Playing the Game

Playing the Game: The Culture of Digital Games

Recommended Texts

The two following texts provide useful introductions to the study of digital games, each taking a different approach to the medium.
Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
This substantial tome comprises a systematic examination of how games work (their rules), how they are experienced (played), and how they fit into broader society (their cultural contexts). Written principally for game designers and theorists, the material is thought-provoking and engaging. The book is carefully structured, beautifully designed, and even includes four specially commissioned games to illustrate key concepts. See Pelletier (2005a) and Järvinen (2004) for informative reviews.
Poole, Steven (2000). Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution. New York: Arcade. Retrieved 7th June 2008 from here and here.
This accessible and lively text sets out to discuss the 'inner life' of digital games: their history, increasing popularity, and their place within contemporary culture. Chapters examine key aspects of the medium including genre, realism, film, narrative, space, gender, interaction, semiotics, pacing, violence, and games of the future. Available as a free download here and here. Reviewed by Dickinson (2001). See also the BBC documentary of the same name, presented by Poole.

Books and Articles

Aarseth, E. J. (1997). Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Difficult but thought-provoking.
Aarseth, Espen. (2004). Genre Trouble: Narrativism and the Art of Simulation. In: Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, (eds) (2004). First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Designed by Michael Crumpton. Cambridge, MA: MIT, pp. 45-55.
Alvisi, Alberto (2006). The Economics of Digital Games. In: Rutter, Jason and Bryce, Jo (eds) (2006). Understanding Digital Games. London: Sage, pp. 58-74.
Anderson, Craig A., Gentile, Douglas A., and Buckley, Katherine E. (2006). Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Atkins, Barry (2003a). More than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Focuses on four case studies: Tomb-Raider (adventure), Half-Life (action), SimCity (simulation) and Close Combat (strategy). Reviewed by Kücklich (2003).
Atkins, Barry (2003b). The Aesthetics of Iteration: The Plurality of Spectacle in Narrative Video Games. Presented at Level Up Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) Conference. Retrieved 14th October 2005 from here. Atkins discusses the distinctive aesthetic (enjoyment) of playing digital games by means of the concept of iteration, i.e. repetition with difference.
Atkins, Barry (2004). To Infinity and Beyond? Dialogue and Critique in Popular Cinema's Portrayals of Video Games. TEXT Technology 1, pp. 35-51. Retrieved 10th September 2007 from here. Atkins uses Men in Black II and Toy Story 2 to examine the convergence of digital game and film.
Beck, John (2004). Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School.
Bekoff, Marc and Byers, John A. (eds) (1998). Animal Play: Evolutionary, Comparative And Ecological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. On the evolution, functions, and benefits of play, in animals (including humans).
Bogost, Ian (2006). Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Bogost synthesises literary and information theory as a proposed method of digital game analysis.
Bogost, Ian (2007). Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Bogost examines the forms of rhetoric unique to digital games. See also his NPR interview.
Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Borries, Friedrich von, Walz, Steffen P., and Böttger, Matthias (eds) (2007). Space Time Play: Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: the Next Level. Basel: Birkhäuser. Introduction available here.
Braithwaite, Brenda (2006). Sex in Video Games. Boston, MA: Charles River Media. Chapter 1 is available here.
Brazell, Jim Brodie, Kim, Nicholas, and Starbuck, Honoria (2004). Gaming: A Technology Forecast, Implications for Community and Technical Colleges in the State of Texas. IC2 Institute, University of Texas. February. Report examining the trends, opportunities, and potential benefits of academic participation in the game industry, including much useful research and information.
Bryce, Jo and Rutter, Jason (2002). Killing Like a girl: Gendered Gaming and Girl Gamers Visibility. In: Frans Mäyrä, ed. Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings. Tampere: Tampere University Press, pp. 243-55. Retrieved 29th November 2005 from here or here.
Buckingham, David, Burn, Andrew, Carr, Diane, Thompson, John and Schott, Gareth (2006). Computer Games: Text, Narrative And Play. Cambridge: Polity. A solid introductory overview of key aspects of Game Studies, with short, accessible chapters. Illustrative examples are drawn especially from role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate and Final Fantasy.
