Included in the anthology Stronger Than Bone, as part of the 13th Gwangju Biennale, is my essay on video games, art and feminism. Entitled “Video Games: Art, Inclusion, and the Techno-cultural Imaginary,” it considers the stakes of a gendered conversation around video games. In it, I write:
“What is going on within video games as visual culture is merely one dimension of a larger struggle against a persisting failure of the imagination around which futures are envisioned, who belongs in them, and who drives them. These ideas are tied up in art and visual culture. By reading versions of technological futures against the grain of their highly masculinist fantasies, the work of artists, game designers, and critical game scholars is part of a greater project that makes space for the subjective, the responsive, and for some of the internal narratives that may inform a personal understanding of such games. This is an effort to reach through the most offending of these images, to grasp the political affect that emanates from games as deeply aesthetic experiences, to cultivate more inclusive storytelling, and through the alchemy of theory and practice, to imagine futures anew. The critical conversation at the center of technology belongs to all of us. It is mine to have, and it is yours.”
Check out TreaAndrea Russworm’s interview with me in the latest issue of JCMS! The Scholar Spotlight interview focuses on writing about games, my influences, interests and advice for scholars new to the field. JCMS is the journal for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, which is the the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television, and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition.
Included is my essay on the influence of Nineteen Eighty-Four on video games:
“In this game that we’re playing”: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Video Games
For those interested, here is the abstract: Traces of George Orwell’s critiques of totalitarian society, in both blunt and subtle forms, exist throughout video games. Major themes of dystopia, surveillance culture, technologies of control, authoritarianism, and the oppression of a large underclass exist in innumerable game narratives and environments. Do these simulations encourage critical thought around the eventuality of totalitarianism, of which Orwell warned? Or, are these games merely systems in which to practice a kind of entrapment, in which so-called “freedom” may be practiced within a medium that is exceedingly ordered in its very constitution? Through the stories games tell, as well as in the very form of video games, is it even possible to truly stimulate a model of criticality? This essay proposes that the critical influence of Nineteen Eighty-Four exists not only in video game narratives and the constitution of their navigable spaces, but also in the wide variety of strategies, rule-based systems, rhetorical capacities, ethical quandaries and—most importantly—their “better” kinds of failure.