How amateur programmers in 1980s Czechoslovakia discovered games as a medium, using them not only for entertainment but also as a means of self-expression. Aside from the exceptional history of Tetris, very little is known about gaming culture behind the Iron Curtain. But despite the scarcity of home computers and the absence of hardware and software markets, Czechoslovakia hosted a remarkably active DIY microcomputer scene in the 1980s, producing more than two hundred games that were by turns creative, inventive, and politically subversive. In Gaming the Iron Curtain, Jaroslav Švelch offers the first social history of gaming and game design in 1980s Czechoslovakia, and the first book-length treatment of computer gaming in any country of the Soviet bloc. Švelch describes how amateur programmers in 1980s Czechoslovakia discovered games as a medium, using them not only for entertainment but also as a means of self-expression. Sheltered in state-supported computer clubs, local programmers fashioned games into a medium of expression that, unlike television or the press, was neither regulated nor censored. In the final years of Communist rule, Czechoslovak programmers were among the first in the world to make activist games about current political events, anticipating trends observed decades later in independent or experimental titles. Drawing from extensive interviews as well as political, economic, and social history, Gaming the Iron Curtain tells a compelling tale of gaming the system, introducing us to individuals who used their ingenuity to be active, be creative, and be heard.
In both video games and animated films, worlds are constructed through a combination of animation, which defines what players see on the screen, and music and sound, which provide essential cues to action, emotion, and narrative. This book offers a rich exploration of the intersections between animation, video games, and music and sound, bringing together a range of multidisciplinary lenses. In fourteen chapters, the contributors consider similarities and differences in how music and sound structure video games and animation, as well as the animation within video games, and explore core topics of nostalgia, adaptation, gender and sexuality. Offering fresh insights into the aesthetic interplay of animation, video games, and sound, this volume provides a gateway into new areas of study that will be of interest to scholars and students across musicology, animation studies, game studies, and media studies more broadly.
A study of the gruesome game characters we love to beat—and what they tell us about ourselves. Since the early days of video games, monsters have played pivotal roles as dangers to be avoided, level bosses to be defeated, or targets to be destroyed for extra points. But why is the figure of the monster so important in gaming, and how have video games come to shape our culture’s conceptions of monstrosity? To answer these questions, Player vs. Monster explores the past half-century of monsters in games, from the dragons of early tabletop role-playing games and the pixelated aliens of Space Invaders to the malformed mutants of The Last of Us and the bizarre beasts of Bloodborne, and reveals the common threads among them. Covering examples from aliens to zombies, Jaroslav Švelch explores the art of monster design and traces its influences from mythology, visual arts, popular culture, and tabletop role-playing games. At the same time, he shows that video games follow the Cold War–era notion of clearly defined, calculable enemies, portraying monsters as figures that are irredeemably evil yet invariably vulnerable to defeat. He explains the appeal of such simplistic video game monsters, but also explores how the medium could evolve to present more nuanced depictions of monstrosity.
