Critical play : radical game design / Mary Flanagan.

by Flanagan, Mary, 1969-Looking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. ; MIT Press, [2009]Description: vii, 353 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780262062688; 0262062682.Subject(s): Games -- Design and construction | Games -- Social aspectsLooking glass | Art and popular cultureLooking glassNote: Bibliography: pages 293-317. - Includes index.
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan Central Saint Martins
Main collection
Printed books 794.8 FLA (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54092143
Long loan London College of Communication
Main collection
Printed books 794.8 FLA (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available 54143533
Total reservations: 0

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Here, the author provides a lively historical context for critical play through 20th-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art.

Bibliography: pages 293-317. - Includes index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Preface and Acknowledgments (p. vi)
  • 1 Introduction to Critical Play (p. 1)
  • 2 Playing House (p. 17)
  • 3 Board Games (p. 63)
  • 4 Language Games (p. 117)
  • 5 Performative Games and Objects (p. 149)
  • 6 Artists' Locative Games (p. 189)
  • 7 Critical Computer Games (p. 223)
  • 8 Designing for Critical Play (p. 251)
  • Notes (p. 263)
  • Bibliography (p. 293)
  • Index (p. 319)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


An ambitious survey of a broad range of uses and types of games, this book demonstrates the historical persistence of critical play, a productive approach to the design and use of games that question and offer lucid alternatives to political and cultural norms. Using the phrase "critical play" to frame a centuries-old culture of intervention that involves processes such as reskinning, rewriting, unplaying, and reconfiguring, Flanagan (Dartmouth College) establishes invaluable contextual links between games, avant-garde art movements, social norms, and political and literary history. Her diverse, inspiring survey of domestic, board, language, performative, and locative games adds up to a proposed method for understanding and developing digital games (the most recent but least-developed iterations of game space) as sites of radical cultural intervention. This book's recognition of games as processes through which designers and creators might carefully move against established structures of power and oppression reinforces and builds on the politicization of and lucid engagement with game space introduced by McKenzie Wark's Gamer Theory (CH, Nov'07, 45-1296) and Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games (CH, Sep'98, 46-0096). Although Flanagan resists mention of them, her Web sites--tiltfactor,, and values@play, useful supplements to the theories and examples she offers in this rich, accessible book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. J. A. Saklofske Acadia University

Other editions of this work

No cover image available Critical play : by Flanagan, Mary, ©2013
No cover image available Critical play by Flanagan, Mary, ©2009