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Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds
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Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Jesper Juul examines the constantly evolving tension between rules & fiction in video games. He argues that such games are both a departure from & a development of traditional non-electronic games.
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published November 4th 2005 by MIT Press (MA)
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This is an excellent outline of the field of game studies, suitable for not only students and researchers but also independent readers. Juul gives an efficient but thorough overview of prominent theories and theorists in the field, using tables and charts to show where different concepts and ideas overlap. He then combines what he considers to be the best aspects of many of the theories into his own comprehensive definition of a game.

He also uses web content to good effect, linking to games and
Stacey Mason
Even 7 years after its publication Half-Real remains a landmark moment in the development of Game Studies as a field. Juul's approach to games bridges a formal analysis of their rules and systems with a nuanced approach to their fiction. Half-Real offers several useful, citable definitions and concepts and provides good outlines and approaches to exploring games, particularly through their formal qualities.

That said, the book is not without problems. As with any book in which the primarily goal
Michael Suen
The so-called "narratology vs. ludology" debate in game studies can be a beast of discourse to start studying from square one, and Juul does a good job of outlining the tensions that have been expressed over a decade of back-and-forth. It's the second time I've read Half-Real, and it's been valuable to return to this book in light of recent conversations around the rejection of formalism in personal, "zinester" games. It's clear that Juul still primarily views games as systems of rules and of pl ...more
I also read this book for a class, the concepts were quite interesting.
Phil Oppenheim
"The intention of this book has been to create a basic theory of video games .... the entire theory can ... be described as the intersection between games as rules and games as fiction, and the relation between the game, the player and the world" (p 197). If that sort of musing strikes you as mindblowing, you'll like encountering the many iterations of the idea through this brief, serious discussion of video games. If not, and you remain unconvinced about the aesthetic value(s) of games, well, t ...more
An excellent and important book to mark a beginning of computer game theory, Juul's writing and particular subject matter make the book a little dogged to read at times, and a touch repetitive. Still, the ideas are overall fascinating, and the distinction of games as defined by rules and/or fiction leads to a lot of philosophical questioning. A must-read for anyone dealing with technology in any way, and all-in-all a terrific book.
An interesting read. I particularly appreciated his extensive consideration of the definition of games and video games, looking at several other games scholars for patterns. There was another chapter that focused on games and fictional narrative that helps showcase the difference between games and traditiona stories, but the similarities too.
A very solid title. While I wouldn't recommend it for someone who wanted casual insight into the critical study of video games, it is a crucial resource for the researcher. There is much thorough and clear-headed analysis to serve as a springboard for future investigations.
Robert D.
Very worthwhile and readable discussion of the "Mario vs. Aristotle" question. Juul is a very engaging writer and I look forward to reading his other works.
Wow, wenn mich jemand fragt, was "Game Design" eigentlich ist, werde ich ihm dieses Buch in die Hand drücken.
Bryan Ma
Game studies has progressed quite a bit in the last seven years but this remains a strong, nuanced outline.
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Jesper Juul is Visiting Assistant Professor at the New York University Game Center. He is the author of Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds and A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players, both published by MIT Press.
More about Jesper Juul...
The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players

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