Now in its second edition, the Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming is the definitive, go-to resource for anyone interested in the diverse and expanding video game industry. This three-volume encyclopedia covers all things video games, including the games themselves, the companies that make them, and the people who play them. Written by scholars who are exceptionally knowledgeable in the field of video game studies, it notes genres, institutions, important concepts, theoretical concerns, and more and is the most comprehensive encyclopedia of video games of its kind, covering video games throughout all periods of their existence and geographically around the world. This is the second edition of Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming, originally published in 2012. All of the entries have been revised to accommodate changes in the industry, and an additional volume has been added to address the recent developments, advances, and changes that have occurred in this ever-evolving field. This set is a vital resource for scholars and video game aficionados alike. Explores games, people, events, and ideas that are influential in the industry, rather than simply discussing the history of video games Offers a detailed understanding of the variety of video games that have been created over the years Includes contributions from some of the most important scholars of video games Suggests areas of further exploration for students of video games
The overlooked history of an early appropriation of digital technology: the creation of games though coding and hardware hacking by microcomputer users. From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, low-end microcomputers offered many users their first taste of computing. A major use of these inexpensive 8-bit machines--including the TRS System 80s and the Sinclair, Atari, Microbee, and Commodore ranges--was the development of homebrew games. Users with often self-taught programming skills devised the graphics, sound, and coding for their self-created games. In this book, Melanie Swalwell offers a history of this era of homebrew game development, arguing that it constitutes a significant instance of the early appropriation of digital computing technology. Drawing on interviews and extensive archival research on homebrew creators in 1980s Australia and New Zealand, Swalwell explores the creation of games on microcomputers as a particular mode of everyday engagement with new technology. She discusses the public discourses surrounding microcomputers and programming by home coders; user practices; the development of game creators' ideas, with the game Donut Dilemma as a case study; the widely practiced art of hardware hacking; and the influence of 8-bit aesthetics and gameplay on the contemporary game industry. With Homebrew Gaming and the Beginnings of Vernacular Digitality, Swalwell reclaims a lost chapter in video game history, connecting it to the rich cultural and media theory around everyday life and to critical perspectives on user-generated content.
This book brings together essays on game history and historiography that reflect on the significance of locality. Game history did not unfold uniformly and the particularities of space and place matter, yet most digital game and software histories are silent with respect to geography. Topics covered include: hyper-local games; temporal anomalies in platform arrival and obsolescence; national videogame workforces; player memories of the places of gameplay; comparative reception studies of a platform; the erasure of cultural markers; the localization of games; and perspectives on the future development of ‘local’ game history. Chapters 1 and 12 are available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via link.springer.com.
Video Games and Comedy is the first edited volume to explore the intersections between comedy and video games. This pioneering book collects chapters from a diverse group of scholars, covering a wide range of approaches and examining the relationship between video games, humour, and comedy from many different angles. The first section of the book includes chapters that engage with theories of comedy and humour, adapting them to the specifics of the video game medium. The second section explores humour in the contexts, cultures, and communities that give rise to and spring up around video games, focusing on phenomena such as in-jokes, player self-reflexivity, and player/fan creativity. The third section offers case studies of individual games or game series, exploring the use of irony as well as sexual and racial humour in video games.
Cutting-edge historians explore ideas, communities, and technologies around modern computing to explore how computers mediate social relations. Computers have been framed both as a mirror for the human mind and as an irreducible other that humanness is defined against, depending on different historical definitions of "humanness." They can serve both liberation and control because some people's freedom has historically been predicated on controlling others. Historians of computing return again and again to these contradictions, as they often reveal deeper structures. Using twin frameworks of abstraction and embodiment, a reformulation of the old mind-body dichotomy, this anthology examines how social relations are enacted in and through computing. The authors examining "Abstraction" revisit central concepts in computing, including "algorithm," "program," "clone," and "risk." In doing so, they demonstrate how the meanings of these terms reflect power relations and social identities. The section on "Embodiments" focuses on sensory aspects of using computers as well as the ways in which gender, race, and other identities have shaped the opportunities and embodied experiences of computer workers and users. Offering a rich and diverse set of studies in new areas, the book explores such disparate themes as disability, the influence of the punk movement, working mothers as technical innovators, and gaming behind the Iron Curtain. Abstractions and Embodiments reimagines computing history by questioning canonical interpretations, foregrounding new actors and contexts, and highlighting neglected aspects of computing as an embodied experience. It makes the profound case that both technology and the body are culturally shaped and that there can be no clear distinction between social, intellectual, and technical aspects of computing. Contributors: Janet Abbate, Marc Aidinoff, Troy Kaighin Astarte, Ekaterina Babinsteva, André Brock, Maarten Bullynck, Jiahui Chan, Gerardo Con Diaz, Liesbeth De Mol, Stephanie Dick, Kelcey Gibbons, Elyse Graham, Michael J. Halvorson, Mar Hicks, Scott Kushner, Xiaochang Li, Zachary Loeb, Lisa Nakamura, Tiffany Nichols, Laine Nooney, Elizabeth Petrick, Cierra Robson, Hallam Stevens, Jaroslav Švelch
