There's a good deal to like in Imaginary Games. While it begins by highlighting Roger Ebert's claim that `games can never be art,' thankfully it mostly avoids a hackneyed defence of games as art. It considers what games share with art, but blessedly does not try to collapse one into the other.
Most interestingly, for me, is Chris Bateman's suggestion that both games and art must be understood as representational, even in their most abstract examples. Bateman highlights Noughts and Crosses as an extreme example, the hash mark grid of which he feels `can be seen as a prop prescribing that the players imagine nine positions.' This, like much in Imaginary Games, very much rests upon Kendall Walton's prop theory - but Walton's ideas are mostly used here subtly and intelligently. It might seem a stretch to call a game of Noughts and Crosses an imaginative experience, but Bateman makes his case well and derives thought-provoking conclusions from it.
Throughout Imaginary Games, Bateman's voice is authoritative, yet playful. Anecdotes from the author's life sit alongside more serious theorizing. Bateman, I think, recognizes that to write successfully about games, there must be room in the text to reproduce the fun which lies behind most play. In both content and style, then, Imaginary Games offers a fine example for other works in this developing field.