@maxc Excellent read! Very poignant analysis; Articulates what I've been seeing about modern games and why, although palettable and "cool" outwardly, I tend to be unimpressed in general.

@nilix yeah unimpressed is maybe a good way to put it. like, "impressive" technical achievements with no meaningful substance.

@maxc there's a lot of broad statements in this piece I found the urge to argue with.

For instance I can absolutely imagine a "novel" written by 100 people. This definition seemed intensely reductive

@maxc that said I agreed with some ideas here, I just felt the dichotomy was too simplistic a rhetorical service. Felt very deadgame :p

The line about games as ways to ride out the end though? That resonated in my bones

@dualhammers I get what you mean about reductive, I think any passionate post about the arts is likely to run afoul of that though.

Re: the novel example - I can imagine it, but I can also see that the majority of 100 person novels would be incoherent, and to become coherent you'd need direction. 100 people is a lot to coordinate, and removes a lot of the individual's authorship. I think that was the point :)

And yeah, games as the opiate for the apocalypse is... chilling.

@maxc I don't see coherence as synonymous with art or with Aliveness. Exquisite corpse work can have a beauty all its own.

But we are not really arguing. I just worry that this person's passion combined with their reductive thinking will cause them to miss some great things

@dualhammers definitely, and yeah not arguing :)
There's a lot of lovely inscrutable art out there. I can see a "chain letter" approach to a 100 person novel being interesting for example.

@maxc Under a capitalist mode of production games tend towards Spectacle.


Spectacle vs Ephemeralization is a major dialectic in my brain these days.

@maxc @neauoire Spectacle effects everything in society but is a particular challenge for games because they are so ephemeral in the sense of Buckminster Fuller's notion of "Ephemeralization." Fuller observed that one aspect of technological development is that over time the amount of material and energy used for certain activities decreases almost to nothing.

@maxc @neauoire A good example is phone technology: at first we had to run wires along poles all over a huge country to achieve a phone network. But now you need to build towers and connectivity occurs over RF, requiring at least less material and probably less energy.

@maxc @neauoire Thus its tempting to think of ephemeralization as a virtuous aspect of modern technology. Fully imagined that almost everything would be ephemeralized one day. The availability of things like FaceTime appears to be an ephemeralization of social activity: we used to have to travel to see family but now it _appears_ to be the case that we can see family virtually. The pandemic, notably, has forced us to grapple with this ephemeral/spectacle dichotomy.

@maxc @neauoire But the character of Spectacle is that appearance comes to dominate the nature of a thing. This is much easier when the thing is already ephemeral, as digital goods are.

What is the "nature" of a game apart from its image? A little hard to pin down!

@maxc @neauoire But not impossible, I would say. The key is to understand that human beings cannot be ephemeralized. We have bodies, for one thing, but for another our character, interests, etc, are the result of highly interrelated historical and biological processes.

Thus when someone offers us a "game" to "play" we implicitly have a notion in our mind about the substance of the activity in which we are about to engage.

@maxc @neauoire And this is true even of non-material (or mostly non-material) objects like games.

For instance, we expect our agency in the game to actually matter. In many modern games the pursuit of spectacle results in a general decrease in the actual power of the player to affect the game state.

@maxc @neauoire For instance, the game may present us with an enormous spectacle of falling rocks and a man climbing a mountain, but our ability to act this apparent world is limited to pushing forward to move along the animation.

@maxc @neauoire Anyway, in a capitalism there is a persistent, relentless pressure on developers to deliver the most spectacular AND ephemeral game experiences to the widest possible audience. The resulting games are by nature hollow, because the design emphasizes the immediate impression of the game. Particularly now, when most games are sold because we see them played on youtube or via screenshots.

Image comes to dominate everything and especially to dominate the ephemeral.

@maxc @neauoire My solution to this is to basically have zero expectations of game developed in a commercial environment.

Some games developed that way are great, but they are great despite the context, not because of it.

@vincent @neauoire appreciate you taking so much time to respond, I don't have much to add I'm afraid, haha.

Other than, as a long term indie who's entire working life has been in game dev, I struggle with these questions more and more every day.

@vincent all good, appreciate being exposed to more theory sometimes rather than just my day to day experience and internal thoughts 👍

@vincent @maxc the environmental innovation paradox is where technology using less resources is being more broadly adopted hence the net resource extraction just keeps climbing.

I'm not sure how this related to spectacle, but on the subject of spectacle and games, I find almost ALL the games that I've seen popping up recently fall into the premium mediocre spectrum where they're explicitly created to be easy to share on twitter.


@neauoire @maxc This explains why ephemeralization doesn't usually result in less resource usage. Often it results in more, since resources are "freed up" to exploit other avenues of exploitation.

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