Critical Play: Radical Game Design
For many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But whatif certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but ameans for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? InCritical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games-- games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry -- and argues thatgames designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.
Flanagan provides a lively historical context for critical play throughtwentieth-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art: her examplesof "playing house" include Dadaist puppet shows and The Sims. She looksat artists' alternative computer-based games and explores games for change, considering the wayactivist concerns -- including worldwide poverty and AIDS -- can be incorporated into gamedesign.
Arguing that this kind of conscious practice -- which now constitutes theavant-garde of the computer game medium -- can inspire new working methods for designers, Flanaganoffers a model for designing that will encourage the subversion of popular gaming tropes through newstyles of game making, and proposes a theory of alternate game design that focuses on the reworkingof contemporary popular game practices.