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Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning

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Video games can be “well played” in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. On the other hand, well played as in well done. This book is full of in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. 22 contributors (developers, scholars, reviewers and bloggers) look Video games can be “well played” in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. On the other hand, well played as in well done. This book is full of in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. 22 contributors (developers, scholars, reviewers and bloggers) look at video games through both senses of “well played.” The goal is to help develop and define a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Video games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis.


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Video games can be “well played” in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. On the other hand, well played as in well done. This book is full of in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. 22 contributors (developers, scholars, reviewers and bloggers) look Video games can be “well played” in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. On the other hand, well played as in well done. This book is full of in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. 22 contributors (developers, scholars, reviewers and bloggers) look at video games through both senses of “well played.” The goal is to help develop and define a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Video games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis.

30 review for Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thermalsatsuma

    A literate person is said to be 'well read'. Is the equivalent person with similar wide experience of video games 'well played'? Video games are a nascent art form, with examples more complex than trivial bat and ball manipulations only appearing less than twenty years ago. The film critic Roger Ebert has said that games will never approach the emotional power of plays or films, and will not produce anything comparable to 'Citizen Kane'. Given that it took nearly fifty years from the invention of A literate person is said to be 'well read'. Is the equivalent person with similar wide experience of video games 'well played'? Video games are a nascent art form, with examples more complex than trivial bat and ball manipulations only appearing less than twenty years ago. The film critic Roger Ebert has said that games will never approach the emotional power of plays or films, and will not produce anything comparable to 'Citizen Kane'. Given that it took nearly fifty years from the invention of moving pictures to the debut of Orson Welles' masterpiece, this is perhaps a slightly premature comparison. Watching a film is an essentially passive experience, whereas a video game has more complex considerations of the way that player interacts with the intentions of the designer in terms of game mechanics and story. Thus a critique of a video game is a more complex affair than a comparable analysis of a film or a play, but this book is an attempt to bring academic rigour to the subject. This is a collection of essays, each analysing a game, or several similar games, looking at various aspects of design, story and technology. Some chapters look at a particular element of a game in detail, such as the control structure of Super Mario Bros or the haunting melancholy of 'Ico', whereas others consider a game as a whole such as the historical complexity of 'Europa Universalis' or the perfect combination of puzzles, combat and exploration that make 'Zelda : The Ocarina of Time' such a highly rated game. Other essays compare the dramatic necessity of the death of Ophelia in 'Hamlet' to the tragic inevitability of the protagonist of 'Shadow of the Colossus' and consider 'Silent Hill 2' as a psycho-therapeutic process. One particularly interesting essay considers the ludonarrative dissonance of 'Bioshock' where the game designer's critique of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy is undercut by the linear constraint that prevents the protagonist from acting in a purely selfish way. In contrast, a possibly apocryphal story is related of the design of 'Portal' where a story meeting trying to come up with ideas for an underlying philosophy for the game ended in an uncomfortable silence which was broken by the suggestion that 'A lot of people like cake'. If you've played the game, you will understand ... Some chapters fall a little flat, with a brief essay on Guitar Hero being little more than the writer bragging that he has completed the game on expert and a description of the game 'Tempest' as seen from the perspective of the author HP Lovecraft. Another chapter points at the difficulties inherent in playing a translated version of 'The Secret of Monkey Island' where Spanish speakers would likely miss a sly clue referring to a literal red herring and this can be contrasted with the considerable effort made in producing an English language version of the Japanese legal drama 'Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney' to include relevant pop culture references and jokes, and even the punning possibilities of the protagonists name. Well worth reading if you have any interest in the question of whether video games should be considered as a valid art form. Available as a free download from here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lucidio Bracho

    Great insight on videogames design. Various writters, various styles. Great selection of essays. Well Read!!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  4. 5 out of 5

    James

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexander K Landry

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel J. Largent

  8. 4 out of 5

    Njakubisin

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jolene

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicole G.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dominik

  15. 5 out of 5

    Justin Pyfrom

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Vega

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bookwyrm

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martín Gabriel Sierra

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather Young

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter Owens

  21. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Hoelzer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miguel F. Marrero

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Vogelsong

  25. 4 out of 5

    Max Mallory

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Benoit

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tedamoy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Richards

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Barrows

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