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The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture
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The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  60 reviews

The State of Play is a call to consider the high stakes of video game culture and how our digital and real li
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Seven Stories Press
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Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it

This is a collection of essays from various gamers, game critics, and game makers – sometimes, all three – on the state of gaming as a worldwide hobby today, the culture of it, and the community surrounding it. First off, let me praise the premise of this book. I’m a lifelong gamer myself, from that Millennial generation that is the first to never remember a time without computer games. I’ve had my hands on the controls since I was a tot, and it’s a passion that for me has only grown and grown.
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an incredibly uneven collection. 4 stars because I'm glad it exists; also because the pieces that are worth reading are EXTREMELY worth reading, and some of the not-so-great essays still presents valuable thoughts & ideas. Several of the pieces collected here, however, suffer from sounding much more like internet rants than actual essays, with a strange mixture of over- and under-explanation of ideas. Highlights include Leigh Alexander's lovely lyrical piece about the magic of games in c ...more
Matt Seraph
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's two ways of writing about video games, one far more common than the other. The first is as celebratory fan service - burying oneself wholeheartedly in exploration of the lore, recounting of the development history, development of fan theories and art - in short, writing as an act of inward-looking appreciation and love. Let me be the first to say in the right mood, I greatly enjoy this approach.

The second is to use video games as a launching point for talking about culture and human expe
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: video-games
As a video game enthusiast and recent presenter at a gender and women's studies class, the chapters of this book that deal with the subject matter are dead on and enlightening. If you don't approach these essays with an open mind you will miss the point of the narrarive: gamers or players are more than boys and 18 to 35 year old men.

This compendium serves as an excellent source of material to discuss the current problems with video games as they related to moder culture. Be prepared to read the
Nick Jones
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-science
While State of Play purports to be an examination of "video game culture," to a far greater extent its essays are about the contributors themselves. It's largely an unfortunate assortment of self-congratulation, self-pity, and self-promotion, with video games being discussed mostly in the context of the authors' insecurities and personal preferences. There's a lot of rhetoric and a cavalcade of broad claims that go unsourced, the net effect of which is a book that reads like a series of excerpt ...more
Jake Harris
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a mostly well-rounded, insightful collection of essays about the sections of gaming culture that typical “gamers” don’t really think about. That being said, this isn’t written for those gamers- many of the essays here are preaching to the choir. Then again, once you’re convinced Gamergate is the work of wymyn trying to “dumb down and neuter the last type of male entertainment,” as one angry commenter is quoted here, then there’s really no point in using logic to sway that opinion, is the ...more
Amber Lea
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I have so much to say about this book, I don't even know where to begin.

The intro is awful. It's like, "Hey guys, we just want to fix your games because they're racist/ sexist/ homephobic/ transphobic, why are you mad?" when a much better intro would have been, "Hey guys, we see you love games, and we'd like to build a gaming community around diversity, inclusiveness, and new types of games we've never seen before."

The latter is a good message and a respectable goal. Great! Sign me up! But the f
Nathan Albright
Jan 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: challenge
The best way of reviewing a book such as this is to state at the outset that the authors of its various essays are writing for an openly and avowedly “progressive” audience. This book is not writing to an audience of anyone who would remotely be considered a decent or moral or upstanding person by any godly standard. Nor is this game meant for those who are fundamentally mainstream in their cultural focus. No, this book is written by and for people on the far leftist end of the political spectru ...more
Nelson Zagalo
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
A book on videogame culture for people outside the domain. We could say that it serves as a good entry point for people trying to understand the game scene, mainly not games but its actors, the culture creators, with their worries and concerns.

To be clear the book is more like a curated set of texts, previously written by the authors, and invited by Goldberg to be part of this book. Some of these texts can be found online, in blog posts or personal websites, which justifies the lack of depth in
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: games, criticism
I have mixed feelings about this volume. First, it's a pretty good primer on essays on games and culture (though not academic). Second, it feels like I've read most of these online before and I feel a bit put out because I expected this to be an edited volume of new contributions. So feeling 1 makes me positive and feeling 2 makes me negative, which nets the whole thing about 2-3 stars and really, it's a decent compilation in hard copy so it can sit nicely at 3 stars. I wouldn't bother buying an ...more
Pierre Gabriel Dumoulin
I've read it out of curiosity, as a way to get to know what is happening in the video game culture outside what the traditional media tells us.

These 16 contributors all have given their opinions on different subjects; some of them are looking back to the 2014 GamerGate and all the hate it had relased on women.

