The Pleasures of Computer Gaming

Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics

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About the Book

This collection of essays situates the digital gaming phenomenon alongside broader debates in cultural and media studies. Contributors to this volume maintain that computer games are not simply toys, but rather circulate as commodities, new media technologies, and items of visual culture that are embedded in complex social practices. Apart from placing games within longer arcs of cultural history and broader critical debates, the contributors to this volume all adopt a pedagogical and theoretical approach to studying games and gameplay, drawing on the interdisciplinary resources of the humanities and social sciences, particularly new media studies.
In eight essays, the authors develop rich and nuanced understandings of the aesthetic appeals and pleasurable engagements of digital gameplay. Topics include the role of “cheats” and “easter eggs” in influencing cheating as an aesthetic phenomenon of gameplay; the relationship between videogames, gambling, and addiction; players’ aesthetic and kinaesthetic interactions with computing technology; and the epistemology and phenomenology of popular strategy-based wargames and their relationship with real-world military applications. Notes and a bibliography accompany each essay, and the work includes several screenshots, images, and photographs.

About the Author(s)

Melanie Swalwell conducts research on the intersections between aesthetics, new media arts and digital games. She is in the Screen & Media Department at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
Jason Wilson has a range of international publications in videogame studies, on topics including early videogames and independent game design. He is a research associate at Queensland University of Technology.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 203
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3595-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5120-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction

Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson      1

1. Little Jesuses and *@#?-off Robots: On Cybernetics, Aesthetics, and Not Being Very Good at Lego Star Wars

Seth Giddings and Helen W. Kennedy      13

2. Gaming/Gambling: Addiction and the Videogame Experience

Joyce Goggin      33

3. Forbidden Pleasures: Cheating in Computer Games

Julian Kücklich      52

4. Movement and Kinaesthetic Responsiveness: A Neglected Pleasure

Melanie Swalwell      72

5. “Participation TV”: Videogame Archaeology and New Media Art

Jason Wilson      94

6. The Navigator’s Experience: An Examination of the Spatial in Computer Games

Bernadette Flynn      118

7. Wargaming and Computer Games: Fun with the Future

Patrick Crogan      147

8. Gameplay as Thirdspace

Brett Nicholls and Simon Ryan      167

About the Contributors      191

Index      195

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent…highly recommended”—Choice; “these essays will give readers a better appreciation of the culture of gaming and why it has become an important aspect of library service”—School Library Journal; “a useful overview and introduction to current research into gameplay across cultural and theoretical scholarship”—The Journal of Popular Culture; “an excellent book which tackles some very interesting subjects with much skill and perception…an intelligent collection of essays which provide stimulating reading…the volume does provide some exciting insight into research and analytical methods that can be applied to games studies”—Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies; “an interesting and perhaps important book for the continued development of computer games studies as its own field of study”—Leonardo On-line.