in what can be construed as wark's introduction, he uses the allegory of the cave to describe the lives of gamers inside an internet cafe. he goes on to talk about how beyond the cave, there are only more caves, but he seems to think that this is a uniquely modern phenomenon:

"The enlightened gamer sees how the world beyond the games of The Caveâ„¢ seem like an array of more or less similar caves, all digital, each an agon with its own rules, some arbitrary blend of chance and competition. And beyond that? Not much. The real has become a mere epiphenomenon without which gamespace cannot exist, but which is losing, bit by bit, any form or substance or spirit or history that is not sucked into and transformed by gamespace. Beyond gamespace are only the spent fragments of nameless forms."

he writes that the real has "become a mere epiphenomenon," which implies that it once was more. however, the real was never more than that - "epiphenomeneon" might even be generous. the whole point of the allegory of the cave is it's impossible for we humans to see the real truth of the "sun" - all we have access to are shadow's moving on the wall of the cave. plato wanted us to strive for the truth, but he didn't think we could ever get there. in light of this (ho ho!), wark's assertion that "there is a more real world beyond it [The Cave™], somewhere, and that someone – some priest or professor – knows where it is" is very peculiar. in plato's conception, the philosopher is the closest to the truth of anyone, but i don't think he could claim to pinpoint it.

and remember, plato's world would strike us as highly un-mediated: no TV, no internet, no radio, no telephone, no print, barely any writing. and still, he very much doubted that we could experience the real in a remotely direct way. the only reality has always been virtual reality.

I had this same reaction- That Wark is attributing to gaming a transformation that never occurred; everything was already in this inaccesible form already. A very artificial dichotomy of before and after.

(Post Script- Hayles flickering signifiers is very interesting here, that digitalization is the stacking, obfuscation, and randomization of semiotics. Perhaps that lack of clarity between what we see and what we know is only growing, and there has been no radical change, simply an evolution, a step towards the posthuman)

A point he brought up that I found interesting(Or at least something he touched on briefly and what I took from it): That the cave is where the abstractions/ideas behind life are expressed. The most base inaccessible substance finding visualization(materiality?)

Kind of like the digital as a window into our souls. If we can't ever touch the"real" world, why iwouldn't a reconceptualization of what we see be closer to its true form?

I mean, I don't buy it, but its interesting.

I feel like there is just an ever expanding oversimplification in the work. It only equates for me in the explainable, measurable, capitalistic nature of life, which really has nothing much to do with the substance of life. I like thinking of his ideas instead of in his terms, as the gamespace being the false consciousness. This commodification/quantification/scoring is how we are fooled into forgetting what really matters. But the thing here is that really has nothing to do with games. I would say then the digital is merely a catalyst for what we already experience.

Take his example of the stock broker-- its alluring, what is the difference between a stockbroker and a lingerie designer in second life? Well perhaps nothing if we look at both of them as means of income, but that is a different argument. That is just gaming as entertainment industry with an empowering of an artisan economy within that context. (With a lottttt of other interesting theory applications too) Lets look at it as if second were the only life. Does the second life gamer get the same satisfaction tucking into his digital bed with his digital avatar for a wife, and having digital sex, as the stockbroking gamer gets from driving home and banging his real wife? No of course not, the second-lifer is still eating a cold-slice of dominoes pizza, falling asleep on his keyboard with a soreneck and a sore wrist.

The gamer is still beholden to his body. There are many questions of the legitimacy of gaming as socialization, but in the end his body is still sacred when it comes to eating/drinking/sleeping/fucking. When those become part of the mediated experience then we will have interesting matrix-like questions.

Right I jsut don't really buy the game-space, I think Wark overreaches, but I don't think I am giving his ideas enough credit. I am only about a third through, and am struggling to digest and acknowledge the possibility that I jsut don't get it. It will be fun to discuss.