Games Research Network

Researching analogue and digital games

Tag: Book Reviews (page 1 of 2)

Book Review: Role-Playing Game Studies: Transmedia Foundations

Role-Playing Game Studies: Transmedia Foundations

Edited by Sebastian Deterding and José Zagal

Routledge, 2018. ISBN:9780815369202

Originally conceived during discussions amongst the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) Role-Playing Studies Special Interest Group, this impressive volume represents an essential collection of essays and perspectives for any scholar currently researching, or thinking about researching, Role Playing Games (RPGs). With contributors ranging from internationally renowned academics (e.g. Staffan Björk and Sarah Lynne Bowman) to games designers (Moyra Turkington) and experts in narrative design (Whitney Beltrán), this compendium presents a multifaceted and holistic approach to the consideration of the subject. 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 – 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 – Connected Gaming

Connected Gaming – What Making Video Games Can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

By Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke

MIT Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780262035378

This book presents an introduction to the ‘Connected Gaming’ approach of using video games for learning, advocating for an integrated methodology that encompasses both an instructionist and a constructionist mindset. Central to this thesis is that for students to maximise their learning it is essential for them to not only play video games but to make them as well. The authors of this book build on the work of the noted gaming scholar James Paul Gee, and indeed the title is itself an homage to Gee’s 2003 text What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. read more

Book Review: Die verspielte Gesellschaft

Die verspielte Gesellschaft: Gamification oder Leben im Zeitalter des Computerspiels

(Society at Play: Gamification, or Life in the Era of the Computer Game)

By Nora S. Stampfl

Hanover: Heise, 2012. ISBN: 978-3936931778

This is an introduction into gamification, the process by which elements from various games, especially computer games, are used in non-game situations. The book starts with an overview of games in general, in particular with the establishment of the academic discipline Ludology in the 1990s. In order to answer the question “What is a game?” posed near the start of the book, Nora Stampfl summarises the work of Johan Huizinga, Bernard Suits, and Roger Caillois, stressing the fact that this work pre-dates the era of computer games. For Stampfl, one of the key aspects of computer games is their potential to bring large numbers of players together in various forms of online interactions. Clearly, the MMOs are one of the best examples of this aspect of gaming, with many people seeing them as an opportunity for players to escape grey reality in favour of various fantasy worlds. However, Stampfl’s focus is very much on the reverse direction, namely the numerous ways in which elements from online gaming are being used in real life, through a process of gamification. Her goal is to explore how these features are able to influence people’s behaviour in various areas of their own lives. read more

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