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Playing with Feelings

Video Games and Affect

2018

Aubrey Anable

Playing with Feelings

How gaming intersects with systems like history, bodies, and code

Aubrey Anable applies affect theory to game studies, arguing that video games let us “rehearse” feelings, states, and emotions that give new tones and textures to our everyday lives and interactions with digital devices. Rather than seeing video games as an escape from reality, Anable demonstrates how they have been intimately tied to our emotional landscape since digital computers emerged.

Playing with Feelings traces a compelling intellectual history and uses affect theory to rethink some core game studies debates. Aubrey Anable’s insights on casual, indie, and art games are particularly important at this historical moment in game studies. This is the book many humanistic game scholars have been waiting for.

Adrienne Shaw, author of Gaming at the Edge

Why do we so compulsively play video games? Might it have something to do with how gaming affects our emotions? In Playing with Feelings, scholar Aubrey Anable applies affect theory to game studies, arguing that video games let us “rehearse” feelings, states, and emotions that give new tones and textures to our everyday lives and interactions with digital devices. Rather than thinking about video games as an escape from reality, Anable demonstrates how video games—their narratives, aesthetics, and histories—have been intimately tied to our emotional landscape since the emergence of digital computers.

Looking at a wide variety of video games—including mobile games, indie games, art games, and games that have been traditionally neglected by academia—Anable expands our understanding of the ways in which these games and game studies can participate in feminist and queer interventions in digital media culture. She gives a new account of the touchscreen and intimacy with our mobile devices, asking what it means to touch and be touched by a game. She also examines how games played casually throughout the day create meaningful interludes that give us new ways of relating to work in our lives. And Anable reflects on how games allow us to feel differently about what it means to fail.

Playing with Feelings offers provocative arguments for why video games should be seen as the most significant art form of the twenty-first century and gives the humanities passionate, incisive, and daring arguments for why games matter.

Playing with Feelings

Aubrey Anable is assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University.

Playing with Feelings

Playing with Feelings traces a compelling intellectual history and uses affect theory to rethink some core game studies debates. Aubrey Anable’s insights on casual, indie, and art games are particularly important at this historical moment in game studies. This is the book many humanistic game scholars have been waiting for.

Adrienne Shaw, author of Gaming at the Edge

Playing with Feelings is one of few works to deeply engage with the theory of affect as developed in media philosophy, sociology, and information studies relative to video games. Written with an eye to the canonical concerns circulating in the lucrative and vibrant field of game studies, the book balances engagement with familiar themes and issues in the game studies and game theory world.

Lisa Cartwright, University of California, San Diego

Playing with Feelings

Contents
Introduction: Video Games as Structures of Feeling
1. Feeling History
2. Touching Games
3. Rhythms of Work and Play
4. Games to Fail With
Conclusion: Affective Archives
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index