Wednesday, September 7, 2016

good things to read (ostensibly about videogames --but so much more!)

I am suffering from TOO MUCH incoming GOOD STUFF!
Do you ever feel sort of hysterical & overwhelmed because there are so many amazing and interesting things to process?

Here are three articles I'd recommend--they're set in the world of videogames, but they're about soooo much more:
basically, videogames are one of the [many] kinds of STORY-tellers of our age,
I've slowly come to realize--slowly because I simply never even thought about them until this year. 
So, these are about how we go about being human.

I'm including online links; I read the 1st two essays in the book States of Play: Sixteen Voices on Video Game Culture (2015),

which I also recommend even if you have NO interest in videogames: it's some smart folks writing about the forces that create culture in our times.

1. Evan Narcisse’s excellent essay, “The Natural: The Trouble Portraying Blackness in Video Games”

I like this partly because he writes interestingly about race and also because a lot of it is transferable to the issue of representation of women and girls:

“We don’t need the haircuts and poses that communicate a fascination with ‘the Other’––‘Let’s spice up our game with a brown-colored person!’––but ones that reflect an understanding of what it’s like to be a regular black person.”

2.  "Bow Nigger", by "new games journalist" Ian Shanahan, a white gamer whose handle is "always black". [where'd he go?--i can't find anything up to date on him]

His experience playing a hostile gamer made me shiver---it's not about videogames, or even race, it's about power play. 
And it has a very satisfactory end. 

Ah--I see it's listed in the Guardian article "Ten unmissable examples of New Games Journalism", but--darn--that's  from 2005 and most of the links are dead. (I'm putting it here anyway because I want to search for the other articles--"Bow Nigger" for instance, I found reproduces in whole on someone's tumblr.)

3. Tom Bissell's "Video games: the addiction" 
I've already recommended this but am putting it here again---it's about how Bissell, an American, ended up addicted to cocaine and playing Grand Theft Auto (in Estonia, furthermore)... and how it was worth it.

And why is this good?
For me, partly because it helps me enter into an experience that is foreign to me [which is sort of what Bissell says videogames do]---and isn't that what writing is for?

Wait--I contend that writing isn't "for" anything, but that's one of the things it can do, and I like it when it does. 
Like, wow--I just took a trip somewhere very odd to me, and now my familiar world looks different and I am larger inside.

Also, like games and stories should be, these articles are engaging, even thrilling, and just---fun! to enter into. imho

I'll always prefer to read about games than to play them.
As Bissell says in a 2013 interview with the New Yorker:

"Now that I’ve worked on a few games, I’ve grappled with the degree to which games are not really a writer’s medium. Film’s not really a writer’s medium, either. Good writing certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the thing that saves the day.
"I’ve been quietly lobbying for games that are smart and intelligent, even if they’re about blowing lots of shit up. At the same time, though, pure storytelling is never going to be the thing that games do better than anything. 
Games are primarily about a connection between the player, the game world, and the central mechanic of the game. They’re about creating a space for the player to engage with that mechanic and have the world react in a way that feels interesting and absorbing but also creates a sense of agency."
That--a sense of agency--is just not the main thing that turns my crank. Mostly, I'd rather think about it... 

Though I've gotta say, this does look fun:

[laughs, and signs off]


bink said...

I'm very glad the Bow Nigger guy won!

Fresca said...

Yes! I wonder if he'd have written about it if he'd lost...

Unknown said...

Would it have mattered if I did?