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How to Talk about Videogames

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Videogames! Aren’t they the medium of the twenty-first century? The new cinema? The apotheosis of art and entertainment, the realization of Wagnerian gesamtkunstwerk? The final victory of interaction over passivity? No, probably not. Games are part art and part appliance, part tableau and part toaster. In How to Talk about Videogames, leading critic Ian Bogost explores thi ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 15th 2015 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
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Rachel
Jun 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, nope, school-made-me
comparing the formation of ms pac man from pac man, to Adam and eve— issa no from me dawg
Dan
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I came into this book expecting something of a meta-critique of games criticism: a book about videogames, but also about the discourse around videogames. It is called, after all, How to Talk about Videogames. Its introduction waves at this idea, positing that videogame criticism is both preposterous and necessary, and mulling over the distinction between criticism and technical product reviews.

This not that book, though. Really, it's just a series of distinct essays on various games, each essay
...more
Steven Peck
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I came to this book on the strength and delight of Bogost’s book 'Alien Phenomenology,' a long-time favorite. This book, 'How to Talk about Video Games,' is a strange choice for me because I am a most occasional of occasional gamers. But I am a computer modeler, and my interest in digital objects is based on trying to understand how such things represent real objects and their relationships through relational mappings of real objects to digital ones and back again. There is something similar to ...more
Caleb Liu
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is part of a series entitled electronic meditations and this is entirely apt - the book is a series of short essays that are essentially meditations often of an abstract and philosophical nature on topics related to video games. So Flappy Bird prompts questions of existential angst, boredom and misery; Journey and Flower leads to a broader look at aesthetics and how this can be applied to games, which is further explored in essays on Ways of Looking (specific to the game Mirror's Edge) and ...more
Stephen Spinks
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This book has some interesting takes on a good selection of video games and it did encourage me to think about games in a way I hadn't considered before. However, there were many occasions where things were phrased in an unnecessarily complicated way. This would obscure the point that the author was trying to get across, without adding anything.
Brian's Book Blog
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Go deep into the art, code, and reasoning behind some of the most famous (and not so famous) video games.


This was an interesting book. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if the author was going to tell me how he felt about a bunch of games and I was worried I was going to be reading a 200 page book of reviews. That was not the case. As I got deeper and deeper it was clear — the author is definitely a professor and this book was written for a class that he teaches. I would be incredibly shocked if it
...more
Margaret Sankey
Trying entirely too hard, Bogost defines the parameters of game criticism, attempting to lay out a middle way between reading/watching and performance, using examples from Flappy Bird to Candy Crush to examine aesthetics, interaction and why people get addicted to particular things.
Jeremy Kazimer
This is a yikes. Most chapters were boring, in that they didn't really provide anything other than niche discussion - contrary to the central theme of talking about videogames. However, when I wasn't rolling my eyes you had some really pretentious gems, such as proclaiming Ms. Pac-Man a feminist and the chapter on sports. If anything, he goes against his own central theme to produce a very dull series of essays. Overall, a 1.5/5.
Tree Yager
Ian Bogost’s Musings

Less a tutorial on ways to approach and discuss video games than a collection of writings by Bogost. This is not to say that’s a bad thing! Bogost has a rich perspective on games in a field of analysis he more or less founded, but understand this is more a collection of philosophical writings than a how-to of critical analysis, as the title suggests
Thomas Grønvoll
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting exploration of how to talk, and especially write, about video games in a serious matter. Criticism, rather than reviewing. Some of the example chapters are very good reads, while others are lacking.
Jonathan
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: critical-theory
Intriguing but at moments I lost interest in specific essays that felt like reaches. There's plenty of great games criticism out there (even in this). No doubt this is accessible to people interested in discovering game theory/criticism a bit more, though
Łukasz
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another really good book from Bogost. Alas, another really good book nobody will read this decade because the words "videogames" is written on its cover.
Matt Gonzalez Kirkland
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Think the opening essay ("Nobody Asked for a Toaster Critic"), the flappy bird essay, and the piece on sports videogames are the strongest - the former and the latter really knocked my thinking about video games as appliance/entertainment/art form for a loop. In general Bogost's tone is entertaining, dryly funny, and clever; think the middle of the book drags a bit, and it doesn't quite flow as a collection IMO, but I dug it regardless.
Jake Hollman
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent look at what games essays can look like! Putting games into a larger context is something that, I think, will help them get taken more seriously, and so I am all for it.
Travis Lindeman
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bogost's writing is self referential about the fact of whether or not this kind of criticism needs to be taken seriously. I am a firm advocate that it should, but the final essay here gives the impression that video games are always going to be stuck in an adolescent position even disparaging what I thought was fantastic story telling in the Bioshock franchise.

