The Importance of Play, Warcraft, and More Books
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The Importance of Play, Warcraft, and More Books
14 September, 2018

This next set of books explores the importance of playing, a casual revolution, the phenomenon of World of Warcraft, the true reasons for playing video games, and more. Get closer to the concepts behind game design. 

Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture

In Play Between Worlds, T. L. Taylor discusses multiplayer gaming life and the players that slip in and out of complex social networks that cross online and offline space. Taylor examines the thought that playing computer games is an isolating and alienating activity indulged in by solitary teenage boys. The author states that MMOGs with thousands of players participating in a virtual game world in real time are created for sociability. Games like Everquest and other titles are, in fact, fundamentally social projects.

A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players

Are video games mostly for young men? Of course not. The success of the Nintendo Wii, games in browsers, cell phone games, and social games video games changed the situation and the new casual games are now played by men and women, young and old. Players nowadays don’t need an intimate knowledge of video game history. What is more, many players of casual games show skills that are not that casual. A Casual Revolution, a book by Jesper Juul, discusses this evolution of video games, and of the image of video game players, exploring what this tells us about the players, the games, and their interaction.

Play Matters (Playful Thinking)

This next one explores play as a productive, expressive way of being, a form of understanding, and a fundamental part of our well-being. What are your thoughts on the play? Being happy and well rested allows us to approach even our daily tasks in a playful way, implementing the attitude of play without the activity itself. So, what is the play? In Play Matters, Miguel Sicart states that playing is a form of understanding what surrounds us and a way of engaging with others. Play is not just games — it is a mode of being human.

The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games

Don’t miss the next one with an exploration of why people play video games even when there are unhappy when they fail at them. Video games are mostly described as something “fun,” The Art of Failure by Jesper Juul states this is a big mistake. The games are rarely about happiness or bliss. It’s all about a fundamental desire to succeed and feel competent, yet gamers tend to choose to engage in an activity in which they are nearly certain to fail and feel incompetent. Why do we keep playing video games then? Read the book to find an answer!

Values at Play in Digital Games

The next book holds a theoretical and practical guide to integrating human values into the conception and design of digital games. The author states that all games express and embody human values, bringing a compelling arena to play out beliefs and ideas. Games feature “big ideas” like justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation, as well as tons of other. Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum discussed this concept in Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. This is also a guide to designers who want to implement values in the conception and design of their games.

Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art

Looking for an exploration of the relationship between games and art that examines the ways that both game makers and artists create game-based artworks? Check out the next book! The author states that over the past fifteen years, the synthesis of art and games has clouded for both artists and game makers. “Contemporary art has drawn on the tool set of videogames, but has not considered them a cultural form with its own conceptual, formal, and experiential affordances. For their part, game developers and players focus on the innate properties of games and the experiences they provide, giving little attention to what it means to create and evaluate fine art,” states the description. Works of Game by John Sharp is created to bridge this gap, featuring a formal aesthetics of games that encompasses the commonalities and the differences between games and art.

Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader

This read examines World of Warcraft as both cultural phenomenon and game, featuring contributions by writers and researchers who have immersed themselves in the WoW gameworld. “World of Warcraft is the world’s most popular massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), with (as of March 2007) more than eight million active subscribers across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, who play the game an astonishing average of twenty hours a week. This book examines the complexity of World of Warcraft from a variety of perspectives, exploring the cultural and social implications of the proliferation of ever more complex digital gameworlds. The contributors have immersed themselves in the World of Warcraft universe, spending hundreds of hours as players (leading guilds and raids, exploring moneymaking possibilities in the in-game auction house, playing different factions, races, and classes), conducting interviews, and studying the game design―as created by Blizzard Entertainment, the game’s developer, and as modified by player-created user interfaces,” states the description. Are you a fan of the game? This is a must-read for you! 

Critical Play: Radical Game Design

Critical Play is an examination of subversive games which are games designed for political, aesthetic, and social critique. Most games are described as entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. Some games are something more than this, holding means for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change. An artist and game designer Mary Flanagan discusses alternative games, the ones that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry. The author states these games are reshaping everyday game culture.

The Well-Played Game: A Player’s Philosophy

The next one examines the relationship between the well-played game and the well-lived life. In The Well-Played Game, games guru Bernard De Koven discusses the interaction of play and games, offering readers a guide to how games work. The book, first published in 1978, explores many issues newly resonant in the era of video and computer games, including social gameplay and player modification. “The digital game industry, now moving beyond its emphasis on graphic techniques to focus on player interaction, has much to learn from The Well-Played Game.”

The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World

This is another exploration of the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft as a virtual prototype of the real human future. The project is more than a simple game. It is an immersive virtual world in which characters deal with a dangerous environment, assume identities, struggle to understand and communicate, learn to use technology, and compete for dwindling resources. “In The Warcraft Civilization, sociologist William Sims Bainbridge goes further, arguing that WoW can be seen not only as an allegory of today but also as a virtual prototype of tomorrow, of a real human future in which tribe-like groups will engage in combat over declining natural resources, build temporary alliances on the basis of mutual self-interest, and seek a set of values that transcend the need for war,” states the description. 

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