Book: Approaches to Videogame Discourse

Announcing the publication of their new book, Approaches to Videogame Discourse: Lexis, Interaction, Textuality (Bloomsbury, 2019, ed. Astrid Ensslin and Isabel Balteiro):

The first significant collection of research in videogame linguistics, Approaches to Videogame Discourse features an international array of scholars in linguistics, media and communication studies exploring lexis, interaction and textuality in digital games.

In the first section, “Lexicology, Localisation and Variation,” chapters cover productive processes surrounding gamer slang (ludolects), creativity and borrowing across languages, as well as industry-, genre-, game- and player-specific issues relating to localization, legal jargon and slang. “Player Interactions” moves on to examine communicative patterns between videogame players, focusing in particular on (un)collaborative language, functions and negotiations of impoliteness and issues of power in player discourse. In the final section, “Beyond the ‘Text’,” scholars grapple with issues of multimodality, paratextuality and transmediality in videogames in order to develop and enrich multimodal theory, drawing on key concepts from ludonarratology, language ideology, immersion and transmedia studies.

With implications for meaningful game design and communication theory, Approaches to Videogame Discourse examines in detail how video games function as means and objects of communication; how they give rise to new vocabularies, textual genres and discourse practices; and how they serve as rich vehicles of ideological signification and social engagement.


“Finally! A concerted take on the richly, intricately discursive world of gaming. Edited collections have proved to be defining moments in digital discourse studies; this one will be no exception.” –  Crispin Thurlow, Professor of Language and Communication, University of Bern, Switzerland

“Approaches to Video-Game Discourse is a field-shaping collection of essays which show how interesting and varied the study of online gaming can be. The book is impressive in its scope, including research about the micro-level features such as word formation and moving through to broader concerns such as the narrativity of particular games. The book should be commended for reaching beyond the study of individual games and paying attention to various paratexts such as video walkthroughs, manuals and the legal language relating to games. The scholars who have contributed to this collection embrace the full range of approaches that are found in discourse studies, using corpus driven analyses, ethnography, pragmatics, and multimodality to explore the texts and interactions of game-playing from empirically informed perspectives. The book will be of interest to linguists and new media scholars alike as a timely resource which helps us all understand how gaming is meaningful in m!
any different ways.” –  Dr. Ruth Page, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, University of Birmingham, UK

“Fueled by a new generation of scholars, this volume sketches out videogame discourse studies as a new field of research that extends from corpus-assisted lexical analysis to the multimodal study of paratexts that surround games. The authors draw on concepts and questions from applied, media and sociolinguistics, such as language ideologies, (im)politeness, plain language, and localization. This volume offers an accessible introduction to a field of practice that is massively popular on a global scale, yet quite understudied from a language and discourse perspective.” –  Jannis Androutsopoulos, Professor of German and Media Linguistics, Universität Hamburg, Germany

Book: Fun, Taste and Games

John Sharp and David Thomas are happy to announce the publication of:
Fun, Taste, & Games: An Aesthetics of the Idle, Unproductive, and Otherwise Playful
A new book in  MIT Press Play Thinking series.
This compact tome proposes a fun-centered aesthetic framework for understanding and appreciating games. This project is the result of a long meditation on the games and art debate. They hope it provides a productive and measured response to the more traditional aesthetic approaches which have, at times, pushed games into some uncomfortable and awkward positions far from the play at the center of the form.

Book Announcement: Digital Badges

Rudy McDaniel and Joey Fanfarelli are proud to announce their newest book with Routledge.

Designing Effective Digital Badges is a hands-on guide to the principles, implementation, and assessment of digital badging systems. Informed by the fundamental concepts and research-based characteristics of effective badge design, this book uses real-world examples to convey the advantages and challenges of badging and showcases its application across a variety of contexts. Researchers and professionals in game development, education, mobile app development, and beyond will find strategies for practices such as credentialing, goal-setting, and motivating their learners.

