+Commissioned by Rhizome.org+
Review of Alexander R. Galloway's 'Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture'
By Thomas Beard
The literature of video games is a curious one. Ranging from Martin Amis' all but forgotten debut, Invasion of the Space Invaders; a compendium of hot tips for arcade classics like Defender; to the coin-op psychologizing of Charles Bernstein; Play It Again, Pac-Man; and beyond, it somehow manages to encompass at once the enthusiasms of that British belletrist and analyses from every imaginable clique of critical theory. Different as those two camps might be, a recent addition to this growing body of work, Alexander R. Galloway's Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, has drawn from both. An NYU professor, media theorist, and founding member of Radical Software Group (RSG), Galloway states from the outset that his is a book about loving video games; setting him firmly apart from the more clinically-minded of his peers. That said, the book is hardly the stuff of fanboy effusion, but rather a skillful address to the broad intellectual histories of gaming and a likely source of new debates.