Burill, Derek A. (2002). 'Oh, Grow Up 007': The Performance of Bond and Boyhood in Film and Videogames. In: Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska, eds (2002). ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces. London: Wallflower Press, pp. 181-93.
Burrill, Derek A. (2008). Die Tryin': Videogames, Masculinity, Culture. Oxford: Peter Lang.
Caillois, R. (2001). Man, Play and Games. Barash, M., trans. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Caillois suggests a classification of games based on four key qualities - competition, chance, simulation and vertigo - and examines the social role of each.
Carr, Diane (2006). Games and Gender. In: Buckingham, David, Burn, Andrew, Carr, Diane, Thompson, John and Schott, Gareth. Computer Games: Text, Narrative And Play. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cassell, Justine and Jenkins, Henry (eds) (1998). From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Harvard: MIT.
Castronova, Edward (2005). The Ideas Interview. Guardian, 19 September. Retrieved 22nd September 2005 from here. A brief interview discussing the potential for synthetic worlds like those of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
Castronova, Edward (2005). Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Brief review available on The Guardian site.
Clarke, A. and Mitchell, G. 2007. Videogames and Art. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1991). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Perennial. Reprinted as Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness.
Cohen, Stanley (1980). Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. 2nd ed. Oxford: Martin Robertson. The original text addressing moral panics generated by the media.
Combs, James E. (2000). Play World: The Emergence of the New Ludenic Age. Praeger.
Consalvo, Mia (2003). Hot Dates and Fairy-Tale Romances: Studying Sexuality in Video Games. In: Mark J. P. Wolf and Perron, B. (eds) The Video Game Theory Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 171-94.
Consalvo, Mia (2005a). Gaining Advantage: How Videogame Players Define and Negotiate Cheating. Presented at the DiGRA Changing Views: Worlds in Play Conference, Vancouver, BC, June 2005. Retrieved 21st June 2008 from here.
Consalvo, Mia (2005b). Cheating Can be Good For You: Educational Games and Multiple Play Styles. On the Horizon 13(2).
Consalvo, Mia (2007). Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
Copier, Marinka and Raessens, Joost (eds) (2003). Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings. Utrecht, the Netherlands: Faculty of the Arts, University of Utrecht. Retrieved 3rd September 2005 from here. Book and CD-ROM collecting the papers delivered at the DiGRA 2003 conference.
Crawford, Chris (1982). The Art of Computer Game Design. Berkeley, CA: Osborne McGraw-Hill. Retrieved 3rd September 2005 from here (pdf), here (pdf) or here (html). One of the earliest serious studies of digital games. (Japanese translation available here.)
Crawford, Chris (2003). Chris Crawford on Game Design. Thousand Oaks, CA: New Riders.
Critcher, Chas (2003). Moral Panics and the Media. Open University Press.
Critcher, Chas (ed.) (2006). Critical Readings: Moral Panics and the Media. Open University Press. Forthcoming.
Davidson, Drew (ed.) (2009). Well Played 1.0: Video Game, Value and Meaning. Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press. Retrieved 13th June 2009 from here and here.
de Freitas, Sara (2006). Learning in Immersive Worlds: A review of game-based learning. JISC. Retrieved 16 March 2007 from here. A report on the use of games for learning. Includes a literature review, case studies, and discussion of key themes.
DeKoven, Bernie (2002). The Well-Played Game: A Playful Path to Wholeness. 3rd ed. Lincoln, NE: Writers Club. See DeKoven's website here.
DeMaria, Rusel and Wilson, Johnny L. (2004). High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill/Osborne. A lush, illustrated history of computer games from the 1960s to the beginning of the new millenium.
Dennett, Daniel C. (1979). Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology. Hassocks: Harvester. Includes an explanation of the intentional stance (pp. 3-9).
Dennett, Daniel C. (1987). The Intentional Stance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dennett's notion of the 'intentional stance' provides a potentially useful way of approaching digital games.
Dennett, Daniel C. (1996). Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Includes a short introduction to Dennett's notion of the 'intentional stance', pp. 35-41.
Deuber-Mankowsky, A. (2005). Lara Croft: Cyber Heroine. Dominic J. Bonfiglio (trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Chapter 7 ('The Interactive Movie') available here.
