Review of Convergence Culture

A review of media studies scholar Henry Jenkins's recent book

I read Henry Jenkins’s new book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide this weekend. The book is a short, smart, buttery read on a hot topic, and it is sure to draw both popular and academic interest. Jenkins is a multifaceted media scholar, a critic of vaudeville, fan fiction, comics, film, games, and more. He is also the… read more

Game Design Education: Integrating Computation and Culture

Co-authored with Janet Murray, Michael Mateas, and Michael Nitsche. Published in IEEE Computer Society, June 2006.

Electronic games are growing rapidly as a cultural form, a set of media technologies, and a global industry. Humanists are looking at games as a new expressive genre like drama, opera, or movies, social scientists are examining them as a new form of collective behavior, computer scientists, engineers, and industrial designers are finding them a new focus of invention. New… read more

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Play Anything

The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games

This book will be published on September 13, 2016. Preorder on Amazon How filling life with play—whether soccer or lawn mowing, counting sheep or tossing Angry Birds—forges a new path for creativity and joy in our impatient age. Life is no game. It’s demanding, boring, and rarely fun. But what if we’ve got games wrong? Playing anything—whether an instrument, a… read more

Yurika Miki (R) and her mother Yoshiko take photos of raw beef liver sashimi before eating them at a restaurant in Tokyo June 28, 2012. While Japan has a reputation as the home of sushi and sashimi, one item is about to be taken off the menu as Japan's government looks to ban the popular dish of raw liver in sashimi style. The dish, which consists of raw beef liver sliced up into bite sized chunks and then served with onions and sauce had become a popular dish across the country. Picture taken June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - RTR34CQ5

Offloading Affective Labor to Customers

Companies once asked only their employees to feign heartfelt devotion to their products. Now their customers are expected to do so too.

Dining recently with friends, everything looked the way it always does. The menu boasted appealing but ordinary fare—antipasti and starters, wood-fired pizzas, freshly-made pastas, meaty mains. I noticed that a handful of the menu items were printed in red, and I asked the server why. “These are our signature dishes,” he explained. “They’re the ones that are most shared on… read more

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The Sublime Beauty of Powerball

Playing the lottery is foolish, but it affords the public a communal encounter with the weird majesty of mathematics.

As the Powerball jackpot rose late last week, so did the Powerball backlash. The contemporary citizen might revel in devotion to the latest comic-book film adaptation, but the lottery is still considered the lowest of low culture. No intelligent person, many opined in advance of Saturday’s (winnerless) drawing, would buy a Powerball ticket. The dismissal is part of a general… read more

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How to Talk About Videogames

A fond look at the preposterous—and yet essential—pursuit of games criticism

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon Videogames! Aren’t they the medium of the twenty-first century? The new cinema? The apotheosis of art and entertainment, the realization of Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk? The final victory of interaction over passivity? No, probably not. Games are part art and part appliance, part tableau and part toaster. In How to… read more

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The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need

Smart devices turn every industry into the computer industry, and dupe consumers into thinking their lives are better for it in the process.

Atlanta turns yellow for two weeks in April. Streets, driveways, terraces, cars—everything cakes with pollen. It’s the trees that cause the worst of it. Pine, oak, sweet gum, sycamore, mulberry, hackberry, birch, willow. Prolific itching, sneezing, and car-washing ensue. Grilling season officially begins when the pollen subsides. This year’s was particularly grievous, and perhaps that’s why I was so eager… 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 End of the Big Mac

The burger's demise won’t be marked by a declaration in a quarterly report, but by a collective appreciation for the comfort it offered America.

If you like to lunch on two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, you’d better act fast: McDonald’s has announced plans to phase out the Big Mac. Okay, not really. But social media ate up the news of its axing, published by the satirical site Daily Buzz Live at the end of last… read more

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Game Studies, Year Fifteen

Notes on Thoughts on Formalism

I know it’s been a long time since I blogged—really blogged, you know, in the style of that form—for three reasons. First, because I’m talking about blogging in the first sentence, and second because I’m sending you here to read the prerequisites for this post. You’ll want to read the linked piece and as many of the subsequent pieces linked… read more