Are you Game?

1. Designing experiences
J. Robert Rossman and Mathew D. Duerden Columbia Business School, 2019

Designing experiences, environments, companies, etc., has become a modern-day term. Despite its widespread adoption, there is not much literature that describes how to design, create, and implement these experiences, let alone how to define the best type of experiences with which to attain specific goals and objectives. Enter Designing Experiences with a simple, compelling, and rich description and terminology to define the experience and the process. Starting with the notion of “intentionality,” and using the building blocks of “micro and macro experiences,” the authors define the elements of the process and the “dramatic structure” itself. “Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement summarize the process,” they write.
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2. Woke gaming: digital challenges to opression and social injustice
ed. by Kishonna L. Gray and David J. Leonard Washington, 2018

Gray (Univ. of Illinois, Chicago) and Leonard (Washington State Univ.) have assembled a courageous chorus of voices that challenge an industry emblematic of some of the most insidiously oppressive structures in American society. Contributors emphasize areas in which both the gaming industry and the larger society could be more introspective and proactive, particularly as they pertain to the popular culture representations and treatment of historically marginalized groups such as people of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals. Under major sections that include “Economics of Gaming,” “Feminist Gaming,” and “Empathetic and Inclusive Gaming,” this collection challenges the reader to probe the complex social forces undergirding the gaming industry and broader society.
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3. The software arts
Sack, Warren. MIT, 2019

In The Software Arts, Warren Sacks—a media theorist, software designer, and artist at the University of California, Santa Cruz—draws on science and technology studies (STS), media studies, and the history of science and the humanities to argue that software should be considered an art, not a science, because it is the result of a lengthy “translation” (in the sense of STS scholar Bruno Latour) from the old liberal arts of logic, rhetoric, and grammar to the present-day rule of computer algorithms. The book is always thought provoking, especially in regard to understanding machine learning and such well-known figures as Alan Turing and Noam Chomsky. But it can be frustrating when the long history of the liberal arts pushes software off the stage for too long.
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4. Video games have always been queer
Ruberg, Bonnie. New York University, 2019

Ruberg’s latest book unites LGBTQ theory, game studies, and close reading. It draws on a theoretical and practical understanding of the two subjects, making connections for the reader between theory and the affective experiences of gaming and “queerness.” This title distinguishes itself from Ruberg’s anthology Queer Game Studies (CH, Oct’17, 55-0654, coedited with Shaw) by focusing on the methodology of close reading. Analyses of games are paired with particular works of LGBTQ theory, looking for “resonances” between the two that create new meaning. Ruberg purposefully looks beyond games with LGBTQ representation, focusing instead on symbolism, mechanics, and players’ experiences to lay claim to games that are not at first glance identifiable (or designed intentionally) as “queer.” The book’s premise and methods may be controversial—particularly, as the author speculates, among the gaming community.
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5. Artificial Intelligence: rise of the lightspeed learners
Jennings, Charles. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019

Jennings, well known in the field of AI, looks at key AI issues humanity will face in the coming decades. One of his main themes is that AI-based technologies will be unpredictable and risky, a position he supports with extensive examples and research by leading scientists. Like many other high-impact technologies, AI will be impossible to control. Even if such control were possible, scientists do not know how to implement limiting mechanisms. For example, the implementation of ethical systems is notoriously difficult. Jennings discusses in detail work funded by governments of many countries to strengthen artificial intelligence research. The AI clock is ticking increasingly fast, and the existential AI crisis major governments face is undeniable. Jennings discusses how AI impacts economies, military organizations, business, and education. Many possible scenarios are dystopian. According to some visionaries, the AI explosion that will create unimaginable powers—aka the singularity event—will happen at the end of the next decade.
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