentialism in the World of Warcraft’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 1, pp. 48-71. This is useful for both the topics on race and for on MMOs. The paper argues that many of the racial tensions within WoW replicate those within the real world.

Mortensen, T. (2006) ‘WoW is the New MUD: Social Gaming from Text to Video’, Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 397-413. [This provides some background which his quite handy of you are unfamiliar with what MMORPGs even are!]. Available electronically . This is reproduced in P. Nayar (ed.) (2010) The new media and cybercultures anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell), ch. 26.

Page, R. (2012) ‘Leveling Up: Playerkilling as Ethical Self-Cultivation’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no, 3, pp. 238-57. Whilst potentially a little esoteric this article does include a very good review of the literature on MMOs from a Western perspective. The key point is that Chinese players do not see the game as separate from real-life but actually see the virtual and real world as inter-connected with real world rules on ethical play profoundly influencing virtual world rules.

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008) Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives (New York: Basic Books) [use the index to search for community; culture].

Payne, M. (2010) ‘”F*ck You, Noob Tube!”: Learning the Art of Ludic LAN War’ in N. Huntemann and M. Payne (eds.) Joystick soldiers : the politics of play in military video games (London: Routledge), Ch. 11. [sets out some of the cultures and habits which are observable within online multiplayer shoot-em-up gaming]

Pearce, C. and Artemesia (2009) Communities of play : emergent cultures in multiplayer games and virtual worlds (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). [Cynthia Pearce writes well and is one of the foremost exponents of work on cultures within online worlds. This is thus of real interest, particularly to those with interest in her work on the Uru diaspora].

Rowlands, T. (2012) Video game worlds : working at play in the culture of Everquest (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press). [A detailed ethnographic study of gamers and gameplay in Everquest which reveals a strong emphasis on work rather than play].

Snodgrass, J. et. al. (2012) ‘Restorative Magical Adventure or Warcrack? Motivated MMO Play and the Pleasures and Perils of Online Experience’, Games and Culture, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 3-28. [Offers a balanced review which sets out both the ways in which MMOs are potentially addictive but also shows the positive benefits from online play]. Taylor, T. (2009) Play between worlds : exploring online game culture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Taylor, T. (2009) Play between worlds : exploring online game culture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Williams, D., Kennedy, T. and Moore. R. (2011) ‘Behind the Avatar: The Patterns, Practices, and Functions of Role Playing in MMOs’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 171-200. A detailed ethnographic study of the nature of players and their motives/benefits for play in MMOs.

Williams, J.P. and Smith, J.H. (eds.) (2007) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc) [lots of very interesting content. See in particular Ch. 1-4]

Wright, J.T., Embrick, D.G. and Lukács, A. (eds.) (2010) Utopic dreams and apocalyptic fantasies : critical approaches to researching video game play (Lanham, MA: Lexington Books), Ch.6; 11; 12 on identity and virtual worlds.

NB the rest of Games and Culture , vol. 1, no. 4 contains a special issue devoted to the study of MMOs. Not all of these articles are great but most contain something of interest.

Games which have something to say about the ‘third place’ are:

Massive Multi-player Online games such as World of Warcraft;
Online collaborative games such as Left 4 Dead; CounterStrike; Day Z
The online console friends list! e.g, Fifa, Call of Duty etc.

Film

Second Skin. This is available via the following URL: http://www.zshare.net/video/65748438e95ae711

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Games and Capitalism (Lecture week 7; seminar week 8)

Seminar Question

Q1) Reflecting on the production processes centred on games, how true is it to say that ‘games are products like any other’?

Political Questions

Q2) Do games embed support for capitalism?

Q3) How effective have games been at offering a critique of capitalism?

Textbook Reading

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT press). [there is a lot in this book on the persuasive potential of games in relation to capitalist accumulation. See both the discussion of adver games and also that on Animal Crossing]

Key Reading

Bogost, I. (2008) ‘The Rhetoric of Video Games’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), 117-40. Offers a wonderful illustrative vignette on Animal Crossing (p.117-20). [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3 ]

Cavalcanti, S. (2008) ‘Preconscious Apocalypse: The Failure of Capitalism in Computer Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 13.

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) ‘Empire@Play: Virtual Games and Global Capitalism’, Ctheory [electronic resource]. - Special Issue: Resetting Theory. Available at: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx? id=608 [Contains a summary of the argument offered in Dyer-Witherford and de Peuter’sbook].

Other Reading

Aarseth, E. (2006) ;’The Culture and Business of Cross-Media Productions’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 203- 11. [looks at cross licensing between games and movies (in particular) to show the difficulties with such work and to show that money is an overriding factor].

Beck, J. and Wade, M. (2004) Got game : how the gamer generation is reshaping business forever (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press). [This is a source which is cited by many others in terms of trying to understand how games are affecting the way in which people approach work. Beck and Wade claim that business practices need to change to account for the new skills acquired by gamers].

Brookey, R. (2010) Hollywood gamers : digital convergence in the film and video game industries (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press). [Offers particularly detailed coverage of convergence between the film and games industries].

Castronova, E. et al. (2009) ‘As Real as Real? Macroeconomic Behaviour in a Large-Scale Virtual World’, New media and society. , vol. 11, no.5, pp. 685-707. [Applies macro-economic analysis to the virtual economy to find that behaviour is similar to that in the real world economy].

Chang, Y. et al (2010) ‘Online In-Game Advertising Effect: Examining the Influence of a Match Between Games and Advertising’, Journal of interactive advertising [electronic resource]. , vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 63-73. [A large scale survey of players which reveals that - subject to certain caveats – that in-game advertising can be very successful. Ignore the charts and go straight for the introduction and conclusion!]

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch.8 looks at games and work.

