Version 2.0 launched April 23, 2007
About a year and a half ago, McKenzie Wark, together with the Institute for the Future of the Book, set out to explore the possibility of a new textual form in social web media: a middle space, somewhere between the sprawling public discourse arena of the blogosphere and the collaborative knowledge factory of Wikipedia. A framework for extended, critical inquiry around a central idea or itch. Something, well, book-sized.
We hoped to find out whether opening up the process midstream — throwing author and reader into dialog while the work was still in progress — might reveal a valuable new way of writing, and get people thinking more expansively about the future of the book in the digital age. And so we published GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1: a first stab at a new sort of “networked book,” a book that actually contains the conversation it engenders, and which, in turn, engenders it.
As it turns out, input from readers on the original site did have a very real impact on the book’s development. First off, we realized that we’d outsourced the proofreading; people didn’t hesitate to point out typos and misspellings or glaring syntax errors. But most of the feedback proved to be more substantive: criticisms, queries, references, and also meditations, and testimonials by gamers about game play. Some places were positively humming with chatter — a full-blown conversation in the manuscript’s margins (and in the accompanying discussion forum, which has been reopened). Of course not all of the contributions were useful, but a good many were, and, according to McKenzie, they played a significant role in his subsequent revisions.
Now the book has been published in print form by Harvard University Press, a handsome physical artifact that you can purchase and read in the rich ways that print affords. This site, Gamer Theory 2.0, is a digital counterpart (or counterpoint?) to the print edition: a persistent node in the network; a place to keep the conversation going; an invitation to read in a different way.
We also invite you to explore Gamer Theory 3.0, a gallery of visualizations of the text submitted by leading interaction designers, artists and hackers. In McKenzie’s words:
These pose the question of what digital technology can bring to the presentation of text. Are there new ways of perceiving text, or re-imagining text, that can only happen in the networks? Could visualization change not only how we ‘read’ but how we write?
Commenting on Version 1.1 has been closed, and we’re curious now to see what happens with this new version in terms of both the quality and quantity of the discussion now that the author has deemd the text “finished.”
An edited selection of comments from Version 1.1 is included in the notes section of the Harvard edition, interspersed with the actual endnotes. So you’ll find, for example, Karl Marx rubbing bibliographic shoulders with Jodi Dean, an influential political theory blogger who was active in the discussion. These notes, which McKenzie calls “cuts,” appear throughout this website as popups opened from the text wherever you see an asterisk*. There are no doubt more interesting approaches that Harvard could have taken in representing these contextual conversations in the design of the print edition, but we’re pleased that the networked origins of the book are represented in some way.