The American "game economy" has become an enormous enterprise, devouring roughly one-ninth of America's entire economic output. This overview of arguably the most influential segment of the entertainment industry examines the perspectives of gaming enthusiasts, addicts, designers, arcade owners, psychologists, philosophers, and more. Weighing the positive and negative aspects of games, the author considers their effect not only upon the players but upon culture and society. What trade-offs are being made when people play games for twenty-plus hours a week?
The author puts particular emphasis on Candy Crush, whose enormous popularity has left all other games far behind. Since 2013 it has been installed over a billion times and its simplicity has disrupted previous game-design assumptions, proving new games don't have to be sophisticated and graphically immersive.
He also offers insights from interviews with experts on the mechanics of manipulation. Sophisticated psychological tools are used to design games that are compelling, irresistible, and possibly addicting. In a few case, obsessive game-playing has been the cause of death.
Whether you enjoy games as a harmless pastime or are suspicious of their effects on the quality of your family's life, you'll want to read this wide-ranching exploration of the growing game phenomenon.
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From Chapter Nine - Flooding the Colosseum
Excerpted from "Gamer Nation"
Copyright © 2018 Eric Geissinger.
Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
What's "Play" and What's a "Game"? 12
Childish Play and Mature Games 18
The Unexpected Power of Games 20
Chapter 1 Birds Do It, Bees Don't Do It, but Some Pig-Faced Turtles Do It 23
Birds at Play, or at Least Playing a Game 30
The Sad Tale of Pigface, and Happier Turtles 33
The Irresistible Appeal of Space [to] Geckos 36
More, More, and More 37
Giggling and Wrestling Rats 39
Chapter 2 All Work and No Unstructured Play Makes Jane Whiny 41
The Helicopter Parent Hypothesis 45
The Results of Unstructured Play, and the Inevitable Expansion of Perceived Harm 52
Something Is Up 57
Play Is Fundamental 66
Chapter 3 Massive Size Is Massive 67
YouTube Incentivizing Blandness 73
"Minecraft Is Love. Minecraft Is Life." 80
Chapter 4 Anatomy of a Bestseller 87
How (Some) Things Are Done 91
Nothing's Good and (Pretty Much) Everything's Bad with Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good for You 93
What Does the Book Actually Claim? 95
A Bestseller at Any Cost 99
Chapter 5 Candy Crush(ing) the Competition, and Harpooning Whales 103
Hate-Playing Candy Crush 103
Candy Crush Origins 106
The Good Old Days 108
How Las Vegas Sees the World 109
Learning from the Casinos 112
Slot Machines and Tetris 117
The (De)Evolution of Games 124
Old School Capitalism 125
Extracting Profit: When a Game Plays You 127
The Mechanics of Video-Game Manipulation 132
Others Jump on the Manipulation Bandwagon 136
Chapter 6 Professional Leagues and the Rise of Esports- Are They Still Games? 143
The Rise of EnVyUs 150
What to Make of Overwatch as a Spectator Sport? 161
Chapter 7 The Dangers of the Virtual 167
More and More Games 167
Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense 170
Taking Games Far Too Seriously 174
What's "Real Life" and What's "Virtual"? 179
Let's "Gamify" the World! Everyone Wins! 186
Games to Improve the World 195
Chapter 8 Keep Us Safe by Giving Them Games 203
The Comic-Book Code Comes to Video Games 203
Games Inspiring the Good Life 208
The Benefits of Sports 210
The Town That Killed Football 218
Chapter 9 Flooding the Colosseum 225
Having Too Much Fun to Work 226
Games Are Different 229
A Warning 231
Addiction and Distraction: It's Not Just Games 234
What Can Be Done? We Know but Don't Want to Know 237
What's to Come? 239