9781478002925: Paperback
Release Date: 14th December 2018

88 illustrations

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 312

Series Experimental Futures

Duke University Press Books


Gamers, Hackers, and Technogenic Life

Colin Milburn examines the relationships between video games, hackers, and science fiction, showing how games provide models of social and political engagement, critique, and resistance while offering a vital space for players and hacktivists to challenge centralized power and experiment with alternative futures.
Paperback / £21.99

In Respawn Colin Milburn examines the connections between video games, hacking, and science fiction that galvanize technological activism and technological communities. Discussing a wide range of games, from Portal and Final Fantasy VII to Super Mario Sunshine and Shadow of the Colossus, Milburn illustrates how they impact the lives of gamers and non-gamers alike. They also serve as resources for critique, resistance, and insurgency, offering a space for players and hacktivist groups such as Anonymous to challenge obstinate systems and experiment with alternative futures. Providing an essential walkthrough guide to our digital culture and its high-tech controversies, Milburn shows how games and playable media spawn new modes of engagement in a computerized world.

Introduction. All Your Base  1
1. May the Lulz Be with You  25
2. Obstinate Systems  51
3. Still Inside  78
4. Long Live Play  102
5. We Are Heroes  134
6. Green Machine  172
7. Pwn  199
Conclusion. Save Point  217
Acknowledgments  227
Notes  231
Bibliography  271
Index  293

Colin Milburn is Gary Snyder Chair in Science and the Humanities and Professor of English, Science and Technology Studies, and Cinema and Digital Media at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter and Nanovision: Engineering the Future, both also published by Duke University Press.

“Drawing out the tight historical, aesthetic, and even political connections between sci-fi, video games, and hacking, Colin Milburn offers an engaging and innovative account of how video games give players a place to experiment with speculative futures and to form critical habits of thinking and acting. Respawn is a fantastic book.”

Gabriella Coleman, author of
Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous

Respawn is more than just a book about video games; it is an exploration of digital culture at a moment in which games have reached unprecedented popularity. Employing a lively style, anecdotes from online culture, and a deep archive of games,Respawn contributes to a number of fields, including studies of the history of science, fan cultures, science fiction, games, and even cybersecurity.”

Patrick Jagoda, cofounder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and author of
Network Aesthetics

"This is a detailed and precise account, with a clear narrative that identifies the course of the elements used and their evolving style and context. But among the many intertwined stories, the clever quotes and the endless virtual environments, what keeps emerging is a strong value of responsibility, taking sensible decisions, showing a proper understanding of what Milburn calls as 'technogenic life.'"

Aurelio Cianciotta

"This is an accessible work that might give ardent gamers newfound appreciation of the social sciences, and it does an excellent job of neither raising up nor tearing down the historical processes it documents. . . . Recommended. All readers."

P. L. Kantor

"Respawn offers a detailed analysis of the entanglements of broader game cultures, political activism and the sociotechnical dilemmas of our present. Drawing on a plethora of game examples and their histories, online discussion threads and occasionally humorous imagery, the book is an engaging account for everyone working at the intersections of digital media theory, game studies, political theory and science and technology studies."

Yana Boeva
LSE Review of Books