Corneliussen, H. and Rettberg, J. (eds.) (2008) Digital culture, play, and identity : a World of Warcraft reader (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Deuze, M. (2007) Media work (Cambridge: Polity).

Dovey, J. and Kennedy, H. (2006) Game cultures : computer games as new media . Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) Games of empire : global capitalism and video games (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press). This is a forthcoming book (hopefully out by the time we get here!) which offers both a clear sense of how games serve to embed capitalism and support for militarization but also suggest their capacity to challenge them. A classic academic argument which is synthesized in a published article (see elsewhere).

Edery, D. and Mollick, E. (2008) Changing the game : how video games are transforming the future of business (Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press/Prentice Hall). [Good for the session on games and capitalism; good for the session on the nature of the games industry; material also on games and the changing nature of work].

Friedman,T. (1999 ‘The Semiotics of Sim City’, First Monday , 4 (4). Avilable at: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue4_4/friedman/index.html

Grimes, S. (2006) ‘Online Multiplayer Games: a Virtual Space for Intellectual Property Debates? ’, New media and society. , vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 969-90. [This is really interesting, covering legal disputes within virtual worlds and also touching on modding and other cultural aspects of virtual worlds].

Guest, T. (2008) Second lives : A Journey Through Virtual Worlds (London: Arrow Books). [very accessible and discusses the capacity of money making capacity of online entrepreneurs. Whilst this is about Second Life (not a game!) the parallels are clear].

Herman, A. et al. (2006) ‘Your Second Life? Goodwill and the Performativity of Intellectual Property in Online Digital Gaming’, Cultural studies. , vol. 20, no. 2-3, pp. 184-210. Available electronically. Reproduced in P. Nayar (ed.) (2010) The new media and cybercultures anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell), ch. 29.

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds : (Boston: Little Brown & Co), Ch.17 on games and capitalism.

Humphreys, S. (2009) ‘Norrath: New Forms, Old Institutions’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 9, no. 1. [Quite a detailed piece on Everquest which sets out both the legal and governance aspects of MMOs but also discusses the place of work, user generated content and their relationship to capitalism]. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0901/articles/humphreys

Jin, D.Y. (2010) Korea’s Online Gaming Empire (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). [Whilst a little esoteric, Korea is arguably a critical country to study as the society with the most intense use of online gaming in the world. It has interesting material for the debate on games and capitalism].

Johns, J. (2006) ‘Video Games Production Networks: Value Capture, Power Relations and Embeddedness’, Journal of economic geography , vol. 6, no. 2, 151-80 [lots of really interesting information on the nature of the industry and the production processes therein].

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games : gamework/gameplay . London: Sage, Ch. 3-4. Available as an e-book.

Kline, S., Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2003) Digital play : the interaction of technology, culture, and marketing (Montréal; London: McGill-Queen's University Press).

Lin, H. and Sun, C.-T. (2011) ‘Cash Trade in Free-to-Play Online Games’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 270-87. [Looks at the way in which free to play MMOs are encouraging an increasing commercialisation of videogame spaces].

Lobo, D. (2007) ‘Playing with Urban Life: How SimCity Influences Planning Culture’, in F. Borries, S. Walz and M. Böttger (eds.) Space time play : computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag), pp. 206-13.

Malaby, T. (2007) ‘Beyond Play: A New Approach to Games’, Games and Culture , vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 95-113. [This article becomes progressively more interesting (and relevant) as it goes on. You can probably ignore the beginning and start from p.101]. Available electronically.

Molesworth, M. and Denegri-Knott, J. (2008) ‘Desire for Commodities and Fantastic Consumption in Digital Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 14.

Payne, M. (2012) ‘Marketing Military Realism in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’, Games and Culture , vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 305-27. [This looks specifically at the way in which CoD can be linked to advertising and marketing and so is of clear interest to the discussion of games and capitalism. There is also some material here of tangential interest to the discussion of the military entertainment complex].

Postigo, H. (2016) ‘The socio-technical architecture of digital labor: Converting play into YouTube money’, New media and society. , vol. 18, no.2, pp.332-349.

Shaffer, D. (2008) How computer games help children learn . Basingstoke: Palgrave. Ch. 6 on urban development/Sim City [this is a little tangential to the specific discussion of capitalism but is interesting in terms of background]

Starr, P. (1994) ‘Seductions of sim: Policy as a simulation game’ American Prospect , 5 (17), 19–29. Available at: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles? article=seductions_of_sim

Vanolo, A. (2012) ‘The political geographies of Liberty City’, City : analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. , vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 284-98. This provides a deep reading of both Grand Theft Auto as game but also of liberty city as place and so is a good example for students. There are also interesting themes here in terms of the discussion of games and capitalism

Walkerdine, V. (2007) Children, gender, video games : towards a relational approach to multimedia (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 7 (video games in a global market).

Zhang, L. and Fung, A.Y.H. (2014) ‘Working as playing? Consumer labor, guild and the secondary industry of online gaming in China’, New media and society. , vol. 16, no.1, pp. 38-54.

Games which have something to say about capitalism are:

• Animal Crossing; the Sims; SimCity; GTA series; The McDonald’s Videogame; Volvo: Drive for Life; Disaffected!; BioShock

Aldred, J. and Greenspan, B. (2011) ‘A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys: BioShock and the Dystopian Logic of Convergence’, Games and Culture , vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 479-96. [Offers detailed reading of BioShock alongside interesting insights into games and capitalism. An excellent example of critical review, albeit rather deep].

Atkins, B. (2003) More than a game : the computer game as fictional form (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Ch. 5 covers discussion of SimCity.

Bittani, M. (2007) ‘All to Urban: to Live and Die in SimCity’ in B. Atkins and T. Krzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester: Manchester University Press), Ch. 2 [covers SimCity which is a classic game and has been discussed in terms of the politics of urban planning].

