[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre: GAMES AND REPRESENTATION

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Sun Apr 12 06:22:56 AEST 2015

Being somewhat an outsider, perhaps I am misunderstanding the issue; but it
seems to me one of the crucial facts in a game is that it is participatory.
In other words, it reflects as much the the character ("Individuality") of
the participant as of its designer. Does this fact enter the conversation?
For instance, it may put some brakes to what is mentioned as the narcissism
of certain games. Of course, this narcissism is reinforced if the game
draws only a very defined kind of participant with a narrow profile.


On Sat, Apr 11, 2015 at 12:52 PM, Jen Malkowski <malkowjc at miamioh.edu>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I’m interested in talking more about the provocation from Ian Bogost,
> “Video Games Are Better without Characters,” that TreaAndrea brings
> up. As she notes, “Bogost argues that games (like simulation games)
> that emphasize complex systems instead of dialogue, characters, and
> identities better prepare us to analyze the changing social and
> economic times.”
> There’s a lot in the piece that participants in this conversation
> would likely criticize—especially Bogost’s aggressive caricaturing of
> an investment in identity as a form of myopic, selfish, and
> individualist narcissism (an old refrain, to be sure). But trying to
> read it in a more generative way, I wondered about how we might
> conceive of identity itself as a “complex system” that could be or has
> been translated into game mechanics. In other words, when we think
> more broadly about games, identity, and representation than only
> advocating for more diverse characters in games (and it’s clear to me
> that many of us are already thinking in that broad way in our work),
> what games come to mind that represent identity itself as a complex
> system, beyond simply featuring diverse characters? Or what games
> could be made that would do so?
> One example I sometimes teach that I think does this kind of work is
> Anna Anthropy’s dys4ia (http://wizardofvore.itch.io/dys4ia), “a
> journal game about the six months of my life when I made the decision
> to begin hormone replacement therapy.” In one way, dys4ia, “a journal
> game,” is deeply individualistic, as it chronicles one person’s
> identity-centric experience. But in another way, it repeatedly and
> overtly represents the social and medical systems that shape
> individual experiences of gender identity (and not only for trans*
> people). The game itself, though, is short and simple in its
> mechanics, so I'd love to think of games that translate the complexity
> of systems of identity into complex game mechanics, as well.
> What games do you folks think succeed or fail at representing identity
> as a complex system?
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