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Patrick Jagoda
Cinema and Media Studies, English
Experimental Games:
Critique, Play, and Design
in the Age of Gamification
University of Chicago Press, 2020



In Experimental Games, Patrick Jagoda takes up the concept of “gamification”—the application of game mechanics to traditionally nongame spheres, such as personal health and fitness, shopping, habit tracking, and more—has imposed unprecedented levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life. Drawing from his own experience as a game designer, Patrick Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games with a particular focus on gender and sexuality. Jagoda imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced notion of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. As reviewer Alendra Chang notes, “This is original, nuanced, and well-researched work, noteworthy in its ability to join social science, art, and the humanities in an equally weighted conversation.”

Listen to a recent interview with Patrick Jagoda on “Gamers with Glasses.”

“Jagoda's Experimental Games is a thorough, insightful elaboration of an art-critical practice that he describes as a 'joyful study' of digital games in the twenty-first century. . . . Jagoda convincingly makes the case for games as inside agents in our historical present, offering alternative pathways to the stifling control and abject precarity of contemporary life.”
Eric Stein,
Ancillary Review of Books



Patrick Jagoda is professor of English and cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and executive editor of Critical Inquiry. He is the author of Network Aesthetics, also published by the University of Chicago Press,​ and coauthor of The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer.

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