Ian Bogost – Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism

Ian Bogost

book – The MIT Press – ISBN-13: 978-0262524872
Videogame criticism is still getting its momentum with a prolific production of essays. Meanwhile “Game Studies” departments are sprouting in Universities and Design schools and hosting a course on videogame seems mandatory for any digital media related curriculum. Even if this book is clearly into this cultural field, it’s a little bit upstream, deeply questioning the self-referential tendency that the whole field seems to suffer. Bogost considers videogames not anymore a buzz for theorist engagement, but a cultural object featuring complex relationships with philosophy, film studies, literature, art and psychology, also thanks to its current level of complexity. Even if it’s really intriguing and fascinating, the use and dynamics of “unit operations” (that are units of meaning, oversimplifying) is not banal, and its understanding through this book requires a decent background in both criticism and programming. But what Bogost try to dismantle is the rigid “Game Studies” approach, while fostering an interdisciplinarity that would focus more on videogames as cultural artifacts, dynamically broadening the field perspective and reformulating the cultural frame of videogame criticism.