The twenty-first century – the ludic century – is animated in part by just that fantasy: that the feedback loop can be closed, and action can be modified in realtime depending on data about its immediate effects. Of course in reality it is always rather more imperfect. Google and Facebook never quite tailor the advertising on which their business in part depends to our actual wants or desires. Given what we know about how imperfect those systems are, imagine what its like for the NSA or other security agencies, trying to needle of ‘terrorism’ in the haystack of trillions of bits of data banality. It’s the very impossibility of closing the feedback loop that drives the tendency to total surveillance.
McKenzie Wark, “A Ludic Century?“
There’s been an outbreak of a syndrome–fake gamers multiply by the day. They’ve never played A Link To The Past. They can’t hadouken. They don’t know what grue is; they don’t know to be afraid.
I’ve made a shirt to help identify those people. If you feel like you need to self-identify for the safety and quality of life of those around you, I won’t discourage it.
You can buy the shirt here.
Note: I’m being brutally sarcastic, in case that doesn’t come across, and the very idea of the “fake gamer” is so ridiculous that anyone who says anything of the sort should be publicly laughed out of whatever room they happen to be in at the moment.
So now it is Maria’s turn to laugh. She laughs. And the girl opens her mouth and all of the laughing animals and not-animals run out of her mouth and into the air–which butterflies and sandhill cranes which hillside songbird three-legged city dogs, which leaves and dust motes and dirty laundry and her boy’s sweat-smells and food stuffs and movies and sunlight and fashionable blouses and songs and fate and she knows something now which she can laugh to so she does it.
-Micheline Aharonian Marcom, A Brief History of Yes p.53
In Call of Duty: Ghosts there is a map called “Whiteout” and within that map I often wander.
I roam the map in solitude because despite always coming to this map in order to play team-based activities, I never manage to play team-based activities.
The west of the map is dominated by a series of hills and tunnels, multiple tiers hidden by their clustered design; underneath those hills and tunnels, between the cliffs and the sea there are ruined ships. Beyond those ships, to the southeast, there’s a village that comprises that area and most of the eastern part of the map. To the north, there is a ski lodge and a sawmill, and between those two locations and the cliffs, most of the deaths on the map occur.
I don’t stay there. I push out from the spawn location, where my team pushes and shoves in order to sprint to the front line to die in droves a little bit slower than the other team so that we can “win” in this arbitrary horrorshow.
I walk away from my team members. I stand in the village.
Skulls pop up on my screen. They show through the scenery, the models, the level design. They appear through everything. I stand in this serene and confusing small world in a bigger more confusing world designed to call players into lanes of murder and the world becomes understandable to me because of those murders.
Death makes meaning out of my act of wandering away from the arcade loop of react and respawn. I see the shape of the world through the loss of their lives. Between ski lodge and ice canyon they walk into gunfire from accurately modeled rifles, and I watch those wasted lives become iconic and render the world sensible.
And then I am there too.
On November 20th, we cannot mourn the past without interrogating our present. It’s easy to grieve the dead; it’s harder to come to terms with our complicity in their oppression, with the parts of ourselves that would still regard a transgender woman of color in Brazil as the bridge too far. As Audre Lorde wrote, “I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears.”
If transgender people remain stubbornly in the shadows of progressive politics, it is because we are still the terror inside the liberal imaginary, we are still the wearers of those loathed faces. Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Light a candle today. Shine it on yourself.
Samantha Allen, “Transgender, Dead, and Forgotten“
I’m writing on Kanye and the videogame aesthetic right now.