Rich connections between gaming and theater stretch back to the
16th and 17th centuries, when England's first commercial theaters
appeared right next door to gaming houses and blood-sport arenas.
In the first book-length exploration of gaming in the early modern
period, Gina Bloom shows that theaters succeeded in London's new
entertainment marketplace largely because watching a play and
playing a game were similar experiences. Audiences did not just see
a play; they were encouraged to play the play, and knowledge of
gaming helped them become better theatergoers. Examining dramas
written for these theaters alongside evidence of analog games
popular then and today, Bloom argues for games as theatrical media
and theater as an interactive gaming technology.
Gaming the Stage also introduces a new archive for game studies:
scenes of onstage gaming, which appear at climactic moments in
dramatic literature. Bloom reveals plays to be systems of
information for theater spectators: games of withholding,
divulging, speculating, and wagering on knowledge. Her book breaks
new ground through examinations of plays such as The Tempest, Arden
of Faversham, A Woman Killed with Kindness, and A Game at Chess;
the histories of familiar games such as cards, backgammon, and
chess; less familiar ones, like Game of the Goose; and even a
mixed-reality theater videogame.