A playful reflection on animals and video games, and what each can teach us about the other
Video games conjure new worlds for those who play them, human or otherwise: they’ve been played by cats, orangutans, pigs, and penguins, and they let gamers experience life from the perspective of a pet dog, a predator or a prey animal, or even a pathogen. In Game, author Tom Tyler provides the first sustained consideration of video games and animals and demonstrates how thinking about animals and games together can prompt fresh thinking about both.
Game comprises thirteen short essays, each of which examines a particular video game, franchise, aspect of gameplay, or production in which animals are featured, allowing us to reflect on conventional understandings of humans, animals, and the relationships between them. Tyler contemplates the significance of animals who insert themselves into video games, as protagonists, opponents, and brute resources, but also as ciphers, subjects, and subversive guides to new ways of thinking. These animals encourage us to reconsider how we understand games, contesting established ideas about winning and losing, difficulty settings, accessibility, playing badly, virtuality, vitality and vulnerability, and much more.
Written in a playful style, Game draws from a dizzying array of sources, from children’s television, sitcoms, and regional newspapers to medieval fables, Shakespearean tragedy, and Edwardian comedy; from primatology, entomology, and hunting and fishing manuals to theological tracts and philosophical treatises. By examining video games through the lens of animals and animality, Tyler leads us to a greater humility regarding the nature and status of the human creature, and a greater sensitivity in dealings with other animals.