Alum Chris Goetz Reviews MetaGaming in Critical Inquiry

07 May, 2018

Alum Chris Goetz Reviews MetaGaming in Critical Inquiry

Christopher Goetz, BCNM alum and video game scholar, reviewed Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux's Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames in peer-reviewed journal Critial Inquiry.

Metagaming looks at subjects such as e-spoorts, hacking, "speedrunning," and "modding." Rich with examples like Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) and Braid (2008), Goetz delves into the book's 350 pages of extensive research to disseminate its central themes and conclusions.

From his piece:

At times, Metagaming’s forays into gaming’s great beyond seem politically grounded in important contemporary issues by virtue of how some players’ metagames pass as unquestioned norms: specifically, cisgendered, masculine, able-bodied players. Especially apt are the book’s discussions of blind speedrunners and feminist critiques of commercial games. At other times, the book journeys far into what seem like tenuously related discourses, such as Sartre’s notion of seriality, the minimalism of radically abstract art, or anamorphic distortions in paintings from the Northern Renaissance. It’s all very interesting, but eventually one throws up one’s hands and exclaims that this is a book about anything and everything—the history, theory, culture, philosophy, technology, ethnography, economics, art, visuality, and design of games (the book does actually link you to the authors’ experimental games too) along with anything that can be connected to games. Like Dark Seer’s ultimate “Vacuum” ability in DotA 2 (which Boluk and LeMieux describe as part of a key turning point at Valve’s 2012 $1.6 million DotA 2 tournament), it’s as if Metagaming centripetally inhales every conceivable disciplinary approach to studying games and groups them under one single heading. This is, of course, the rhetorical point of the book: to expand our definition of metagame until it bursts and destroys our prior notions of what it means to play a video game.

Read the entirety of the review here.