Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Metaphysics Videogame

The Metaphysics Videogame

"(3) Videogames are the popular medium of the 21st century

This is a contentious point, but I believe it is true. If film was the medium of the 20th century, then videogames are the medium of the 21st. It is not the web, because the web is just a delivery channel, just a piece of plumbing for delivering bits. It's what those bits do that matters. And despite the massive adoption of online communications, what the web mostly does is to remediate existing media. We read text. We look at photographs. We watch videos. In the terms of McLuhan's tetrad, the web reverses into every legacy medium at its worst: top ten lists, sound bites, gossip, pornography, curiosity, schlock.

But videogames resist the trends of simplification and ease that characterize contemporary media. They are software instead of bundles of digitized books and pictures and films. They are hard to use rather than easy, and yet we praise them when they are difficult and disparage them when they are simple. They take earnest advantage of the microprocessors that are the "brains" of the machines you are using at this moment, rather than the dumb terminals that are its system of distribution.

The point is not that books or painting or film or anything else is dying; history shows that such things never die, even if they do change. The point is that the era of linear media is giving way to the era of random-access media; the era of viewed media is giving way to the era of operated media; and the era of declarative media is giving way to the era of procedural media. Anyone who doesn't want to be a part of that change, at its source, is a fool or a coward..." -- Ian Bogost

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