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The Meaning of Video Games

The Meaning of Video Games takes a textual studies approach to an increasingly important form of expression in today's culture. It begins by assuming that video games are meaningful-not just as sociological or economic or cultural evidence, but in their own right, as cultural expressions worthy of scholarly attention. In this way, this book makes a contribution to the study of video games, but it also aims to enrich textual studies. Early video game studies scholars were quick to point out that a game should never be reduced to merely its "story" or narrative content and they rightly insist on the importance of studying games as games. But here Steven E. Jones demonstrates that textual studies-which grows historically out of ancient questions of textual recension, multiple versions, production, reproduction, and reception-can fruitfully be applied to the study of video games. Citing specific examples such as Myst and Lost, Katamari Damacy, Halo, Facade, Nintendo's Wii, and Will Wright's Spore, the book explores the ways in which textual studies concepts-authorial intention, textual variability and performance, the paratext, publishing history and the social text-can shed light on video games as more than formal systems. It treats video games as cultural forms of expression that are received as they are played, out in the world, where their meanings get made.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The game of Lost 2. Collecting Katamari Damacy 3. The Halo universe 4. The game behind Facade 5. The Wii platform 6. Anticpating Spore Notes Selected Bibliography Glossary Index

About the Author

Steven E. Jones is Professor of English at Loyola University in Chicago. He is author of Against Technology (Routledge, 2006) and Satire and Romanticism, and he is editor of The Satiric Eye: Forms of Satire in the Romantic Period.


"Steven E. Jones rolls his katamari through wonderful terrain, collecting insights about how video games relate to reality TV, otaku culture, British gift-book annuals, and our perspectives on outer space. "The Meaning of Video Games" draws on the methods of textual studies and on a solid understanding of games and how they are played. It is an enjoyable, edifying, next-generation book." -Nick Montfort, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "In "The Meaning of Video Games" Steven E. Jones makes it look easy, effortlessly dissolving distinctions between media studies, game studies, and textual studies. Close readings become 'close playings' (and back again) as the book creates an interdisciplinary convergence culture every bit as mobile and networked as the objects of its study." -Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland "This is a perfect case of a book hitting the market exactly when we need it. While there have been individual academic accounts of specific types and modes of games before, Jones's book is the first scholarly (and 'popular') study of an increasingly pervasive element of contemporary culture, deftly integrating the phenomenology of game design and game playing with the general textuality in which Jones wisely chooses to discuss both the creation and reception of gaming. Avoiding the pitfalls of a straight historical narrative, the author selects certain emblematic moments in the growth of games and games studies (from Lost to Halo to the Wii-and 'platform studies' -to the forthcoming "Spore"). He sets these "exempla" against a wide array of other disciplines and approaches: media studies, psychology, textual studies, popular culture, sociology, anthropology, and even 'literature.' Whether Jones has provided the last word on the 'meaning' of video games remains to be seen, but it will certainly inspire others to continue the search for such 'meaning.'" -David Greetham, City University of New York

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