Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game

By Graeme Kirkpatrick

Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game
Paperback -
  • Price: ¬£16.99
  • ISBN: 9780719077180
  • Publish Date: Aug 2011
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Paperback
    • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7718-0
    • Pages: 256
    • Price: ¬£16.99
    • Published Date: August 2011


    This book draws on aesthetic theory, including ideas from the history of painting, music and dance, to offer a fresh perspective on the video game as a popular cultural form. It argues that games like Grand Theft Auto and Elektroplankton are aesthetic objects that appeal to players because they offer an experience of form, as this idea was understood by philosophers like Immanuel Kant and Theodor Adorno.

    Video games are awkward objects that have defied efforts to categorise them within established academic disciplines and intellectual frameworks. Yet no one can deny their importance in re-configuring contemporary culture and their influence can be seen in contemporary film, television, literature, music, dance and advertising. This book argues that their very awkwardness should form the starting point for a proper analysis of what games are and the reasons for their popularity. This book will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in the increasingly playful character of contemporary capitalist culture.


    "An established scholar of the sociology of gaming and computers, Kirkpatrick (Univ. of Manchester, UK) argues video games are autonomous cultural forms that should be considered art."

    "Kirkpatrick positions the aesthetics of video games in interactivity, outside the traditional realm of formal or literary representation."

    "......adds a distinct, if rather conservative, perspective on video game play to the burgeoning field of game studies."

    I have yet to encounter a book as extensive and thought-provoking as Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game.

    ...Kirkpatrick's book is an illuminating exploration of how a players body and a game intertwine, or how, "a generation of young men have grown up dancing with their hands."

    There is no doubt that this book is important: for the academic theorization of gameplay, aesthetic theory, and cultural studies in its broadest, interdisciplinary or 'indisiciplined' manifestations. Rancière is one of a plethora of writers with whom Kirkpatrick artfully weaves propositions and readings of games to accumulate a coherently mapped theory of gaming as an aesthetic cultural practice... I have yet to encounter a book as extensive and thought provoking as Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game.

    You'll never look at a controller the same way again after Kirkpatrick explains how we've been conditioned to use carefully designed blobs of plastic to influence an image.


    1. The Aesthetic Approach
    Why an aesthetic approach?
    Play and form
    Form, taste and society
    Art and politics
    Culture industry revisited
    2. Ludology, Space and Time
    From ergodicity to ludology
    Gameness and its limits
    Abstraction, virtual space and simulacra
    The rhythm of suspended time
    Ludology, narratology and aesthetics
    3. Controller, Hand, Screen
    Form, vision and matter
    Hands and touch
    The controller
    Video game image
    Embodied activity and culture
    4. Games, Dance and Gender
    Dance and art
    Habitus and embodied play
    Choreography in 'Mirror's Edge'
    A dance aesthetic
    Choreography and discourse
    Aesthetics and gender
    5. Meaning and Virtual Worlds
    Fictional worldness
    Neo-baroque entertainment culture
    Form and fictional content
    Death and allegory
    Play and mourning
    6. Political Aesthetics
    Unit operations
    Rhetoric and persuasion
    Badiou's inaesthetics
    The ludological truth-event
    Dancing our way to where?


    Graeme Kirkpatrick is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester.

    Aesthetic Theory and the Video Game

    By Graeme Kirkpatrick

    Paperback £16.99 / $24.95

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