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Posted by thomasnash

The thing I found a bit strange about the article was making any reference to "Game Theory" or the possibility of a theory enmeshed entirely in "games." I think I sort of see where the people establishing the prize are coming from, because what most bloggers and critics (seem to me) to do is only on the level of applying external theoretical principles to examine games as cultural artifacts. It's not a totally invalid form, I suppose, but it will never help elevate games as a "serious" art form in the way that these writers seem to expect, it's a "cultural conversation" with an in built heirarchy.

What they get, whether this was what they wanted or not, is a writer who does exactly what "theorists" of games ought to be doing, which is to try and see what their experience of the medium shows them about games, what the immanent qualities of games might be. I would compare it most, I think, to Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, where he examines his own reactions to photographs to try and divine something about "the essence" of photography (as a sidebar, anyone who is saying that we shouldn't listen to people not entrenched within the world of videogames, or anything they discuss, or that they have no right to speak, should read some Barthes). I think in a way this comparison is why I didn't think that her references to prejudices or beliefs about games going in were evidence that she couldn't speak about games because of bias. I think by acknowledging the bias (which, incidentally she was acknowledging as experience from afar, so as to contrast with actual direct experience) she is just acknowledging that the immanent features of a form attach themselves to the character of the person experiencing them.

So yeah, that's kind of what I thought she was trying to do, in part. And I think it's a valid direction. I do have to agree with everyone who has said that she needed to put more effort into it though. The kind of examination that Barthes produces requires a dedication to seeing it through that she didn't have. But then again, it is very different writing a book while in an academic position, to writing an article to a deadline for the FT, so...

Edited by CrossTheAtlantic

@thomasnash: You Barthes comparison is spot on.

I took the follow-up to not necessarily be a campaigning for making single games to a wider-audience. Rather, by making various games for different audiences we can begin to incorporate a wider range of people in the conversation about what video games can be. Further, whether we ask for it or not, "video game" is a successful, expansive and influential medium and, as such, is going to be increasingly subject to a range of critiques. We have to move away from the critique mindset of being good or bad and recognize that as with film, literature, music, etc you can have the feminist, marxist, post-structuralist, whatever critiques of a work that exist separate from the work itself. Just because someone is talking critically about something doesn't inherently make it an attack, and I feel like, as gamers, we have a natural reaction to buck against that for a few different reasons--whether a sense of inclusiveness or protection. What I think Mattie Brice is ultimately getting at is that gamers should be more open to the conversation if not the specific points: it's going to happen whether we want it to or not.

I'm surprised no one's referenced this great New Yorker article by Nicholson Baker about his first experience with video games as an adult. He even mentions how great the Bombcast is!