Games Research Network

Researching analogue and digital games

Category: Reviews (page 1 of 3)

‘Eat Who I Eat’: Assassin’s Creed Discovery Tour

Assassin's Creed Origins

I am a (not uncritical) fan of historical murder-simulation franchise Assassin’s Creed, and I’ve played pretty much every major entry in the series since it began, often gritting my teeth at the bad plot and violence to explore the worlds of Renaissance Italy, Victorian London and Revolutionary Paris. I’m also an educationalist and former history teacher, so when Assassin’s Creed Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt was announced I was intrigued by the concept of learning history through playing what is usually a blockbuster game. The first thing that came into my head was this joke from the classic Simpsons episode ‘Marge vs The Monorail’, when Springfield Elementary School’s budget looks to be getting a huge boost: read more

Book Review – Tabletop Gaming Manual

Tabletop Gaming Manual
Matt Thrower
Haynes Manuals, 2018
ISBN: 1785211498

This new book from games journalist Matt Thrower is published by Haynes Publishing, who are perhaps best known for their car, motorcycle, scooter and ATV manuals, and who in recent years have developed an interesting and lucrative sideline in General Interest Manuals, with topics ranging from Zombie Survival to the Imperial Death Star. With such a wide range of fan culture on offer, it was surely only a matter of times before tabletop games got the Haynes treatment, and in Matt Thrower (who as well as his excellent Fortress blog is perhaps best known for his work with Shut up and Sit Down) they have the ideal gamer for the job. read more

Book review – Hamlet on the Holodeck

Hamlet on the Holodeck:
The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace
(Updated Edition)
Janet H. Murray
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2017
ISBN: 9780262533485
 

Twenty years on from the publication of Janet H. Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, The MIT Press have published an updated edition of the book originally published by The Free Press in 1997. That the book is deserving of such an update is not in question, its impact on those working on literature, narrative, technology, and games, was and remains significant (as is easily demonstrated by its ever- growing number of citations) and it well deserves its position as a landmark of literary criticism and digital culture. read more

Book Review – Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D: Rise of the Dungeon Master

Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D: Rise of the Dungeon Master

Written by David Kushner and illustrated by Koren Shadmi

New York: Nation Books, 2017. ISBN: 9781568585598

From humble beginnings in basements and community centres, table-top roleplaying games have become a cornerstone of geek culture. Fantasy roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons, devised by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974 and now in its fifth edition, is one of the most recognisable and identifiable aspects of this culture, often referenced in mainstream pop culture, thanks to television shows such as Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000), Community (2009 – 2015) and, more recently, Stranger Things (2016-2017). Indeed, Dungeons and Dragons is a cultural commodity that commands considerable Geek ‘capital’. Though it is still by no means a common pastime, the game has, as Michael Witwer argues, helped establish our dominant cultural moment: “We live in an era when it is chic to be geek.” Kushner and Shadmi’s graphic novel, Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D, published earlier this year, celebrates Dungeons and Dragons in this context, exploring its origins in the Indiana wargaming scene of the 1970s, through to its success as a global cultural product today. read more

Book Review – Mass Phenomena Computer Games

Massenphänomen Computerspiele: Soziale, kulturelle und wirtschaftliche Aspekte

(Computer Games as Mass Phenomenon: Social, Cultural and Economic Aspects)

By Jeffrey Wimmer

UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2013. ISBN: 978-3867640886

The major premise of this book is that since so many computer games are now networked, it is worthwhile studying them not merely as a form of entertainment but rather as a form of mass communication. Jeffrey Wimmer argues that the growth in popularity of computer games has resulted in a situation where they have come to form a significant element of people’s increasingly online interaction with the world. These games are therefore a complement to social media and other leisure-time and/or professional uses of digital media. This is particularly true of the younger generation and therefore means that computer games must be seen as a significant factor in young people’s socialisation. It is no longer a question of whether computer games influence people’s social behaviour but how. Naturally, this has led to some concerns, principally with regard to computer game addiction and the depiction of violence. read more

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