Ian Bogost

From Atari VCS to Nintendo Wii: Platform Studies as an Approach to Videogame Criticism and Design

May 14, 2007, 12:00 pm   » 

The hardware and software framework that supports other programs is referred to in computing as a "platform." If "code studies" are new media’s analogue to software engineering and computer programming, then "platform studies" are an analogue to computer engineering and computer architecture, connecting the technical workings of computer systems to the expressive artifacts created atop them, and to the creative practices through which those artifacts are produced.

Experience an overview of Platform Studies via two examples: first, the 1977 Atari VCS (2600), the first popular home videogame console, and second, the 2006 Nintendo Wii, a contemporary videogame system, showing how close consideration of computer hardware design can inform our understanding of the history, present, and future of videogame expression. Watch examples of new Bogost-designed videogames created for the Atari VCS, connecting his artistic practice to the broader consideration of that machine as a platform with a specific material, social, and cultural history.

Dr. Ian Bogost is a videogame designer and researcher. He is an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and founding partner at Persuasive Games LLC. His research considers videogames as expressive artifacts, and his creative practice focuses on games about social and political issues.

Bogost authored Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism (MIT Press 2006), recently listed among “50 books for everyone in the game industry,” and Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames (MIT Press 2007), and was co-editor (with Matteo Bittanti) of Ludologica Retro: Vintage Arcade Games 1972-1984 (Costa & Nolan). Bogost’s videogames about social and political issues cover topics as varied as airport security, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, and tort reform. His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited internationally at venues including Laboral Centro de Arte (Madrid), Fournos Centre for Digital Culture (Athens), Eyebeam Center (New York), Slamdance Guerilla Game Festival (Park City), the Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne).

Bogost currently is completing a book on the Atari 2600, along with a number of new videogames for that platform. He is also completing a game about the politics of nutrition, commissioned by PBS and the iTVS.

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