Listen to a short interview with McKenzie WarkHost: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane
Ever get the feeling that life's a game with changing rules and no clear sides, one you are compelled to play yet cannot win? Welcome to gamespace. Gamespace is where and how we live today. It is everywhere and nowhere: the main chance, the best shot, the big leagues, the only game in town. In a world thus configured, McKenzie Wark contends, digital computer games are the emergent cultural form of the times. Where others argue obsessively over violence in games, Wark approaches them as a utopian version of the world in which we actually live. Playing against the machine on a game console, we enjoy the only truly level playing field--where we get ahead on our strengths or not at all.
Gamer Theory uncovers the significance of games in the gap between the near-perfection of actual games and the highly imperfect gamespace of everyday life in the rat race of free-market society. The book depicts a world becoming an inescapable series of less and less perfect games. This world gives rise to a new persona. In place of the subject or citizen stands the gamer. As all previous such personae had their breviaries and manuals, Gamer Theory seeks to offer guidance for thinking within this new character. Neither a strategy guide nor a cheat sheet for improving one's score or skills, the book is instead a primer in thinking about a world made over as a gamespace, recast as an imperfect copy of the game.
Like all great works, Gamer Theory is formed out of a necessity 'to describe what being now is.' In a playful, edgy, and remixological style, Wark opens a new direction in game studies.
Gamer Theory is an amazing book, rich and pointed and powerful, and deserving of multiple rereadings. I cannot recommend Gamer Theory too highly.
In Gamer Theory, McKenzie Wark brings his relentlessly playful mind to the undeniably important medium of the videogame. Like a Mario of media studies, Wark powers up his own in-the-trenches videogaming experiences with secret combos from the big guns of critical theory to arrive at a player-centric and culturally savvy understanding of gaming. An idiosyncratic outflanking of current game studies, Gamer Theory takes scholarship of videogames to a brave new level.
The release of media theorist McKenzie Wark's new book Gamer Theory is many things at once. If you're interested in the growth of a new medium, it's a media academic's major guide to the key issues. If you're games-savvy, you are just as likely to recoil in horror at Wark's analyses. To proclaim that he has simply expanded on his previous work, a hacker manifesto, ignores what gamer theory is--a study in the catastrophe of reading culture. It's an intensely difficult-to-navigate work but ultimately rewarding for those up to the challenge of the game before them.
A crucial addition to a long history of discussion on gaming and play...This is philosophy constructed as and while the author plays the game (which also might include the academic game). This idea is actualised by Wark’s layered breakdown of Gamer Theory into meditations on various digital games like Vice City and SimEarth...It is a distinctive work in that it synthesises aspects from a range of critical discourses that might otherwise have no interest in gaming and play, largely because, as Wark writes: “Games are our contemporaries, the form in which the present can be felt and, in being felt, thought through.”
- 240 pages
- 5 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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