Procedural rhetoric

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Revision as of 16:31, 15 May 2008 by George Altshuler (talk | contribs) (Procedure)

Procedural Rhetoric is a concept developed by Ian Bogost in his book Persuasive Games: The expressive Power of videogames (MIT Press 2007).

In this book, Bogost analyzes the history of rhetoric and argues that videogames are part of a new form of rhetoric since their procedurality involves interaction. He calls this new form of persuasion Procedural Rhetoric, and develops his argument by comparing videogames to the characteristics of computers and by analyzing the influence that videogames can have on politics, advertising and education.

Bogost develops this argument by first analyzing the notion of "procedurality," then the idea of "rhetoric" and then combining the two to form Procedural Rhetoric.


After briefly discussing the negative connotations "procedure" often has, Bogost cites Janet Murray who gives a technical definition for "procedure" within the context of digital artifacts as the "defining ability to execute a series of rule."[1] Bogost restates the this definition as the fundamental activity of software authorship and discusses how the procedure of computers is what "fundamentally separates them from other media."

On a more philosophical level, Bogost discusses how all behavior is underpinned by logic and implies that the procedurality of computers (and thus videogames) is in fact not unique to digital media. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the interactive procedurality of videogames and computer programs is unique these digital media when they are analyzed as cultural artifacts. Overall, Bogost views the procedure of videogames as devices for expressing ideas and forming arguments, he compares them to "metaphors" and other literary devices.


Combining the two: Procedural Rhetoric


  1. Bogost, Ian. Persuasive Games page 4