Mathieu Lamontange-Cumiford 7513410
Micro Essay 2 – Narratives of Subjectivity
Videogames are a fantastic media for a social scientist to approach. As someone developing an Anthropological perspective, videogames fascinate me in the same way which people do, as means of telling stories. A. Anthropy and J. Jenson both help to flesh out perspectives on this story telling power of videogames, through an examination of what it means not only to participate in the playing (or being told the story) but of the creating of the story. While the story of a game can be understood as simply as being the narrative it espouses, I like to conceptualise it as the lived experience of creating, participating in, and being impacted by the game. This more complex whole of “storytelling” allows the incorporation of the subjectivity which I believe to be the most important part of videogame experiences.
Anthropy’s rallying cry, The Problem With Videogames (2012) expresses a similar perspective as the author describes the faults with the current market for games, and the growing tide of more subjective stories. Anthropy, in describing the insular and privileged nature of major gaming institutions demonstrates the failure of these games to go beyond experiences and become stories (2012). For Anthropy, the integration of personal experience, subjectivity, and relatability into games will be possible through the increasing distribution of the tools necessary to develop games. Both of the games which we played this week help to demonstrate this. Both Anthropy’s own game, Dys4ia (2012) and Dominique Pamplemousse (Kiai, 2014) are examples of games which tell stories. Beyond the fact of having narratives, these games tell stories because they reach out to the player and experience them as the creators have been experienced before, the games effectively allow for the transmission of a fraction of lived experience.
When exploring the possibility of games to tell stories, how individuals interact with the game medium is an important part of the transmission. While Anthropy briefly touches upon this issue in their section on the complexity of modern controls (2012, p13-14), conceptualisations should move beyond the physical. Jenson’s Theorizing Gender and Digital Gameplay (2008) helps to bridge this gap. Jenson, exploring the gendered differences in the playing of games, comes to an important and fundamental realisation, that games are not necessarily centers of production for gendered behaviour, and that the performance of gender diminishes as “technological skill” increases (2008, p19). Fundamentally, what this means is that games are not impositions of norms, but places which impose their own experience upon individuals, that games are storytelling beyond socialisation and culturation.
Videogames, while still under much critic, seem to present us with a truly important art form. Beyond their narrative and entertainment value, game tell stories as lived experiences beyond the confines of ones particular setting. Anthropy is absolutely correct when they assert that game production should be more accessible, as the ability to share realities, to be affected is a fantastic possibility.
Anthropy, Anna. “The Problem With Videogames.” Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2012. 1-21.
Dominique Pamplemousse demo (Deirdra Kiai 2014), http://www.dominiquepamplemousse.com/demo/
Dys4ia (Anna Anthropy 2012), http://wizardofvore.itch.io/dys4ia
Jenson, Jennifer and de Castell, Suzanne. “Theorizing Gender and Digital Gameplay: Oversights, Accidents and Surprises.” Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture 2.1 (2008).