Perhaps this is colored by our field trip to the Strong Museum of Play and its archives//library, but reading Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter’s Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games brought about questions//considerations of virtual games (and the ecologies of their creation and circulation) as artifact. On our field trip we saw archives of games (functional and broken//accessible through filters of restoration—and does that change the game?), materials of conceptualization, failure, imagination, production (notebooks, sketches, texts, scraps and scribbles that exist in de/re contextualization), and processes of classification and curation (matters of concern—how can play be captured?).
how can games be treated as serious artifacts? (not serious games, but objects in complex contexts with other objects—technologies, counter/movements, cultures, norms/deviance, ideologies, novelties, viral tendencies, systems, traditions)
“Games of multitude are, in (Felix) Guattari’s conceptual terms, a ‘molecular revolution’ involving ‘the effort to not miss anything that could help rebuild a new kind of struggle, a new kind of society’. Not missing anything includes virtual games. ‘Strange contraptions, you will tell me, these machines of virtuality, these blocks of mutant percepts and affects, half-object, half-subject,’ Guattari mused, perhaps (who knows?) contemplating a video game console—yet potentially, he insists, such ‘strange contraptions’ were ‘crucial instruments’ to ‘generate other ways of perceiving the world, a new face on things, and even a different turn of events” (214)
Games of multitude are a capacity to not only resist Empire but also to develop, protect, and propose alternatives through new forms of subjectivity and new movements opposing global capital (186-188). Reading this text brings my attention to what is typically unaccounted for in my thinking about games—the experience of playing and the materiality of the game—the complex ecology the game exists within. The concept of Dyer-Witheford and de Peuter of the game as multitude accounts for the discourses surrounding games, constructing games as vectors of contending interests and agendas and as instilling skills that can serve and subvert norms (“Introduction”). My desire to ask about classification in the archives and the conversation we had with our museum guide about capturing play (in video game/console play as a means of documenting for curation) I think were really attempts at accounting for these vectors—what standards exist for categorizing digital and nondigital games? Who/what are they according to? What is the balance//struggle in accounting for cultural phenomena//affect? How is the experience of play accounted for vs. the construction of play to be experienced? How is production for play, not of it as experience, not lost? // What does it mean to capture play? Whose body/ability is imagined? Is the emphasis mechanics, material environment, narrative? And what of the race for preservation before degradation, decomposition, and death? Of bringing back through materials not of the original ecological design?
What might the vectors of the games on exhibit at the Strong look like in a different context? What might be accounted for? What accounts might play out?