Project Description

Metagaming: Videogames and the Practice of Play, a scholarly monograph co-authored with Stephanie Boluk, looks beyond copyrighted code and intellectual property to historicize the wider media ecology of games we play in, on, around, and between videogames. From the embodied forms of vision required to navigate anamorphic indie games and the techniques of both blind and blindfolded players to the seriality of home consoles and the evolution of international e-sports, the book documents and theorizes metagames as a dominant form of play, a game design paradigm, and a way of life not only occurring around videogames, but all forms of digital technology.

In Metagaming, playing, making, and thinking about videogames occur within the same act—a true game design philosophy. Part media art, part media history, and part media theory; this form of critical practice explores videogames by engaging the phenomenology, materiality, history, and economy of twenty-first century play. Metagaming will be the first book published by the University of Minnesota Press accompanied by original videogames.

Memento Mortem Mortis is an impossible puzzle game in which recursively nested skulls from Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (1533) are stretched using a graphics technique called texture mapping. It is Pitch Black is a text-based action-adventure in which a non-visual 3D space is illuminated only by quickly scrolling, recombinant poetry representing the stream of consciousness thoughts of two women. 99 Exercises in Play is an Oulipian game based on Raymond Queneau’s Exercises de style (1947) that features World 1-1 from the original Super Mario Bros. as a constraint for producing ninety-nine different metagames. Tide Hunter is a data visualization application designed to repurpose the statistical output collected during the most important play in the history of Dota 2. Alongside these pieces of original software, each chapter of the book will conclude with a paper game built within the pages of the codex—small attempts to implicate Metagaming itself within a larger metagame.

To be published in Metagaming: Videogames and the Practice of Play, a scholarly monograph co-authored with Stephanie Boluk and in advance contract with University of Minnesota Press.

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