New Atlantis 2: Electric Boogaloo

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Friday I noted two problems with Christine Rosen's New Atlantis article "Playgrounds of the Self." Now Bryan Alexander has published a much more thorough critique of her essay, which he describes as "a sort of swirling, congealing swarm of complaints that skitter across the surface of evidence it can't be bothered to understand."

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  1. You have to wonder when there are a billion enthusiastic gamers or so (?) why some ignorant tenure teat-suckler is authorized to babble in the three-verb form, researching, obfuscating and fundamentally misunderstanding.

    It’s like me saying, “There was a shitty movie called Armegeddon with Bruce Willis in this mysterious culture!” Yeah, that’s OUR culture. I was there. It sucked. You’re like a very old big band leader trying to write about rock and roll you DON’T EVEN LISTEN TO. “Hmm…well, I put on a rock record, and hours later its jungle beats were still throbbing in my mind…” Shut the fuck up and let people who are familiar with the material talk.

    Some of us, I promise, will not be talking about “discourse communities,” either.

  2. Unless, by “discourse”, you mean “slaughtering your electronic avatar and minions by the score.”

  3. And this obtuse, inpenetrable piece of uselessness comes from the rag that claims to be at the forefront of morality.

  4. piece of uselessness

    I do think Rosen has a basic insight that’s missing from most popular discussions of video games: the extent to which they, more than any other mass art form, allow the audience to adopt, discard, and alter identities. What’s amazing is that she could build such an obtuse essay around such a potentially fruitful observation.

  5. Maliciously using the three-verb form to provoke me, eh? Shaming, infuriating, and reifying! Actually of course you er…well, it was the best way to say, articulate, and formulate that sentiment.

    There was something there, J Dubya, despite my basic rage at the author’s obvious unfamiliarity with video games, that’s valid about identities, I think that’s true.

    The old Bertrand Russell line about power being a quasi-biological reward in and of itself might be reevaluated re: video games, considering increasing the power of a virtual “self” is virtually the *only* reward of MMOFUIFDJKCRPGs. And it seems to have almost gambling-worthy levels of intuitive fun, although I kind of dislike them.

    Other narrative RPGs, though, like Knights of the Old Republic, with five or six movies worth of material, are truly transcendently fun precisely when the virtual self is allowed to wield potent and significant narrative control. Power.

  6. Apparently playing video games thins the skin quite a bit…

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