[-empyre-] Systems - Videogames of the oppressed / oppressive games

Ana Valdés agora158 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 10 02:42:04 EST 2013

as always Johannes I love your capacity of resume and provoke and put the
right questions!
When I wondered why the game industry is a Western male and middle class
club I was asking the same questions I discussed when I started to review
games in 1988, when we played at Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari.
I remember specially a game called Commando Libya for the Commodore 64,
created by Robert Pfitzner in 1986. It was an awful game where the sole
goal was to chop so many heads as possible of Arabs and to kill Ghadaffi.
It was a typical recruiting game, where the game maker wanted to have the
players to feel Ghadaffi was their enemy. If I remember André Mattelart and
Ariel Dorfmans "How to read the Donald Duck", the idea of the Disney
corporation and of this kind of games is to create the illusion the enemies
of American way of life are your enemies as well.
Many of the mainstream computer games reproduce the victories of the Allies
in the Second War World or Napoleons battles or Rome legions. But I have
never seen a game from the Vietnamese Viet Cong view (they won the war but
they don't make games :( or from the German Blitzkrieg.
I assume the only explanation is the programmers are recruited from MIT
wizards or from other similar institutions and they reproduce the Western
Again, the lack of games made in India or in Bangladesh or in South America
gives the market very homogeneus games where the heroes are definitely
white males.
The Japanese console games don't offer either very much alternatives, their
gods or myths are also taken from a male perspective and the samurai sword
works as well as Excalibur.

On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 7:50 PM, Johannes Birringer <
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> dear all
> very interesting discussion this month, thanks to all of you, and I
> particularly began to ponder  Paolo's postings, and Claudia's, then  Ana's
> replies [i did enjoy Renate's story about the "two cultures"],  as I think
> in the beginning the conversation was perhaps rather more invested in
> discussing games in relation to art or art institutions and art history,
> but with all due respect (i mean to those latter things),  I  don't think
> we have to worry so much about art / museum institutions and whether they
> can manage to appropriate or incorporate or legitimize gaming & game
> culture, or as Isabelle proposes, "create more and more encounters between
> these two worlds" .......   After reading Renate and Ana, my only interest
> really was roused by the political gender critique or the class critique
> implied, and also Ana took us into looking at games from a non western,
> arabic perspective which i think is a very crucial intervention here --
> would love to see more of this, and what other understandings there might
> be of "game" or "play"  or action or rehearsal, or retro-engineering or
> hacking or machinima.... (and what would a 'subaltern' context mean and
> where and how do you use such reference systems to a subaltern if you, at
> the same time  posit a hegemonic global 'protocol').
> I wanted to ask what Paolo meant, more comprehensively, by - "thinking in
> systems", or beyond them,  and how we have to understand the provocative
> reference to Boal's theatre --  and Freire's pedagogy - of the oppressed
>  (via Frasca)?
> and how this connects back to the thesis on total consumption (as game?)..
> I am not a gamer, and do not know the term "gamification" and the
> resonances it might have for all of you here.
> [Paolo schreibt]
> >>
> Everybody is lying to everybody else on multiple levels, intra- and
> extra-corporate.
> But as a whole the advertising system works because it succeeds at
> pervading every corner of the mindscape with the discourse of consumption.
> To me it is not too crucial to find out whether or not you can control
> people through game-like systems. What's more intriguing is that the
> fantasy is out there, strong and loud. Governments and corporations are
> investing lots of money in this idea. Feasible or not, this is the object
> of desire of contemporary capitalism and as such it's worth investigating.
> Is the fantasy of gamification a testament to the decline of money as  the
> general, all-encompassing incentive to regulate human relations?
> Could it be a premonition of the next power paradigm? We went from a
>  disciplinary society (the stick) to a society of control (mass
>  surveillance). Is the society of the incentive (the customized carrot)
> next? Is gamification a tension toward the measurement of the unmeasurable
>  (lifestyle, affects, activism, reputation, self esteem…), being
>  measurement the precondition of commodification?
> >>
> You also then argue: " I find persuasive games an intriguing idea, in
> particular as a way of thinking about how the player/user is constructed" -
> and would you care to suggest how Boal's theatre rehearsals  (with
> workers, I assume, on the street or in the factory or community centers
> etc, what now is the precariat?)
> might be associated with playing a game - do you mean in terms of a
> potential rehearsal (acting out via avatar) an alternate narrative or plot?
> an occopying stratagy?
> how can you, as Boal, following Brecht's Lehrstücke,  would insist, change
> the plot of a game that is designed? how can you change its (variable?)
> predictable endings?  are all games predictable or
> has the indie sector created open games?  again, please forgive my near
> ignorance of what might be possible in a design that is not design (a
> "system of rules" and algorithms, steps to play, levels to go up to?,
> medicine to take, POV's to adhere to?)  but something else (I think Tim
> spoke of the collaborative and the social)
> - social choreographies of undesigning mainstream games and ironically
> gothically steampunking them?  Now i am not even sure whether there can be
> such a thing as a steampunk game... but most likely
> there are?
> How is the player constructed and how, in Boal's rehearsals, can she step
> out or not step in?
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> dap-lab
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


cell Sweden +4670-3213370
cell Uruguay +598-99470758

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with
your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always
long to return.
— Leonardo da Vinci
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20130309/2ac811b3/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list