Some Topics Include:

  • How Are Badging Systems Constructed?
  • What Can Badges Do?
  • How Do Badges Shape Behavior?
  • Using Badges in Videogames, Online Learning, Mobile Apps, Military Applications
  • Badging System Testing and Evaluation

Book: The Playful Citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture

Out now: The Playful Citizen. Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture

Proud to announce the release of The Playful Citizen: Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture, a book edited by René Glas, Sybille Lammes, Michiel de Lange, Joost Raessens, and Imar de Vries and published by Amsterdam University Press in the new Games and Play book series.  Here’s the book’s premise from the publisher’s site:

In the last decade, digital media technologies and developments have given rise to exciting new forms of ludic, or playful, engagements of citizens in cultural and societal issues. From the Occupy movement to playful city-making to the gameful designs of the Obama 2008 and Trump 2016 presidential campaigns, and the rise of citizen science and ecological games, this book shows how play is a key theoretical, methodological, and practical principle for comprehending such new forms of civic engagement in a mediatized culture.

The Playful Citizen explores how and through what media we are becoming more playful as citizens and how this manifests itself in our ways of doing, living, and thinking. We offer a pluralistic answer to such questions by bringing together scholars from different fields such as game and play studies, social sciences, and media and culture studies.

The book is available on paper through the publisher’s website or other online book retailers (there is also an online discount code of 20% valid for two months: “Pub_ThePlayfulCitizen”. Once a book is in the basket, the code can be entered via the “Use a discount code” link), as well as freely available through open access here!  If you just want to browse the table of contents or want to read the first chapter, in which we elaborate on the notion of the playful citizen, go here.

Backside blurbs:

“A completely innovative aspect is the agenda of analyzing media and citizenship in contemporary culture through the lens of play. Media studies, game studies, and cultural studies will benefit from this, as will political practice.” – Mathias Fuchs, principal investigator at the Centre for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University Lüneburg, editor of Rethinking Gamification

“What a splendid edited collection, a thoughtful and well-researched anthology that both summarizes the state of the art at the intersection between play and political theories, and presents insights on future lines of research.” – Miguel Sicart, professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, author of Play Matters

More info about the Games and Play book series, you can find here. Please have a look here if you would like to submit a book proposal.

Book: Gaming the Stage

Announcing Gina Bloom’s new book Gaming the Stage: Playable Media and the Rise of English Commercial Theater. Published by University of Michigan Press, it is also available open access.

Rich connections between gaming and theater stretch back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when England’s first commercial theaters appeared right next door to gaming houses and blood-sport arenas. In the first book-length exploration of gaming in the early modern period, Gina Bloom shows that theaters succeeded in London’s new entertainment marketplace largely because watching a play and playing a game were similar experiences. Audiences did not just see a play; they were encouraged to play the play, and knowledge of gaming helped them become better theatergoers. Examining dramas written for these theaters alongside evidence of analog games popular then and today, Bloom argues for games as theatrical media and theater as an interactive gaming technology.

Gaming the Stage also introduces a new archive for game studies: scenes of onstage gaming, which appear at climactic moments in dramatic literature. Bloom reveals plays to be systems of information for theater spectators: games of withholding, divulging, speculating, and wagering on knowledge. Her book breaks new ground through examinations of histories of familiar games such as cards, backgammon, and chess; less familiar ones, like Game of the Goose; and even a mixed-reality theater videogame.

Book: Ludopolitics: Videogames against Control

Announcing Liam Mitchell’s book Ludopolitics: Videogames against Control

What can videogames tell us about the politics of contemporary technoculture, and how are designers and players responding to its impositions?  To what extent do the technical features of videogames index our assumptions about what exists and what is denied that status?  And how can we use games to identify and shift those assumptions without ever putting down the controller?  Ludopolitics responds to these questions with a critique of one of the defining features of modern technology: the fantasy of control.  Videogames promise players the opportunity to map and master worlds, offering closed systems that are perfect in principle if not in practice.  In their numerical, rule-bound, and goal-oriented form, they express assumptions about both the technological world and the world as such.  More importantly, they can help us identify these assumptions and challenge them.  Games like Spec Ops: The Line, Braid, Undertale, and Bastion, as well as play practices like speedrunning, theorycrafting, and myth-making provide an aesthetic means of mounting a political critique of the pursuit and valorization of technological control.