Dickinson, Kay (2001). Steven Poole’s Trigger Happy: The Secret Life of Videogames. New Media and Society 3(2). An informative and somewhat critical review of Poole (2000).
Dovey, Jon and Kennedy, Helen (2006). Game Cultures: Computer Games as New Media. Open University Press.
Egenfeldt-Nielson, S., Smith, J. H. and Tosca, S. P. (2008). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. London: Routledge. Companion website available here.
Ehrmann, Jacques (1968). Homo Ludens Revisited. Cathy Lewis and Phil Lewis (trans.). Yale French Studies 41 ('Game, Play, Literature'), pp. 31-57. A demanding discussion of the relationship between play, culture and reality in Huizinga, Callois and Benveniste.
ESA (2006). 2006 Sales, demographic and usage data: Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved 29 January, 2007 here. Up-to-date sales, demographics and usage data for the digital games industry in the USA.
Escaping the IP Maze (2006). Edge 165 (August), pp. 8-13. Informative discussion of intellectual property (IP), copyright and patents, in relation to digital games.
Facer, Keri (no date). Computer Games and Learning: Why do we think it’s worth talking about games and learning in the same breath. Nesta Futurelab discussion paper. Retrieved 1st December 2005 from here.
Facer, Keri, Ulicsak, Mary and Sandford, Richard (2007). Can Computer Games Go to School? In: Becta. Emerging Technologies for Learning. Coventry: British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. Retrieved 30 March 2007 from here.
FAS (2007). Harnessing the Power of Video Games for Learning. Washington, DC: Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 30 March 2007 from here.
Friedman, Ted (1999). Civilization and Its Discontents: Simulation, Subjectivity, and Space. In: Smith, Greg (ed.) On a Silver Platter: CD-ROMs and the Promises of a New Technology. New York: New York University Press, pp. 132-150. Retrieved 7th August 2005 from here and here. An exploration of player subjectivity whilst playing Civilization: you identify with the computer and enter into a 'cyborg consciousness'. Simulation games take geography as the narrative's protagonist.
Fuller, Mary and Jenkins, Henry (1995). Nintendo® and New World Travel Writing: A Dialogue. In: Jones, Steven G. (ed.) CyberSociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 57-72. Fuller and Jenkins show how a digital game can be considered a kind of travel narrative.
Galloway, A. R. (2006). Gaming: Essays On Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis, MN: Univeristy of Minnesota Press. Review by Thomas Beard available here.
Gee, James Paul (2004). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. A discussion of the educational benefits of playing digital games.
Geyl, Pieter (1963). Huizinga as Accuser of his Age. History and Theory 2(3), pp. 231-262. A long, political critique of the work of Johan Huizinga.
Giddings, Seth (2005). Playing with Nonhumans: Digital Games as Technocultural Form. In: de Castells and Jensen (eds) Selected Papers from Worlds in Play: Digra Conference 2005. DiGRA/Simon Fraser University. Retrieved 25th October from here and here. Giddings applies cybernetics, actor-network theory and Dennett's intentional stance to digital games. Originally delivered at DiGRA 2005 conference.
Gray, Chris Hables with Figueroa-Sarriera, Heidi J. and Mentor, Steven (eds) (1995). The Cyborg Handbook. London: Routledge. A wide-ranging and informative selection of readings on cybernetics and cyborgs. The editors' introduction is an excellent means of approaching this topic.
Green, C.S. and Bavelier, D. (2007). Action-Video-Game Experience Alters the Spatial Resolution of Vision. Psychological Science. 18(1) (January), pp. 88-94. Research demonstrating that action video games actually enhance several different aspects of players' visual processing.
Greenfield, Patricia Marks (1984). Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Video Games and Computers. London: Fontana. Rather old now, but one of the first texts to address the pessimistic claims made about contemporary media. Chapter 7 discusses digital games, including a lengthy analysis of Pac-Man.
Griffiths, Mark (2005). Video Games and Health. British Medical Journal 331(7509). July. pp. 122-123. A short article which summarises research into the health effects of digital games, and concludes that "video gaming is safe for most players and can be useful in health care". Available on Brookes' electronic catalogue.
Hallford, Neal and Hallford, Jana (2002). Swords and Circuitry: A Designer's Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games. Course Technology PTR.
