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Escaping into the Hands of the Enemy, Christian McCrae, Realtime, August-September 2007

The release of media theorist McKenzie Wark’s new book Gamer Theory is many things at once. If you’re interested in the growth of a new medium, it’s a media academic’s major guide to the key issues. If you’re games-savvy, you are just as likely to recoil in horror at Wark’s analyses. To proclaim that he has simply expanded on his previous work, A Hacker Manifesto, ignores what gamer theory is—a study in the catastrophe of reading culture. It’s an intensely difficult-to-navigate work but ultimately rewarding for those up to the challenge of the game before them.

Creative Crowdwriting: The Open Book, Kristin Gorski, Wired, July 9, 2007

McKenzie Wark, Associate Professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Eugene Lang College and the New School for Social Research, crowdsourced the first version of his recently released social commentary, “Gamer Theory”…”It’s extremely helpful to have a small number of good-quality discussions, where you can have a conversation” about the book’s content, Wark said in an interview.

No Pain, No Game(space), Laura Stokes, The Brooklyn Rail, June 2007

This is only a book about video games in the way that the story of Noah’s Ark is about the weather. For Wark, the game exists as an allegory, informing and illuminating the more dystopic elements of our reality, the world-as-gamespace. Now that the video game is the dominant cultural symbol of our times (played regularly by 60% of Americans), play itself has ceased to be a form of liberation or escape.

McKenzie Wark — Gamer Theory, Alessandro Ludovico,, June 5, 2007

Wark goes deep into many subtle mechanisms, aiming to raise the gamer’s awareness of established processes, like seducing him and capturing while feeding his desires’ flow, so finally trying to build a critical theory of gaming. Results are controversial as any Wark effort, but they are provocative and sometimes really inspiring, so often opening new possible paths for interpreting games and even different other digital environments.

Gamer Theory, Vince Carducci, Popmatters, June 5, 2007

Like its predecessor, the 2004 A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory brilliantly mixes pop culture expertise and in-depth knowledge of critical theory to illuminate the times in which we live, work, play, and dream…. One of the more astute media theorists currently at work, Wark is going for major bonus points with Gamer Theory, and he indeed racks them up. Gamer Theory opens a new level for media studies, offering a successor paradigm to the culture industry thesis of the Frankfurt School and the spectacle society critique of the Situationists.

Review of McKenzie Wark’s “Gamer Theory”, Christian McCrea, Wolves Evolve, May 10, 2007

If I have a short review of Gamer Theory, it is that I have with each reading, gotten the strongest sensation that Wark is taking me on a tour of a disaster area via helicopter. I can see the sweat on his face, but his voice has to come through the headset to overcome the furious roaring above us.

Off the Grid reads McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory, Scott Jon Siegel, Joystiq, May 7, 2007

Both versions of the text present the same content; it’s the form that differs. Version 2.0 of the digital iteration compiles the comments and footnotes from the first version of GAM3R 7H30RY, and makes them available via pop-up windows for each section of the chapters. What’s interesting is Wark’s blending of his own citations and his reader’s commentary, as though both were reactions to text and should be treated the same way.

A Rough Start for the Wiki Novel, John Ness, Newsweek, March 5, 2007

Web-friendly authors had already embraced the notion of wiki-editing. Last year McKenzie Wark, author of “Gamer Theory,” a book about videogame culture due out in April, placed a draft of “Gamer” on the Web site for the Institute for the Future of the Book, in Brooklyn, New York. Hundreds of devoted gamers critiqued the draft and provided anecdotes, arguments and feedback. Only after incorporating their criticisms did Wark and his Harvard University Press editor give the book a final edit and send it off to the printer.

Creative Commons: Featured artists, tools, and works, McKenzie Wark interviewed by Margot Kaminski, October 2006

MW: But in short: the moral of the story is that if you give a nice enough gift to potential readers, they return the gift by buying your stuff….Culture has always worked like that. The real question to ask is the reverse: how is anyone except the media conglomerates going to make a living when they have commodified culture to within an inch of its life? How are they even going to make a living off it? It’s never been done before in the history of the world.”

The online book: team authors, and it’s never finished, Ben Arnoldy, The Christian Science Monitor, October 20, 2006

“Wark may be offering a glimpse into the future, where books – particularly nonfiction – become destinations for discussion rather than dog-eared possessions…”

New Wark vectors, Darren Tofts, RealTime, October/November 2006

“As a critical engagement with the concepts of authorship, writing and intellectual property, GAM3R 7H30RY is a book written out of the social software fabric of blogs and wikis, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia and CiteULike. In other words, it represents a new writing practice that actively decentralizes the text as an object and disseminates it as an ongoing multi-channel conversation.”

McKenzie Wark interview in Halo video game, This Spartan Life: A Talk Show in Gamespace, September 2006

wark_spartan_thumb3.jpg “Damian: I don’t know if you noticed but this entire map is pretty much one big cave.

McKenzie: Well I’ve got a ray of light that I’m looking straight at actually. It’s really kind of pretty over there. Oh, I can see sky!

Damian: That might be our way out…. I know there’s something out there.

McKenzie: It’s not really outside. It’s inside the game.”

Boundless Possibilities: As ‘networked’ books start to appear, consumers, publishers and
authors get a glimpse of publishing to come
, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2006 (subscription required)

“I make the changes where people suggest them and I see fit,” says Mr. Wark. “It starts with typos, and then evolves into peer-to-peer reviews.”

Book 2.0: Scholars turn monographs into digital conversations, Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2006

“One of Mr. Wark’s inspirations for the e-book form is Wikipedia.

‘That is the literary work of our time,’ he said. ‘It’s the Shakespeare of 2006. It took a traditional form, which is an encyclopedia, and completely rethought it. It rethought what authorship is. It rethought what collaboration is. It rethought textual form.’”

McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY, Steven Shaviro, The Pinnochio Theory, July 11, 2006

“McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY is one of those very rare academic books that makes me envious. I say to myself, ‘damn — if only I could write something that good.’”

Writing in Public, Holly Willis, LA Weekly, July 5, 2006

“Stein calls the new form a ‘networked book.’ Wark, jokingly, calls it career suicide. In either case, together they’re inventing new ways to write that accommodate both new ways of reading and a culture that is busy rethinking ideas of creativity, collaboration and commodities.”

Edit Me, Julian Dibbell, The Village Voice, June 6, 2006

“Not since Steal This Book has a book’s radical packaging so threatened to upstage its radical content.”