Alex Wright

Gamer Theory

December 12, 2006

Gamer TheoryThe Institute for the Future of the Book has published Internet theorist MacKenzie Wark's Gamer Theory (a.k.a. G4M3R 7H30RY) in a new experimental online format.

It's an interesting foray - not to mention a remarkable contortion of Wordpress - that uses a card-deck metaphor for flipping between sections of a chapter, combined with a horizontal menu for moving between chapters. Each section is accompanied by user comments, displayed on equal horizontal footing with the text itself. The overall goal seems to involve breaking up the traditional linear book format and blurring the boundaries between readers and writers.

These are plenty of good ideas worth pondering here, but ultimately I found that the interface seemed to get in the way of the book. In trying to prove an epistemological point, the software seems to insist on its own primacy over the text. Maybe a literary theorist would argue that the interface is part of the text; all I know is that I had a hard time reading the thing. That said, I find the whole project quite provocative, and it leaves me wondering whether a toned-down interface might achieve some of the same objectives while prioritizing the user experience of reading over the ideology of hypertext. As Don Norman might put it: Can the interface get out of the way?

> McKenzie Wark, Gamer Theory

File under: Informatics

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