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

Claudia Pederson ccp9 at cornell.edu
Thu Mar 7 07:17:42 EST 2013


Krosrods, if you are interested in videogame interventions that speak to
border issues I would suggest Mark Tribe's online exhibition Tijuana
Calling 2005: http://www.marktribe.net/curating/tijuana-calling/
Corridos (discussed by Rita Riley in her book Tactical Media) was actually
the impetus for Luis Hernandez's woes with border police as he was coming
into Boulder I believe with the maps and pictures for the completion of the
project. He was arrested on suspicion of narcotraffic (the agents refused
to believe that the materials were for an art project, assuming instead
that they provided a map of tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico). In any
case Hernandez was under threat of being banned from entering the U.S. for
10 years (He and Anne Marie Scheiner, his partner and collaborator now live
in Singapore).

There are other games like these, such as America Tropical, an homage to
David Alfaro Siqueiros's mural of the same name in LA:
http://www.tropicalamerica.com/
These games are very much in the tradition of the theater of the oppressed
as well.

I am just back from a talk on videogame interventions at Haverford, where I
spoke about game interventions online like forms of nomadism (as advanced
by Hakim Bey, and Deleuze and Guattari). The questions were, what is next?
what frameworks are of relevance to the development of videogames with a
activist agenda beyond the "public sphere"? how does the anti-industry
stance of videogame activists intersect with other movements in the awake
of Occupy and the Arab Spring? (I am posing this question to all
discussants)