Worth reading for those curious about the main cultural issues in video games. These main issues are: sex, religion, war, racism, sexism and design.
Kim Pallister
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Collection of really good essays, 2 or 3 of which are worth the price of admission on their own.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Just a few essays had application outside of the mudslinging of gamer-gate..
Nick Carraway LLC
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
1) "More than any other form of creative expression, video games are highly dependent on, and to a certain extent an offshoot of, advances in computing and digital technology. This means games have traditionally been engaged with and discussed as products of technology rather than products of culture, which is why most game criticism still tends to read a lot like a review of a mobile phone or a car. [...]
Video game production has historically been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, giv
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this collection of essays. As a girl that grew up identifying as a gamer, it was very interesting and opened my eyes to how lucky I was. I didn’t ever deal with any sexual harassment or hate speech for being a girl in the gaming world. I had some guy friends question if I was legit gamer, which was annoying, but I could quickly shut them up about it. I somehow completely missed Gamergate (I think that’s because I’m not really on Twitter), so it was enlightening ...more
Ryan Wells
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is almost like a brother to me. I love it and hate it simultaneously. I am glad it exists, but it isn't perfect.

As with most anthologies, it has a fair share of trash and treasure, and It is up to you to decide which essays are which; nevertheless, I enjoyed the first few essays, as they offer experiences relatable to a gamer like myself. However, many of the essays that followed were overly liberal for my tastes, featuring topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Enrique del Castillo
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Back when I bought this book in 2015, I didn't expect most of the issues discussed in these essays to still be around in 2019. That's both the most interesting and depressing thing about The State of Play, that this industry hasn't changed much in the past years, and an updated collection of essays could deal with the same topics, along with newer problems in the video game industry.

As any collection of essays, not all of them are great, but overall the quality of the writing and the approach to
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays tackles a wide variety of topics that are present in game culture -- from both a development and consumer aspect. Five years after publication this book gives a somewhat historical background to relevant discrimination, mental health, sexuality, war, religion, and terrorism discussions still happening in the industry today (in the year 2020, and I don't think it will be changing anytime soon, unfortunately). I would recommend this as a succinct introduction to these ext ...more
Thomas Myers
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was enthralled the whole way through, with one notable exception (complainer-in-chief Anita Sarkeesian). The book features 16 essays on video games on disparate topics from multiplayer rules of behavior to a lengthy discussion of post-apocalyptic storylines. I will admit that the book tackles identity issues I am not exposed to on a daily basis, but they are certainly discussions worth having.
Angel Veliz
Jul 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Very fun book, I read this when I was trying to decode the little things when it came to gaming. Its.!ore of a nostalgia based book where I get to decipher how games were developed. I recommend this book for someone who knows about the culture and history about entertainment.
Jalana Gift
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sean Massa
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really great series of essays on games. Some are better than others, but there's something great in here for every game enthusiast to learn from, I'm sure. ...more
Syed Koushik
Jun 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hated it
Thomas Rohn
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Needs way more attention. There are essays in this book that challenge the most basic assumptions of the player in a very well written, well thought out way.
Cody Liesinger
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
These essays take an honest look at the cultural components of gaming that are seldom examined.
Alice, as in Wonderland
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book five stars because although I stumbled a little at the beginning, the book is such a comprehensive snapshot of gaming today, whether you're invested heart and soul into it or whether you'd like to inhabit a different planet from it entirely. The thing is that video games are here to stay and not only that, video games are now heavily mainstream. The perception of an isolated niche enjoyment has and should be broken as well as its isolation as a straight white cis male-only club. ...more
Thomas Hale
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A solid collection of essays exploring various aspects of videogame culture (as it says in the title). This came out in 2015, in the immediate wake of the Gamergate shitshow, and that's reflected in a good chunk of the chapters exploring online abuse and the homogeneous white supremacy of "gamer" identity. Dan Golding's chapter on the cultivation of "the Gamer" is particularly strong. This is far from the only topic though: merritt kopas has a great piece on sex and sexuality in games; Hussein I ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The State of Play is not the type of book I would normally pick up. Although it's anthropological in purpose, I think, which I like, it's a collection of (mostly) essays about video games, both historically and in current times. As a video game watcher (when my husband or son are playing) but not a video game player, I wasn't certain that I would enjoy the level of analysis this book strove to meet.

However, all told, I feel like I'm a better person for having read it. First, the essays deepened
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