McKenzie Wark, author of the nigh (ironically) impenetrable but maniacally compelling A Hacker Manifesto, applies high theory to come to an understanding of culture through gaming.
The style, tone, and elusiveness of the prose is so spot on that it might be read by others as a satire of Gramsci and the pop culture studies that followed. However, Wark makes a very serious and well-manicured case for his argument.
Rather than theorizing games, as a host of other books do, Wark uses games to theorize and hypothesize about culture – the subject, he suggests, must be understood in terms of the gamer as we negotiate the quests and tasks of life in the age of late capitalism (mind, that’s obscene reduction of Wark’s thesis). Indeed, one alternative is to look at this as a satire of high theory; another is to see this as someone finally getting right what so many tried to do in the mid-nineties (including me) by theorizing hypertext.
Wark’s Gamer Theory is every bit as challenging and abstruse as Lacan or Derrida – and equally rewarding.