Train is part three of Brenda Brathwaite’s “The Mechanic is the Message” project.40 It is a game about one of modern history’s most traumatic events, meant to teach through interaction rather than narrative. Train is a work of fevered inspiration, declared a work of Torah by a respected rabbi.41 It is undeniably the work of an artist, though it is unclear exactly what the term means in an era when many consider the very concept of art to be dead. Brathwaite brings Train with her around the country, like a circuit preacher, carrying the precious cargo in her transport of choice: a German sports car. Clad in leather and one of her many pairs of fabulous shoes, she summons the work into a space and then walks away as people begin to play it.

Presenting at an academic conference on the art history of games, Brathwaite stood before a crowd of jaded intellectuals and stated, “I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit.”42 It’s difficult to separate Train from Brathwaite’s charismatic persona. This means that judgments of the game almost always collapse into judgments of Brathwaite herself. People take Train personally. Either they instantly see how the game works and why it’s so effective for them, or they question the depth of its design and intent, or they lash out in disbelief at Brathwaite’s nerve and poor taste: “She made a game about the Holocaust?” Or is it “out of the Holocaust?”

Of course, many people make these same judgments about Train and its creator, positive and negative, without even playing it. Discourse around the game is fragmentary to say the least. In order to avoid retreading old ground and the common pitfalls plaguing many articles on Train, I’d like to begin with a question that I haven’t seen asked before: “Why trains?” If the purpose of the game is to remind us of the brutality of the Holocaust, or to make us think about it in a way that we haven’t before, why would this one aspect be singled out? Although we can point to a few examples of games that focus on the development and traversal of railway, the answer, I think, lies in the wider tradition of tabletop train play outside the history of formal game design.

Many children desire at some point to be a train conductor or engineer, in much the same way that they go through periods of wanting to be a fireman, an astronaut, or even a garbage collector.43 The vehicles coupled to these professions wear their functions on their sleeves, so it’s easy for children to comprehend their purposes and aspire to controlling them. This impulse is actively marketed to, so there are miniature trains for every age range imaginable—from a child’s first wooden Brio set to the intricate models of adult hobbyists. Typically arranged in a loop and surrounded by miniatures of small town civilization, toy and model trains don’t “go” anywhere. They’re based on a nostalgic picture of how local rail works, a larger than life, sexy contrast to the contemporary reality of subway systems.

Most importantly, train sets create a spatial form of storytelling: passengers go in the carriages, the engineer in the engine, and the cargo in the freight cars. Ask any child about the trains they’re playing with, and they’ll be able to describe, in detail, the daily life of the town ands its people that surround the track. And when Brathwaite was testing Train to make sure that its mechanics made for enjoyable play without its infamous reveal moment, she told her daughters that the train was headed to Disney World.44 It is our failure to remember this storytelling function of train sets that Train exploits.

Adult train play is more about the machine than about the people who ride it. When I was younger, my father and I volunteered to run a model train competition at a local train show. This competition—a sort of logistics race—focused solely on the procedural aspects of train operation. Three players were tasked with linking a series of freight cars to an engine they controlled. This required driving the engine forward, switching a junction, and then reversing slowly to catch a latch between the engine and the target freight car. Once three freight cars were attached in the proper sequence, the players proceeded to the end of a linear course, stopping only to reconnect cars if they became detached.

As one can expect, nobody asked where the trains were headed or what they were carrying. The freight and the track’s terminus had nothing to do with the task at hand.

Train as game

Looking at Train, any game designer or convinced ludologist probably asks at some point: “Is Train a good game? Why would I play it instead of any other game about trains?”

Anyone with an iDevice need not travel across the country to play a well-designed railroad game. Trainyard, a puzzle game by Mark Rix, performed remarkably well in the iDevice App Store in late 2010, even in the face of overwhelming competition from the far more popular genre of simple physics games.45 Players trace tracks into existence with their fingers, connecting starting hubs to endpoints while avoiding collisions. The game layers obstacles and mechanics steadily, requiring players to navigate around rocks or combine two trains of different color before they can enter an endpoint. Mid-level play requires a basic understanding of track switching, and the game affords easy track erasing and editing for fluid testing and execution. Like the model train competition mentioned above, Trainyard has no fiction, though each puzzle does bear the name of a city.