Hawisher, Gail E. and Selfe, Cynthia L. (2007). Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century: Literate Connections. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. This collection examines the claim that computer games can improve literacy and provide positive learning environments.
Hayles, N. Katherine (1999). How We Became PostHuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. London: University of Chicago Press.
Heins, Marjorie (2002). Brief Amica Curiae of Thirty Media Scholars in Interactive Digital Software Association et al vs. St. Louis County et al. Retrieved 20th December 2005 from here. Submitted by the Free Expression Policy Project to the United States Court of Appeals, opposing a law that barred minors from digital games containing 'graphic violence'.
Huizinga, Johan (1970). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. London: Temple Smith. Huizinga analyses the importance of play for the development of human culture. See the review by Voegelin (1948).
Herz, J. C. (1997). Joystick Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds. Boston, MA: Little Brown.
Järvinen, Aki (2004). A Meaningful Read: Rules of Play reviewed. Game Studies 4(1). Retrieved 30th December 2005 from here. Review of Salen and Zimmerman (2004), one of the module's recommended texts.
Jenkins, Henry (1999a). Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, May 4. Retrieved 3rd October 2005 from here. This is the text of Henry Jenkins' testimony before the U.S. Senate on the question of digital games and violence following the Colombine High School shootings of 1999. He argues that there is a complex relationship between media and violence.
Jenkins, Henry (1999b). Professor Jenkins Goes to Washington. Harper's Magazine, July. Retrieved 5th January 2005 from here. Jenkin's (often amusing) account of his testimony before the U.S. Senate regarding digital games and violence, originally published in Harper's Magazine.
Jenkins, Henry (2000). Lessons from Littleton: What Congress Doesn't Want to Hear about Youth and Media. Independent School, Winter. Retrieved 5th January 2006 from here. Account of the moral panic following the Colombine High School shootings of 1999.
Jenkins, Henry (no date). Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. The Video Game Revolution. Retrieved 30th December 2005 from here. Jenkins addresses the gap between the public's perception of digital games and what the research actually shows.
Johnson, Bobbie (2005). Gamers Get to Grips with Hollywood. Guardian, 21 May, p. 12. Retrieved 3rd December 2005 from here. A short dicussion of the increasing convergence between digital games and films.
Johnson, Steven (2005a). Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. London: Allen Lane. In this short book Johnson argues that increasingly sophisticated popular culture is making us smarter, not dumber. He discusses digital games throughout, but particularly on pp. 17-60.
Johnson, Steven (2005b). Want to Exercise Your Mind? Try Playstation. The Times, Tech & Net Section. 13th May. Retrieved 27th September 2005 from here. A short extract from the first sections of Johnson's book (2005a).
Juul, Jesper (2005). Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, MA: MIT. A technical examination of games which characterises them as half real (real rules) and half fiction (unreal worlds). Associated website available here.
Kane, Pat (2005). The Play Ethic: A Manifesto for a Different Way of Living. London: Pan. Associated website here, and interview with the author here.
Kennedy, Helen (2002). Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? On the Limits of Textual Analysis. Game Studies 2(2). Retrieved 5th March 2007 from here.
Kerr, Aphra (2006a). The Business and Culture of Digital Games. London: Sage.
Kerr, Aphra (2006b). The Business of Making Digital Games. In: Rutter, Jason and Bryce, Jo (eds) (2006). Understanding Digital Games. London: Sage, pp. 36-57.
Kimppa, K. K. and Bissett, A. K. (2005). The Ethical Significance of Cheating in Online Computer Games. International Review of Information Ethics 4 (December 2005).
Kinder, Marsha (1991). Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: From Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Berkeley: University of California Press. Analyses how these media shape the way children perceive the world.
King, Geoff and Krzywinska, Tanya (eds) (2002). ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces. London: Wallflower Press. An examination of the relationships between digital games and films.
King, Geoff and Krzywinska, Tanya (2005). Tomb Raiders and Space Invaders: Videogame Forms and Contexts. London: I. B. Tauris. Discusses many games, concentrating particularly on the experiences and pleasures available to players.
Kline, Stephen, Dyer-Witheford, Nick and De Peuter, Greig (2003). Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing. McGill-Queen's University Press.
