Thursday, February 7, 2013
So Harry Lee and Chad Toprak organising these lecture-like things the last couple of weeks. If you don't know Harry, he is an incredibly intelligent and engaging game designer who creates the most delightful games. He also studies medicine. He also co-directs the Freeplay Independent Games Festival. He's an all-round pretty great guy who you should be keeping an eye on if you dig videogames. Chad, meanwhile, makes all kinds of whacky things at RMIT's Exertion Game Lab. He is also an all-round pretty great guy but I don't think Kotaku have posted a profile about him before.
Harry asked me last week if I'd like to give a small talk as part of these lecture-like things that he is doing. I had probably been saying ridiculous things on Twitter that day and suggested I could do something about the whole un-games/non-games monicker. Specifically, why I hate the idea of some videogames being labelled non-games or un-games on both a linguistic and a political level.
So I gave a small rant about that to my impressionable audience. And since this same discussion has been rearing its ugly head on Twitter time and time again since Proteus's release (often entirely my own fault) about a week ago, I thought I'd record it and put it online.
Before you go "URGH" (too late, right?), I am not engaging in the "what is game?" debate so much as actively decrying its very existence as something that is damaging to our medium (which, yes, okay, is a kind of engagement with the debate). As something that both jars with how language actually works and which, usually unintentionally, excludes a whole range of experiences and identities that happen with videogames.
But yes. I am not going to defend those points here. I am just going to point to the recording and say it is there if you want it. I will note that I am not a particularly great public speaker, so there are a lot of 'ums' and 'likes' and embarrassing ableist adjectives sparked by nervousness that I apologise for (feel free to comment on this post about how 'stupid' isn't ableist so I can delete said comment). Also, things go off on a tangent at one point as I made the thoughtless mistake of thinking I could use QTEs as an unproblematic example of something. Sorry about that!
But yes. As I told the audience, this was more of a rant and a musing of half-formed ideas than a well thought-out lecture, and I welcome your challenges to things I say that perhaps could use some clarification.
Anyway. Here is the talk if you want it. I call it "On So-Called 'Ungames' (in scare-quotes) And Why You Don't Need To Define 'Videogames' (And Why You Can't Define It Anyway So Stop Trying Already)". It is 25 minutes long. Enjoy!
(tl;dl: 'videogames' is a tree that is constantly growing in all directions, not a static box that all videogames have to fit inside)
Dear Esther: store.steampowered.com/app/203810/
Thirty Flights of Loving: store.steampowered.com/app/214700/
Howling Dogs: aliendovecote.com/uploads/twine/howling dogs.html
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: www.indiebound.org/book/9781609803728
Merritt Kopas (Lim) on how "non-game" is gendered: mkopas.net/2012/07/on-the-non-game/
A recent, fascinating article on how 'traditional' games depict movement as easy and unproblematic while queer games present it as difficult and full of hurdles, reflecting the identities of the makers of these games: borderhouseblog.com/?p=10113
An article I wrote on Edge last year where I spoke to the developers of Proteus, Dear Esther, and Journey about redefining videogames: http://www.edge-online.com/features/redefining-videogame/
Posted by Brendan Keogh at 12:46 AM