We don’t even need to look outside the tabletop to find other examples. Ticket to Ride, a German-style boardgame designed by Alan Moon in 2004, tasks competing players with connecting real-world cities by claiming routes along a network of predetermined, color-coded tracks.46 The game is remarkably minimalist, allowing players to take only one of three actions per turn: draw two color-coded train cars, choose (at least one of three randomly-drawn) destination cards linking one city to another, or claim one section of track. Strategy here is a combination of cost-benefit analysis—measuring one’s ability to connect two locations and claim destination points against the likelihood of failing to do so (and thus losing points at the end of the game)—and underhanded sabotage—purposefully claiming tracks that one’s opponents need to complete their own destination cards.

Both of these games focus on the creation of tracks, their destinations predetermined. They make no mention of what the trains are carrying, their common color-coded designs creating challenge rather than denoting anything special about the trains themselves. Trainyard and Ticket to Ride possess a number of qualities we associate with good design: they are mechanically elegant, allowing players to do a lot without having to memorize too many rules; thus they’re easy to pick up, yet difficult to master; and they provide ample amounts of replayability, the former through an exhaustive puzzle list and the latter by way of a large possibility space and optional expansions.

In contrast, Train can be awkward to play. Players have to constantly refer back to the rules, which are sometimes purposefully vague and difficult to read on account of their printing method. And, after playing Train, few players seem to want to come back for a second helping. Even if they desired to replay the game, they’d have to travel to the one place where it’s currently on display to do so. So why was Train quickly canonized as a premiere example of the expressive power of games? What does it have that other railroad games don’t?

There’s an austere beauty to Train’s board, pieces, and instructions: muted browns and steely grays predominate, striking a powerful contrast with the bright yellow of the “people” pieces. The little yellow people are almost weightless, especially compared to the heft of Train’s cardboard action cards. This imbues fragility to the people pieces and gravity to one’s choices. Surrounding the track board are two fetish objects: an antique typewriter, which Brathwaite uses to produce the game’s rulebook, and a broken window pane that the players are encouraged to smash with a hammer at the beginning of the game. Even if players don’t immediately recognize the significance of these objects, they are presented in a straightforward and solemn way that informs how they should be interacted with.

The rules don’t try to explain what Train is “about”; they simply tell players their allowed actions and the order of play. Each of three players controls a train car on its own track, which is staggered against the other two. Each turn, a player takes one of four actions: load her train car, move her car, draw an action card, or play an action card. The actions cards allow a player to accelerate her car, damage a track, repair a track, join her car with another, or derail a train to make it lose half its passengers. Players are told that they get “100,000” for each of the 60 tiny yellow game pieces they bring to the end of a railway. Once a car reaches the end of a track, the player must remove its pieces and place them on a Terminus card. “Train,” the final rule reads, “is over when it ends.”

This ruleset and the tracks are designed for genuine tactical complexity: it is fun to try to stymie the efforts of other players to reach their Terminus, to break their tracks, to pack as many tiny yellow people into the cars as one possibly can. And then the game makes a major reversal once the first Terminus is reached. The Terminus cards reveal to what concentration camp a train car has arrived. Each of the 60 yellow pieces represents 100,000 human lives, totaling the 6 million lost during the Holocaust. This is a snap contextualization, a kind of narrative twist called anagnorisis—realizing that Bruce Willis was a ghost all along in The Sixth Sense or that Oedipus is the son of Jocasta and Laius.47 Players now realize the meaning of the two fetish objects: the typewriter was manufactured for use by the Schutzstaffel (SS), while the broken window was meant to invoke Kristallnacht.