Why were Hollywood producers eager to film on the other side of the Iron Curtain? How did Western computer games become popular in socialist Czechoslovakia's youth paramilitary clubs? What did Finnish commercial television hope to gain from broadcasting Soviet drama? Cold War media cultures are typically remembered in terms of an East-West binary, emphasizing conflict and propaganda. Remapping Cold War Media, however, offers a different perspective on the period, illuminating the extensive connections between media industries and cultures in Europe's Cold War East and their counterparts in the West and Global South. These connections were forged by pragmatic, technological, economic, political, and aesthetic forces; they had multiple, at times conflicting, functions and meanings. And they helped shape the ways in which media circulates today—from film festivals, to satellite networks, to coproductions. Considering film, literature, radio, photography, computer games, and television, Remapping Cold War Media offers a transnational history of postwar media that spans Eastern and Western Europe, the Nordic countries, Cuba, the United States, and beyond. Contributors draw on extensive archival research to reveal how media traveled across geopolitical boundaries; the processes of translation, interpretation, and reception on which these travels depended; and the significance of media form, content, industries, and infrastructures then and now.
Videogames in the Indian Subcontinent: Development, Culture(s) and Representations explores the gaming culture of one of the most culturally diverse and populous regions of the world-the Indian subcontinent. Building on the author's earlier work on videogame culture in India, this book addresses issues of how discussions of equality and diversity sit within videogame studies, particularly in connection with the subcontinent, thereby presenting pioneering research on the videogame cultures of the region. Drawing on a series of player and developer interviews and surveys conducted over the last five years, including some recent ones, this book provides a sense of how games have become a part of the culture of the region despite its huge diversity and plurality and opens up avenues for further study through vignettes and snapshots of the diverse gaming culture. It addresses the rapid rise of videogames as an entertainment medium in South Asia and, as such, also tries to better understand the recent controversies connected to gaming in the region In the process, it aims to make a larger connection between the development of videogames and player culture, in the subcontinent and globally, thus opening up channels for collaboration between the industry and academic research, local and global.
A potent new book examines the overlap between our ecological crisis and video games Video games may be fun and immersive diversions from daily life, but can they go beyond the realm of entertainment to do something serious—like help us save the planet? As one of the signature issues of the twenty-first century, ecological deterioration is seemingly everywhere, but it is rarely considered via the realm of interactive digital play. In Playing Nature, Alenda Y. Chang offers groundbreaking methods for exploring this vital overlap. Arguing that games need to be understood as part of a cultural response to the growing ecological crisis, Playing Nature seeds conversations around key environmental science concepts and terms. Chang suggests several ways to rethink existing game taxonomies and theories of agency while revealing surprising fundamental similarities between game play and scientific work. Gracefully reconciling new media theory with environmental criticism, Playing Nature examines an exciting range of games and related art forms, including historical and contemporary analog and digital games, alternate- and augmented-reality games, museum exhibitions, film, and science fiction. Chang puts her surprising ideas into conversation with leading media studies and environmental humanities scholars like Alexander Galloway, Donna Haraway, and Ursula Heise, ultimately exploring manifold ecological futures—not all of them dystopian.
Casino games and traditional card games have rich and idiosyncratic histories, complex subcultures and player practices, and facilitate the flow of billions of dollars each year through casinos and card rooms, and between professional players and amateurs. They have nevertheless been overlooked by game scholars due to the negative ethical weight of “gambling” – with such games pathologized and labelled as deviance or mental illness, few look beyond to unpick the games, their players, and their communities. The Casino, Card and Betting Game Reader offers 25 chapters studying the communities playing these games, the distinctive cultures and practices that have emerged around them, their activities and beliefs and interpersonal relationships, and how these games influence – both positively and negatively – the lives and careers of millions of game players around the world. It is the first of a new series of edited collections, Play Beyond the Computer, dedicated to exploring the play of games beyond computers and games consoles.