Game

Animals, Videogames, and Humanity

2022
Author:

Tom Tyler

A playful reflection on animals and videogames, and what each can teach us about the other

Videogames conjure new worlds for those who play them, human or otherwise: they have been played by cats, pigs and penguins, and they let gamers experience life from the perspective of pets, predators, and prey. Tom Tyler’s eclectic collection of essays considers a host of animals who challenge players to think anew about winning and losing, difficulty settings, accessibility, virtuality, vitality and vulnerability, and much more.

Videogames conjure new worlds for those who play them, human or otherwise: they’ve been played by cats, orangutans, pigs, and penguins, and they let gamers experience life from the perspective of a pet dog, a predator or a prey animal, or even a pathogen. In Game, author Tom Tyler provides the first sustained consideration of videogames and animals and demonstrates how thinking about animals and games together can prompt fresh thinking about both.

Game comprises thirteen short essays, each of which examines a particular videogame, franchise, aspect of gameplay, or production in which animals are featured, allowing us to reflect on conventional understandings of humans, animals, and the relationships between them. Tyler contemplates the significance of animals who insert themselves into videogames, as protagonists, opponents, and brute resources, but also as ciphers, subjects, and subversive guides to new ways of thinking. These animals encourage us to reconsider how we understand games, contesting established ideas about winning and losing, difficulty settings, accessibility, playing badly, virtuality, vitality and vulnerability, and much more.

Written in a playful style, Game draws from a dizzying array of sources, from children’s television, sitcoms, and regional newspapers to medieval fables, Shakespearean tragedy, and Edwardian comedy; from primatology, entomology, and hunting and fishing manuals to theological tracts and philosophical treatises. By examining videogames through the lens of animals and animality, Tyler leads us to a greater humility regarding the nature and status of the human creature, and a greater sensitivity in dealings with other animals.

Tom Tyler is lecturer in digital culture at the University of Leeds. He is editor of Animal Beings, coeditor of Animal Encounters, and author of CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers (Minnesota, 2012).

Contents

Acknowledgments

1. Game

2. A Singular of Boars

3. How Does Your Dog Smell?

4. Enumerating Ruminants

5. An Inkling

6. Playing Like a Loser

7. A Thing Worth Doing

8. Cows, Clicks, Ciphers, and Satire

9. Meanings of Meat

10. Total BS!

11. Misanthropy without Humanity

12. Difficulties

13. Trojan Horses

Notes

Bibliography

Ludography

Publication History

Index