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The Austin Chronicle: The Year in Books

By By Kimberley Jones, Sarah Smith, James Renovitch, Cindy Widner, Monica Riese, and Wayne Alan Brenner
The Austin Chronicle

Bogost_HowMedia academic Ian Bogost's 2011 might have been dominated by the surprise success of his Facebook game, Cow Clicker, about the insipid nature of Facebook games, but he also managed to write the year's best book on the subject of video games. Split into chapters that set out to elucidate the role of games in various areas of the average American's life, How To Do Things With Videogames (University of Minnesota Press) pulls some Malcolm Gladwell-grade insight out of its hat. Stating a fact and positing a distant conclusion, Bogost builds sturdy and elegant bridges of logic between the two. The trip is often revelatory in fields outside of the interactive arts, but to do so with a medium as maligned in the art world as video games is doubly impressive. Not every chapter is solid gold, but more times than not you can feel your brain making connections that seem obvious, and that's Bogost's genius.

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