"Wow... This introduced me to a whole new, fascinating world... I predict that the robots [at Kicktraq] will be wrong and that [Mr. Spindler's] Kickstarter campaign will succeed." --Dean Strang of Strang Bradley, LLC, defense attorney from Netflix's Making a Murderer and author of Worse than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror
Game Space (formerly Gamer Theory Smash the Game State Update) is an update/response to another author's book of critical theory about video games.
My book is divided into two parts. The first part is a point-by-point response to McKenzie Wark's excellent Gamer Theory (2007, Harvard University Press). The second part offers an expanded definition of Gamer Theory, complete with suggestions for ways the reader can think critically about gaming and still enjoy the hell out of it. The working title for my book is Game Space.
What makes me qualified to write this book? I'm a published freelance journalist with training in literary critical theory and media theory. I write for smashthegamestate.com and gamemoir.com. I've got a Literature degree. Games and words are my two favorite things.
Essentially, the questions I am asking in the book are:
- As information technology, entertainment technology, and communication technology become more and more tangled up and matted together, how is gaming changing?
- What do these changes mean for gamers?
- What sorts of questions should gamers be asking themselves as they play games?
I'm interested in asking questions and teaching myself and others how to ask better questions.
Check out the backers . McKenzie "Ken" Wark is on board. You should be, too!
If you're a fan of Zero Punctuation, Penny Arcade, The Jimquisition, and Extra Credits, then my book is for you.
I am collecting scholarly articles, meeting with game devs and mapping out the book's trajectory. If you are an indie game dev and you want to get your masterpiece some more exposure, this is the perfect opportunity.
If the book is funded, I will be marketing it in bookstores and distributing it to libraries nationwide. Hence the $5,000 USD goal. As Abraham Lincoln once said of his log cabin, "Go big or go home."
Where Your Money Goes
Self-publishing is expensive. Whatever money is leftover from research, writing, editing, and publishing will go towards advertising and distribution of the book. I do not stand to make a profit on the book unless it is amply distributed.
- Kathy Acker
- Ernst Block
- Jean Baudrillard
- Jacques Rancière
- Guy Debord
- Judith Butler
- William T. Vollmann
- Donna Haraway
- Slavoj Zizek
- Byrne Fone
- Barrington Moore, Jr.
- Alan Watts
- Howard Zinn
- James Baldwin
- Jacques Derrida
- Shingy, AOL Time Warner's Digital Prophet
The book will feature analysis of AAA games and indie games whose content, for whatever reason (and the reasons vary widely), merits in-depth study.
Here's an incomplete list of games that I will write about in my book and potential topics for conversation:
- Woah, Dave! -- platforming physics and natural law
- Towerfall, Towerfall: Ascension, and Dark World -- color-coded gender inversion and local multiplayer gen
- SanctuaryRPG -- roguelike gaming as exploration of historicity
- the Dead Space series -- isolation and the meaning of dead in the gamespace
- Bulletstorm -- detournement/recuperation of shooter tropes
- the Bit.Trip franchise -- indie gaming as metafiction
- Saturday Morning RPG -- the ideology of retro nostalgia
- Dying Light -- apocalypse as playground, tower as societal structure, gamespace as freedom
- The Binding of Isaac and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth -- on the roguelike genre and its obsession with revisionism
- Bardbarian -- music in the gamespace
- Wolfenstein: The New Order -- gamespace as non-historical document, history as fodder
- Injustice: Gods Among Us -- superheroes and society's critical mass for individual unique identities; superheroism's fixation on meritocratic valuation; invisible fascism in the gamespace
- VVVVVV -- gamespace as arbitration
- Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death -- state machine as wish fulfillment machine
- Shadow Warrior -- gamespace and cosmology
- Dead Rising 2, DR: OTH, DR:3 -- weapon-fashioning and adaptability in the gamespace
- State of Decay -- survival genre as double-inverted gamespace
- X-Tactics -- data streams in the mobile gamespace
- Skullgirls -- gamespace as mind-expansion, gamespace as headache
- Painkiller Black -- gamespace and cosmology part II
- Pillars of Eternity -- crowdfunding and nostalgia
- Battlesloths -- game jams and gamespace
- the Hotline Miami series
- Deadly Premonition
- D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die
- Prototype 2
- the Tomb Raider series
- Skulls of the Shogun
- Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
- One Finger Death Punch
- Corporate Life Simulator
- Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
- Dark Souls
- Binary Domain
- Cthulhu Saves the World
- Party Hard
- Rogue Legacy
- Sine Mora
- Atom Zombie Smasher
- the Red Faction series
More games to be discussed:
If there is a Steam or mobile game you want to see covered in my book, suggest it in the comments section below! Be sure to state your case for the game's inclusion, what it represents about the gamespace, why it's important, etc. I can't promise that the book will feature commentary on every game suggested but I will do my best! (Remember, this is a book of critical theory, not Tips and Tricks, not Easter Eggs, not Reviews.)
The book is set for a December release.
The physical edition of the book will be 6” by 9” soft cover.
The book is estimated at 100,000 words (including appendix materials). The typical 6” by 9” book fits 250 words per page. So, 100,000 words divided by 250 words per page gives us 400 pages. I’ve added 25 extra pages to my pricing estimate to cover things like title pages, copyright, index, table of contents, et cetera.
Let's make this book happen, yeah?
Risks and challenges
There is the possibility (alright, probability) that, as I try to translate Ken Wark's more esoteric concepts, I will completely misinterpret, misconstrue, and misrepresent the original work. To prevent this from happening, I am giving myself three months of research time, so I can really immerse myself in the text.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)