Understanding Video Games

The 2nd edition of our video game text-book came out in 2013. It’s available through Amazon or wherever you go for books. Here’s the blurp:

This expanded and revised second edition of Understanding Video Games provides a comprehensive introduction to the growing field of game studies.

Understanding Video Games, 2nd Edition is an essential read for newcomers to video game studies and experienced game scholars alike. This follow-up to the pioneering first edition takes video game studies into the next decade of the twenty-first century, highlighting changes in the game business, advances in video game scholarship, and recent trends in game design and development—including mobile, social, and casual gaming.

In Understanding Video Games, 2nd Edition students will:

  • Assess the major theories used to analyze games, such as ludology and narratology
  • Gain familiarity with the commercial and organizational aspects of the game industry
  • Trace the history of video games from Pong to Playstation 3 and beyond
  • Explore the aesthetics of game design
  • Evaluate the cultural position of video games
  • Consider the potential effects of both violent and “serious” games.

Extensively illustrated, and featuring discussion questions, a glossary of key terms, and a detailed video game history timeline (including an interactive online version), Understanding Video Games, 2nd Edition is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in examining the ways video games are reshaping entertainment and society.

Our video game text book gets an extra life

In the year of our Lord 2008, Simon Egenfeldt Nielsen, Susana Tosca and I published our introduction to video games and video game studies Understanding Video Games (unabashedly subtitled “The Essential Introduction”).

The sales data was always semi-abstract to me, but our publisher just informed us that they are “very happy with its success”. It’s been taken up by quite a few game courses and would we do a revised 2nd edition? Lest our work become the less-than essential introduction, we’ve agreed :-) ETA: 2012.

Now, if you’ve read or actually used our book, we’d be very interested in hearing from you. What works, what doesn’t? What are the most important sections to update? What specific recent developments (or titles) should we cover?
Write me at jonas@autofire.dk or use the comment field or your telepathic powers. Thanks!

Grundbog om computerspil klarer sig hæderligt

Freespace 2
Susana Toscas, Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsens og min computerspilgrundbog “Understanding Video Games” har i følge forlaget solgt hæderligt i sine første 8 måneder. Ole Ertløv Hansen har I øvrigt netop anmeldt den i tidsskriftet MedieKultur. OEH har pæne ting og sige, men hæfter sig også ved en række kritikpunkter, hvoraf flere er rimelige nok.
Bogen kan købes hos Adlibris for 174 kr. + forsendelse.

Understanding Video Games now in stores

Understanding Video GamesThe video games text-book which I have co-written with Susana Tosca and Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen has now left the printers and reached the virtual shelves of Amazon.com.
The book is so interesting that it actually has a (somewhat rudimentary) Companion Website featuring the book’s brief introduction chapter.

If you’re in Denmark, here’s a list of fine web book stores that will be happy to ship the book to you.

If you’re in the UK, you can get it directly from Routledge.

It’s 16.99 UK Pounds / 29.95 USD, took some time to write, and we do hope you buy it :-)


Smith, Jonas Heide (2019). 10 tips til det selskabelige museum. Danske Museer, december 2019.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2019). Den frie kulturarv har ikke mange venner i verden. Politiken, 15/9-2019.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2019). Skærmangst: Lad os lige tage en dyb indånding – irrationel modvilje mod unges socialitet er og bliver en dårlig idé. Politiken, 30/6-2019.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2019). Politikerne må stoppe op og sætte klare grænser for den digitale overvågning. Politiken, 13/1-2019.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2018). Kommunikatørens death-fight med SoMe. Kommunikationsforum, 25/1-2018.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2017). Velkommen til det algoritmiske mareridt. Kommunikationsforum, 19/10-2017.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2017). Everything Anywhere: Welcome to Your New Life as a Platform. Museum-iD, 2017.

Various entries on the SMK Open blog (2016-2020), e.g. We’re open! — Thoughts on building a new home for SMK’s online collection and Finally: A new website for SMK.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2015). Undskyld, men må vi remixe dit indhold? Kommunikationsforum, 23/9-2015.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2015). Like lige mit had: Boganmeldelse af “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”. Kommunikationsforum, 8/4-2015.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2015). The Me/Us/Them Model: Prioritizing museum social media efforts for maximum reach. Museums and the Web 2015.