Kücklich , Julian (2003). Review: The Return of the Aura – Barry Atkins' More Than A Game. Game Research. Retrieved 5th January 2005 from here. A review of Atkins (2003).
Latour, Bruno (1992). Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artefacts’. In: Bijker, W. & Law J. (eds) Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Boston MA: MIT Press. Retrieved 25th October from here.
Lister, Martin et al. (2003). New Media: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge. Includes a useful discussion of 'Gameplay', pp. 260-86.
Loftus, G. R. and Loftus, E. F. (1983). Mind at Play: The Psychology of Video Games. New York: Basic Books. An examination of why we enjoy playing digital games.
Mäyrä, Frans (ed.) (2002). Computer Games and Digital Cultures. Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere. Introduction available here and here.
Mäyrä, Frans (2008). An Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture. London: Sage. A critical analysis of the development of digital games through the decades. Accompanying websites available here and here.
McFarlane, Angela, Sparrowhawk, Anne and Heald, Ysanne (2002). Report on the Educational Use of Games. Cambridge: TEEM. Retrieved 1st December 2005 from here.
Mitchell, Alice and Savill-Smith, Carol (2004). The Use of Computer and Video Games for Learning: A Review of the Literature. London: Learning & Skills Development Agency. Retrieved 1st December 2005 from here.
Montola, Markus (2005). Exploring the Edge of the Magic Circle: Defining Pervasive Games. DAC 2005 conference, 1-3 December. IT University of Copenhagen. Retrieved 16 March 2007 from here. Montola relates the magic circle to pervasive games such as alternate reality games, reality games, trans-reality games and crossmedia games.
Murray, J. H. (2001). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: MIT. On the potential of interactive storytelling, of relevance to the future of digital games.
Myers, David (2003). The Nature of Computer Games: Play As Semiosis. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Taking a semiotic approach to digital games, Myers discusses Spacewar!, DOOM, Civilization, Might and Magic, and many more.
Newman, James (2004). Videogames. London: Routledge.
Oram, Barney and Newman, James (2006). Teaching Video Games. London: British Film Institute.
Pelletier, Caroline (2005a). Review of Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Visual Communication 4(1), pp. 121-24. Retrieved 12 January 2006 from here. Review of Salen and Zimmerman (2004), one of the module's recommended texts.
Pelletier, Caroline (2005b). The Uses of Literacy in Studying Computer Games: Comparing Students' Oral and Visual Representations of Games. English Teaching: Practice and Critique 4(1) (May), pp. 40-59. Retrieved 29th November from here. Discusses digital gameplay and the performance of gender.
Pickering, Michael (2001). Stereotyping: The Politics of Representation. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Chapter 7 discusses moral panics.
Provenzo, Eugene F. (1991). Video Kids: Making Sense of Nintendo. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Provenzo examines Nintendo games in the early 90s, arguing that they are worryingly sexist and aggressive.
Pytlik, Mark (2007). The Gaming Industry: An Opportunity for Brands. Contagious Special Reports. Xtreme Information. Retrieved 4 September 2008 from here. Report on gaming from a marketing perspective.
Raessens, Joost and Goldstein, Jeffrey (eds) (2005). Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Rutter, Jason and Bryce, Jo (eds) (2006). Understanding Digital Games. London: Sage. Introduction is available here.
Ryan, M. (2003). Narrative As Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric (eds) (2005). The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology. MIT Press. A collection of key readings on games which complements Salen & Zimmerman's own text.
Salen, Katie (ed.) (2007). The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Retrieved 25 November 2008 from here. An exploration of games as systems in which young people participate as gamers, producers, and learners.
Saunders, Wayne (2000). Family Resemblances. The Life of Games. April. Retrieved 26th September 2005 from here. A discussion of the problems involved in trying to draw a sharp distinction between games and puzzles.
Schechter, Harold (2005). Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Shaffer, David Williamson (2006). How Computer Games Help Children Learn. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. On the educational potential of digital games.
Sniderman, Stephen (1999). Unwritten Rules. The Life of Games 1 (October), pp. 2-7. Retrieved 14th October 2005 from here.
Spock, Benjamin and Parker, Stephen J. (1998). Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. 7th ed. New York: Pocket Books. Includes a brief discussion of the evils of computer games (p. 625). See also Johnson (2005a, pp. 17-25).
