7-2 | Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife

Book Review

Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife

Raiford Guins
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. Appendix, notes, bibliography, index. 376 pp. $35.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780262019989

by Thomas H. Rousse

First Paragraph:

A new generation of video game historians must preserve the medium’s heritage before it disappears. In Raiford Guins’s compelling journey as an adventuring media archaeologist, arcade machines from the heyday of arcade video games are an endangered species: they rot away in dumps, corrode on beachfront boardwalks, and succumb to the indignities of a ceaseless tide of button mashing without the care to keep them running. While threatened in the wild, some fortunate games have been removed from their natural habitats and placed into preserves ranging from museums, private collections, and historically minded arcades. By exploring and documenting the many ways in which people and institutions preserve digital games, Guins challenges the status quo of game history, surveys, and underused artifacts and archives in the United States, and invites others to follow in his footsteps to write a richer history of video gaming. Crucially, Guins’s project is not to engage with games-as-artifacts merely to recapture the authenticity of the play experience at the moment of its release as a consumer product. Instead, he seeks to trace the path of games as they travel through time and space and in so doing take on different meanings, cultural environs, values, and epistemologies.