By Way of a Further Update

> 23 Mar:  Updated links at bottom to improve visibility.

Ready Player One

A reminder that this week, we are venturing into the realm of that most dangerous, most endangered of species, the Gamer.

Readings for this week include a diverse set of what have essentially become “canonical” texts in game studies:

Bartle, Richard A. 1996. “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs.” S/Z 794.

Castronova, Edward. “Virtual Worlds: First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier.” S/Z 814.

Koster, Raph. “Declaring the Rights of Players.” S/Z 788.

NB that while I characterize these as “canonical,” and insofar as they are “about” gamers, they are not at all about gamers as playful, idiosyncratic, self-reflexive subjectivities — Daseinludens. Instead, they are about working to build worlds that are both appealing to most players and, more importantly, are characterized by affordances most likely to “softly determine” player behavior, driving ambiguous identities into slotted, ready-made categories.

None of this is to say, of course, that these authors are advocating games as a means of delimiting personhood: In fact, of the few games scholars with whom I am acquainted, Richard Bartle and Ted Castronova are easily among the most humane. Nevertheless, game studies (the discipline) and game studies (the methodology) both raise their ugly heads here, and suggest that the less we know about human beings, and the more we generalize, the better we’ll appreciate them…

If you have time, and are so inclined, consider checking out:

Nelson, Noah. Hard–Core and Casual Gamers Play in Different Worlds. NPR’s All Tech Considered.

Sell, Jessie. Gamer Identity. on last accessed 12 Feb 2015.

Finally, in the unlikely event that you’ve got optimism to spare for the future of humanity, dip your toe in these fetid waters. (The blog post linked below surely stands as one of the most powerful indictments of the naivete of Kant’s Sapere Aude: Never has so much reason and skepticism yielded such an inhumane conclusion.)

Random blog stupidity.

For next week, we’ll change things up a bit, and tackle some articles that grapple with larger, more abstracted issues.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1992. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” OCTOBER 59, Winter. pp. 3–7. [PDF]

Ito, Mizuko, Matteo Bittanti, et al. “Gaming.” In Hanging Out Messing Around Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. 2010. pp. 195 – 242.  [PDF]

Thomas, Douglas and John Seely Brown. “Learning for a World of Constant Change: Homo Sapiens, Homo Farber & Homo Ludens Revisited.”Paper presented at the 7th Glion Colloquium, University of Southern California. June.  [PDF]

Readings, Update

Because we’re spending longer in this section than I anticipated, I am moving a few things around this afternoon.  The new schedule won’t be too different; it will be posted here on Sunday, 15 Feb.

For the present, though, here is a reminder of the readings for next week, together with links to those readings (as appropriate).

For the time being:

Most Important Readings are indicated by two pluses ++

Readings of Secondary Importance include a single plus +

Optional, but Strongly Suggested Readings, a lonely interrobang ‽

Recall that S/Z is both (1) a clever meta-reference on my part, and (2) indicates a reading in the Salen/Zimmerman collection.  But mostly (1).

Play’s the Thing

‽ Caillois, Roger. 1962. “The Definition of Play: Classification of Games.” S/Z 122.

++ Huizinga, Johan. 1955. “Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon.” Homo Ludens.  S/Z 96.

‽ Steinkuehler, Constance. “The Mangle of Play.”  PDF

+ Sutton-Smith, Brian. 2001. “Play and Ambiguity.”  The Ambiguity of Play. S/Z 296.

Play in a Terrible Time: Dada, the Situationists, Kynikism

+ Debord, Guy and Gil J. Wolman. 1956. “A User’s Guide to Détournement.” Les Lèvres Nues #8 (May). Transl. Ken Knabb. PDF

++ Debord, Guy. 1956. “Theory of the Dérive.” Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November). Transl. Ken Knabb. PDF

Readings for 12 February (Lincoln’s Birthday!)

There are only two things to read for Thursday, the Heraclitus fragments and the last part of Plato’s Republic (in this transl., Book 16, Sections 592b–608b; colloquially referred to as “the Exile of the Poets”).  (You do not need to read the section entitled “The Mobile Eternity of Subjects.”)  We will use these texts to thicken the basis by which we apprehend play — ludus — and its relation to being, becoming, epistemé (knowledge) and techné (know-how).

NB that Badiou’s translation is presented in modern, colloquial American English, and that Badiou has often radically adjusted the text to his liking.  If you’re curious about the particulars of some of his changes, consider referring to Jowett; the intro to our translation includes Badiou’s explanation of his strategy, and his co-translator’s insights (she worked with him to re–translate the work from French to English, after Badiou had finished his work on moving it from ancient Greek to contemporary French.)

Alternatively, if you’re really ambitious, consider Shorey’s more scholarly effort.  In any event:  The text is meant to be comprehensible, not cryptic.  If you’re having trouble understanding where they’re headed, look for another translation, and have another go.  Philosophy that is incomprehensible should never be tolerated.

If you haven’t picked them up from the other site, here are those links:

Heraclitus, “Fragments” (transl. Burnet)

Plato, Poleteia (transl. Badiou)

"Lincoln Navigator 2015 repite el plato"

“Lincoln Navigator 2015 repite el plato.”  On an ill-advised whim, I searched for images containing the names of both our most beloved, most bearded President AND Aristotle’s teacher.  Here’s what I got. A mystery. But who am I to refuse the wisdom of Chance? Perhaps Google’s vast network of networked servers has discerned that Plato would have preferred 21″ rims. Surely Abe would have opted for the bullet-proof glass option. Philosophy! Computers! We know so much more than they used to!


A reminder:  Because context is the all and everything of knowledge, I’m providing students enrolled in CCTP628 Badiou’s translation of Plato in its entirety.  If you are not enrolled in this course, this text is not intended for you:  Please do not download it.

Last Minute Addenda

In fine fashion, I neglected to update the site to include all of the readings assigned that are external to the Salen / Zimmerman text. To make things simple for the nonce, here are the two texts that I had intended you to read for this week. Look at them if you have time (they are both interesting, Jerz’s article for DHQ especially so).

Jerz, Dennis G.  2007.  “Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original ‘Adventure’ in Code and in Kentucky.” PDF

Juul, Jesper.  2003.  “Game, Play, World.  Looking for the Heart of Gameness.”  In Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings, edited by Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens, 30-45. Utrecht: Utrecht University. PDF

I meant, additionally, to encourage you to experiment with a version of Crowther’s Colossal Cave.  There are, unsurprisingly, myriad versions available.  If you want a quick sense of content, but aren’t interested in seeing how the game was really played, take a look at this version.  Rick Adams developed a nostalgic instance of the game for use in a promo for AMC TV’s quasi-historical series, Halt and Catch Fire.  (As for the TV series? meh.  Too much quasi, not enough historical.)  And here is a later iteration (550-point version), available via DosBox and played in the browser, as part of the recent release of games to the Internet Archive.

Finally:  A CaveMap may be of some use.