This book draws on aesthetic theory, including ideas from the history of painting, music and dance, to offer a fresh perspective on the video game as a popular cultural form. It argues that games like Grand Theft Auto and Elektroplankton are aesthetic objects that appeal to players because they offer an experience of form, as this idea was understood by philosophers like Immanuel Kant and Theodor Adorno. Video games are awkward objects that have defied efforts to categorise them within established academic disciplines and intellectual frameworks. Yet no one can deny their importance in re-configuring contemporary culture and their influence can be seen in contemporary film, television, literature, music, dance and advertising. This book argues that their very awkwardness should form the starting point for a proper analysis of what games are and the reasons for their popularity. This argument is developed through investigation of a series of paradoxes that are present in all instances of gameplay. Gameplay is embodied activity, usually involving detailed work with the hands, yet this aspect is neglected in our thinking about play, which seems to be mainly about screens and visual interfaces. Similarly, game interfaces and packaging are overloaded with story elements, while much of play is repetitious and experienced as meaningless. Rather than viewing these aspects of gameplay as shortcomings of the medium, the book sees them as defining properties of the video game, integral to its appeal. This book will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in the increasingly playful character of contemporary capitalist culture.