Platform Studies
a book series from The MIT Press
Ian Bogost & Nick Montfort, series editors

Possible subjects for the Platform Studies series include chipsets and hardware; general-purpose computers and their operating systems; specialized microcomputers, such as videogame consoles; programming languages; and software and programming environments. The following platforms suggest examples for books in the series. These are only suggestions; authors are invited to propose books on any kind of computing system that has supported significant new media work.

1960: PLATO

This system, sometimes said to be named Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations, was an early educational computing system, developed for more than a decade an a half at the University of Illinois. Its TUTOR programming language, developed in 1967 for coding up computer aided instruction modules, allowed for the development of online games as well. These included massively multiplayer games and a flight simulator. PLATO was a platform for an early online community, offering discussion boards and other facilities, and so became an influential digital communications platform as well as a computing platform.

1977: The Atari Video Computer System (Atari 2600)

The Atari VCS (renamed the Atari 2600 in 1982) was the first successful cartridge-based video game console. Its massive library of games includes titles that inspired whole video game genres: Adventure (the graphical adventure); Pitfall (the action-adventure); and River Raid (the vertical scroller). Important elements of the platform include the Atari VCS's 6507 processor, its Television Interface Adapter (TIA), its interchangeable ROM cartridges, and a variety of 8-pin controllers. The system was not the easiest to program and was built for two-player, Pong-like gameplay, but the ingenuity of developers led to genre innovations, arcade ports, and many new directions over the long life of the system.

1990: The Multimedia Personal Computer (MPC)

In 1990 the Multimedia PC Marketing Council published a specification, according to Microsoft, "to encourage the adoption of a standard multimedia computing platform." It defined a system with a 16 MHz 386SX, 30 Mb hard disk, 2 Mb RAM, single-speed CD-ROM, VGA, 3 1/2 inch floppy disk, sound card, mouse, joystick, and Microsoft Windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions. While industry-defined, this type of platform definition was quite different from the production of a proprietary video game console. Many early CD-ROMs, whether for gaming, education, reference, or other purposes, assumed the MPC platform. The MPC definition helped to bring modern-day multimedia to home users.

1995: Java

Java is an object-oriented programming language, C-like in its syntax, and a virtual machine. The Java VM allows code to run independent of particular hardware and operating systems. Java is an intriguing platform on many levels, because it is all-software, because of its course from a proprietary product to a free/open-source code base, and because of its widespread use in business and education contexts as well as creative ones. It has been widely used on the Web for networked and stand-alone games and projects. Processing, a programming language meant to serve as an electronic sketchbook, is a platform for creative production that is built on top of Java.

2006: Wii

The Nintendo system that was code-named "Revolution" offers less raw processing power than other consoles of its generation. It has an innovative interface scheme, however, recalling the way that the stylus-equipped Nintendo DS relates to the Sony PSP. The controllers use accelerometers and radio frequency communication with the console base, allowing for input gestures that imitate in-game action. Among other things, this suggests to developers that they rework standard games being ported to the Wii to make use of this new capability. Interestingly, the Wii's Virtual Console also allows fluid emulation of many earlier platforms.

For more information or
to submit a book proposal...

Contact one of the series editors,
Ian Bogost or Nick Montfort:

In preparing a book proposal, prospective authors should consult the MIT Press submission guidelines.