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Subject: University-level reading on games rss

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Brian White
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At the end of this summer, I'll be starting up at grad school, and while I won't be studying games in my field of research, they have always been an area of personal interest to me. Since I have a whole summer ahead of me, and my alma mater's library system at my disposal, I was hoping to find some good books on the study of gaming to take up my free time. I've already read one by Daniel Mackay entitled "Fantasy Role-playing Game: A New Performing Art," which I found to be pretty good, but I was wondering what the combined power of the Geek would be able to show me. Thanks in advance for any help!
 
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Sean M
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Not exactly what you were hoping for, but this BGG thread at least points to a few resources.
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Jessey
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The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia by Bernard Suits, Thomas Hurka is a really solid introduction to the Philosophy of Games. My office mate has been reading it for one of his Master's projects. If you're interested in philosophy (and games) I can ask him if he has any other related recommendations (since that's the area he is researching).
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Brian White
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Grondhammar wrote:
Not exactly what you were hoping for, but this BGG thread at least points to a few resources.


Thanks for the recommendation! I actually checked that thread out before I made this one, but found it to be a little too focused on games and education theory for me. While I certainly recognize the value in such research, I'm looking more for publications about games from an anthropological, sociological, or cultural studies perspective. Thanks again, though!

Edited to include quote. Didn't think any other replies would sneak in before I had a chance to respond. blush
 
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Brian White
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Candi wrote:
The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia by Bernard Suits, Thomas Hurka is a really solid introduction to the Philosophy of Games. My office mate has been reading it for one of his Master's projects. If you're interested in philosophy (and games) I can ask him if he has any other related recommendations (since that's the area he is researching).


I would indeed be interested in that. Thanks for the tip! Time to scurry off to my library website and see if we have it...
 
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Alfred Wallace
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Any genres in particular? Loads of math books; I have some archaeology and "studies" books sitting around.

And you never know: I'm writing a dissertation on an episode from the American Civil War, but it looks like all my publications will be about games.

EDIT: And while most of it isn't about games per se, do read Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens anyway, about the role of play in general in culture.
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Marc Lanctot
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It really depends on what you're looking for. If you like abstracts, there's A Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson. If you like mathematical analysis and dice games, you can try Reiner Knizia's "Dice Games Properly Explained".

If you are interested in AI/algorithms I can point you to some of the research work being done in Computer Science that relates to board games.
 
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Roger Fawcett
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It's not academic and it's not university level, but if you want some light relief and you like Science Fiction then try The Player of Games. It is a fantastic book by Iain M. Banks, the Scottish sci-fi writer. Set in his alternative future called The Culture, it is about a bored games player who is sent on a mission to a civilisation in which games has become the new politics/warfare. His mission is to learn their meta-game and beat them at it so that the Cutlture can subsume that civilisation into itself.
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Liam Liam
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Try google scholar - you may need to be on campus or be in a library to access much of the articles but its a really quick tool.
 
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Liz Burton
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Get Earthworm wrote:
It's not academic and it's not university level, but if you want some light relief and you like Science Fiction then try The Player of Games. It is a fantastic book by Iain M. Banks, the Scottish sci-fi writer. Set in his alternative future called The Culture, it is about a bored games player who is sent on a mission to a civilisation in which games has become the new politics/warfare.


Second. Not really what you're asking for, but while you have the time, pick it up!
 
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Brian White
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll definitely check out The Player of Games when I get a chance. As for my academic areas of interest, as I think I mentioned above, my interest lies most strongly in cultural studies, anthropology, and sociology. I don't understand math well enough to get much out of the mathematical studies of games. blush
 
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Alan Goodrich
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I second Huizinga's Homo Ludens, and would also suggest:

Roger Callois, Man, Play and Games

Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (among others)

These are both on the theory/sociological significance of games, rather than game design.
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Brian White
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cayluster wrote:
I second Huizinga's Homo Ludens, and would also suggest:

Roger Callois, Man, Play and Games

Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (among others)

These are both on the theory/sociological significance of games, rather than game design.


Interesting. That sounds like what I'm looking for. They've been added to the list. Thanks!
 
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Riley Gibbs
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I'm a high school math teacher working on creating an elective course for this fall about strategy gaming, and I've been trying to do some amateur research myself.