Still this is a valuable book and will likely never receive the credit it deserves. In the last month my Commander, an Army Captain talke
...more
Bethany
Feb 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I did not enjoy this book.

It wasn't that author Bogost did not raise some points to consider about video games as a medium, and the ways in which their potential might be more fully explored, beyond simply entertaining the masses. Because he definitely raised those points. I take issue with the fact that Bogost seems to look down on games as they are (fun, entertaining, sometimes challenging and frustrating ways to spend time), and instead tries to make them what they are not, namely, think piec
...more
Pete
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, tech, games
Do you ever ponder how Rothko paintings and Doom have both constrained their creators to
certain types of expected forms? What about contrasting William Carlos Williams’ imagist verse to Monument Valley? If so ‘How to Talk about Videogames’ (2015) by Ian Bogost is the book for you. It’s full of well written, serious criticism of games in the spirit of Art, Music and Literature criticism. Bogost has a PhD from in Comparative Literature and is a Professor at Georgia Tech. He also designs games. Th
...more
Jeremy Ray
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Different corners of the internet clash over what makes "good" games criticism. It's a marker that subjectively falls between X/10 feature lists and over-intellectualised wankery, hampered by the need to build a new taxonomy for interactive products, the financial realities of enthusiast media, and more. Bogost isn't here to tell you any one style is more valid than the other, but offers a few new directions.

Despite the title, this is not an instruction manual. It's a series of articles (some a
...more
Kim
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book free through Goodreads Giveaways. I really did not know what to expect of this book, and never really thought of videogame criticism. But I am related to a self-called "gamer" who wants to go into videogame development so I thought I'd give this a read. This is video game criticism, not review and Bogost approaches it as both a "toaster critic" and a film critic. Most of the book has appeared in earlier versions in various publications and covers such topics as how ...more
Mudassir Chapra
Bogost starts with the thesis that games are toasters, mere entertainment appliances, but they are also more. Reading through this, He could not present a single argument for the sake of the second half of it. I am now convinced that games can't be more. Also, the fact that writing about games can be rather esoteric. I skipped 2 chapters just for this reason.

However, as a life long gamer, there are perspectives featured in the book that are sorely missing from writings on the subject, and Bogost
...more
Nick
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It reads like a textbook, in a good way. It brings a lot of intelligent and interesting thoughts about games and assumes the reader has a rich background in other disciplines and media besides games. Also it gives quite a few examples of games that do things differently and break the mold of how we think about games. Not really a book for the non-gamers
Janine
Sep 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
I received this book through the goodreads giveaways for an honest review.

How To Talk About Videogames reads like a textbook and a game critic review. It seemed more like a lecture than a novel. I found a few of the chapters interesting - I liked the history behind some of the games. I disagreed with the author's opinion on some games.
Jonathan
Insightful examination with examples

There are a lot of ways to do games criticism right and a lot of ways to do it wrong. While there are things that I disagree with Bogost on, his insight on how to talk about video games is clear and helpful for anyone wanting to get into the craft.
John
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have to say that I was very surprised with this one. There was some interesting information, and I was amazed that I all the games. Great job! I won this great book on GoodReads and like I do with most my wins I will be paying it forward by giving my win either to a friend or library to enjoy.
Tyler
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These collections of essays were great and did reveal much about talking about video games, but the writing was sloppy sometimes. There were moments where I had a hard time following what he was saying. Worth a read.
Gabriel
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very strong and intelligently written commentary on game design and game culture.
Nick
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: videogame-books
Bogost at his most biting. Games have a lot to answer for if they remain to stay culturally and historically unaware/unengaged as Bogost posits
Stuart Hodge
Interesting essay collection covering a wide variety of games. I would have liked some to go a little longer on certain topics, but good nonetheless
Rob Kotaska
"Writing is an art best cultivated with restraint" (pg 176), agreed. I wish he had followed his own advice from time to time. That line read all too meta.
Thomas Hale
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A collection of essays and articles, some published elsewhere, in which Bogost approaches various game genres and specific works through a variety of different viewpoints. From existential approaches to Proteus, to "what IS a sports videogame?", the ideas are always entertaining, and entertainingly relayed. I've always disagreed with Bogost on a number of his assertions, and at times these essays come off as self-indulgent or masturbatory. But there is some genuinely good and insightful stuff in ...more
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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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