Book: Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games

Jaroslav Švelch announcing the release of their book Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games.

The book covers the social history of computer games in 1980s Czechoslovakia in seven chapters, starting with technology policies and hardware manufacturing, and ending with activist games about the 1988-89 demonstrations that led up to the Velvet Revolution. Along the way, the book peeks into paramilitary youth clubs, arcades on wheels, and bedrooms and kitchens of computer enthusiasts. It also discusses informal software distribution, gaming fanzines, DIY joysticks, illegal arcade machine manufacturing, ports and conversions, and some very local computer game genres. They’re hoping the book will be of interest not only to historians and history fans, but also to theorists and designers, as it sheds light on some unconventional play and design practices.

The book is coming out on December 18 with MIT Press in the Game Histories series:

If you’d like to ask for a review copy, please contact David Ryman at MIT Press:

An official summary follows:



How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games

Jaroslav Švelch



Aside from the exceptional history of Tetris, very little is known about gaming culture behind the Iron Curtain. But despite the scarcity of home computers and the absence of hardware and software markets, Czechoslovakia hosted a remarkably active DIY microcomputer scene in the 1980s, producing more than two hundred games that were by turns creative, inventive, and politically subversive. In Gaming the Iron Curtain, Jaroslav Švelch offers the first social history of gaming and game design in 1980s Czechoslovakia, and the first book-length treatment of computer gaming in any country of the Soviet bloc.

Švelch describes how amateur programmers in 1980s Czechoslovakia discovered games as a medium, using them not only for entertainment but also as a means of self-expression. Sheltered in state-supported computer clubs, local programmers fashioned games into a medium of expression that, unlike television or the press, was neither regulated nor censored. In the final years of Communist rule, Czechoslovak programmers were among the first in the world to make activist games about current political events, anticipating trends observed decades later in independent or experimental titles. Drawing from extensive interviews as well as political, economic, and social history, Gaming the Iron Curtain tells a compelling tale of gaming the system, introducing us to individuals who used their ingenuity to be active, be creative, and be heard.

Book Announcement – A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames

A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames by Brendan Keogh is being released with MIT Press in the next month:

Our bodies engage with videogames in complex and fascinating ways. Through an entanglement of eyes-on-screens, ears-at-speakers, and muscles-against-interfaces, we experience games with our senses. But, as Brendan Keogh argues in A Play of Bodies, this corporal engagement goes both ways; as we touch the videogame, it touches back, augmenting the very senses with which we perceive. Keogh investigates this merging of actual and virtual bodies and worlds, asking how our embodied sense of perception constitutes, and becomes constituted by, the phenomenon of videogame play. In short, how do we perceive videogames?
Keogh works toward formulating a phenomenology of videogame experience, focusing on what happens in the embodied engagement between the playing body and the videogame, and anchoring his analysis in an eclectic series of games that range from mainstream to niche titles. Considering smartphone videogames, he proposes a notion of co-attentiveness to understand how players can feel present in a virtual world without forgetting that they are touching a screen in the actual world. He discusses the somatic basis of videogame play, whether games involve vigorous physical movement or quietly sitting on a couch with a controller; the sometimes overlooked visual and audible pleasures of videogame experience; and modes of temporality represented by character death, failure, and repetition. Finally, he considers two metaphorical characters: the “hacker,” representing the hegemonic, masculine gamers concerned with control and configuration; and the “cyborg,” less concerned with control than with embodiment and incorporation.

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Book announcement: Machinima. From video game to video art

“Machinima. Dal videogioco alla videoarte” ["Machinima. From video game to video art"] is now available from Mimesis Edizioni in Italy. Featuring eight contributions from recognized international scholars, the book examines machinima as an artistic practice, concentrating on the work of Phil Solomon, Jon Rafman, Cory Arcangel, Body Condon, Bill Viola, Rewell Altunaga and other practitioners.
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