> 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 gamelab.mit.edu. 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.)
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]