Gamer Theory: comments on content and form

The content:

In Gamer Theory, Mackenzie Wark compares the actual world (gamespace) to the world of video games by analyzing games such as Katamari Damaci, The Sims, Civilization III, and SimEarth. He starts off by describing the game world as a place similar to Plato’s cave (from “Allegory of the Cave”), in which the images (“shadows”) that gamers see are not truly representative of the real world. We know that the “real world” is out there and that it’s different from the world of video games; however, the closer we look the more similarities we see between the real world and video games. Although we may have considered video games to be a tool used merely for entertainment/educational purposes and existing in its own digital realm, I’m starting to believe that video games can have a larger (and perhaps moral) purpose as well as an effect on our perception of the actual world.

Through the lens of the gamer, life (gamespace) is a game made up of algorithms with plenty of unknowns/variables.

“The game is true in that its algorithm is consistent, but this very consistency negates a world that is not.” (card 32 of Gamer Theory, Chapter 2: on the Sims)

Wark conveys that although life may be perceived as a game through these lens, the actual world lacks the consistency of its “algorithms” when compared to video games. While for the most part, life is filled with many goals (and subgoals) that we must achieve in order to succeed (by the average person’s standard of success), simply achieving all of these goals won’t necessarily lead to success. Similarly, bad things happen to good people, even when they perform actions that deserve rewards and supposedly will lead to success.

The form:

After taking a User Interface class, I learned that if an interface wasn’t intuitive on the first try (i.e. you need to read a manual to use the interface), it probably isn’t a good interface. Anyway, while the implementation of comments/reader feedback was brilliant and the cards reminded me of our earlier readings on the beginning of the internet/computers, having the text split into so many cards made the reading seem very segmented, and perhaps less book-like. The search box should have been made more visible, so that readers would notice it and use it to look for cards they had read a while ago and wished to quote based on key words they remembered. It’s a very interesting way to represent the text, but I think the cards could have been longer than a paragraph each or at least separated by topic to have more purpose.

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