According to Brathwaite, all but a few games of Train have ended once the first Terminus card has been drawn. To those who have not seen or experienced Train, it might seem that the game relies too heavily on this realization for its strength, that “the Holocaust is not a twist ending.” The game’s greatest defense comes from Ian Bogost, who argues that it is a “game of gestures.”48 Players modify their attitude toward the game and its pieces, according to Bogost, once they realize what’s happening. For instance, he observed that a number of players made it a personal rule to always organize the yellow game people into neat little groups after every turn. After the Terminus reveal, this ordering retroactively becomes a signifier of crowd control. A contextualization such as this takes on greater meaning in a game than it could in any other dramatic medium.

Brathwaite does not intercede at any point during the game, and she won’t comment on its meaning. Bogost himself holds that the game “never makes an argument about the Holocaust.”49 Yet surely it simulates something: first the mind of a strategic mass murderer who has mentally converted human beings into numbers, second the sobering process of realization experienced by the German people after the fall of Berlin. This goes far beyond creating a feeling of complicity in the player. Complicity only exists within a specific legal context, and morality is a social construction. In the cultural logic of Nazi rule, players have committed no crime or moral violation. Instead, Train is a game about the banality of evil. It’s about what happens when we accept the rules and instructions handed down to us by a higher authority. Train is a game about playing games.

One under-discussed aspect of the game’s re-contextualization is the meaning of the competition between players. Perhaps the players were Nazi commanders vying against each other for a promotion. Or maybe it’s an indictment of organizational politics in general. What’s clear from all our examples of competitive train-based games is that an agonistic relationship between players leads to less discussion about fictive context. This is something that most “pure” game designers actively desire: why waste time discussing where the trains are going when there are tactics to master and opponents to best?

Jean Lave has argued that task-oriented cognition is better understood as the setting of expectations, or “potential resolution shapes,” rather than the planning of explicit goals.50 In competitive games, goals and expectations are clearly more conflated than they are in everyday cognition. One expects only that, in satisfying the win conditions, one will be duly recognized as the best player of the lot. We don’t expect our in-game actions to signify anything outside the “magic circle” of play, except perhaps producing some small amount of pride for being generally clever enough to have won. Train thus foregrounds the subdued cognitive formation of expectations characteristic of competitive play.

Our hypothetical ludologist or pure game designer may now re-emerge to ask one final question: “Why should I play Train once I already know how it ends?” One measure of a game is not what designers and critics think about it, but what players do with it.

As with any well-designed game, there’s more than one way to play Train. During some play sessions, the players have openly discussed how the game works. Some have used the “derail” card to free as many yellow pieces as possible, interpreting the loss of half the car’s passengers as them escaping from their captors. But this interpretation is messy; we all know what happens when a train derails—people die. For my play session, I devised a different strategy. In the wake of common knowledge about its context, players consciously bear the role of a Nazi officer; therefore, they may revel in their brutality, to see how it feels. Their efforts to be the best at delivering human beings to slaughter emulate the openly competitive nature of a military hierarchy.

But if a player of Train foregoes the two mechanics of loading and moving trains, it frees up a considerable amount of turns for accruing and spending resource cards.51 The pool of cards is limited, so this player will eventually be able to collect every “repair” card within the deck. Once she has done so, she has only got to break each of the three train tracks to end the game in a stalemate (“Train is over when it ends”). If one balances the collection of cards with stalling tactics, it is possible to finish a game of Train without any tiny yellow people reaching a Terminus. The game becomes even more exciting once the players filling the roles of dutiful Nazis realize the strategy: they will begin racing to a Terminus or trying to pull a repair card in an effort to prevent their own failure. Instead of competing against each other for a higher score, the Nazi players cooperate to quash their shared enemy. Train effectively becomes a simulation of wartime resistance.

It is Train’s spatial simplification of the German transportation system that makes this alternate play style possible. The design expresses universality to a series of population displacements that in fact occurred quite distantly (spatially and temporally) from each other. In the dominant reading of the game first discussed, this placement of the tracks next to each other helps simulate the mentality of the Nazi officer who has turned people into numbers and their displacement into a uniform process. But because the entirety of the nation’s rail network is reduced to three contiguous tracks, and because the three Termini exist alongside each other, one is able to bottleneck movement in a way that wouldn’t be feasible during the actual conflict.