Bogost, I. (2006) ‘Videogames and Ideological Frames’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 165-183. [gives excellent examples of how games can contain political messages – good as example of critical review of a game. Pp. 176-80 offer some sharp insights into GTA: SA and ideology centred on embedding American conservative values – gluttony, obesity, poverty and food, for example.]

Loguidice, B. and Barton, M. (2009) Vintage games : an insider look at the history of Grand theft auto, Super Mario and the most influential games of all time (Oxford: Focal Press), Ch. 15 on SimCity; Ch. 22 on The Sims. Available Electronically.

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Games and Learning (Lecture week 8; seminar week 9)

Introductory Question

Q1) Do you think that games can be useful for learning?

Key Seminar Questions

Q2) ‘Most games are dangerous for learning as they contain all manner of factual and historical inaccuracies’. Discuss.

Q3) Reflect on the link between learning and the persuasive potential of games. How close a link is there? If games are persuasive does this mean that they inform learning?

Political Questions

Q4) ‘The debate on videogames and learning is as much about politics as it is about education’. Discuss.

Textbook Reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/2013) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), 2008: Ch. 9 (especially pp. 210-222); 2013: Ch.8 (esp. 231-244)on games, education and learning.

Bogost, I. (2007) Persuasive games : the expressive power of videogames (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press) [please use the index under the heading ‘learning’].

Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) (2006) Understanding digital games (London: Sage), Ch. 13 on games and education.

Key reading

Gee, J. (2008) What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy . Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2nd Edition. [Gee’s work on learning and literacy has over a 6000 citations on google scholar!]

Gee, J. (2008) ‘The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), pp. 21-40. [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3

Kee, K. (2011) ‘Computerized History Games: Narrative Options’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 423-40. All in all this is really quite interesting. The latter half of the article starts from first principles and asks ‘what are our goals in teaching history? ’ and from this makes it clear that different kinds of games would be useful for different kinds of questions.

Schut, K. (2007) ‘Strategic Simulations and Our Past: The Bias of Computer Games in the Presentation of History’, Games and Culture , vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 213-35. [This is an interesting paper which shows how games can help us to learn about history and shows the inbuilt biases contained in their portrayal of history].

Other Reading

NB – the journal Simulation and Gaming (available in the library and electronically) has a huge number of articles focused specifically on the serious potential of games. These do vary quite substantially in terms of focus and I have tried to identify some useful sources below but I would strongly recommend a browse if you are interested in this topic.

Bittani, M. (2007) ‘All to Urban: to Live and Die in SimCity’ in B. Atkins and T. Krzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester: Manchester University Press), Ch. 2 [covers SimCity which is a classic game, extensively used in an educational context].

Bogost, I. et al (2010) Newsgames : journalism at play (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [This is a useful book which builds on Bogost’s earlier persuasive games thesis to offer a normative case for using games to communicate the news].

Bogost, I. and Poremba, C. (2008) ‘Can Games Get Real? A Closer Look at “Documentary” Digital Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockman (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 2.

Carr, D. (2007) ‘The Trouble with Civilization’ in B. Atkins and T. Krzywinska (eds.) Videogame, player, text (Manchester: Manchester University Press), Ch. 13 [covers Civ which is another classic game, and which has been extensively debated in terms of its historical messages].

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch. 9 on serious games; Ch.10 looks at games and serious issues.

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), Ch. 4. [chapter on allegories of control offers extensive discussion of Civilisation arguing that it contains racist assumptions within it].

Gee, J. (2004) Situated language and learning : a critique of traditional schooling (London: Routledge) [Ch. 5 is specifically on learning and games. Judicious use of the index may also reveal some interesting material! There is a lot here on games and capitalism [passim] etc.]

Gee, J. (2005) ‘Learning by Design: Good Video Games as Learning Machines’, e-learning vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 5-16.

Hsu, H-Y and Wang, S-K (2010) ‘Using Gaming Literacies to Cultivate New Literacies’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 400-17

This is almost a handbook for teachers which is designed in an uncritical (un-self reflective fashion) to set out why teachers could/should use games. It is useful in setting out the positives but problematic in that it is bereft or critical thinking.

Ito, M. (2008) ‘Education vs. Entertainment: A Cultural History of Children's Software’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), pp.89-116. [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games : gamework/gameplay : London: Sage, Ch. 6 on games and learning.

Oliver, M. and Pelletier, C. (2006) ‘Activity Theory and Learning from Digital Games: Developing an Analytical Methodology’ in D. Buckingham and R. Willet (eds.) Digital generations : children, young people and new media (London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), Ch. 5 [quite deep so don’t worry if you can’t get it!]

O’Neil, H. and Perez, E. (eds.) (2007) Computer games and team and individual learning . Amsterdam: Elsevier Science. [This is quite scientific in orientation but will give you knowledge about games and learning]

Oris, K. et al (2010) ‘Are Soldiers Gamers? Videogame Usage Amongst Soldiers and Implications for Effective Use of Serious Videogames Military Training’, Military psychology , vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 143-57. [An interesting paper which sets out to challenge a common assumption that soldiers are gamers. The findings are important because the effectiveness of game-based training is largely conditional on soldiers being enthusiastic gamers].

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008) Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives (New York: Basic Books) [use the index to search for education and learning].

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 6.

Raphael, C., Bache, C. M. and Hernández-Ramos, P. F. (2012) ‘Flow and cooperative learning in civic game play’, New media and society. , This is only available as early view at present as it has not been published in the printed journal. [The article argues that games work to enhance learning via a combination of flow (challenge which facilitates motivation) alongside cooperative elements which are emphasised in many games. The hypotheses were explored through a scientifically-based study of USA college students]

Ritterfeld, U., Cody, M. and Vorderer, P. (eds.) (2009) Serious games : mechanisms and effects (London: Routledge). [Part II, Section one looks at the role of serious games within educational environments. See also Ch. 26]

Shaffer, D. (2008) How computer games help children learn Basingstoke: Palgrave.[there are 3 copies in the library. I need to check specific content? , Ch. 6 on urban development/Sim City.