Squire, Kurt (2001). Moral Panic, Cultural Backlash and Reconstructing Video Games. Re:constructions. Retrieved 5th January 2006 from here. Discussion of digital games and moral panics following the September 11 attacks.
Stephenson, William (1988). The Play Theory of Mass Communication. New Brunswick: Transaction Books. Stephenson develops Huizinga's approach to the importance of play for human culture.
Suits, Bernard (1967). What Is A Game? Philosophy of Science 34, p. 148. Retrieved 13th November 2005 from here. Suits provides a precise definition of what he believes it is to play a game.
Suits, Bernard (1990). The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. Boston: David R. Godine.
Sutton-Smith, Brian (2001). The Ambiguity of Play. Boston: Harvard University Press. Sutton-Smith discusses the ambiguous nature of play, and examines the rhetoric underlying several different attempts to explain it. Clearly written.
Swalwell, Melanie and Wilson, Jason (eds) (2008). The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Szulborski, Dave (2005). This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming. New Fiction Publishing.
Taubin, Amy (1999). He Got Game: David Cronenberg’s Virtual Surreality. Village Voice. 21-27 April. Retrieved 22nd October 2005 from here. Interview with Cronenberg discussing eXistenZ.
Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Examination of persistent virtual worlds, focusing particularly on Everquest.
Thompson, Kenneth (1998). Moral Panics. London: Routledge. Accessible introduction to the topic with several examples (though none focusing on digital games).
Tilghman, B. R. (1973). Wittgenstein, Games, and Art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31(4) (Summer), pp. 517-524. Includes an accessible explanation and discussion of Wittgenstein's approach to games.
Turkle, Sherry (1996). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Chapter 7 discusses MUDs.
Turkle, Sherry (2005). The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. 20th Anniversary edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Gaming and identity. A short extract is included in Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort (2003).
Tyler, Tom (2008). A Procrustean Probe. Game Studies, 8(2) (Dec). Retrieved 7th January 2009 from
Voegelin, Eric (1948). Book Review: Homo Ludens: Versuch einer Bestimmung des Spielements der Kultur by Jan Huizinga. Journal of Politics 10(1) (February), pp. 179-187. Informative review of Huizinga's Homo Ludens (1970).
Vorderer, Peter and Bryant, Jennings (eds) (2006). Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick (eds) (2003). The New Media Reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT. Includes some discussion of games, e.g. Turkle (pp. 499-513), Laurel (pp. 571-73) and Morningstar and Farmer (pp. 663-77). The associated CD-ROM includes a number of games, including Spacewar! and several early Atari and Apple games. There is an accompanying website, with exerpts, here.
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Harrigan, Pat (eds) (2004). First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Designed by Michael Crumpton. Cambridge, MA: MIT. A series of intertwining essays discussing aspects of digital games considered as storytelling or literature. Authors respond to one another's essays here and on the associated website.
Wark, McKenzie (2007). Gamer Theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Densely theoretical discussion of games as a way of understanding contemporay life; a short podcast in which Wark discusses his book is available here.
Wiener, Norbert (1950). The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode. A popular explanation of cybernetics by Wiener himself.
Wiener, Norbert (2003). Men, Machines, and the World About. In: Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick (eds) The New Media Reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT. A short, accessible account by Weiner of the background to his investigations into cybernetics.
Williams, Dmitri (2003a). The Video Game Lightning Rod: Constructions of a New Media Technology, 1970-2000. Information, Communication and Society, 6(4), pp. 523-550. Retrieved 14 January 2005 from here. Meticulously researched socio-historical account of the reception and rhetoric of digital games in the American press, including sections on age, gender, vilification and redeption.
Williams, Dmitri (2003b). Review of Mark J. P. Wolf (ed.), The Medium of the Video Game. Popular Communication, 1(4), pp. 251-253. Retrieved 14 January 2005 from here.
Williams, J. Patrick and Smith, Jonas Heide (2007). The Players’ Realm: Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming. Jefferson, NC, McFarland. Digital games from a broadly sociological perspective.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1968). Philosophical Investigations. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell. One of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century, which includes a short discussion of the concept 'games' (§66-71).
