Wednesday, July 28, 2010

half-real: a critical study of gaming

One of the things that's taken my attention away from Apocalypse POW! this summer is a website I'm in the process of putting together, half-real: a critical study of gaming. It's the first part of a sort of interactive thesis that I'm writing on the history, cultural impact, and development of gaming, and I figured it might be of interest to those of you who read Apocalypse POW! on a regular basis.

half-real is currently broken up into three categories: the sociological perspective on video games, the cultural perspective, and the industry perspective. Right now, this is about one-quarter of what I plan to incorporate -- eventually there will be chapters on Design, Marketing and Production; Studio vs. Independent Development; and Traditional vs. Emergent Gameplay. It's very much a work in progress, so if you have any feedback or comments, feel free to contact me.

Here's an overly-wordy sampling:

The cultural study of video games tends along a spectrum, with one extreme termed Ludology and the other Narratology (as defined by Gonzalo Frasca). In their purest forms, Ludology focuses on rule-based game systems, while Narratology focuses on story-based game systems. In other words, Chess cannot be studied from a narratological perspective, as the game functions entirely as a rule system. Similarly, a work of interactive fiction, for example Infocom's 1980 text-based adventure game Zork, is difficult to assess from a ludological perspective, as it operates as a story delivery system with a minimal imposition of rules (which can be summed up, essentially, as "don't die" and "complete the story".) That said, most games today contain a roughly-proportional division of rule systems and story devices, allowing for multiple approaches to critical analysis.

[h a l f - r e a l : a critical study of gaming]

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