Smith, Jonas Heide  (2014). Boganmeldelse: Sig du kan li’ mig. Dansk Kommunikationsforening, 4/11-2014.

Smith, Jonas Heide  (2014). Online-managerens dilemma. Dansk Kommunikationsforening, 15/9-2014.

Smith, Jonas Heide & Bergstrøm, Ditte Maria (2014). Skær væk! Sociale medier, nu da virkeligheden har indfundet sig. Dansk Kommunikationsforening, 4/8-2014.

Smith, Jonas Heide  (2014).  Er din konference på Twitter?.  Dansk Kommunikationsforening, 28/4-2014.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2014). Uendeligt univers i primitive pixels. Kommunikationsforum, 12/2-2014.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2014). Velkommen til tryghedspsykosen. Kronik i Berlingske, 3/1-2014.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas Heide & Tosca, Susana (2012). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction (2nd Edition). New York: Routledge. [Facebook page].

Smith, Jonas Heide (2011). W4 segmenterne. Kommunikationsforum, 15/12-2011.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2011). Du står for enden af en vej: Computerspil og fantasy. Kritik #202. [PDF]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2011). En forbløffende god bog om computerspil. Version2, 7/10-2011.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2010). Angry Birds er antiopskrift med absolut succes. Kommunikationsforum, 8/12-2010.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2010). Computerspil overtager dit liv. Politiken, 22/8-2010.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2010). Trusting the Avatar. Games and Culture, vol. 5, no. 3. [Draft version].

Smith, Jonas Heide (2009). Nekrolog: Websitet er dødt…. Nettet leve!. Politiken, 2/5-2009.

Just, Sine Nørholm & Smith, Jonas Heide (2009). Playful Persuasion: The Rhetorical Potential of Advergames. Nordicom Review, vol. 30, issue 2.

Drachen, A. & Heide Smith, J. (2008): Player Talk – The functions of communication in multi-player Role Playing Games – Players and Media. In ACM Computers in Entertainment (ACM Publishers), vol. 6, issue 3, 40 pp. (October 2008). DOI: 10.1145/1461999.1462008 PDF (post-print).

Tychsen, A. & Heide Smith, J.: Game format effects on communication in multi-player games. In proceedings of FUTURE PLAY 2008 (Toronto, Canada), ACM publishers, 113-120. DOI: 10.1145/1496984.1497003 PDF (pre-print).

Tychsen, A.; Heide Smith, J.; Hitchens, M. & Tosca, S. (2006): Communication in Multi-Player Role Playing Games – The Effect of Medium. In Proceedings of Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE) 2006 Conference (Darmstadt, Germany), Springer Publishers, LNCS vol. 3942, 277-288. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-89454-4_31 PDF (post-print)

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas Heide & Tosca, Susana (2008). Understanding Video Games. New York: Routledge.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2008). Tragedies of the Ludic Commons. Game Studies.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2007). Book Review: Persuasive Games – The Expressive Power of Videogames. Game Research.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2007). Facebook: Vi er blevet hypersociale. Politiken, 18/11-2007.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2007). No Medium is an Island: An essay on the video game and its cultural neighborhood. Game Research (August 2007).

Smith, Jonas Heide (2007). Who Governs the Gamers. In: J. Patrick Williams & Jonas Heide Smith (eds.) (2007). The Players’ Realm: Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. [Book details]

J. Patrick Williams & Jonas Heide Smith (eds.) (2007). The Players’ Realm: Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. [Book details]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2006). Plans and Purposes: How Videogame Goals Shape Player Behaviour. PhD dissertation, Center for Computer Games Research, IT University of Copenhagen.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2006). The games economists play – implications of economic game theory for the study of computer games. Game Studies, vol 6, issue 1.

Tychsen, Anders & Smith, Jonas Heide & Hitchens, Michael & Tosca, Susana (2006). Communication in Multi-Player Role Playing Games – The Effect of Medium. Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). Berlin: Springer Verlag. (If you don’t have Springer access, try this version).