Wolf, Mark J. P. (ed.) (2001). The Medium of the Video Game. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. A collection of essays examining the history, form and culture of video games. Chapter 6 is available online. Reviewed by Williams (2003b).
Wolf, M. J. P. and Perron, B. (eds) (2003). The Video Game Theory Reader. London: Routledge. A collection of essays discussing different aspects of digital gameplay, particularly players' engagement with games.

Academic Journals

Communications of the ACM. Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery. Vol. 50 No. 7 (July 2007) is a special issue on 'Creating a science of games'.
Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. Transdisciplinary journal, established 2007.
European Journal of Cultural Studies. Vol. 11 No. 2 (May 2008) is a special issue devoted to digital games.
Fibreculture. Australian-based journal of network theory. Issue 8 concerns 'Gaming Networks'.
Games and Culture. A Journal of Interactive Media. University of Southern California. 2006-to date. Published quarterly from January 2006.
Game Studies. The International Journal of Computer Game Research. 2001-to date. E-journal examining the aesthetic, cultural and communicative aspects of computer games. Published once or twice a year.
International Review of Information Ethics. Issue 4 (December 2005) is a special issue on 'The Ethics of E-Games'.
The Journal of Computer Game Design. 1987-1996. Chris Crawford produced journal. Name changed to Interactive Entertainment Design in 1993.
Loading... Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association. Established 2007.
Media International Australia. No. 110 (Feb 2004), edited by Chris Chesher and Brigid Costello, is entitled 'The Games Issue: Studying Computer Games as Media'.
On the Horizon. Strategic Planning Resource for Education Professionals. MCB University Press. Vol. 12 No. 1 (2004) and Vol. 13 No. 2 (2005) are special issues on 'Serious Games'.
Refractory. A Journal of Entertainment Media. The essays in Volume 13 (May 2008) concern 'Games and Metamateriality'.
Transformative Works and Cultures. The essays in Volume 2 (2009) concern 'Games as Transformative Works'.


Several international conferences devoted to the study of digital games have made papers, presentations, abstacts and videos available online.
Broadening the Band. The Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Conference 4, University of Toronto, October 2003. Four-day conference on the internet, including panels on Gaming: Communities of Play, Online Gaming Networks, Network Formations: Producing and Consuming Online Games and Fans and Players: Media Communities. All abstracts listed.
Computer Games and Digital Textualities. Nordic Conference, Information Technology University of Copenhagen, March 2001. Two-day conference. Abstracts available.
DiGRA 2002: Computer Games and Digital Cultures. Digital Games Research Association Conference, University of Tampere, June 2002. Conference on digital games. All papers available.
DiGRA 2003: Level Up. Digital Games Research Association Conference, University of Utrecht, November 2003. Four-day conference on digital games. All papers available.
DiGRA 2005: Changing Views, Worlds in Play. Digital Games Research Association Conference, Vancouver, June 2005. Four-day conference on digital games. Most papers available.
DiGRA 2007: Situated Play. Digital Games Research Association Conference, University of Tokyo, September 2007. Five-day conference on digital games. All papers available.
Digital Arts & Culture Conferences, 1998-present. A series of international conferences including many papers on games. Most papers available.
Games in Education. Education Arcade Conference, Los Angeles Convention Center, May 2004. Two-day conference on games and education. Videos and audios of all presentations available (if you can get them to work).
Games in Education. Education Arcade Conference, Los Angeles Convention Center, May 2005. Two-day conference on games and education. Videos of all presentations available (if you can get them to work).
Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds. State of Play Conference 1, New York Law School, November 2003. Three-day conference on digital games. Most papers available.
Playing With the Future. Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition (CRIC) Conference, University of Manchester, April 2002. Three-day conference on digital games. All abstracts are listed, and several of the papers have been published in Game Studies and in Information, Communication and Society.
Serious Games Summit. CMP Game Group, Washington DC, 2005. Annual conference devoted to the study of "non-entertainment games". Abstracts available.
Women in Games. Conference, University of Portsmouth, June 2004. Two-day conference on women and games. PowerPoint presentations available.

Games Sites and Blogs Games news collated by Massimo Curatella.
Cerise. A monthly online magazine by and for women gamers.
