Monday, November 11, 2013

Preliminary Book Outline for "How to Read a Videogame"

I've been working with Dr. Burton to flesh out an official book proposal for a publisher as my final project for the class. Below is my preliminary outline. The ideal audience I'm going for is people who already think critically about other mediums and want to learn how to apply those techniques to videogames. I'd love any feedback!

Introduction: Reading Games

  • Changing state of games
  • Games are getting more relevant, complex, and ubiquitous
  • Games are the art for us--our time and our world

You don't read games, you play them, but reading means more than gathering information from words, it means gleaning meaning and information through a critical eye. How to Read a Videogame will be an overview of how to "read" games in the latter sense, going beyond playing to pondering and understanding.
Section One: Learning from Literature, Film, and other mediums

  • Acting
  • Lighting
  • Framing
  • Dialogue
  • Symbolism and Metaphor
  • Themes
  • Social Commentary

Section Two: Reading Genre

  • Intro to game genres
  • FPS, RTS, MOBA (ARTS), Action/Adventure, Open-world, Story-driven, Puzzle, etc.
  • How genre determines mechanics
  • How mechanics make meaning

Section Three: Reading outside genre: "Points of intersection"
Games are about interaction, and meaning comes from when and how different parts of the game interact. Starting from the point of the player, I'll go step by step down the rabbit hole into the game, looking at each layer of interaction and how those interactions create meaning.

  • Player to Game System (rules, goals, etc.)
  • Player to Player Character(s)
  • Effect of Controls
  • Player Character to environment
  • NPC to Player Character(s)
  • Non-player Character (NPC) to NPC
  • NPC to environment

Conclusion: Looking Forward to "the Ludic century"

  • Games literacy will only be more essential in the future

The cultural contributions the 21st century will be remembered for won't be films or books (those are the last two centuries' mediums), this century will be remembered for its games.