Train’s value is best understood not as a laundry list of traditionally desirable features but as an aesthetic experience uniquely rendered by the manipulation of a now-dead rule system. In Newsgames: Journalism at Play, my co-authors and I discern three categories of realism in “documentary games,” or games that recreate historical events.52 The weakest realism is spatial, the reconstruction of a historical space for casual, unguided exploration. The middle ground is operational reality, guiding the player through a historical problem space by the establishment of a specific role and a series of tasks. The most promising category of documentary reality is procedural; it models a historical rule system to expose “the behaviors underlying a situation, rather than merely telling stories of their effects.”53 And it is this truest form of ludic documentary work that Train exemplifies.

Train as art

Many contemporary games raise questions about the relationship between games and art, but few actually help answer these questions. Train comes at a time when many game designers struggle for popular recognition of their work as art, as the building blocks of a new expressive medium. The reasons for this are many, but the primary motivation may come from two fundamental misunderstandings—first, that games lack some form of legitimacy, and second, that artistic merit is the highest measure of cultural value. Games predate humanity, narrative, and art. Nothing so old and integral as play need ask for cultural legitimacy. Nevertheless, attaining the recognized status of art grants one’s work notoriety, increased chances for funding, and a guarantee of archival preservation.

Train has now been played at game industry conferences and academic symposia, in galleries and the Strong Museum of Play. It fits traditional display contexts, with its strong visual rhetoric of the yellow people pieces standing out against the somber tones of the rest of the board. Yet, alongside other recent examples of “gallery games,” its place in these formerly hallowed places becomes problematic. When I played Train at the Kai Lin Art Gallery, alcohol was served. Although those in attendance were expected to drink only a polite amount, things tend to get rowdy when games are involved. A few feet away, crowds were laughing and shouting during a heated game of Sixteen Tons.54 Grinning as he sauntered up to the table bearing Train, one of my soon-to-be opponents made an exclamatory, drunken joke about how we were “gonna kill some Jews.”

It wouldn’t make sense to demand that visitors to a gallery featuring games be completely quiet, serious, and contemplative. Why clip the wings of a form that inspires exuberance, roughhousing, and trashtalking when so few pieces of art are able to muster such behavior? Even the flippant bigotry of my Train opponent has to be accommodated in some way for the spirit of play to remain alive inside art’s white cube. The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga noted that games were set apart as not-seriousness because of their separation from the real world and its concerns, yet also that games were able to inspire absolute seriousness during play.55 One of Train’s strengths is its ability to contrast with the space around in it, in much the same way that it conceptually contrasts with the mainstream game industry. Passersby watch Train in play, a public context that adds to the game’s sense of unease and trepidation.

We can select three broad lenses from aesthetic theory and the philosophy of art to understand why Train succeeds so well as an artgame: the Enlightenment aesthetics of Immanuel Kant, the sociopolitical aesthetics of the Frankfurt School, and the contemporary philosophy of art after Wittgenstein.

In The Critique of Judgment, Kant argues that there are necessary and sufficient conditions, or “rules,” by which we can identify an artifact as belonging to the class of objects we call “artistic.” Yet, these rules cannot be “determinate,” or derived a priori from a rational concept. This presents a problem that, for Kant, can only be solved by a “genius”:

... fine art cannot itself devise the rule by which it is to bring about its product. Since, however, a product can never be called art unless it is preceded by a rule, it must be nature in the subject (and through the attunement of his powers) that gives the rule to art; in other words, fine art is possible only as the product of genius.56

This artist-genius “deriv[es] the rule from the particular” a form of aesthetic judgment called the “reflective” mode.57 Fine art is thus the production of rules outside those of nature, a practice to which game designers can surely relate. Kant’s genius figure is characterized by originality, the ability to create “exemplary” rather than derivative works.

