What if "game studies" books weren't written just for academics, but also for game designers and curious gamers?
This was the question that came up for debate during my time at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a research group at the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. We were discussing possible ways to get research from the lab out into the world, and while there were a number of fantastic game studies books out there, none felt quite right for us. I approached MIT Press' Doug Sery with this idea, with the added extra idea that these books might be short. Doug was intrigued, and we were off to the races.
The result was the MIT Press Playful Thinking series, a series of engaging and visually compelling volumes on game-related topics, authored by both scholars and industry luminaries, that are easily accessible to academics, professionals, and laymen from a broad range of backgrounds and levels of experience. William Uricchio and Jesper Juul joined me as series co-editors, and Mia Consalvo became our fourth co-editor in 2018.
Each volume ranges between 25,000-30,000 words (approximately 100 pages) in length, is small enough to be easily thrown in a backpack or a coat pocket, and is written in a way that is accessible and compelling to academics, professionals, and educated readers in general.
The series' focus can be summed up as follows:
- Each volume focuses on an innovative and clearly demarcated issue concerning video games.
- Each volume has a hook and theme that is relevant to readers outside video game studies.
- The prototypical volume discusses video games and x, applying insights from other fields to video games, and reflecting upon what this combination yields in terms of more general insights.
- Short form, roughly 25,000-30,000 words.
As of this writing, the books released in this series include John Sharp and David Thomas' Fun, Taste and Games; Julian Togelius' Playing Smart; Katherine Isbister's How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design; John Sharp's Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art; Miguel Sicart's Play Matters; Greg Costikyan's Uncertainty in Games; and Jesper Juul's The Art of Failure.
More information can be found at playfulthinking.net.
Mia Consalvo – Series Co-Editor
Jesper Juul – Series Co-Editor
Geoffrey Long – Series Co-Editor
William Uricchio – Series Co-Editor
Doug Sery – Publisher