On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 11:52 PM, Krosrods Moarquech
<moarquech at yahoo.com.mx>wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Luis Hernández <http://www.ungravity.org/corridos> (México)
> Corridos
> http://www.ungravity.org/corridos/
>
> Corridos the game has two neighborhoods semi-factually based on two nearby
> neighboorhoods on the us mexican frontier; a section of downtown tijuana
> and an adjacent mall in us san ysidro.  The neighborhoods were modeled by
> looking at maps and taking photos.
>
> Rafael Fajardo
> Director, SWEAT collaborative
>  Projects: Crosser
> *Crosser* is a product of SWEAT<http://www.rafaelfajardo.com/projects/sweat.html>my videogame collaborative. In it I introduce the character of Carlos
> Moreno.
>  The arcade classic, *Frogger*, was taken as source material for
> simulating cultural realities at the US-Mexico border, specifically at El
> Paso-Ciudad Juarez. I attempted to create a multi-level critique through
> the piece, of culture, of games, and of technology.
> Crosser <http://www.sudor.net/games/crosser_lamigra/crosser.html>
> 2000
> videogame created in Apple abandonware entitled Cocoa,
> ported to Stagecast Creator in 2002,
> requires Stagecast Player <http://www.stagecast.com/> and Java be
> installed prior to play
>
>   ------------------------------
> *De:* Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com>
> *Para:* paolo - molleindustria <paolo at molleindustria.it>
> *CC:* soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> *Enviado:* Lunes, 4 de marzo, 2013 19:29:06
> *Asunto:* Re: [-empyre-] Videogames of the oppressed / oppressive games
>
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Paolo it was my bad spelling! It was Afkar the one I ment and the games
> were the ones you describe, Under Siege and Under Ash. I read the interview
> some years ago, my friend Flavio from Ars Games sent it to me. I was sad I
> missed to listen to him and I was not able to find him when I was in
> Damascus, twice in the same year, to work with Palestinian girls from
> refugee camps making a workshop about games.
> I asked them if anyone of them played these games, Under Ash and Under
> Siege, but none of them knew about them. The games were played by boys in
> arcade halls where girls were not welcome.
> That's still something I think we lack in all games I played or reviewed.
> If you are a girl from the Middle East or from Africa or from Indigenous
> South America or from India or Bangladesh or from Turkey, Iran, Greece, or
> rural Italy, the Basilicata from where my Italian grandfathers emigrated,
> which are your role models, your icons, your examples to follow.
> I read again the other day the wonderful book "Reading Lolita in Teheran".
> It was again a déjà by feeling, we are still making games after Western
> parameters and we have very much to do if we are going to achieve what
> Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal wanted, have the oppressed to be main
> characters in their own stories. Or with the words of one of the
> philosophers and writers I admire most, Gayatri Spivak, "let the subaltern
> speak".
> You, as Italian, must be familiar with Gramscis concept of subalternity. I
> think we need more Gramsci in our games :)
> Ana
>
> Skickat från min iPhone
>
> 4 mar 2013 kl. 21:16 skrev paolo - molleindustria <paolo at molleindustria.it
> >:
>
> >
> > I'm going to condense a couple of answers in one message for the benefit
> of your mailboxes.
> >
> >
> > On 3/3/13 11:49 AM, Ana Valdés wrote:
> >> I has been in Palestine several times and played with kids games done
> in the Middle East by Assad Media, a Syrian video games company. They did a
> game called Freedom Fighter, where the main character must destroy an
> Israeli Merkava tank and free the Al Aqksa mosque. It was exact the same
> kind of game the American army launch to recruit kids in the army, the
> difference was only the symbols.
> >
> > If you are referring to Afkar Media's games Under Ash and Under Siege, I
> agree that their treatment of conflicts is strikingly similar to that of
> the Western FPS from which they are derived. To me this is a further proof
> that we need to imagine new gameplays to express new instances.
> > However, while Western military shooters tend to be straightforward gun
> porn, those two titles at least try to qualify the violence and framing
> them within real events. Beyond the surface they have rather unique
> features you won't find in titles like America's Army. For example the
> playable heroes in Under Siege who decide to resort to violence are
> eventually killed.
> > I had the luck to meet Radwan Kasmiya, the director of Afkar Media, in
> Spain. I found him extremely thoughtful and articulate, unlike any AAA
> developers of shooters from the US. You can read an interview here:
> > http://www.digitalislam.eu/article.do?articleId=1418
> >
> > I am glad these games exists because they provided us with a important
> mirrored image of our violent games. I'm also glad his new company is now
> focusing on games in Arabic for a very specific Middle East audience,
> staying away from idiotic controversies.
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3/4/13 9:52 AM, Robert Nideffer wrote:
> >> In '04 we did a follow-up at the Beall called "ALT-CTRL" on a much
> lower budget, but which was equally fun and interesting, perhaps even more
> so
> >
> > Oh yes, I remember. That was the first time one of my games was
> exhibited in a gallery space, something I had not predicted. I think I'm
> going to start a thread later this week about games in the white cube.
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3/4/13 12:17 PM, Claudia Pederson wrote:
> >> As Paolo points out this approach is in development. Perhaps you could
> speak more about the case of cowclicker, a game that you worked on with
> Bogost.
> >> http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/12/ff_cowclicker/.
> >
> > I did not work on Cowclicker, only on "Cowclicktivism" a short lived
> experiment in "Cowclickification" which was one of the various offshoots of
> that project. Anyway, Cow Clicker is a great example of procedural satire,
> using games to talk about games. The irony is that the project was
> successful because it generated great discussions and great features like
> the Wired profile you linked. The story of this respected scholar enslaved
> by his own joke-game, forced to confront his noisy, idiotic players was
> much more appealing than the game itself. It's a form of media
> intervention. Not unlike my Phone Story, which, as a game, was not great
> nor sophisticated, but the act of sticking it into the App store and
> getting banned from it become more important than the product itself.
> >
> > Apparently a decent amount of people actually got addicted to Cow
> Clicker, but the extent of the phenomenon didn't really matter. Among
> activist/pranksters circles we use a fancy word "mythopoesis", to refer to
> the conscious act of myth creation. It's kind of like lying to the media
> knowing that media always lie.
> > As the poet once said: "In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the
> /true is a moment/ of the /false/."
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3/4/13 9:23 AM, Renate Ferro wrote:
> >> Many of our subscribers are not gamers but new media artists,
> >> programmers, and curators. My question is (and my apologies if this is
> >> naive) but how much do you think the platform, that is the coding and
> >> programming structure and the scale of games has to do with your
> >> understanding for the necessity of the aesthetic of less abstraction
> >> as you describe it.  Games especially successful ones seem to  have a
> >> common aesthetic or at least those that I am aware of.  Any thoughts
> >> about that? I refer here to the look not the content here....
> >> Thanks. Renate
> >
> > It's true, big budget games (aka AAA games) are rarely abstract. Since
> the mid '90s there have been a tension toward more polygons, more
> definition, more details.
> > Videogames are both drivers and victims Moore's law. In the personal
> computer market, games are historically the main reason people upgrade
> their machines. In the console market the hardware/software relationship is
> even tighter: games *have* to justify the cycles of planned obsolescence.
> It would be very hard to get the approval for a playstation 4 game that
> looks like it's from the playstation 2 era.
> > It's also a cultural thing on the consumer side: gamers do like that
> kind of hyperrealist puppet theater that make many of us cringe. It makes
> them feel like their money is well spent. Fortunately this aesthetic is
> changing - or at least differentiating. Independent game makers, out of
> necessity or nostalgia, are proposing new-retro styles: low-resolution and
> low-poly visuals are becoming somewhat edgy and appealing for the mass
> market. Minecraft is an obvious example.
> >
> > Anyway, when talking about the abstraction-realism continuum, I wasn't
> referring to the photorealistic surface but more to the distance from
> real-world scenarios (sort of equivalent to the blurred line between
> fiction and non fiction in literature and cinema) and to the fidelity of
> the model to the simulated bit of reality, which as I said before is a
> slippery issue.
> > Alex Galloway once made a very useful distinction between Realistic-ness
> and Social Realism. I don't have too much to add to this great essay:
> > http://www.gamestudies.org/0401/galloway/
> >
> >
> >
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