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Every Game Is an Island


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS INTRODUCTION A BOOK ABOUT EXTREMITIES Ryu's closure Every game is an island and no game is an island Against currentness STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK Three levels and some wordplay 1. TWO NON-DEFINITIVE DEFINITIONS WHAT IS A VIDEO GAME? Doing away with definitions Video games change through time What I mean by "video game" THE EXCEPTIONALITY OF VIDEO GAMES Digital exceptionalism The inflexible code Authoritative video games COMPUTER-MEDIATED GAMES Interaction? State machines and cybertexts The cybernetic player DESIGNED PROCEDURAL EXPERIENCES The project of experience Design Procedures Experience 2. GAME <> GAME CLOSURE The finite model of an infinite universe An archaeology of digital closure Finishing the game Closure in Super Metroid CAESURA Continue? Prescribed ending The death and rebirth of game over Game over and over: A rhetoric of repetition Bodily pleasures: Game over as spectacular device in Dead Space 2 ENDLESSNESS Playing indefinitely A compact history of infinite games From arcade to casual The utopic castle: Battlezone OPENNESS Video games as toys Expressive players and simulation savvies Super Scribblenauts The winged guitarist 3. GAME <> METAGAME FRAGMENTATION Overlooked and underrated Player-operated breaks: PAUSE Machine-operated breaks: LOADING Is this life reality? Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem METAGAMING Playing outside the game The legacy of dice Knights of Pen and Paper: role-playing revisited IMMERSION The utopia of total immersion Immersive fallacies Immersion, metacommunication, incorporation Through the eyes of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay HOLISM Flow: a scholarly tradition Designing for flow? Total interface: Uplink 4. GAME <> GAMES UNIQUENESS In search of the golden cartridge Curiosity and A Slow Year Distancing strategies A game I will never play Chain World EPHEMERALITY Reconsidering OSGONS Catharsis and procedures Review your choices: One Single Life MODULARITY Opera aperta 2.0 Mods and modules: Game engines as branch systems The flex of the wrist: Garry's Mod SERIALIZATION Playing nostalgia Xbox Live Arcade: series and/as archives Sub-series, meta-games Old new games: Final Fight Double Impact 5. CONCLUSIONS FROM THE OUTSIDE IN Mom's heart Games are about ending Moving forward BIBLIOGRAPHY LUDOGRAPHY FILMOGRAPHY

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An exploration of borders, endings and extremities in video games and digital play practices.

About the Author

Riccardo Fassone is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Torino, Italy, where he works on the history of the Italian video game industry. He is among the founders of GAME. The Italian Journal of Game Studies has published several articles and book chapters on the history and theory of video games, and their intersections with other media. He has a background in film and media studies and has worked as visiting researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology and as research fellow at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.


...Every Game is an Island is an important work in formalist game studies, one which serves to situate the video game object in relation to wider discourses of textuality and the media object. * Daniel Vella, Game Studies *
While Riccardo Fassone is talking about limitations, endings and closures, he is doing it with an amazing open mind. He is in fact pushing boundaries, pointing us new areas to consider, encouraging us to pay attention to details and, above all, showing us how far game studies have come since we have started to explore videoludic islands. If I can extend the metaphor, I'll say that Fassone is a great voyager. * Bernard Perron, Full Professor of Film and Game Studies, University of Montreal, Canada *
In Every Game Is an Island Riccardo Fassone provides us with a fascinating look at what games look like and how they can be understood, when approached from their ends and boundaries. Are games finite and clearly defined objects to start with, or are games' procedural and performance related dimensions pre-empting all attempts to capture them in their entirety? How is the aesthetic value of games related to their ephemerality? This study makes use of dazzling array of scholarship from multiple fields, ranging from computer science to continental philosophy, building bridges between disciplines, thereby also lessening the chance of intellectual endeavours related to games remaining as islands, isolated from each other. This is one of the best works that fully recognises the enormous diversity and complexity of game form, written so far. * Frans Mayra, Professor, University of Tampere, Game Research Lab, Finland *
In a medium obsessed with openness and possibility, Fassone shows why boundaries and limitations offer a better measure for games. * Ian Bogost, Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and author of Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games (2016), Georgia Institute of Technology, USA *
Every Game is an Island is a provocative and necessary book for game studies. In this book, Riccardo Fassone proposes an irreverent, well-read, and productive approach to many of the key topics in game studies, from immersion to nostalgia. Every Game is an Island delivers comprehensive readings and re-rereadings of games and game scholarship, encouraging us to think extremely about the extremes of games. * Miguel Sicart, Associate Professor, IT University of Copenhage, Denmark *

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