I started reading this book based on Paul's post. I'm two chapters in but I'm having a rough go of it so far. The author comes off as insufferably smug to me, and seems to be treating some pretty banal experiences as if they were profound. Yeah, dude, lots of people know that there are material objects in WalMart that each have their own unique properties -- that's why most people go to WalMart, to buy those things. The sneering disdain you assume is universal is actually just the view of a relatively small subculture that you're a part of. His take on irony also struck me as very wrong (a fear of things? No, it's insulation from judgement, a way of saying things that sound smart without staking out a position). Hopefully it will get more interesting as he starts to say more substantive things about the nature of play and fun.
I've been consumed by thinking about Play Anything since I finished reading it over the holidays. It's Ian Bogost's book about play, what it really is from his perspective, in contrast to how we think about it culturally. And I think it's profound. It's one of those ideas that's not at all how we think now, but that will seem obvious in hindsight in a year or two. It's a bit overwritten and repetitive. I think it could have made its argument at 80% or less of its published length. But I forgive it, because if I admit its perspective, and its associated terminology--ironoia, etc.--it changes how I think about design, about the value in games, about the expectations I make of players, and even about what makes a game publishable. It's absolutely going to change how I think about and talk about games.
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