Spring, D. (2015): Gaming history: computer and video games as historical scholarship, Rethinking history: The Journal of Theory and Practice , DOI: 10.1080/13642529.2014.973714 [this is only available as online first at present].

Squire, K. (2002) ‘Cultural Framing of Computer/Video Games’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , vol. 2, no. 1. Available at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/squire/

Squire, K. (2008) ‘Open-Ended Video Games: A Model for Developing Learning for the Interactive Age’ in K. Salen (ed.) The ecology of games : connecting youth, games, and learning (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press), 167-98. [This book has been sponsored by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning and is available as open access at the following address: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/toc/dmal/-/3

Susi, T., Johannesson, M. and Backlund, P. (2007) Serious Games – an Overview: Technical Report (University of Skovde, Sweden). Available at: http://www.autzones.com/din6000/textes/semaine12/SusiEtAl(2005).pdf

Tobias, S. and Fletcher, J. (eds.) (2011) Computer games and instruction (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing). [Useful background supplementary reading for the topic on games and learning].

Weir, K. and Baranowski, M. (2011) ‘Simulating History to Understand International Politics’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 441-61. [There is a rich array of literature on the use of commercial games to teach history, much of which makes use of Civilization - this article adds to this. The article tends to present what can be learnt almost as a list (i.e. feeling rather like a checklist for teachers rather than a critical analysis) - it could thus benefit from being a little more critical/argument based!]


Games which have something to say about learning are:

Of course by definition almost everything can be looked at here. But often cited examples are:

Civilization; SimCity; Global Conflicts: Palestine; Making History: The Calm and the Storm; America’s Army; Under Siege.

Gee also cites less obvious examples such as Pikmin; Operation Flashpoint


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Games and Violence (Lecture, week 9; seminar, week 10)

Introductory Question

Q1) Set out the nature of the violence debate? How convincing do you find it?

Political Questions

Q2) ‘The problem is not violent games it is liberal censorship laws’. Discuss.

Q3) ‘The debate on violence is a political one, there is little credibility in the science’. Discuss.

Q4) How and why has the political establishment responded differently in different countries to video games?

Q5) Should games be regulated by national statue or is the predominant focus on voluntary frameworks adequate?

The reading for this topic is split into two sections – the first on the debate on violence in general; the second on the political establishments response to that debate. It would be good to dip into both sections of the list.


Textbook chapter

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/2013) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), Ch. 10 on games and harm to the player. Ch. 9 in 2012 edition [part 1: the violence debate]; Ch. 6 (especially pp. 132-45; pp. 161-7 (2nd edition) [part 2: on the response of the political establishment. It is particularly useful on the different conceptualisations of games set out within moral panics].

Newman, J. (2004/2013) Videogames (London: Routledge),ch.4 on affects literature [part 1; 2013 edition, pp.63-72]. This is broader than just on games and violence but it is a useful overview of the debate on the impact of games [the violence debate]. Ch. 4 (2004) also offers a good overview of some of the commonly held ‘gaming myths’ [part 2].


Section 1: On violence - Key Reading

Byron Review – Children and New Technology (2008) Safer Children in a Digital World: the report of the Byron Review (London: Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). Available at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview/

Cover, R. (2006) ‘Gaming Ad(diction): Discourse, Identity, Time and Play in the Production of the Gamer Addiction Myth’, Game studies [electronic resource]. , Vol. 6, No.1. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0601/articles/cover .

Millwood, A. and Livingstone, S. (2006) Harm and offence in media content : a review of the evidence (Bristol, UK; Portland, Or. :Intellect), [Ch. 6 provides a very easy to read review of the factual affects-based research with a strong premium on the violence debate. It is very good for what the academic writing has to say on the subject. It is then for you guys to interpret that writing]. This is available as an electronic book

Robinson, N. (2012) ‘Videogames and Violence: Legislating on the ‘Politics of Confusion’, The political quarterly. , vol. 83, no. 2, pp. 414-23. [Forgive plugging my own work! The article offers a comparative analysis of legislative responses in the UK and USA to show that the primary motives of politicians in the UK for changing to the PEGI framework is to avoid tackling irresponsible parenting]

Other reading

Anderson, C. A., Gentile, D. A. and Buckley, K.E. (2007) Violent video game effects on children and adolescents : theory, research, and public policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press), Ch. 1 offers a brief history; Ch. 2 sets out some methodological issues; Ch. 9 sketches out implications for public policy. These authors are arguably the key proponents of the ‘games cause violence’ thesis. [There are a number of publications by Gentile directly from his website at: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/~dgentile/publications.htm Craig Anderson’s work is available at: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/recpub.html

Bartlett, C., Anderson, C. and Swing, L. (2009) ‘Video Game Effects—Confirmed, Suspected, and Speculative: A Review of the Evidence’, Simulation & Gaming , vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 377-403.

Children now. (2001) Fair Play? Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games, (Oakland, CA: Children Now), Published December 2001. http://publications.childrennow.org/publications/media/fairplay_2001b.cfm [covers both race, gender and violence]

Dill, K. (2009) How fantasy becomes reality : seeing through media influence (New York: Oxford University Press). [Karen Dill is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of violence and videogames. It is thus important supplementary reading, albeit quite scientific in orientation].

Donovan, T. (2010) Replay : the history of video games (Lewes: Yellow Ant), Ch. 18 covers the Mortal Kombat controversy; Ch. 27 on the GTA series.

