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An Introduction to Game Studies

An Introduction to Game Studies

March 2008 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

An Introduction to Game Studies is the first introductory textbook for students of game studies.  It provides a conceptual overview of the cultural, social and economic significance of computer and video games and traces the history of game culture and the emergence of game studies as a field of research. 

Key concepts and theories are illustrated with discussion of games taken from different historical phases of game culture.  Progressing from the simple, yet engaging, gameplay of Pong and text-based adventure games to the complex virtual worlds of contemporary online games, the book will guide students towards analytical appreciation and critical engagement with gaming and game studies.

Students will learn to:

  • Understand and analyze different aspects of phenomena we recognize as 'game' and 'play'
  • Identify the key developments in digital game design through discussion of action in games of the 1970s, fiction and adventure in games of the 1980s, three-dimensionality in games of the 1990s, and social aspects of gameplay in contemporary online games
  • Understand games as dynamic systems of meaning-making
  • Interpret the context of games as 'culture' and subculture
  • Analyze the relationship between technology and interactivity and between 'game' and 'reality'
  • Situate games within the context of digital culture and the information society

With further reading suggestions, images, exercises, online resources and a whole chapter devoted to preparing students to do their own game studies project, an An Introduction to Game Studies is the complete toolkit for all students pursuing the study of games.

The companion website contains slides and assignments that are suitable for self-study as well as for classroom use. 

Frans Mäyrä is the Professor of Hypermedia, Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

What is Game Studies?

Game Culture
Meaning in Games

Play and Games in History
Dual Structure and the Action Games of the 1970's
Adventures and Other Fiction in the 1980S' Games
Three-Dimensionality and the Early 1990's
The Real and the Game
Game Culture Entering the New Millennium

Preparing for a Game Studies Project

A well-written and insightful introduction to an emerging social phenomenon and field of study of our times

Dr Scott Mitchell
Speech Comm/Theatre Arts Dept, Univ Of Wisconsin-River Falls
September 27, 2018

Provides a great introduction to the field of game studies and gives helpful suggestions for classroom activities. It is now required reading for the course.

Ashley Brown
Department of Journalism, Brunel University
August 19, 2015

An excellent read to introduction to game studies. Recommended.

Miss Ying Ying Law
Faculty of Arts,Media & Social Science, Salford University
October 16, 2013

I have read the book with great interest and have decided to not adopt it for the course not because of any shortcoming on the part of the book, but because it did not fit with the rest of my planned curriculum. Mäyrä's work is very comprehensive and presents a brief but considered introduction to the field.

Sadly, the organization of ideas presented in the book was incompatible with my course plan. I will reconsider adopting this book next year after evaluating my current course plan.

Dr Erinc Salor
Humanities, Amsterdam University College
September 9, 2013

Recommended to students especially for the last chapter on how to prepare a game study project.

Mr Dominik Mieth
Game Design, Mediadesign Hochschule München
December 14, 2012

I found this book extremely useful. I will use it as a reference for my teaching, and have already recommended it as a text for Masters students. I feel it is not suitable for the undergraduate students at this stage.
I have also ordered it for the university libraries.

Ms Hanli Geyser
Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand
June 28, 2012

The book provides a nice introduction to key topics and areas of inquiry in the young field of game studies. It is well written, clear and accessible. There are, however, a number of formal issues (grammar, word choice, awkward expressions) that I hope will be rectified in a future edition of the text. Nevertheless, I recommend the text highly for introductory courses, and I have adopted it as the basic textbook for my own course on the topic (to be supplemented with lots of texts from the online journals Game Studies, Eludamos, as well as chapters from books by Alexander Galloway and McKenzie Wark, among others).

Dr Shane Denson
American Studies , University of Hannover
July 12, 2011

Manages to give a concise introductory overview of the field, including both formalistic as cultural perspectives. Good assignments to use in class.

Ms Sybille Lammes
Media and Culture Studies (MCW), Utrecht University
December 14, 2010

This book has a good general overview and shows the history of games with appropriate examples. It is a good book for supplemental reading.

Miss Marian Carr
FE Computing, Bradford College
October 17, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One PDF

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