Making Books

It's not the same as writing books

Back when his book The Textual Life of Airports was published in December, Christopher Schaberg reported what most authors do: seeing his book for the first time. “What a weird feeling,” Chris wrote. “It resembles an object from outer space. Vaguely recognizable, yet totally alien at the same time.” This is the experience of most authors. We say we “write… read more

Writing Books People Want to Read

Or, How to Stake Vampire Publishing

Alex Reid wrote an excellent rejoinder against academic book publishing last week. The post was inspired by a discussion at the recent Computers and Writing conference about traditional publishing versus blogging and other forms of digital publishing. It’s an old, perhaps even a boring topic at this point, so Alex turns the subject back on itself: most scholarly monograph book… read more

Ebooks and Print Books

What Amazon.com's ebook sales figures really mean

Among the many overzealous, under-synthesized tech business stories today, perhaps the most surprising is the news that Amazon is now selling more ebooks than print books. 105 ebooks for every 100 print books, as it happens. While 105 > 100, a more accurate but less scintillating headline might be, “Amazon ebook sales on parity with print book sales.” But I… read more

Two Books, One Summer

Alien Phenomenology and How to Do Things with Videogames

My goal this summer was to finish two books I’d been working on. By July I had some concerns, as writing wasn’t coming as easily as I’d hoped, and then I got overwhelmed by the unexpected stampede of cows. But I just completed the second manuscript, and I’ll admit I’m quite chuffed to have reached my goal. The first book… read more

Now You Can Burn My Books

Thoughts on Kindle and electronic editions

Apparently my publisher has started issuing Kindle editions of my books. Two are now available in Amazon’s electronic format: Persuasive Games and Unit Operations. Readers might be interested to find that MIT Press seems to have taken up a different strategy with their electronic book pricing. Specifically, the Kindle editions do not necessarily cost less than the print books. To… read more

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The Geek’s Chihuahua

Living with Apple

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon The evolution and meaning of our love affair with Apple and its devices. At dinnertime: check. At a traffic light: check. In bed at the end of the day: check. In line at the coffee shop: check. In The Geek’s Chihuahua, Ian Bogost addresses the modern love affair… read more

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Video Games Are Better Without Characters

The real legacy of SimCity is its attempt—and failure—to make complex systems the protagonists instead of people.

In the mid-1980s, the easiest way to check out the latest computer games was to go to a bookstore in the mall. Past the John Grisham and the bargain history books in the B. Dalton Bookseller, you’d find Software Etc., a small island of boxes amidst bound volumes, and a few computers on which to play the latest releases. It… read more

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The Cathedral of Computation

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to… read more

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Winning Isn’t Everything

I used to think that games would be the dominant medium of the 21st century. The reality? They’re too big, too complex, and too smart for that to be true.

It’s hard to turn around in video game circles without hearing someone proclaim that “games are the dominant medium of the 21st century.” Deus Ex and Epic Mickeydesigner Warren Spector has a lecture built around the idea. The author Tom Chatfield devoted the subtitle of his book Fun, Inc to the concept. Journey composer Austin Wintory’s uttered the quip in an interview. Film critics writing about recent documentaries about games have even let… read more

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Why Anything but Games Matters

On isolationism in game development; my Indiecade 2014 talk

A couple months ago, I was talking to a friend in technology media. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m in tech,” he started saying. He paused for a beat. “Then I think, at least I’m not in games.” He wasn’t even really talking about the Voldemortian “you-know-what” that was indeed the original impetus for our conversation. That’s just the latest example.… read more