Eastin, M. and Griffiths, R. (2009) ‘Unreal: hostile expectations from social gameplay’, New media and society. , vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 509-31.

Gentile, D. and Anderson, C. (2006) ‘Violent Video Games: The Effects on Youth, and Public Policy Implications’ in N. Dowd, D. Singer and R. Wilson (eds.) Handbook of children, culture, and violence (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage), pp. 225-246. Available at: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/abstracts/2005-2009/05GA2.pdf

Hebst, C. (2008) ‘Programming Violence: Language and the Making of Interactive Media’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 7.

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds (Boston: Little Brown & Co), Ch.15 on violent video games.

Higgin, T. (2006) ‘Play-Fighting: Understanding Violence in Grand Theft Auto III’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, N.J.: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch. 4.

House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2008) Harmful content on the Internet and in video games : tenth report of session 2007-08. Vol. 1, Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence (London: Stationery Office). The following is the URL of the final report which contains a summary of the evidence: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcumeds/353/353.pdf

Jenkins, H. (2006) ‘The War Between Effects and Meaning: Rethinking the Video Game Violence Debate’ in D. Buckingham and R. Willet (eds.) Digital generations : children, young people and new media (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence and Erlbaum Associates), Ch. 2.

Kirsh, S. (2012) Children, adolescents, and media violence : a critical look at the research (London: Sage). [Whilst quite detailed and covering debates which are broader than the module, there is a lot of important insight here. The earlier chapters cover general debates on media affects and there is a specific chapter on game-related violence].

Klimmt, C. et al. (2008) ‘“Moral Management”: Dealing with Moral Concerns to Maintain Enjoyment of Violent Video Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 11.

Kutner, L. and Olson, C. (2008) Grand theft childhood : the surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do (New York: Simon and Schuster), Ch. 6.

Kutner, L.A. et al. (2008) ‘Parents' and Sons' Perspectives on Video Game Play: A Qualitative Study’. Journal of Adolescent Research , January 2008, pp. 6-96. [a combination of context alongside research findings to challenge some of the dominant negativity surrounding games].

Mäyrä, F. (2008) An introduction to game studies : games in culture (London: Sage), Ch. 6 covers the 1990s which was the decade within which debates on violence came to the fore. There is a good discussion of Doom here also.

McCaughey-Summers, D. and Summers, R. (2007) ‘Gaming, Agency, and Imagination: Locating Gaming within a Larger Constellation of Literacies’ in C. Selfe and G. Hawisher (eds.) Gaming lives in the twenty-first century : literate connections (Basingstoke: Palgrave), pp.121-4 [nice snappy introduction to the videogames and violence controversy].

Olson, C.K., Kutner, L.A., & Warner, D.E. The role of violent video game content in adolescent development: Boys' perspectives. Journal of Adolescent Research , January 2008, pages 55-75. [Covers both the context within which much of this research has been conducted alongside their research data which actually challenges the dominant view that games have strong causal implications in terms of violence]. Available electronically.

Paul, C. (2012) Wordplay and the discourse of video games : analyzing words, design, and play (London: Routledge) [The book as a whole covers issues centred around discourse. It will be useful for the week on moral panic around games (i.e. this week and week 11)].

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 22; Ch. 23.

Vorderer, P. and Bryant, J. ( eds.) (2006) Playing video games : motives, responses, and consequences (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), Ch. 5; Ch. 9; Ch. 11.

Walkerdine, V. (2009) Children, gender, video games : towards a relational approach to multimedia (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 5.

Wannes Ribbens, W. and Malliet, S. (2014) ‘How male young adults construe their playing style in violent video games’, New media and society. , first published on April 14, 2014 as doi:10.1177/1461444814530821. At present this article is hosted on the online first section of the journal website. [looks at players playstyles as a crucial determinant of the violence they are subjected to].


Section 2 – on the response of the political establishment

The following is reading which is specifically focused on the response taken by the political establishment to videogames. Whilst much of this is focused on the violence debate it is not exclusively so.

Textbook Reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/12) Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction (London: Routledge), Ch. 6 (especially pp. 132-45; pp. 161-7 in 2nd edition) on games and the political establishment broadly defined. It is particularly useful on the different conceptualisations of games set out within moral panics.

Key Reading:

Bogost, I. (2007) ‘Persuasive Games: The Reverence Of Resistance’, Gamasutra: The Art and Business of Making Games. Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1689/persuasive_games_the_reverence_of_.php [This is a wonderful piece which shows in a very engaged way how to set out and discuss the critical reaction to a game].

Robinson, N. (2012) ‘Videogames and Violence: Legislating on the ‘Politics of Confusion’, The political quarterly. , vol. 83, no. 2, pp. 414-23. [Forgive plugging my own work! The article offers a comparative analysis of legislative responses in the UK and USA to show that the primary motives of politicians in the UK for changing to the PEGI framework is to avoid tackling irresponsible parenting] Available electronically.

Other Reading

Bogost, I. (2006) ‘Videogames and Ideological Frames’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 165-183. [gives excellent examples of how games can contain political messages – good as example of critical review of a game].

Chatfield, T. (2010) Fun Inc. : why games are the twenty-first century's most serious business (London: Virgin Books) [Very accessible albeit a little insubstantial if one was to be hardnosed about it! However, a nice wideranging celebration of the importance of videogames], Ch. 5 on the political establishment and the conceptualisation of games, Ch.7 on the games as art debate.

Cover, R. (2006) ‘Gaming Ad(diction): Discourse, Identity, Time and Play in the Production of the Gamer Addiction Myth’, Game Studies , Vol. 6, No.1. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/0601/articles/cover .

Dolan, B. (2006) ‘“Mortalk Kombat”: Illinois Violent Video Game Law Versus First Ammendment’, Children's Legal Rights Journal , vol. 26, no. 1, 75-90. [nice detail on the legal conflict over state legislation on games].