Digiplay Initiative. Lots of resources, including a large bibliography and a useful gaming timeline.
Dmitri Williams Research Page. Includes copies of several useful academic articles and book chapters.
Edge: Videogame Culture. Accompanying website for the best commercial UK games magazine.
ELSPA. Website for the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association of the UK.
Entertainment Software Association. US association for digital games publishers.
Erasmatazz. Game designer Chris Crawford's website, including a huge Library of game-related writing.
Gamasutra. Huge site for game developers, including news and articles.
Gamasutra Education. A large collection of postgraduate research, mostly focusing on game development but including useful theoretical and academic material too.
GAM3R 7H3ORY. Experimental collaborative book by McKenzie Wark.
Game Research. The art, science and business of digital games, including many useful book reviews.
GamePolitics. Updates on legislation and the political reception of digital games, with a USA focus.
Games are Art. Quirky site, most interested in innovative and avant-garde games.
Grumpy Gamer. Blog by Ron Gilbert, creator of the first two Monkey Island games.
Guardian Unlimited Games Blog. Guardian newspaper blog.
Half-Real Dictionary of Video Game Theory. Compiled by Jesper Juul.
Henry Jenkins. See the sections of Jenkins' site on Media Convergence, Children's Culture, and his list of publications.
Internet Archive: Game Videos. Huge archive of digital game videos, including previews, machinima, speed runs, replays, and more. Group blog. Blog by Gonzalo Frasca.
Popular Culture Gaming. Blog by Bryan-Mitchell Young.
Project Massive. Ongong research into online gaming.
Red vs Blue. Witty machinima based on the Halo games. Visit the archive or watch the most recent episodes.
Ren Reynolds: Game Studies. Includes an extensive bibliography of Game Studies texts and many useful links.
Serious Games Initiative. Pursues the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy. Includes links to Games for Health and Games for Change.
Steven Poole. Archive of Poole's column for Edge magazine (up to 2005).
Teaching With Games. Reports by Futurelab on projects investigating the use of commercial games in education.
The Video Game Revolution. Site accompanying the PBS TV programme. Includes sections on game history, essays, et al.
Virtual Economy Research Network. Site devoted to the real-money trade of virtual property and related phenomena, including gaming items and characters. Includes a useful bibliography and a blog.
Zero Punctuation. Irreverant, animated, high-speed, game reviews.

Games Documentaries

Bobin, James (director/producer) (2001). Thumb Candy [television broadcast]. 49 min. UK: Talkback/Channel 4. Retrieved 6 June 2008 from here. Iain Lee presents an account of the early days of digital games (1960s-1980s), including interviews (and gameplaying) with the early games inventors.
Palmer, Greg (producer) (2004). The Video Game Revolution [television broadcast]. 120 min. Seattle, USA: KCTS/PBS. An 'entertaining look at the world of games', including a history, interviews with key figures, issues of violence and addiction, and the potential future of the medium.
Parkin, Richard (director) (2004). Trigger Happy: The Irresistible Rise of the Videogame [television broadcast]. 29 min. UK: BBC. Retrieved 6 June 2008 from here. Enthusiastic documentary looking at the growing importance of digital games, with talking heads Julian Opie, David Puttnam, Peter Molyneux, Susan Greenfield, et al. Presented by Steven Poole.
Talk of the Nation: New Video Games Entertain and Educate (21 June 2007) [radio broadcast]. 17 min. Washington, DC: NPR. Retrieved 25 June 2008 from here. Ian Bogost, author of Persuasive Games, discusses the persuasion, instruction and activism of 'serious games'. Interview by Neal Conan.

Games on Film

DOOM (2005). The Rock's team of marines battle nightmarish monsters and their own demons. Fun gun-fest.
eXistenZ (1999). Jude Law gets trapped inside a computer game: or does he? Thoughtful sci-fi written and directed by David Cronenberg.
The Game (1997). Michael Douglas gets trapped inside a real-life game: or does he? Thought-provoking thriller directed by David Fincher.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). Angelina Jolie is trapped inside a film adaptation of the popular computer game: fun. It happened again in a 2003 sequel.
Tron (1982). Jeff Bridges gets trapped inside a series of computer games: help! Great design by Moebius and Syd Mead.