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Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  184 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Videogames are an expressive medium, and a persuasive medium; they represent how real and imagined systems work, and they invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them. In this innovative analysis, Ian Bogost examines the way videogames mount arguments and influence players. Drawing on the 2,500-year history of rhetoric, the study of persuasiv ...more
Hardcover, 450 pages
Published June 22nd 2007 by MIT Press (MA)
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Community Reviews

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Megan
Jun 17, 2013 Megan rated it it was amazing
"My rationale for suggesting a new rhetorical domain is the same one that motivates visual rhetoricians. Just as photography, motion graphics, moving images and illustrations have become pervasive in contemporary society, so have computer hardware, software, and video games. Just as visual rhetoricians argue that verbal and written rhetorics inadequately account for the unique properties of visual expression, so I argue that verbal, written, and visual rhetorics inadequately account for the uniq ...more
Greg Brown
Jul 23, 2013 Greg Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by the book's focus on procedural rhetoric, meaning persuasion where the game mechanics themselves are intimately tied to the message. Many games with a message use it as essentially a wrapper around the actual, neutral mechanics. Sometimes these can even be at odds with the mechanics, such as the oft-discussed "ludonarrative" dissonance of Bioshock ludo standing for play.

That example in particular points to a weakness of the book: it was originally published in 2007, with some o
...more
Kaj Sotala
Apr 01, 2013 Kaj Sotala rated it liked it
This books made a very valuable contribution by introducing the concept of procedural rhetoric (explained below), but overall I was not too impressed with it. The writing was meandering and got frequently sidetracked. For example, in one case the book devoted a paragraph to explaining that an organization which had adopted the term "serious games" did not cite an earlier work which introduced the term, but the authors of the organization's report might regardless have been indirectly influenced ...more
Jason
May 19, 2014 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Thoughtful application of the ideas of rhetoric onto the medium of videogames, looking at how we can talk about rhetoric in the context of gaming, but also breaking down a number of games in this way in order to better understand what they are saying it, why they are doing it, and how this is accomplished. By this point, this book is a must-read. Unfortunately, it's too dry, explaining too much of simple concepts at times (the history of rhetoric was really frustrating, as well as unhelpful for ...more
Graham
Jun 06, 2015 Graham rated it liked it
Shelves: academic
I hate reviewing books like this, because there is some important content here and it is going to be super useful for my research. However, this book falls into the trap that a lot of academic books fall into - it simultaneously presents the intro and lit review as if the reader has zero context, thus making ~1/3-1/2 of the book skimmable for its real audience, who is there for the rest of the content that would be esoteric to the uninitiated. There are a lot of good academic books out there tha ...more
Chip
Oct 29, 2007 Chip rated it it was ok
Shelves: aborted-reads
too dry, too academic. couldn't get into it. it spent pages exploring etymology of various words, seriously. probably great as an academic text but not sufficiently interesting to hold my interest.
Ted Aronson
Jun 23, 2015 Ted Aronson rated it really liked it
Worth reading for the first and last sections alone. A little too much time is spent detailing projects that the author worked on outside of the book, but the concept of "procedural rhetoric" is so useful that I didn't really mind.

The book itself is also useful for bludgeoning small animals (it's really thick).
Miranda L Visser
Dec 29, 2013 Miranda L Visser rated it it was amazing
So the book wanders a bit, and doesn't hit all the bases that I wish it did as my interest is in social issues like representation and inclusion of marginalized groups (Although it does touch on race in Grand Theft Auto much to my pleasure), but all the meandering and tangents are so very worth it when Bogost finally gets to the meat of it in the last section of the last chapter titled "Conversations."

Bogost gets why videogames are such an important medium in our culture today, the power that th
...more
Neven
Nov 17, 2013 Neven rated it liked it
Bogost makes a lot of novel, useful points here: about videogames in general, and about them as a medium for conveying opinionated, directed, persuasive messages. It's another book of his that has taught me specific points and also made me think about games in slightly different ways.

However, I must rate it somewhere around 3-3.5 because of the rather overwritten, nearly philosophy-parodying style. References to numerous philosophers classical and modern, from Aristotle to Lacan, abound. They'r
...more
Eric
Aug 09, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It presented a number of interesting arguments and case studies that are a strong addition to the "games-as-art" literature. I particularly enjoyed the part about the disconnect between conservatives criticizing Grand Theft Auto, and the conservative values that can actually be found in Grand Theft Auto.
Stevie
Apr 05, 2014 Stevie rated it it was amazing
I loved this explanation of how video games work on more than one rhetorical register and in particular, the special role that procedural rhetoric plays. My favourite section was the exposition on Animal Crossing. It had me in fits of laughter. Loved it.
Julian
Nov 10, 2013 Julian rated it it was ok
I enjoy Ian Bogost's writing, so perhaps I was expecting too much from this book. It presents an intriguing concept of procedural rhetoric, but much of the book feels like filler as Bogost describes in detail various things tangentially related to the subject, while at the same time failing to deeply elaborate on procedural rhetoric. It was enjoyable, but it should have been a long essay rather than a book.
David Blanar
An overall disappointing read, the main argument is articulated well but much is lost in the zigzag between commercial & serious games and discussions of advertising & marketing. Bogost is a fine writer and thinker, I was expecting a much tighter piece.
Kars
Jan 03, 2015 Kars rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Slow going at times but the final chapter's critique of our current age's obsession with assessment and how it expects all art to serve institutional purposes is so spot on, that it's with the price of admission alone. Transcends games and is in fact about all things procedural, which makes it super relevant for makers in all media, today.
Nicole
May 20, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it
Would have been more helpful, to my research at least, if he had focused more equally on commercial games and not only "serious" games. Notable scholars in videogame and learning theory discussed with an illustration of their points. Well-written for a scholarly text, just wish it had been a little easier to digest... was pretty stiff at points.
Summer
Sep 10, 2008 Summer is currently reading it
And another book falls victim to the ever-present threat of the Vicious Undergrad. Come on guys, classes haven't even started yet - can you at least let me finish this before recalling it? I'm really enjoying it, too.

Bookmark p.112 - will continue as soon as I get the book back.
Zach
Oct 18, 2015 Zach rated it it was amazing
Shelves: games
i avoided this book for a while because I thought it would be fairly simple and straightforward. Turns out, I was right - but it was also packed full of interesting examples, rigorous definitions, and tons of great argument fuel.
Mike
Apr 20, 2009 Mike rated it did not like it
Shelves: ground-to-a-halt
I just couldn't get into it. I'm a game designer and everything. Way too dry, waaaay too much defining of terms at the beginning. Only for the academic set I'm sorry to say.
Gregory
I'm in the midst of reading this for an interactive multimedia class. So far it reminds me a lot reading literary theory in undergrad. I can't say I'm excited...
Jon Cassie
Mar 10, 2012 Jon Cassie rated it really liked it
Chapters 1 and 8 were especially useful to me as an educator and gamifier of classroom experiences.
Rob Ottone
Dec 25, 2012 Rob Ottone rated it liked it
Much like all of Bogost's writing, this is nearly impenetrable and pretentious.
Johannes Rummelhoff
Nov 28, 2010 Johannes Rummelhoff rated it liked it
Some great insights, but pretty academically written.
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Ian Bogost is a video game designer, critic and researcher. He holds a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Chair in Media Studies.

He is the author of Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticis
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