Thursday, June 21, 2007

There's Nothing Like Radio for Showing Off a Videogame

Today Virtualpolitik comrade Ian Bogost appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation. You can listen to the conversation at the link for "New Video Games Entertain and Educate." As far as disembodied voices go, I think he did an admirable job fielding questions, although there was certainly a representational challenge involved in describing a genre through auditory means that is largely visual and kinesthetic in nature.

Most obviously, Bogost argued that serious games were expanding potential cultural membership and enriching the possibilities of play. Callers also shared their experiences of having children try out careers as humanitarians or understanding their own medical treatment better in an emergency room. Predictably, he was asked by the show's host -- yet again -- about Super Columbine Massacre RPG, which I think has been somewhat overexposed in panels and conferences this year.

Of course, Bogost has also written about his Howard Dean game in several contexts, but I was happy to hear him say something new about the distinction between politicking and politics that he has come to understand after the development process. I also liked the way that he framed the political in participatory terms and disputed the relevance of conventional tropes of partisan identity positioning or currencies of ideological value. Bogost argues that politics is actually about "boring" details and the way that complex systems operate in relationship to U.S. citizens in venues such as health care, airport security, and food safety.

As someone with family members whose lived experiences with disability, class discrimination, sexuality, and labor politics don't match the Republican platforms in which they profess belief, I think he may be on to something about the political disconnect between practices and ideologies in contemporary policy and politics. It's a contradiction that is also described by Thomas Frank in What's the Matter with Kansas?. The question is: will these red staters play games that let them question the rules operating on complex problems? Or will such games only be played by liberal elites like those who read The New York Times, where Bogost's work is being featured in the editorial section.

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Blogger Lupton said...

I was pleased to see Ian Bagost's FATWORLD featured in the latest issue of WIRED magazine. Go Ian!!

4:13 PM  

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