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Cover for Against Flow

Against Flow

Video Games and the Flowing Subject

Braxton Soderman


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A critical discussion of the experience and theory of flow (as conceptualized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) in video games.

Flow--as conceptualized by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi--describes an experience of "being in the zone," of intense absorption in an activity. It is a central concept in the study of video games, although often applied somewhat uncritically. In Against Flow, Braxton Soderman takes a step back and offers a critical assessment of flow's historical, theoretical, political, and ideological contexts in relation to video games. With close readings of games that implement and represent flow, Soderman not only evaluates the concept of flow in terms of video games but also presents a general critique of flow and its sibling, play.

The MIT Press, 9780262045506, 328pp.

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

About the Author

Braxton Soderman is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies in the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine.