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Across Worlds and Bodies

Started by droqen, March 20, 2023, 03:07:15 PM

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Quote. . . players effortlessly draw together in the same sentence thumb sticks, virtual characters and environments, living rooms, fingers, laser rifles, loading screens, save points, and the end of the world. . . . to understand what is actually happening in a moment of videogame play the critic must attend to both what the player is consciously aware of, and what the player is doing their best to ignore.

Keogh begins by describing a stance which reminds me of Miguel Sicart's self-described "advocating, finally, for a player-centric approach to the design of games" -- that a game, the important aspect of a game, is found in the play. That is, in a critical sense, the game is the play.

Quote. . . there is a need for a body of scholarly videogame criticism that . . . would . . . analyse [videogames] in how they come together during play to be embodied by and incorporated with the player.


Quote[Galloway] explicitly suggests what is implicit in much scholarly work around videogames: Videogames are exceptional, and the videogames we currently have are held back in their ties to 'old' media.

Ouch, so close to the HEART. Yeah, I feel this, this old bad perspective I once held. There's another quote which more subtly grazes the same point but in an even more toxic way:

Quote from: Atkins and Kryzwinska, 2007, p. 2
the maelstrom of potential
Quote. . . that siren call that has [gamers] waiting eagerly for the 'better' designed videogames that 'better' technology will allow us to have 'one day'.

This privileging of videogames as special because of its disconnection from other, older, outside forces is almost too easy to connect to the cyberfetishism at work behind some corners of the crypto and NFT worlds-- that familiar excitement of that which stands not only new but alone, unbounded, freed from the real and all the burdens of reality.



A great deal of this feels rather obvious now, but I can appreciate that it is not obvious to each person (today or certainly in the past) and it is valuable to be reminded, now, of these past perspectives which though to me seem so coated with dust as to be invisible still existed and almost certainly persist, somewhere, to this day.


QuoteThe values of a 'pure uniqueness of videogames' embedded in the ability to act freely parallels with a certain, liberal conceptualisation of being human that, as Hayles (1999) notes, "applied, at best, to the fraction of humanity who had the wealth, power, and leisure to conceptualize themselves as autonomous beings exercising their will through individual agency and choice" (p. 286).

Yes, I can relate to all of this, though I don't agree with certain aspects necessarily. Wealth, power, and leisure. There is something else there, a more necessary ingredient. Videogames are not traditionally the domain of the "wealthy" and "powerful". Keogh goes on to the topic of 'casual' games and those 'produced by and reflective of marginalized identities'.


Why would the wealthy, powerful, and leisureful seek to escape? A measure of alienation, of distance, of powerlessness must be there, at the root of that pursuit of the digital, the virtual, the false ability to 'act freely' or conceptualize oneself as 'autonomous' and capable of 'exercising [one's] will through individual agency and choice'.

EDIT:: My friend Zeigfreid writes to me,
Quote from: ZeigfreidYou go on to say "but why would rich people need videogames" but I think that's not what he means.
. . . videogames express the identity of the wealthy because they seek to reproduce a conceptualization of freedom that parallels, essentially, the effects of wealth.
Which of course makes a great deal of sense. Keogh isn't saying videogames are tools to be applied to this particular "fraction of humanity" which I will from here on (inaccurately) call "the rich," but tools which objectify or idealize "the rich" for the sake of consumption by...

Oh, haha, I can not believe I stumbled into this one completely by accident:

Videogames satisfy the fantasy of wanting to EAT THE RICH.


A conceptualism of reality held by those with sufficient 'wealth, power, and leisure' and then passed down perhaps to a next generation with little enough 'wealth, power, and leisure' to satisfy the demands of that reality for real.


This next part could be titled, 'Against Immersion', to some accurate effect.

I'm in an airport, mildly sleep deprived, uncomfortable. My ability to think clearly, to describe surgically, is surely dampened. Something else will take its place. I continue to read, but take note, B. Keogh suggests the dream of immersion is damaging to art for reasons already explored and devastated by Sontag decades earlier; my half or one quarter awake summation of this all is immersion seeks to erase . . . . the production of art, in favour of the image of art . . . . something about AI art belongs here perhaps, the issue is not the formal nature of AI (is it ever?) but the image-obsessed paradigm to which AI art belongs . . .

I should keep reading.


Keogh writes "the videogame critic must hold onto both form and content, balancing both the actual and virtual . . ." and I think how complicated, why not more simply claim the critic must hold onto everything? If it is real, if it can even be considered or thought, then it is the critic's, the artist's, work to balance it. Remember perfection.


~ Against Interpretation

~ PERFECTION (what?? there's no link for this? perhaps perfection deserves a synapse...)


QuotePostphenomenology (Ihde) explores not how human subjects change their world through technology, but how humans, their worlds, and technologies are all necessary and active parts of each other.

I find my way to this idea through WHOLENESS, oneness, singleness, entire-system-ness. ~ Thinking in Systems


It is a very simple idea and a very stupid idea. Everything exists, even overlapping and contradictory things. This comes back to Christopher Alexander's CENTERS and of course when my mind is like this, it is not like my other mind, my mind when it is ready to lump and categorize and record and whatnot. Right now the mind goes where it goes, and I follow. Everything exists.


lists, lists, fucking lists. that's what was bothering me, in my very first quote. here are some lists.

Quotethumb sticks, virtual characters and environments, living rooms, fingers, laser rifles, loading screens, save points, and the end of the world

Quotesemiotics, actions, and systems

Quoteactual, material, cultural, and formal

Quotethe player's proprioceptive awareness of . . .
   the videogame's material form
      (controllers, screens, rumble motors, etc.),
   the audiovisual signs
      (characters, a projected world, music, menus, etc.), and
   the various interrelations between all three

Lists within lists within lists. My experience of reading this is akin to wading through a trashheap; these examples are not wielded with beautiful precision but tossed haphazardly this way and that. I have no notion that the examples 'rumble motors' or 'save points' are really meant to evoke any thing in particular in me, only that they are videogame things to be added to the fire.

Without faith in these lesser lists what faith can I have in those greater ones? I am tempted to say I am nitpicking style however this piece is an explicit advocate for the position that form should not be ignored in favour of some 'content', and this is a position I agree with, so I will carry on in this way.

~ Lists


Wading through a trashheap is alright, but walking through a complex and densely layered place is Better. No wonder the interest I have in poetry.


It is a thick and stuplime enumeration of all the things that add up to the whole-which-must-be-considered. It leaves me sluggish (Or maybe that's the airport sleepiness talking, but I don't think so).


With the spirit of perceiving the wholeness I refuse in principle the validity of a statement assigning my sluggishness to either the thickness or the airport. All are facets of the same jewel of present experience.