If all of this highfalutin philosophical jargon sounds strangely familiar, this is because it’s an early form of the “auteur theory” that informs most naïve contemporary notions of art. Brathwaite embraces this early modern conception of the artist unironically when she admits that much of her design process occurs within what her friends call the “black box” of her mind.58 Kant himself wrote of this black box as a sine qua non characteristic of the genius, who “does not know how he came by the ideas for [the work]; nor is it in his power to devise such products at his pleasure, or by following a plan.”59 Brathwaite’s possible status as a genius aside, in what ways does Train itself crystallize Kant’s notions of originality and exemplary status?

There is only one physical copy of Train, while even the oldest folk boardgames, Senet and the Royal Game of Ur, were reproduced and played by all social classes. Even one-of-a-kind archeological finds like The Stanway Game were, in all likelihood, not always one-of-a-kind. Both as social practices and economic products, games seek wide audiences. Only in the history of fine art do we see one-copy games like Brathwaite’s, such as the prepared gameboards of the Fluxus movement. Yoko Ono’s All White Chess Set (1966), for example, is a modified game of Chess wherein all the black pieces of the board are switched out for a second white set.60 The game is theoretically playable, but its political message is just as easily communicated through a short conceptual exercise.

Like White Chess, Train works on the level of concept art. In reply to a prospective player who saw Train and openly stated that she didn’t want to play, Brathwaite replied: “you just did.”61 Yet, unlike a concept piece, Train does not end with its concept. The game has been refined for playability. Although all but a few games of Train have ended with the revelation of the first Terminus card, we’ve seen that it’s nevertheless possible to keep playing, or play the game for score, or even set alternative goals for oneself. Train is thus distinct from the Fluxus games in its simultaneous refinement of high concept and actual play, as good an argument for its exemplary status as any.

But are these Enlightenment notions of art relevant today? Train’s existence as an individual, non-reproducible artifact opens it up to further scrutiny by the neo-Marxist political philosophy of the Frankfurt School. In the 1930s, Walter Benjamin described the effects of mass production on the status of art. Historically, so long as works of art remained singular and were stored primarily in museums and estates, they retained an “aura,” or “unique phenomenon of distance.”62 Reproduction diminishes that aura, troubles the notion of originality, and brings a piece of art closer to an idealized “public.” Train retains its aura after the age of mechanical reproduction, during an even more turbulent time for the popular idea of authenticity: the age of digital reproduction.

For Benjamin, this reduction in aura was a good thing: “for the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual.”63 That which retains an aura inspires fear and hatred in the masses but garners critical acclaim, while in a mechanically reproduced medium, such as film, critical and popular receptions align. This holds true for Train: it is critically acclaimed and popularly reviled. Games and ritual have a special relationship with one another: Train and its space of play retain much of the secrecy and separateness that characterize folk games and religious rites alike for Huizinga.64 Perhaps one way that artgames set themselves apart from the rest of the medium is by playing with these notions of aura and ritual.

Of course, all the “The Mechanic is the Message” games share this aura. The reason Train justifies additional concern is that it deals directly with the same political situation that the Frankfurt School was reacting against. The cult of the Fuhrer in Nazy Germany had “aestheticized politics,” while Marxism hoped to politicize art.65 Benjamin reacted favorably to the constructivist art and Soviet montage cinema of the early revolution, but after WWII the political climate changed. From 1949 to 1956, the USSR enforced a state art doctrine known as “socialist realism,” which denied the basic truths of life and labor in the Soviet system. Instead it showed workers a vision of the future that was promised if they remained true to the Party through its many stages of revolution.

