Thursday, October 9, 2014

Let's play 20 questions

Some of the more vocal supporters of #gamergate have suggested that critical assessment of games are, in a word, colonialist. Which suggests that games are in some way a sacred space, whose sovereign integrity is not to be violated by outside interlopers.

This is a premise. Let's run with it.

Or, rather, let's gradually nibble at it. By asking this one question: how much assessment is too much?

It should be safe to assume that a critical analysis regarding how gender, ethnicity and ideology are represented and reproduced within the narrative framework of a game is clearly over the line. More so a discussion about which kind of subjectivity a particular game suggests and normalizes. There are lines of inquiry that can be safely assumed to be on the colonialist side of things.

This is a given.

One approach might be to gradually decrease the complexity of analysis until we reach a non-invasive form. At some point, even outsiders are allowed to witness sacred spaces, given that they are quiet enough.


That approach would take an inordinate amount of time, and include a lot of effort. To be sure, no efforts to reduce complexity are ever wasted, but there is a faster way. And that way is to approach it from the other side.

Start from something that is considered within the allowed bounds. Something that even the believers themselves claim to be on the right and proper side. And then slowly and gradually add analytical concepts to it, until we reach the limit. No leaps and bounds, just one nuance or aspect at a time, as incrementally as possible. Ever so slowly nibble our way to clarity.

Given enough subtle nibbling, the boundary should eventually make itself known. Some questions are allowed, others are not, and by carefully cataloging which is which a reasonable picture should emerge. Some questions are within the framework of the believers preexisting lifeworld, and others are imposed by outside colonialists. Knowing which is which should enable us to communicate with the believers in a non-confrontational way.

That was a premise. I've ran with it.

Possibly with scissors.

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