Whenever anybody wants to mount an argument about what makes video games so uniquely special and precious versus other media in the world, they note that games are interactive, they let the player do, be or have things, they respond to that player's wishes in a fashion that static, passive ol' books and films cannot.
But there are plenty of games about idleness; games that play themselves. In an essay on the early history of what he terms "idle games", Zoya Street examines games like 2002's Progress Quest, designed specifically for inactivity, and the conflicted messages about capitalism they often contain:
This genre therefore seems to have a remarkably ambivalent relationship to capital. On the one hand, the content of these games is critical of capitalism and mainstream games culture, highlighting a sense of ennui with systems that seem to keep turning inevitably, regardless of the actions of the individual. On the other hand, players’ fascination with the spectacle of watching the system turn and desire for optimisation generates two things that are extremely valuable to Kongregate: long-term attention that they can sell to advertisers, and a hunger for accelerated progress that is satisfied through the sale of virtual goods that temporarily provide a boost to the system’s yield.
Read the whole article (and other interesting pieces) in the Memory Insufficient zine.
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word ‘gameplay’, and experiences from Nintendo ‘play counselors’ from the 1980s and 90s.
Looking for a career in music behind the boards, either as a music producer or DJ? It’s a good bet that you’re going to be working with Ableton Live. Each new iteration of this powerful workstation gives the user more tools to create, and it’s just as well suited for the task of meticulous track […]
The graveyard of failed startups is littered with concepts that just got lost in translation. At its core, that’s what great front-end design is about: Making an app or website usable, translating its best ideas smoothly to the user. It’s a skill so broad there might be no one book or course that covers it […]
Robotics: It’s a field that used to exist only as science fiction. Now it’s science fact, and it’s not just a playground for MIT prodigies. Thanks to the ROS (Robot Operating System) framework, anyone willing to learn robotics can practice robotics. And the easiest way to learn ROS? The Complete Robotics eBook Bundle. Combined, the […]