I've started reading Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. It focuses on game design (but not, they emphasize, game development), and it seems useful both from a practical standpoint (i.e. for someone that wants to make games) and theoretical standpoint (i.e. for someone wanting to study them). In the short bit of the book I've read so far, they've mentioned Callois multiple times, so that's probably a good place to go as well. Each chapter of Rules of Play includes an annotated list of further readings at the end; those lists alone might be worth the price of admission.
http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Play-Game-Design-Fundamentals/dp...
 
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Brian White
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Thanks for the recommendation! I took a look at your thread, and it looked really interesting. Good luck with your class! thumbsup
 
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Brian Brubach
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The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design is a great collection of essays by board game designers. It's intended audience is designers, but some of the essays have broad appeal and it's well written. Also, you can download it from the Kobold website pretty cheap.

The Boardgame Book by RC Bell is cool for a historical perspective, although it doesn't go as deep as I would like. It gives a broad overview of games from roughly the beginning of time to the first half of the 20th century. For each of the 70 games covered you get: rules, playable pictures of the board, and a brief text about the culture that played it and why.
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Nate Wright
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I've heard good things about Ethan Gilsdorf's _Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks_. Anyone read it?

Cheers.

nate

P.S. Whatcha goin' to grad school for? I'm a Sociologist myself.
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todd sanders
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Candi wrote:
The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia by Bernard Suits, Thomas Hurka is a really solid introduction to the Philosophy of Games. My office mate has been reading it for one of his Master's projects. If you're interested in philosophy (and games) I can ask him if he has any other related recommendations (since that's the area he is researching).


this is the book that got me interested in playing boardgames
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Brian White
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nateynatenate wrote:
I've heard good things about Ethan Gilsdorf's _Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks_. Anyone read it?

Cheers.

nate

P.S. Whatcha goin' to grad school for? I'm a Sociologist myself.


I actually own that one. It's pretty interesting, IMHO. It's written as a sort of gamer's memoir, but it contains some interesting insight into the sociological currents in gaming culture. Man, now I want to dig that one back out. I had forgotten about it...

I'm going for a PhD in Japanese literature and cinema. Like I said, not really related to gaming, but my humanities brain always kicks into analysis mode for my own hobbies, so I was curious what kinds of research were out there in the humanities on board games.

spoonful wrote:
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design is a great collection of essays by board game designers. It's intended audience is designers, but some of the essays have broad appeal and it's well written. Also, you can download it from the Kobold website pretty cheap.

The Boardgame Book by RC Bell is cool for a historical perspective, although it doesn't go as deep as I would like. It gives a broad overview of games from roughly the beginning of time to the first half of the 20th century. For each of the 70 games covered you get: rules, playable pictures of the board, and a brief text about the culture that played it and why.


I had heard about the Kobold Guide, but it sounded more design-focused than what I'm looking for. Still, maybe the more generalist essays would be worth checking out. Thanks for letting me know! As for The Boardgame Book, that also sounds like it would be worth checking out. When you say "the culture that played it and why," what do you mean by why? Is it how the game was perceived by contemporary society? Where the game came from within that society? Thanks for any info you can give!
 
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Calavera Soñando
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I agree with most of the recommendations already made, and wanted to add a book of light philosophy that is of interest to any gamer, since it uses the metaphor of games and gaming as a filter through which to understand meaning, history, and social interaction between human beings.

The book is Finite & Infinite Games by James Carse. It is short, and a bit on the mystical side (I'd compare it to something like the Tao Te Ching in its attempts to quantify and talk about things that we don't have a good common language for), so if you can stand those elements, I highly recommend it.
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Brian White
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Games in the Classroom
Re: University-level reading on games
MScrivner wrote:
I agree with most of the recommendations already made, and wanted to add a book of light philosophy that is of interest to any gamer, since it uses the metaphor of games and gaming as a filter through which to understand meaning, history, and social interaction between human beings.

The book is Finite & Infinite Games by James Carse. It is short, and a bit on the mystical side (I'd compare it to something like the Tao Te Ching in its attempts to quantify and talk about things that we don't have a good common language for), so if you can stand those elements, I highly recommend it.


That sounds like it would be up my alley, or at least make for entertaining reading! Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this one!
 
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