I Am Error



Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

David Golumbia


I Am Error is a platform study of the Nintendo Family Computer (or Famicom), a videogame console first released in Japan in July 1983 and later exported to the rest of the world as the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES). The book investigates the underlying computational architecture of the console and its effects on the creative works (e.g. videogames) produced for the platform. I Am Error advances the concept of platform as a shifting configuration of hardware and software that extends even beyond its ‘native’ material construction. The book provides a deep technical understanding of how the platform was programmed and engineered, from code to silicon, including the design decisions that shaped both the expressive capabilities of the machine and the perception of videogames in general. The book also considers the platform beyond the console proper, including cartridges, controllers, peripherals, packaging, marketing, licensing, and play environments. Likewise, it analyzes the NES’s extension and afterlife in emulation and hacking, birthing new genres of creative expression such as ROM hacks and tool-assisted speed runs. I Am Error considers videogames and their platforms to be important objects of cultural expression, alongside cinema, dance, painting, theater and other media. It joins the discussion taking place in similar burgeoning disciplines—code studies, game studies, computational theory—that engage digital media with critical rigor and descriptive depth. But platform studies is not simply a technical discussion—it also keeps a keen eye on the cultural, social, and economic forces that influence videogames. No platform exists in a vacuum: circuits, code, and console alike are shaped by the currents of history, politics, economics, and culture—just as those currents are shaped in kind.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2012