Finn, M. (2006) ‘Political Interface: The Banning of GTA3 in Australia’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch. 2. [very useful detail – good example of the workings of the political establishment]

Herz, J.C. (1997) Joystick nation : how videogames gobbled our money, won our hearts and rewired our minds (London: Abacus), Ch. 15 on violence also covers the debate over the legislative response.

Jones, P., Comfort, D. and Hillier, D. (2013) ‘Playing the game: corporate social responsibility and the games industry’, Journal of public affairs , vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 335-344.

Kahne, J., Middaugh, E. and Evans, C. (2008) ‘The Civic Potential of Video Games’, Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College Occasional Paper . Available at: http://www.civicsurvey.org/White_paper_link_text.pdf ; Also available at: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/chapters/Civic_Potential_of_Games.pdf [published by MIT press]

Kerr, A. (2006) ‘Spilling Hot Coffee? Grand Theft Auto as Contested Cultural Product’ in N. Garrelts (ed.) The meaning and culture of Grand theft auto : critical essays (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch. 1.

Klevjer, R. (2008) ‘The Cultural Value of Games: Computer Games and Cultural Policy in Euope’ in Ludes, P. (ed.) Convergence and Fragmentation : media technology and the information society (Bristol: Intellect), Ch.6. [The chapter is interesting for week 1 – context and development of interest in games but is primarily of interest for the topic games and the political establishment (i.e. showing how games are of increasing interest to the political establishment)]. This is available electronically via the Library OPAC system.

Kutner, L. and Olson, C. (2008) Grand theft childhood : the surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do (New York: Simon and Schuster), Ch. 8. [good on political establishment’s responses to games]

Newman, J. (2004) Videogames (London: Routledge), Ch. 4 is a good overview of some of the commonly held ‘gaming myths’.

Newman, J. (2008) Playing with videogames (London: Routledge), Ch. 1 covers the critical social view of games [this is useful for this week as it is largely the discourses which permeate Parliament and the media and which frames the legislative debate on games. The rest of the book actually then serves as a rejoinder to this dominant view, covering all manner of issues (fan participation; the social nature of play; modding etc)].

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 11 [on games as art].

Rodman, G. (2003) ‘The Net Effect: The Public’s Fear and the Public Sphere’ in B. Kolko (ed.) Virtual publics : policy and community in an electronic age (Columbia, New York: Columbia University Press), pp.9-48. [good on moral panic]

Smith, S. (2006) ‘Perps, Pimps, and Provocative Clothing: Examining Negative Content Patterns in Video Games’ in P. Vorderer and J. Bryant (eds.) Playing video games : motives, responses, and consequences (Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), pp. 57-76. [useful detail on the different frameworks in different countries for regulating games].

Toci, J. (2008) ‘Seeking Truth in Video Game Ratings: Content Considerations for Media Regulation’, International Journal of Communication , vol. 2, pp. 561-86.

von Feilitzen, C. and Carlsson, U. (eds.) (2003) Promote or protect? : perspectives on media literacy and media regulations (Göteborg: The International Clearinghouse on Children Youth and Media, Göteborg University) [See chapter on Australian videogames regulation and on the affects issue (i.e. on media violence)]

Williams, J. P. (2007) ‘Introduction: From Moral Panics to Mature Games Research in Action’ in J. Williams and J. Heide Smith (eds.) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co. Inc.), Introduction.

On the Byron Review and its aftermath

Byron Review – Children and New Technology (2008) Safer Children in a Digital World: the report of the Byron Review (London: Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). Available at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview/

House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2008) Harmful content on the Internet and in video games : tenth report of session 2007-08. Vol. 1, Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence (London: Stationery Office). The following is the URL of the final report which contains a summary of the evidence: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcumeds/353/353.pdf

House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2008) Harmful content on the Internet and in video games : tenth report of session 2007-08. Vol. 2, Oral and Written Evidence (London: Stationery Office).

On the HoC website you will also find evidence and written memoranda. Much of the evidence is on internet safety and the only really interesting transcript of evidence is that of Tanya Byron (April 1st) and of the second batch of witnesses on April 29th (Dr. Wilson etc). These are at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcumeds/353/35302.htm

There are however a number of interesting written submissions (see written evidence; for example from ELSPA, Entertainment Retailers Association, Interactive Software Federation of Europe). These are at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcumeds/353/353we01.htm

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2008) Government response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on harmful content on the Internet and in video games (London: Stationery Office). This is the response to the HoC SC report. It is available at: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm74/7477/7477.asp

Other reports

The British Board of Film Classification which classifies videogames in the UK has produced a number of very interesting reports. Point your mouse here and have a look at the list: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/downloads/index.php

PEGI (2009) PEGI Annual Report: 2009 (Brussels: ISFE). Available at: http://www.isfe.eu/index.php? PHPSESSID=2flcnkok72h5octuj3fhchjrb5&oidit=T001:662b16536388a7260921599321365911 [this is particularly useful in setting out how the PEGI process works].

Useful story on French Tax Credits is at: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/29135/Green-light-for-game-tax-credits-in-France

United States Senate (2006) ‘What’s in a game? Regulation of violent video games and the First Amendment: Hearing before the subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and property rights on the Committee of the Judiciary, United States Senate’. Available at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/pdf/109hrg/28337.pdf


Games which have something to say about violence are:

There are a huge number of games in which violence is to the forefront, yet there are also many which have very different play dynamics. The following is a far from exhaustive list but includes some violent and non-violent games.

[examples of related games: Ico; Resistance: Fall of Man; Super Columbine Massacre RPG!; Manhunt; GTA series; Me and My Katamari; Carmageddon; Hatred].

