Title: Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

Author: Ian Bogost

Publication Date: August 13, 2010

Publisher: The MIT Press

A book about how videogames make arguments: rhetoric, computing, politics, advertising, learning.

In Persuasive Games, Bogost advances a theory of how videogames make arguments and influence players. Games represent how real and imagined systems work, and they invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them. Drawing on the history of rhetoric, the study of persuasive expression, he analyzes rhetoric’s unique function in software in general and videogames in particular. The field of media studies already studies visual rhetoric, the art of using imagery and visual representation persuasively. Bogost argues that videogames, thanks to their basic representational mode of procedurality (rule-based representations and interactions), open a new domain for persuasion; they realize a new form of rhetoric.

Bogost calls this new form “procedural rhetoric,” a type of rhetoric tied to the core affordances of computers: running processes and executing rule-based symbolic manipulation. Covering both commercial and non-commercial games from the earliest arcade games through contemporaty titles, Bogost looks at three areas in which videogame persuasion has already taken form and shows considerable potential: politics, advertising, and education. The book reflects both theoretical and game-design goals.