Endings and Nostalgia in Gamer Theory

To me, Gamer Theory had somewhat of an unfinished feel that had more to do with the format than the actual content of the work. Even though Wark says she is unlikely to write another version of the book, the “2.0” implies something in a constant state of improvement. The note card format of the book also contributed to my impression that the text was a work in progress. I imagined that, like Nabokov and other writers, Wark used the note cards for the ease of manipulating the order. Even though the images of the note card do not correspond to physical pieces of paper, they carry the same connotations. The grammatical errors that Blitz pointed out give Gamer Theory the feel of a manuscript undergoing the editorial process. I got frustrated with the reading occasionally because I could not see the end. Yes, I knew that there were 225 cards, but I missed the sensation of being able to feel exactly how many pages stood between where I was and the resolution of the article.

Perhaps this unfinished feeling corresponds with Wark’s fascination with endings. Whether grappling with four endings, as in Deus Ex, an unsatisfying and perpetual end in SimEarth, or an ending that is derived of boredom rather than a completed task, Wark sees endings as problematic. In this sense it’s fitting that even the end product does not quite feel finished.

On another note, towards the beginning of the book Wark introduces the concept that real life is akin to a game. I got the feeling that she was in some way nostalgic for a time when real life was not a game. Maybe this impression was as a result of her references to modern day terms and ideas like reality TV and the rat race, but I found myself wondering at what point real life became a game. It seems like there is a point when work and play became indistinguishable, but Wark never specifically elaborated on when this time was. Thoughts?

One response to “Endings and Nostalgia in Gamer Theory

  1. The ending was confusing for me as well — why end such a compelling narrative with a relatively brief description of the flaws present in the game SimEarth?

    After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the final section served two purposes in the work. First, SimEarth provides us a window into the fact that gaming — this constant escape from “real life” that we engage in through gaming and through gamespace — must come to an end, that the “final accounting” of activity in gamespace is the destruction of the biosphere. This is a really depressing point, to be sure, but it does provide the reader with a useful perspective on the limits of the constant escapism that many individuals now engage in through digital media.

    He then moves onto the ironic point that the value of life in modern society — the very value of the sun or the consequences our industrial processes — can only be illustrated by using a game. The only way to escape from these processes — to escape from gamespace, the game, and the world that we have created — is to push for “More perversion! More artifice!” until we push gamespace to its breaking point and find ways of defining reality in different ways.