It is no accident that the subject of videogame enjoyment often comes under attack. Like any dangerous entertainment, it seems to attract critical interrogation; see "Para-Interpretive Prevailings in the Death of the 32-bit Home System, or Consoles as Consolation," December 12, 1998. There is a general tendency to dismiss the hobby outright, or to see it as extremely reductionist in regards to the history of actual objects and/or events. The former tendency is easy to undermine, and has been ad nauseum. The second part, however, is a legitimate concern: is the relegation of historicity and real-world object(tive)s into their digital counterparts, whether it be into the modern polygonal arena or into the 2D aspirations of the old school, a potentially hazardous byproduct of playing Mario 64, Tetris, Soul Blade, or Battlecruiser 3000? It is by no mistake that I refer to certain classics of the industry by name-- even this sentence is telling as to the set of leg-stances that I'll use in bulwark to the question. To answer fully, one will have to forego formerly easy solutions like masculistic metalanguage and the pure, untainted, joy of beating the shit out of somebody during a bout of Mortal Kombat; effectively, we must go all the way back to the Civil War.

But first let us return to the idea of historicity as contrivance for later day entertainment. R. Christopher Sasquatch has already pointed out the dangers of James Cameron and his movie, Titanic. Understandably spooked, Sasquatch pointed out an elusive obviousness: Cameron himself is responsible for the sinking of the Titanic; it was a plot contrivance to end an otherwise paint-by-numbers love "story." Forget forward time if you have to, because, in the curve, the movie pre-existed the tragedy- it's the same in Schindler's List, where the Nazis wore black for the sake of the art direction of the next half-century. A final form frames the event before, without even bringing Baudrillard's Gulf War fiasco into this. It's easy to see, then, how the images in videogames correspond in no liable way to the world they respresent, insofar as they lead to a degeneration of the senses in everyday life. Instead, and further in their defense, they may actually recall a time or state (sublunar, perhaps) when forms were still changing into recognizable (relative to the observer) shapes. It is in these static representations of protean forms that videogames, in whatever palette of images they use, are, truly, Art, at least in the sense of Art as the Indicative. This sense-reference is, then, a collection of sign-posts by which the videogame player can only benefit from, even if this 'emancipation' is inherently neither good or bad. Insert Coin means exactly what it says.

Since Grant, players on the field have become more and more concerned with the outcome of "the next move." Even if the game is, say, of the arcade persuasion, the stakes are relatively the same. Move or die. Command and conquer. Marginality is consigned to just that, the margins, past the haze-table of power/knowledge, and into a "counter-memory." Thus is the player not only against all memory, and thus historicity , but at the time, alongside it. Source code, at this point, becomes all too meaningful. It is actually easier to appreciate this point during the current graphics revolution, where 3D acceleration renders everything in smoother edges. History, and historical shapes, filtered and caught in a more conceptual stasis: the Eternal Return, and all desperations derived thereof, anti-aliased for all future futures.

Anti. Aliased. Un-unnamed. Stripped of falsehood. A bearable, unbearable Light.

So, then, a final answer to all who would disparage the hobby of kings: videogames, in any utterance, articulate a divine sense of forms, of which the full collection of history is only the most elastic.

Plug 'n' pray, for it is the most standard human practice of all. Press START to continue.



SUPER MARIOLOGY, the Arbitrary Image in the Arcade of the Rising Sun

Reproduction of material from any gamesDivision pages without written permission is strictly prohibited.
Copyright © 1999