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— J. A. Saklofske
Listen to a short interview with McKenzie Wark
Host: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane
Ever get the feeling that life's a game with changing rules and no clear sides, one you are compelled to play yet cannot win? Welcome to gamespace. Gamespace is where and how we live today. It is everywhere and nowhere: the main chance, the best shot, the big leagues, the only game in town. In a world thus configured, McKenzie Wark contends, digital computer games are the emergent cultural form of the times. Where others argue obsessively over violence in games, Wark approaches them as a utopian version of the world in which we actually live. Playing against the machine on a game console, we enjoy the only truly level playing field—where we get ahead on our strengths or not at all.
Gamer Theory uncovers the significance of games in the gap between the near-perfection of actual games and the highly imperfect gamespace of everyday life in the rat race of free-market society. The book depicts a world becoming an inescapable series of less and less perfect games. This world gives rise to a new persona. In place of the subject or citizen stands the gamer. As all previous such personae had their breviaries and manuals, Gamer Theory seeks to offer guidance for thinking within this new character. Neither a strategy guide nor a cheat sheet for improving one's score or skills, the book is instead a primer in thinking about a world made over as a gamespace, recast as an imperfect copy of the game.
— J. A. Saklofske
A crucial addition to a long history of discussion on gaming and play...This is philosophy constructed as and while the author plays the game (which also might include the academic game). This idea is actualised by Wark’s layered breakdown of Gamer Theory into meditations on various digital games like Vice City and SimEarth...It is a distinctive work in that it synthesises aspects from a range of critical discourses that might otherwise have no interest in gaming and play, largely because, as Wark writes: “Games are our contemporaries, the form in which the present can be felt and, in being felt, thought through.”
— Terrence Maybury
The release of media theorist McKenzie Wark's new book Gamer Theory is many things at once. If you're interested in the growth of a new medium, it's a media academic's major guide to the key issues. If you're games-savvy, you are just as likely to recoil in horror at Wark's analyses. To proclaim that he has simply expanded on his previous work, a hacker manifesto, ignores what gamer theory is—a study in the catastrophe of reading culture. It's an intensely difficult-to-navigate work but ultimately rewarding for those up to the challenge of the game before them.
— Christian Mccrae
Gamer Theory, or GAM3R 7H30RY, as it would be better known to those following its progress, began its public life was published in draft form under a Creative Commons license. Following Wark's book about intellectual property, A Hacker Manifesto, it attempts to ascertain whether it is possible to establish a critical theory of games. Further, it explores similarities between games and life. Online, the book was organized into little vignettes, and the organization used here can be traced to that formatting, as each page retains the online numbering scheme. A wonderful addition to universities supporting science or media and cultural studies.
Agony (on The Cave)
Allegory (on The Sims)
America (on Civilization III)
Analog (on Katamari Damacy)
Atopia (on Vice City)
Battle (on Rez)
Boredom (on State of Emergency)
Complex (on Deus Ex)
Conclusions (on SimEarth)
Cuts (List of Samples)