February 15, 2010 2:00 PM |
Every once in awhile -- not too too often, but occasionally -- I like to unplug the Xbox, close the DS, borrow a friend's Kindle, and kick back with a nice electronic book.
I'm kidding. I don't read anything. If I were a reader, though, I might start with these titles, which have been endorsed by some perfectly respectable people.
First, Walker over at the Preserving Games blog writes that he really enjoyed last year's Racing the Beam: the Atari Video Computer System, published by MIT Press. He notes that, in its exploration of the 2600 as a medium, the book does toe the 'technical' -- adding, though, that the layperson (me) will not likely be overwhelmed. (Although, if I were bothered, I trust I could just refer to 2600 Magic as a sort of concordance, and be mostly OK.)
I’m talking about the beginning of games criticism. I’m talking about Roger Caillois (1913–1978), French philosopher and writer. His 1958 work Les Jeux et Les Hommes, known in English as Man, Play and Games, is probably the first serious examination of games qua games. Sure, Johann Huizinga’s Homo Ludens was more than two decades earlier but Huizinga was a sociologist and Homo Ludens is more about the phenomenon of play: why we play, not what or how we play. Caillois was, in a gloriously French way, a freelance intellectual, a free-thinker who hung out with the likes of George Bataille -- another link between games-design and the Surrealists and Dadaists -- and Borges. In short: Huizinga, fuddy-duddy university professor. Caillois, one of us.