Smith, Jonas Heide (2005). Computerspil skaber vold – ligesom børn kommer med storkene, ikke?. Politiken, 4/9-2005.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2005). The Aesthetics of Antagonism . Paper presented at the Aesthetics of Play conference, Bergen University, Bergen, Norway. October 14-15, 2005.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2005). Rammer for en handling – Computerspillets designhistorie i grove træk. In: Walther, Bo Kampmann & Jessen, Carsten (eds.). Spillets Verden, DPU Press. [Kladde-version]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2005). Agreeing to disagree – pre-game interaction and the issue of community. Paper presented at the Entertainment Computing – ICEC 2005: 4th International Conference, Sanda, Japan, September 19-21, 2005.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2005). The Problem of Other Players – In-game Collaboration as Collective Action. Paper presented at the Changing Views: Worlds in Play conference (DIGRA), Vancouver June.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas Heide (2004). Playing With Fire – How do Computer Games Influence the Player? NORDICOM (see NORDICOM page)

Smith, Jonas Heide (2004). Playing dirty – understanding conflicts in multiplayer games. Paper presented at the 5th annual conference of The Association of Internet Researchers.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2004). Book review: History for Coffee Tables – Van Burnham’s Supercade. Game Research (January 2004).

Smith, Jonas Heide (2004). Does gameplay have politics?. Game Research (April 2004)

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Computerspillet mod nye horisonter. Information (kronik). [Også publiceret på Kommunikationsforum].

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Pli på nettet. Politiken (kronik), 7-2-2003.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Book review: Form trouble – Markus Friedl’s Online Game Interactivity Theory. Game Research.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Forskningsnotat om computerspil og skadelighed. Notat til Medierådet for Børn og Unge. [Svensk version, PDF: Datorspel och skadlighet].

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Kunsten at skabe venlige brugere. COMUNICARE no. 3, september 2003, Center for Kommunikation, Handelshøjskolen i København.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Avatars you can trust – A survey on the issue of trust and communication in MMORPGs. Game Research.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2003). Book review: Bits of Context – The New Media Reader. Game Research.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2002). Bogomtale: From Chance to ChoicePolitologiske Studier, vol. 5, no. 15.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2002). Computer Game Research 101 – A Brief Introduction to the Literature. Game Research. [Japanese version]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2002). The Road not Taken – The How’s and Why’s of Interactive Fiction. Game Research.

Smith, Jonas Heide & Walther, Bo Kampmann (2002). Det er de andre mediers skyld!. SAMSON, juli 2002. [Også bragt på Kommunikationsforum med titlen Counter Strike Strikes Back].

Smith, Jonas Heide (2002). The Architectures of Trust – Supporting Cooperation in the Computer-Supported Community. MA Thesis, Dept. of Film and Media studies, University of Copenhagen.[1.9MB, read introduction here]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2001). Den sociale Maskine – perspektiver på computerunderstøttede fællesskaber. Politologiske Studier, vol. 4, no. 4.

Smith, Jonas Heide (2000). Dragen på loftet – om rammerne for interaktiv fiktion / The Dragon in the Attic. SAMSON, juli 2000.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas Heide (2000). Den digitale Leg – om børn og computerspil Hans Reitzels Forlag, København. [Bogen kan hentes gratis i PDF-format]

Smith, Jonas Heide (2000). Når læseren får magten / The Empowered ReaderSENTURA, no. 8.

Smith. Jonas Heide (2000). Tekst, tegn og 3D-shootereSAMSON, april 2000.

Smith. Jonas Heide (2000). Klik her for at fortsætteInquirer, marts 2000.

Smith. Jonas Heide (1999). Mediernes lette tilstandSAMSON, december 1999.

Smith. Jonas Heide (1999). Det glemte Medie / The Forgotten MediumSAMSON, april 1999.

Smith. Jonas Heide (1998). Det teknologiske B-holdSAMSON, august 1998

Various columns for Game Research: – Does Gameplay have politics?Cry FreedomWhat Women WantStories From the Sandbox

Diverse artikler i Dagbladet Information, bl.a.: – Leg for milliarderSku’ det være kunst?Digitale DesigndrømmeComputerspillet der ville være videnskabNettets magthavereDrømmen om de tænkende maskinerVed en fildelers dødTest dig selv: Er du en regnemaskine?Sociobiologi i modvind

Diverse artikler i instituttidsskriftet Inquirer, bl.a.: – Nye medier i ÅrhusMediesociologiske nedslag