Games which have been subjected to engagement by the political establishment are:

Manhunt; GTA series; Resistance: Fall of Man; Carmageddon; Mortal Kombat; EverQuest; WoW; Doom; Rule of Rose; Six Days in Fallujah; Resident Evil 5; Fallout 3; Hatred.

(NB there will also be a video screening accompanying this session)



Top of page

Games, National Culture, Fan Culture and Political Activism (Lecture, week 10)

Introductory Questions

Q1) Why do different countries produce such different games? What is the impact?

Seminar Question

Q2) What is gaming culture? How important is it? Consider here issues such as blogging, reading and talking about games, cosplay etc.

Political Questions

Q3) Can games be used for political activism? Can they be successful?

Q4) Do games offer real potential as sites of political protest? How effective can games be as forms of protest?


Reading on Culture

Textbook Reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008/13) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), Ch. 7; Ch.6 in 2013 edition.

Newman, J. (2004) Videogames (London: Routledge), ch. 9 covers the social nature of gaming, fan culture etc.

Key Reading

Jenkins, H. (2006) Fans, bloggers, and gamers : exploring participatory culture (New York: New York University Press).

Newman, J. (2005) ‘Playing (with) Videogames’, Convergence : the journal of research into new media technologies. , vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 48-67. Available electronically.

Newman, J. (2008) Playing with videogames (London: Routledge), [Ch. 2 covers ‘talking about games’; Ch. 4 on fan art etc; Ch. 5 on guides; Ch. 6 on speed running (i.e. Ch.2-6 all cover ‘fan culture’).


Other Reading

Chan, D. (2008) ‘Negotiating Online Computer Games in East Asia: Manufacturing Asian MMORPGS and Marketing “Asianness”’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 18.

Chee, F. (2006) ‘The Games We Play Online and Offline: Making Wang-tta in Korea’, Popular communication. , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 225-239. [Good insights into gaming culture in Korea which is one of the most online nations on earth]. Available electronically.

Consalvo, M. (2006) ‘Console Video Games and Global Corporations: Creating a Hybrid Culture’, New media and society. vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 117-37. This is interesting in showing the cultural homogeneity of the games industry, and of offering a portrait of the market as a whole. Available electronically.

Corneliussen, H. and Rettberg, J. (eds.) (2008) Digital culture, play, and identity : a World of Warcraft reader (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press). [There is a whole section in this book on culture (ch.1-4)].

Crawford, G. (2011) Video gamers (London: Routledge). Ch.6 on game culture; Ch.7 on hacking, modding and fan art.

Hills, M. (2001) ‘Virtually Out There: Strategies, Tactics and Affective Spaces in Online Fandom’ in S. Munt (ed.) Technospaces : inside the new media (London: Continuum), Ch. 9.

Hjorth, L. (2008) ‘Gaming in the Asia-Pacific’, Games and Culture – Special Issue, vol. 3, no. 1. Very useful with a number of the issues from Hjorth and Chan (below).

Hjorth, L. (2011) Games and gaming : an introduction to new media (Oxford: Berg). Has two or three really useful chapters covering issues related to identity in particular.

Hjorth, L. and Chan, D. (eds.) (2009) Gaming cultures and place in Asia-Pacific (London: Routledge), Ch. 1; Ch. 5; Ch. 14; Ch. 15. In fact almost anything in this book will be of interest!

Ito, M. (2006) ‘Japanese Media Mixes and Amateur Cultural Exchange’ in D. Buckingham and R. Willet (eds.) Digital generations : children, young people and new media (Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates), Ch. 4.

Jenkins, H. (2014) Rethinking ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture’, Cultural studies. , vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 267-297.

Jin, D.Y. (2010) Korea’s Online Gaming Empire (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). [Whilst a little esoteric, Korea is arguably a critical country to study as the society with the most intense use of online gaming in the world].

Owens, T. (2011) ‘Modding the History of Science: Values at Play in Modder Discussions of Sid Meier's CIVILIZATION’, Simulation and gaming. , vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 481-95. Offers a detailed examination of the work of modders on the game Civilization to show how they interrogate the rules which underpin the game in order to develop a new basis for the game in the area of the tech trees and their understanding of science and technology. What is particularly useful is the detailed way in which this article shows the commitment of the modders to this particular game.

Poole, Steven (2004) Trigger happy : the inner life of videogames (London: Fourth Estate), Ch. 7 on culture. [Poole is a brilliant writer, with a frequent column in Edge. His book is highly accessible, and covers much of the course. This book has the advantage of being freely available!]. Available at: http://stevenpoole.net/blog/trigger-happier/

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008) Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives (New York: Basic Books) [use the index to search for culture; identity].

Raessens, J. and Goldstein, J. (eds.) (2005) Handbook of computer game studies (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press), Ch. 25; Ch. 26.

Shaw, A. (2012) ‘Do you Identify as a Gamer? Gender, Race, Sexuality and Gamer Identity’, New media and society., vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 28-44. [this is a slightly different paper which looks at how gamers construct senses of their own identity. It is thus interesting in showing how representations within games could have causal influence, at least at the margins. It also argues that games targeted at particular social groups do not work].

Street, J. et al. (2012) ‘Playing at Politics? Popular Culture as Political Engagement’, Parliamentary affairs. , vol. 65, no, 2: pp. 338-58. This is an interesting one but a little difficult to know how to use! On the one hand its starting point is Putnam’s claims that popular culture is reducing political engagement. Then it makes use of a number of focus groups to show that many young people connect through popular culture and see politics where it may not be apparent. Many of course see popular culture as ‘just entertainment’ and so bereft of politics.

West, M. (ed.) (2009) The Japanification of children's popular culture : from Godzilla to Miyazaki (Lanham, ML: Scarecrow Press).

