[-empyre-] "alternative, diverse forms of gaming aimed at cultural change" contd

Ken Eklund writerguy at writerguy.com
Wed Mar 20 04:01:00 EST 2013

Nicky Donald wrote:

"the scent of the game maker's world view"

This sounds like Alexander Galloway's "allegorithm" and I agree that if there is no play in the moral framework of the game,  there is no possibility of change in the behaviour/weltanschauung of the user.

/Ken nods

My fiancee spots this frequently, saying:

"Gandhi just declared war on me for no reason" (Civ)

"In space,  everyone is just horrible" (Spore)

"Why do people have to ruin these games by making everyone fight you all the time"

/Ken nods much more

Can we distinguish between the underlying conservatism of the authors, the publishers or the genre? Doesn't the same thing happen in ARGs?

/Ken says: Can we distinguish?-- Yes. A game is a system, and you can identify systemic approaches and differentiate them from the occasional blind spots / laziness. A game is also a platform, and you can identify things that "the platform just doesn't do (well)." More to the point, though, you can mod.

/Ken says: Does the same thing happen in ARGs? Not usually. A few reasons come to mind: one, ARGs are not "rules-driven." One of the play elements of ARGs is discovering if in fact there are rules. Two, because of the way they play, ARGs generally set goals but are agnostic about the paths to reach them. If the goal is objectionable, players won't do it. Three, people play ARGs as themselves, often in person, and they play collectively. They set up outside forums where they analyze the game in detail. And they will turn on games that they see as having veered into manipulation. 

I'm interested in the contrast between  single-issue political games and Coney's work, where the play in the moral framework drives the game. 

/Ken nods and says: Single-issue political games often are the poster children for the "The thing (most) games speak loudly about is their creators" axiom. The creators are interested in the issue as a single issue, whereas few if any players are.

/Ken continues: Coney (the agency of play and adventure in London) is an excellent reference point to bring forward! Tassos Stevens and Annette Mees are my great friends. Annette and I did a game together as an art commission for the Zer01 digital arts festival in California, called ZOROP (zorop.org). It was a alternate reality / performative art mashup about connecting strangers and its effect on world peace. 

/Ken mentions: By the way, I will be in London late April / early May, and Coney and I are plotting a play day there on May 4. It will have a cadre of players that will engage remotely from anywhere, as that is one of the things we are exploring with it, so let me know if you soft-skinned people are interested in participating. And if you are in London (or Bristol, or Dublin, or Boston, or NY, or the Bay Area) maybe we should meet.

Sent from puppy training purgatory

/Ken likes Nicky and her fiancee

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