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Ian Bogost

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Photos by Sara Bobo

Anna Anthropy is a game developer that has one big gripe with video games. It has nothing to do with the usual litany of unsubstantiated claims about how they teach children to steal cars or gun down prostitutes. Rather, it has to do with the fact that, in the year 2012, there still really aren't many games that she (and many others) can truly relate to on a personal level.

The reason why should be obvious: Most of the people currently involved in the games industry are in the business of creating products, not art. They’re also, more often than not, middle-class white male nerds. This is precisely why Anthropy, who sometimes goes by Auntie Pixelante, has devoted herself to making games, and why in her new book, Rise of the Videogame...

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The release of two very different games in the last month, Asura's Wrath and Dear Esther, has sparked up one of gaming's evergreen topics: what is and what isn't a game? More than just a question of semantics, it's a pernicious and pervasive poser that can lead to all kinds of nastiness.

Take as an example the recent furore centred on Jennifer Hepler, a Bioware employee who made a remark in 2006 to the effect that games should cater to players who want to skip action sequences. Pretty reasonable, right? After all, L.A. Noire did it last year - letting players skip action sections they'd failed three times.

Hepler's comment was dug up and posted on reddit a few weeks ago, under the title 'This women [sic] is the cancer killing Bioware' and all sorts of horror followed - I'm not going to rake over the coals of that, but Kotaku's report is interesting both for the content and comments. Hepler's mistake was twofold: being a woman, and being right.

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In this abridgement of the first chapter of new book Imaginary Games, game designer, philosopher, and writer Chris Bateman, best known for the game Discworld Noir, examines the game-as-art debate from an interesting new angle.

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Arguing against a stripe of neoconservatism in games that paints certain forms of design as aberrant and others as natural, academic and developer Ian Bogost examines the very nature of creativity and art and offers up an analysis of how the medium can move forward with a rich palette of choices.

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While my favorite game is "the game of designing games", I do occasionally try to find commercial publishers for them. But there are lots of reasons to design games, ways for designers to look at their role as game designers.

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