Writing later in the Frankfurt tradition, Theodor Adorno’s aesthetic theory was an argument against this twisted form of politicized art. This school of art’s greatest offense, to Adorno, was that its works contained false social content rather than formally reflecting the social conditions of their creation:

Art becomes something social through its in-itself, and it becomes in-itself by means of the social force of production effective in it. The dialectic of the social and of the in-itself of the artwork is the dialectic of its own constitution to the extent that it tolerates nothing interior that does not externalize itself, nothing external that is not the bearer of the inward, the truth content.66

Train proves the sociopolitical value of procedural reality embodied by the “The Mechanic is the Message” series, a dialectic between a player’s actions and the cultural dimensions they take on through simulation—the “proceduralist style” is itself a working argument about the ludic medium’s form. Night and Fog’s long, slow tracks through Auschwitz and Majdanek, required viewing in many middle schools throughout the United States, have somehow distanced us over time from the horrors of the Holocaust.67 Films such as this disconnect the results of the Final Solution from its causes. But people already know to be in the lookout for openly homicidal impulses; Train, on the other hand, has the ability to approximate the hidden, mental source of genocide. It examines the historical period not by indirect reference or mummified audiovisuals but through direct ludic experience and player interaction.

Finally we’re ready to tackle the contemporary situation of art that Train engages. Noel Carroll characterizes much of the mid-20th century philosophy of art as “neo-Wittgensteinian.”68 That is, for a short time, philosophers gave up on trying to provide a definition or set of necessary and sufficient conditions for art. Morris Weitz provided two convincing arguments against the definability of art, the “open concept” and “family resemblance.” The open concept argument claims that art cannot be defined because new artworks are constantly being created, and no definition could ever hope to predict what we might accept as art in the future. The family resemblance argument holds that we cannot identify all the things called “art” by common features; rather, we accept something as art through disconnected “strands of similarities” relevant to each medium.69

Carroll exposes the critical flaw in these arguments when he asks, “What does that have to do with the conditions requisite for the status of artwork?” (emphasis added).70 Perhaps paradoxically, even if art is a dead concept, this doesn’t prevent us from identifying works of art. According to Carroll, in a preliminary version of the argument in “The Artworld,” Arthur Danto held that at least one necessary condition for the artwork is that it be “enfranchised by art theories.”71 Train thus comes at a privileged time, having the chance to help forge the very theories of game art that will allow us to categorize and critique the artgames of the future. None of these theories need break radically with the continuum of art history, so long as they remain mindful of the medium’s defining qualities: procedural rhetoric, configurative play, the donning of roles, and the creation or demarcation of a space.

At the Art History of Games symposium, Brian Schrank and Jay Bolter presented a model for the avant-garde in games, distinguishing between the formal and the political avant-garde in art history.72 The formal avant-garde questions the assumptions of mainstream art, while the political avant-garde confronts the place of art in society. Schrank holds the mods of, an art collective known for deconstructing famous games until they are unrecognizable, as the ideal of formal avant-garde games that work by manipulating the player’s flow state. The political avant-garde in gaming is represented by virtual world griefers and alternate-reality games, which call into question the magic circle that divides the “real” world from the games we play.

Train seems to straddle these two avant-gardes. The game’s “reveal” moment, when the Terminus card is turned over, has been proven over the game’s short life to cause a game-ending shift in flow. If flow is the avoidance of both frustration and boredom, then Train’s reveal pushes the player so deep into frustration as to cause a feeling of futility. On the other hand, Train troubles the notion of the magic circle in a number of ways. Even if we hold that games aren’t inherently ethical systems, we can observe that some residue of historical guilt sneaks into Train’s circle of play. And, although the “The Mechanic is the Message” games stand on their own, we must nevertheless recognize their instrumental value—especially since we know that Brathwaite was inspired to begin the series when she saw that her daughters weren’t receiving a satisfactory historical education at school.73


Charles Pratt, in his short review of Train, concludes that, “Perhaps it’s best to see Train not as a game, but as move in a larger game played between the cultural forces of ‘fine art’ and ‘games.’”74 He seeks to move the discussion beyond a question of whether or not it’s a successful game design. With this piece, I hoped to show that the concepts of fine art and games are in no way mutually exclusive; further, I wanted to find Train’s roots in the histories of unstructured play and formal game design to see how and why it works as a game divorced from its artistic aspirations.

