[-empyre-] Games, histories and preservation

Christian McCrea saccharinmetric at gmail.com
Sun Mar 16 23:58:41 EST 2008


Is there a game we could plausibly design around your trip to the
Computerspiele Museum's storage yard? Sounds like a perfectly
fantastic place. Supposing this thread ties deeply with a number of
others about specificity, relations and materiality. A quick google
reveals that the Polyplay machines have been loaned out to several
touring exhibits  (including Game On - I didn't see it so I'll go
return and play it, in the name of good elist moderation of course.)
It was an amazing read, thanks a lot.

I know I've alredy talked (too much) about Street Fighter 2, but in
terms of city-specific play, the hacked 'rainbow' editions of the game
that made their way from Hong Kong through to America and then down
again to Australia which employed obsessive glitch watching as
gameplay mechanics (games lasting sometimes south of 5 seconds)
introduced me to the idea that games were not about a stable situation
but the illusion of a (locally/globally) accessible other place. On
holidays, at the fish and chip shop, at my friend's bungalow, in my
bedroom, there was this portal to a little arena. The trick wasn't
that the portal led to the same place, but that they linked the
specific sites of my life.

There is also a Melbourne-designed handheld console (DigiBLAST) which
is popular in some parts of Europe. What can be said of the
grotesquely cheap knock-off consoles from China?
Some news posts here - http://www.engadget.com/tag/Vii/ - Does this
also fall under the rubric of local gaming history? There are some
websites which collect artwork from these devices, from South American
cities developing specific console subcultures and a pirate console
capitalising on their size, etc.

>  a personal temporal dimension that is often elided.

Well I am a bit distant from things, being an academic by trade, but
the games research world really struggles to talk about this - the
personal temporal dimension. It shouldn't, it should be the natural
site of knowledge. There is enough writing and enough games art now
that we there isn't a single research vein or art vein. Instead the
ontologies, epistemes, and methodological streams take up the
bandwidth and the great work scurries into darker corners. Maybe thats
true of anything though.

>  How can it be that the 1970s and 1980s – the beginning of the digital
>  age for most people – are considered singularly uninteresting and
>  insignificant by expert panels, funding providers, and (some) cultural
>  institutions? I have been by turns surprised, disappointed and intrigued at
>  the lack of interest shown by a range of institutional and research
>  gatekeepers.

Is it that perhaps the digital age is in some ways a garden of errors?
Machines that competed and lost, had one interesting element and
melted away after two years?

>  There is an urgent need for
>  compelling explanations of the significance of early digital games for
>  moving image culture and its history.

I couldn't agree more - an accounting of the shift from the moving
image to the movable image.

>  I guess I have two reasons for posting these excerpts.  First, I'd
>  like to make the point -- and invite others to discuss this claim --
>  that digital games need to be included in theories and histories of
>  contemporary/recent visuality.  There is some existing work which does
>  this, but there is room for much more.  I should probably note here
>  that I am not persuaded by the arguments that discussing games in
>  terms of non-game media enacts some sort of theoretical violence to
>  games, arguments that were popular til recently in game studies (the
>  so called ludology vs narratology debate).

What was also disturbing about the way that debate developed was that
the naked ambition of those who prosecuted the debate - to set the
terms of reference to the point where 'video game and 'videogame' were
categorical differences - would totally skew analytical debates to
acultural, asocial relations between objects and virtualities.
Interesting work is continually done on games that is outside the
purview of game studies. It seems that if a game machine or console
literally overrides the television signal when it is turned on, it
could be worth asking about the material impact that games have had on
the other texts which the television shows us (some work on this in
the late 90s was interesting.)

For this list, though, I wonder if there is a discussion able to be
had about play in art becoming more or less visible, and on what terms
in reference to technologies of representation?


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