There are two distinct aspects of gamer theory to react to: the form and the content.
First, the form: I keep going back and forth between liking and disliking the way Gamer Theory 2.0 is presented. The progressing cards and color scheme help break the reading up a little bit, and tend to provide natural breaks that can sometimes offer a nice place to pause and think about the card. On the other hand, the cards also make for constant interruption of thoughts and ideas, and the flow would be much smoother if it were simply a work of text. One part of the presentation though that I very much like is the way the comment system is implemented. Having each comment you see be related to the specific paragraph you are reading is very nice, and infinitely more useful than comments on most online pieces of writing, where they are simply all stacked at the end in an endless list with no direct tie to a specific part of the text. Admittedly, the comments change what might otherwise be considered a very scholarly work into something that is somehow more…real…..more assailable or approachable perhaps? Opening it for comments means it can be critiqued in a way a book cannot. This however is simply an inherent truth in most online publishing, not specific to Gamer Theory 2.0 at all.
It occurred to me that this form of presentation (along with the style of writing) occasionally almost made the writing feel like some form of beat poetry. Such card-ending phrases as “If there is a difference, it may not be quite what it seems,” “Civic virtue drowns in a hurricane of mere survivalism” and “The romance of the outsider is dead” all would be right at home in a smokey coffee shop being spoken in hushed tones to the beat of bongos. This doesn’t detract from the work at all, and I clearly understand that the work is not beat poetry, but the fact that a scholarly work published by the Harvard University Press could even bring the comparison to mind was interestingly amusing to me.
As a side note, I found a few pages that didn’t seem to link properly to one another. Not sure if this was a browser issue or a problem with the site or what, but I occasionally had to go back to the table of contents to get to the next section. /minor gripe.
Content: I would not necessarily say that Gamer Theory resonated with me (as a gamer) in it’s entirety, but I can certainly appreciate the attempt to explain why gamers game to those who do not, and what that reflects of real life. I can’t really relate to the idea of the Cave, or to the idea that real life is a game, but I would guess that many gamers do. I similarly can’t relate to the offered explanations of the appeal of the Sims, nor in the section Vice City. I could relate much more to the Civ III and Deus Ex chapters. Not surprisingly, this aligns with the games I choose to play. I have never like the sims, or extremely immersive games such as MMO’s, but I greatly enjoyed Deus Ex and the Civ series. This is indicative of why I can appreciate the work as a whole, regardless of my agreement with it in its entirety. I know and have known lots of gamers, and it is amazing how difficult it is to agree on a game at a LAN party. The reality of gaming is that different people do it for different reasons, and different styles of games capture the attention of different people. Wark captures this very well in branching out to cover many of these different spheres of appeal, not limiting her writing by beginning with the assumption that ‘gamers are gamers.’ It’s the same way different people play different instruments, but are all musicians, or that different people play different sports, but are all athletes.