Of course, it is unclear as of yet whether games will find a home in the artworld as members of an existing contemporary art movement, such as Nicolas Bourriaud’s “relational aesthetics,” or whether a new breed of ludic curators will have to gradually prove their worth to buyers and critics alike.75 We also don’t yet know whether the theories of art espoused by curators of games will adhere to or differ greatly from the ludological theories of game studies academics. What’s important to remember is that the many cultural spheres at play here don’t need to completely overlap: the artworld, the academy, and the industry can and should all have their own unique valuations and judgments of game art. This is how it’s always been, yet our current analysis takes place in a strange time when many seem to desire for all three discourses to eventually align.

I’d like to end now with a word of caution.

Train instills fear in me. It works on so many levels, answering so many questions about the potential of games as design and art, that it threatens to dominate any and all discussion of those questions. We must always remember that Train’s methods and goals are not the only methods and goals worthy of our best designers and their work. Not every game needs to command our respect, to make us reflect on history, or to make us cry in order to be worthy of aesthetic appreciation. Games are a mess, “a strew of inconvenient and sometimes repellent things,” and we should strive to keep them that way.76

40 Brenda Brathwaite, Train (Savannah, GA: Self-published, 2009).

41 Brenda Brathwaite, “How I Dumped Electricity and Learned to Love Design,” Game Developer’s Conference,

San Francisco, CA, March 2010.

42 Brenda Brathwaite, “One Falls For Each Of Us: The Prototyping of Tragedy,” Art History of Games Symposium, Atlanta, GA, 6 February 2010.

43 Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology (In press, 2011), 122.

44 Brenda Brathwaite, email to Simon Ferrari, Ian Schreiber, and John Romero, 29 April 2010.

45 Matt Rix, Trainyard (Mississauga, Canada: Self-published, 2010).

46 Alan R. Moon, Ticket to Ride (Paris, France: Days of Wonder, 2004).

47 Malcolm Heath, trans., Poetics by Aristotle (London: Penguin, 1996), 52a, 18-19.

48 Ian Bogost, “Gestures as Meaning,” Gamasutra, 30 June 2009,

49 Bogost, “Gestures as Meaning.”
50 Jean Lave, Cognition in Practice (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 184-185.

51 Simon Ferrari, “The Judgment of Procedural Rhetoric” (Master’s thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010), 9.

52 Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer, Newsgames: Journalism at Play (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2010), 64.

53 Newsgames 64.

54 Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman, Sixteen Tons (Atlanta, GA: Art History of Games Symposium, 2010).

55 Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens (London: Routledge, 2002), 8.

56 Werner S. Pluhar, trans., Critique of Judgment by Immanuel Kant (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), §46, 175.

57 Hannah Arendt and Ronald Beiner, ed., Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 83.

58 Brenda Brathwaite, email to Simon Ferrari, Ian Schreiber, and John Romero, 29 April 2010.

59 Kant, §46, 175.

60 Mary Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009), 112-113.

61 Brathwaite, “How I Dumped Electricity and Learned to Love Design.”

62 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 795.

63 Benjamin 796.

64 Huizinga 77.

65 Benjamin 811.

66 Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 248.

67 Alain Resnais, Nuit et brouillard (Paris, France: Argos Films, 1955).

68 Noel Carroll, “Introduction,” in Theories of Art Today, ed. Noel Carroll (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000), 3.

69 Morris Weitz, “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,” in Contemporary Philosophy of Art: Readings in Analytic Aesthetics, ed. John W. Bender and H. Gene Blocker (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1993), 195, cited in Carroll 8.

70 Carroll 9.

71 Arthur C. Danto, “The Artworld,” Journal of Philosophy 61 (1964): 571-84, cited in Carroll 3.

72 Jay Bolter and Brian Schrank, “Videogames & the Two Avant-Gardes.” Art History of Games Symposium, Atlanta, GA, 5 February 2010.

73 Brathwaite, “One Falls For Each Of Us: The Prototyping of Tragedy.”

74 Charles Pratt, “300 Word Review - Train,” Game Design Advance, 22 April 2010,

75 Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Dijon, France: Les presses du reel, 2002).

76 Ian Bogost, “Videogames are a Mess,” Keynote, Digital Games Research Association conference, Uxbridge, UK, September 2-5, 2009.