Headline March 02, 2016/ ''' DEATH -*BY VIDEO*- GAME '''


SUFFERINGS, or at least resistance, is one of the ways in which humans build resilience and great strengths.

Games simulate reality's challenges. It follows, then, that through them we build muscles of fortitude, without having to endure earnest pain. 

But this is a blinkered view of the full function of games. 

Marilyn Strasser Olson, in her 1991 biography of the American illustrator and author Ellen Raskin, wrote:
*''Games as arbiters of rules and objectives are a metaphor for a vision of life that can be ordered, understood and won.''*

Games are designed to systematize life [in particular the hero's journey], to render, for example, the effects of experience in crude numbers. Monopoly helps us to understand capitalism; chess, warfare; Minecraft, the rhythms of creation, destruction and survival.

But if awarding points can provide incentives for people to do things that benefit them [something teachers have been doing for centuries], to claim that the kaleidoscope business of existence can be mastered-

And won by framing it as competitive challenge is as much recipe for misery as it is for joy. Just ask a jaded former Wall Street trader.   

''The State of Play,'' a collection of essays by a variety of academics, bloggers, and independent game designers, also chooses for its theme how our  ''digital and real lives collide''.

Its editors, Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, are interested in the way in which writing about the  video game  mediums has grown from a product criticism to social and political commentary.

This broadening of scope is due not only to maturation, they argue. It is also the result of the democratization of game-making, which has allowed independent creators to release games on personal and seemingly non-commercial topics, in that way stimulating critical conversation.

The collection varies wildly in style and purpose, lurching from narrative journal [Leigh Alexander's vivid recounting of playing arcane games as a child] to a scholastic essay {Ola Wikander's examination of the role of theology in Japanese fantasy games.

In  ''Game Over''   William Knoblauch argues that games have always been political, citing Missile Command, the 1980 arcade game in which players had to defend the California coastline from Soviet Nuclear attack. 

[The game's creator, David Theurer, said he had atomic nightmares for years after the release].

Ian Bogost uses the flash-in-the pan mobile phone success story, Flappy Bird, as a way to understand what makes games alluring   -even if the appeal is precisely their lack of meaning.

Many of the essays must be understood in their broader context, a time when video games have become one of the primary battlefields for cultural clashed over gender politics, now a mainstream concern.

Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist critic who has endured a  sustained torrent of abuse for challenging sexism and misogyny in video games, writes here about her experiences.

So too does Zoe Quinn, the independent game maker who created a text game about depression that made her a target of harassment.

''The State of Play''  is a scattering collection but is useful in providing a sampling of progressive writing about a medium that remains nebulous and shifting.

The title, however, is misleading.   -the video game is ever broadening church, and only some of its rooms are represented and discussed here.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. And to all the Video Games devotees. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and the Ecosystem 2011.

''' The State Of World '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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