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More than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form

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Taking its cue from practices of reading texts in literary and cultural studies, this book considers the computer game as a new and emerging mode of contemporary storytelling. In a carefully organized study, Barry Atkins discusses questions of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: Tomb Raider, Half-Life, Close Combat and SimCity. T Taking its cue from practices of reading texts in literary and cultural studies, this book considers the computer game as a new and emerging mode of contemporary storytelling. In a carefully organized study, Barry Atkins discusses questions of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: Tomb Raider, Half-Life, Close Combat and SimCity. This is a work for both the student of contemporary culture and those game-players who are interested in how computer games tell their stories.


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Taking its cue from practices of reading texts in literary and cultural studies, this book considers the computer game as a new and emerging mode of contemporary storytelling. In a carefully organized study, Barry Atkins discusses questions of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: Tomb Raider, Half-Life, Close Combat and SimCity. T Taking its cue from practices of reading texts in literary and cultural studies, this book considers the computer game as a new and emerging mode of contemporary storytelling. In a carefully organized study, Barry Atkins discusses questions of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: Tomb Raider, Half-Life, Close Combat and SimCity. This is a work for both the student of contemporary culture and those game-players who are interested in how computer games tell their stories.

30 review for More than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form

  1. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    An attempt to turn games into ‘texts’ to be ‘read’ like books or films. I see the point: games are interactive narratives and follow constructs similar to books and blah blah . . . but so what? Call me a philistine, but I don’t want people doing degrees in comparative computer game lit. And until game developers write half-decent scripts and dialogue for their products, there’s no particular reason we should elevate their cultural position. This book was rather dry, lonely and plodding.

  2. 4 out of 5

    J A

    Barry Atkins attempts to understand video games as fictional forms, and pursues this investigation through four "game-fictions", each of which is given a chapter: the adventure game Tomb Raider, the action FPS game Half-Life, the Real-time strategy game Close Combat and the city-management simulation game SimCity. Important to note is that he considers the entire series, rather than a specific installment. This tends to be overlooked in the analysis, and while he largely gets away with it I thin Barry Atkins attempts to understand video games as fictional forms, and pursues this investigation through four "game-fictions", each of which is given a chapter: the adventure game Tomb Raider, the action FPS game Half-Life, the Real-time strategy game Close Combat and the city-management simulation game SimCity. Important to note is that he considers the entire series, rather than a specific installment. This tends to be overlooked in the analysis, and while he largely gets away with it I think perhaps it was the reason behind some generalisations and anecdotal evidence. I agree with this review on the lackluster opening chapter that discusses Tomb Raider, at least until it turns towards subversive readings of the game. Before that the discussion of interactivity and freedom within the game's fiction completely passed me by. At one point Atkins talks about the inability for Lara to perform various bodily functions in the game. As if other forms of fiction feature copious amounts of defecation? It's unconvincing, partly because the author doesn't apply critical terminology. The chapter on Half-Life is also rather disappointing for the reasons outlined above, and I was questioning how this chapter fitted into Atkins argument for video games. Luckily, the third chapter on Close Combat salvages the book, and things begin to pick up. He considers the text as existing in a space between fact and fiction, and how the player's actions are able to oppose a recognised historiography; but yet how the game maintains restrictions on how far it can deviate. Finally, perhaps the strongest chapter is on SimCity, as Atkins tackles the game with the least narrative of all those he has chosen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hesper

    A fair amount of time I was reading this, I kept envisioning Mulder's "I Want To Believe" poster. This is to illustrate my bias up front: I want to believe that someday* video game narrative will be just as powerful as the better offerings of film, or of the page. Games are a unique fictional form, still in its early days, and the potential is there. And that is exactly what Barry Atkins proposed ten years ago. Working from a literary criticism framework, he teased out the unique narrative possib A fair amount of time I was reading this, I kept envisioning Mulder's "I Want To Believe" poster. This is to illustrate my bias up front: I want to believe that someday* video game narrative will be just as powerful as the better offerings of film, or of the page. Games are a unique fictional form, still in its early days, and the potential is there. And that is exactly what Barry Atkins proposed ten years ago. Working from a literary criticism framework, he teased out the unique narrative possibilities inherent in games as diverse as Tomb Raider, SimCity, Half-Life and Close Combat. If his style is a bit convoluted in places, he makes up for it with some ingenious ideas. *The argument may be made that several games to come out in recent years have already achieved or come close to achieving this goal, but a discussion of the artistic merits of, say, BioWare or Tale of Tales offerings, such as they may be, seems like unnecessary review padding. Point is, games are certainly more sophisticated in their approach to narrative than a decade a ago, but I don't believe they've fulfilled their potential.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Radim Baštan

    Analýza čtyř specifických her, vhodných zástupců svých žánrů, z hlediska naratologie. Autor vyučuje anglickou literaturu, ale má trochu vhled i do kritického diskurzu filmových studií, tu a tam si vypůjčí z nových médií, sociologie, atd. Obávám se ale, že se tohoto o herní fikci nakonec moc nedozvíte. Tahle knížka potřebovala pořádného editora. Zbytečně překombinovaná dlouhá souvětí, do kterých se Atkins zaplétá; příliš často nejsou opodstatněná. Je dobře, že do disciplíny Game studies přibývají Analýza čtyř specifických her, vhodných zástupců svých žánrů, z hlediska naratologie. Autor vyučuje anglickou literaturu, ale má trochu vhled i do kritického diskurzu filmových studií, tu a tam si vypůjčí z nových médií, sociologie, atd. Obávám se ale, že se tohoto o herní fikci nakonec moc nedozvíte. Tahle knížka potřebovala pořádného editora. Zbytečně překombinovaná dlouhá souvětí, do kterých se Atkins zaplétá; příliš často nejsou opodstatněná. Je dobře, že do disciplíny Game studies přibývají nové příspěvky. Tenhle kromě několika zajímavých postřehů v úvodu a v závěru nic moc nového nepřinesl.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

  6. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tony Robinson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex Burns

  10. 5 out of 5

    Souvik

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nikola

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ben Clossick

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sofia Natella

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  16. 4 out of 5

    RMSTainas

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Purdy

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rob Strachan

  22. 4 out of 5

    J.I.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ruixinwang

  24. 4 out of 5

    Henry Lowood

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda

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    Nick

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matías Guastoni

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roz Clarke

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Surman

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

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