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The Medium of the Video Game

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Mark J.P. WolfEdit

Wolf is a Professor of Communication at Concordia University Wisconsin. He has a B. A. (1990) in Film Production and an M. A. (1992) and Ph. D. (1995) in Critical Studies from the School of Cinema/Television (now renamed the School of Cinematic Arts) at USC. His work has always focused on new media and his books include Abstracting Reality: Art, Communication, and Cognition in the Digital Age (2000), The Medium of the Video Game (2001), Virtual Morality: Morals, Ethics, and New Media (2003), The Video Game Theory Reader (2003), The World of the D’ni: Myst and Riven (2006), The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond (2007), The Video Game Theory Reader 2 (2008), J. R. R. Tolkien: Of Words and Worlds: (2009). Two books, Before the Crash: Early Video Game History and Encyclopedia of Video Games, are forthcoming

The Medium of Video Game [2001]Edit

One of the earliest "textbook" or "reader" texts on video games, Wolf explores video games through the relative medium of film, using conventions of space, time, narrative and genre to understand how games function. The book is half his own writing, half collected essays by others. Particularly useful is Rochelle Slovin's Hot Circuits essay, a reflection on the 1989 Video Game Exhibtion at the Museum of the Moving Image, in Queens.

By taxonomizing games, Wolf did a useful service in trying to bring games into the fold of mediums that could be discussed using pre-existing theoretical frames. However, it is also easy to see how others have developed beyond his work (through the narratology vs. ludology debate), or taken affront at applying another medium's theories to video games.

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