[-empyre-] affect, otherness, politics...

rebecca, ana, brody, everybody...

i know i'm awfully slow with my replies - every strand of this discussion
has got me thinking so i've taken some time to muster up what i hope is a
coherent reply. i'm really interested in the way that all of your responses
touch, in different ways, upon the possibility of a 'politics of affect' in

on the one hand, rebecca points out that
> politics only complexify games when ... the game's political ideology
questions that of the player.
... and that a game's political ideology doesn't necessarily have to be
modelled directly on real world politics.

she then goes on to note how our interactivity with the character supports
identification within the gamespace, and that the
>avatarial form of the player becomes an extension of the self, becomes a
mechanism by which we might realise potentials only possible in game worlds,
within game physics.
>I perceive a subject-subject identification, one that hasn¹t occurred with
> on-screen characters in quite the same way in any previous media. The
> immersive power of computer game interactivity, the immediacy ­ and
> resultant proximity to our characters which these qualities provide us with
> is a condition very specific to games. Character customisation, acquired
> skills, biological affect, game society and mythical experiences all
> contribute to the reality of identification with character and
> character-based experience. In-game experiences afford us memories akin in
> potency to their real-life, physical corollaries. These memories shape us.

on the other hand, however, there is the fact that there is a potential for
contradiction within this identificatory loop - rebecca points this out as
well: the point where 'politics initiate a disruption between subject and
potential-Subject.' what i'm interested in is not so much the explicit
politics of the game, but its implicit, structural politics, and the level
at which this shapes player experience.
game physics and the game space itself depend upon mathematical models all
of which have their own embedded politics. virtual space is based around
perspectival models and supports a kind of interactivity that not only
privileges vision, but which positions the player as an objective,
distanced, disembodied, all-seeing eye - the paradigm of the western
patriarchal subject. interestingly (see hubert damisch for more on this),
perspectival space is also structurally bound up with western notions of
linear narrative - i think alan mentioned something about this in an earlier

brody, ana, and kipper are all aware of this and comment on it in different

brody wrote...

> There seems to be
> misconception that shoving topical content into a poorly crafted game
> world with a lack interesting game flow is somehow useful. In the end we
> are left with a mix of poor art and poor engineering that reeks of so
> much 90's media art. I am guilty of this myself. At the same time, I was
> just on "political games" panel with Harvey Smith, one the creators of
> Deus Ex, and he is on the other end of the spectrum. He spoke
> passionately about embedding political metaphor into that popular
> mainstream game. In the end, even though those intentions are surrounded
> by virtuoso game design and solid graphics, it falls flat. Curious, does
> the craft of game play and design actually matter? Is it enough that
> these critical games just exist as alternatives?

ana wrote..

>The differences between to blow an Sherman
> tank or a Israeli tank is only superficial, the interface was almost the
> same interface I see in every war simulation game. My question is, is it
> enough to change the names or the attributes of the enemy to make a game
> "alternative"?

as i understand it, the short answer to this question is 'no', it's not. to
paraphrase brody again, i'm not convinced that virtual media in their
current state (or in their current modes of use) are really designed for a
direct relationship with critical or political content. gamespace and game
physics are not neutral representations of an 'external' reality. they are
extremely powerful ideological tools that shape our performance within the
game, and our relationship to our environment outside the game. i don't
believe that it's possible - nor is it politically expedient - to think of
these two as separate spaces.
in other words, one way to think through the idea of a politics of affect
might be to stop thinking about the game space in isolation from the 'real
space' that surrounds the player. brody mentions the 'internalized and
irresponsible shift between signifying systems and reality' as a motivation
behind some interesting work .... it may also be possible to think about
working this shift in an externalized and politically responsible way. the
real, as massumi puts it, is 'the snowballing process that makes a certainty
of change'.... so rather than working exclusively from 'inside' the game
space and hoping to effect change that way, maybe we need to think about
allowing the player to negotiate the shift between the two in more open and
creative ways.

... which brings me to the eye toy! i love the eye toy: body as interface,
it's all right out there in the open. has anybody done eye toy mods?

got to stop here or i'll never post this

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