The Stuff Games Are Made Of

The Stuff Games Are Made Of

by Pippin Barr
The Stuff Games Are Made Of

The Stuff Games Are Made Of

by Pippin Barr


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A deep dive into practical game design through playful philosophy and philosophical play.

What are video games made of? And what can that tell us about what they mean? In The Stuff Games Are Made Of, experimental game maker Pippin Barr explores the materials of video game design. Taking the reader on a deep dive into eight case studies of his own games, Barr illuminates the complex nature of video games and video game design, and the possibilities both offer for exploring ideas big and small.

Through a variety of engaging and approachable examples, Barr shows how every single aspect of a game—whether it is code, graphics, interface, or even time itself—can be designed with and related to the player experience. Barr’s experimental approach, with its emphasis on highly specific elements of games, will leave readers armed with intriguing design philosophy, conceptual rigor, and diverse insights into the inner life of video games. Upon finishing this book, readers will be ready to think deeply about the nature of games, to dive into expressive and experimental game design themselves, or simply to play with a new and expanded mindset.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262546119
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 08/01/2023
Series: Playful Thinking
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 568,765
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Pippin Barr is Associate Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University. Barr has collaborated with artists including Marina Abramović and @seinfeld2000 and produced games about everything from airplane safety instructions to chess to parenting. He is the author of How to Play a Video Game and cohost of the podcast GAMETHING.

Table of Contents

On Thinking Playfully ix
Acknowledgments xi
1 Introduction: What is all This Stuff? 1
2 Rules: Change Comes from Within 13
3 Computation: Is You Computer Having Fun? 29
4 Graphics: Water, Water Everywhere 43
5 User Interface: Playing at Work 59
Interlude 75
6 Time: Get in Line 77
7 Cinema: The Citizen Kane of Video Games 93
8 Violence: Less is More 113
9 Money: One Easy Payment of $4.99 129
10 Conclusion: Have You Seen the Moon Today? 147

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“If you love Pippin Barr’s weird, delightful games as much as I do, imagine picking them up, like rocks in a garden, and discovering whole ecosystems of bugs and aliens had been living underneath. Reading this book is picking up those rocks.”
Ian Bogost, author of Play Anything and How to Talk About Videogames

“Feels like walking along a beach at sunset with a perceptive friend, if the beach is digital computer code & data, the sunset is playful curiosity, and the friend is one of games' greatest tinkerer-thinkers.”
Rami Ismail, Game Developer & Games Industry Ambassador
“Of all the books that have made me think deeply about games and design, this is my favorite. It’s winningly personal while inviting you to join in genuinely new philosophies of play and being. Don’t miss it!”
Tanya X. Short, Creative Director, Kitfox Games; Co-editor of Procedural Generation in Game Design and Procedural Storytelling in Game Design

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