Wong, D. and Kelly, W. (eds) (2013) Videogames and virtual realities in East Asia (London: Routledge).

Games which have something to say about culture are:

[examples of related games: e.g. Japan (Devil May series; Final Fantasy series; Nintendogs; Animal Crossing); American games (Gears of War/Fallout; Sims; Civilisation); British Games (productions by developer Rare; Grand Theft Auto series; Little Big Planet)].

Reading on Activism

Textbook Reading

Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. and Tosca, S. (2008) Understanding video games : the essential introduction (London: Routledge), Ch. 9 (pp. 205-9) touches on political activist games.

Key reading

Bogost, I. (2006) ‘Playing Politics: Videogames for Politics, Activism, and Advocacy’, First Monday [electronic resource]. , vol. 11, no. 7. Available at: http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1617/1532

Dovey, J. and Kennedy, H. (2006) Game cultures : computer games as new media Maidenhead: Open University Press, Ch. 7 on ‘co-creative media’ [useful for the discussion of mods and modding]

Other Reading:

Bogost, I. (2008) ‘Persuasive Games: The Birth and Death of the Election Game’, Games Utra, 30th October, 2008. Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3834/persuasive_games_the_birth_and_.php

Bogost, I. and Frasca, G. (2007) ‘Videogames go to Washington: The Story Behind Howard Dean's Videogame Propaganda’ in P. Harrigan and N. Wardrip-Fruin (eds.) Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media (XXX: The MIT Press), pp. 233-46. Also available at: http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/elective

Corneliussen, H. and Rettberg, J. (eds.) (2008) Digital culture, play, and identity : a World of Warcraft reader (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

Dovey, J. and Kennedy, H. (2006) Game cultures : computer games as new media (Maidenhead: Open University Press), Ch. 4 [This is not totally focused on this topic although it does provide useful potential for citations in that it touches on hacker culture etc.]

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) Games of empire : global capitalism and video games (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press). This is a forthcoming book which offers both a clear sense of how games serve to embed capitalism and support for militarization but also suggest their capacity to challenge them. A classic academic argument which is synthesized in a published article.

Dyer-Witheford, N. and de Peuter, G. (2009) ‘Empire@Play: Virtual Games and Global Capitalism’, Ctheory [electronic resource]. - Special Issue: Resetting Theory. Available at: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx? id=608 [accessed: July 7th, 2009]. Contains a summary of the argument offered in Dyer-Witherford and de Peuter’s forthcoming book.

Engeli, M. (2008) ‘Strip – Shift – Impose – Recycle – Overload – Spill – Breakout – Abuse. Artists’ (Mis-)Appropriations of Shooter Games’ in A. Jahn-Sudmann and R. Stockmann (eds.) Computer games as a sociocultural phenomenon : games without frontiers, war without tears (Basingstoke: Palgrave), Ch. 16.

Galloway, A. (2006) Gaming : essays on algorithmic culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press), Ch. 5. [chapter on counter gaming offers offers extensive discussion of ways and methods by which games have been used for political activism].

Guest, T. (2008) Second lives : A Journey Through Virtual Worlds (London: Arrow Books). [you may need to use the index here but there is a lot on activism. I know that second life is not a game but it provides a sense of the potential and limits of present activism].

Nayar, P. (ed.) (2010) The new media and cybercultures anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell), Part 6. [Whilst this collection of essays in not specifically centred on games they do raise a number of important themes which are clearly applicable to games, demonstrating the way in which the digital space opens up particular opportunities for activism].

Newman, J. (2008) Playing with videogames (London: Routledge), [Ch. 7 covers modding and is of use in thinking about protests and activism].

Nieborg, D. and van der Graaf, S. (2008) ‘The mod industries? The industrial logic of non-market game production’, European Journal of Cultural Studies , vol. 11, pp. 177-195. Available electronically

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008) Born digital : understanding the first generation of digital natives (New York: Basic Books) [use the index to search for activists].

Raessens, J. (2006) ‘Reality Play: Documentary Computer Games Beyond Fact and Fiction’, Popular communication. , 4 (3), 213-24 [an interesting paper which looks both at specific examples of documentary games but also which probes at them. It doesn’t look specifically at games for protest but what it does do is to show how the forms of games can be changed for different purposes]. Available electronically.

Ritterfeld, U., Cody, M. and Vorderer, P. (eds.) (2009) Serious games : mechanisms and effects (London: Routledge). Useful additional reading but not essential. [insofar as serious games are part of activism/part of the consolidation of the status quo it is of some interest here].

Souri, H. (2007) ‘The Political Battlefield of Pro-Arab Video Games on Palestinian Screens’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. , vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 536-551. [A good example of how the M-E complex is being challenged in the middle East – whilst this has been discussed in the week on the M-E complex it is worth returning to it here!]. Available electronically.

Wilson, J. (2007) ‘Mapping Independent Game Design’ in J.P. Williams and J.H. Smith (eds.) The players' realm : studies on the culture of video games and gaming (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc.), Ch. 13

Games which have something to say about activism are:

[examples of related games: Velvet Strike; Howard Dean for President; Take Back Idaho; ‘Dead in Iraq’; Second Life; Under Siege; the McDonalds Game]

There are a number of examples at: http://www.socialimpactgames.com

Top of page

Conclusion: Do Games Matter and if so how? (Lecture, week 11; seminar, week 11)

Introductory Question

Q1) Are games persuasive?

Key Seminar Questions

Q2) What can we as students of politics or our respective discipline bring to bear to the study of games?

Q3) What do you think are the critical debates for the study of games?

Q3) How do you see games evolving in the future?

All in all this is a conclusion and thus there is no additional reading for this week. Please consult the earlier reading list and pick anything which will help finalise your thinking!


This list was last updated on 22/01/2016