Author Archives: smisra

Four Way Gameplay

In Chapter 1 of Gaming: “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” Alexander Galloway explores video games as a mass medium. He does this without delving specifically into the more creative comports of gaming or the social and specific significance of the playing of video games, but focusing on the semantic makeup of the video game design as a whole and play as medium-specific actions.

First, he explores the differences between video games and previous media. “If photographs are images, and films are moving images, then video games are actions” (2). This is not the same as “active audience” media, where an audience can apply their own subjectivities to media, such as an interpretation of a film. While films and images are passive in our intake of them, in that we cannot affect them directly in how they affect us, video games are an “action-based medium” which requires our input to engage us (3). This concept can be compared to children’s toys.

First, there is the image, the photograph—or in children’s toys, the action figure. Think specifically of the action figure that you are not supposed to play with, or one of the shoddier type you get in Happy Meals: the one that doesn’t have moveable bits, where you must invest your own interpretations into the toy. This could range from anything to fighting aliens to having a tea party, but the main point is that while the toy might look like Iron Man or Barbie, it doesn’t have to be played with in a certain way.

Next, there is the moving image, the film—or the active toy, like the Furby. Furbies were these toys from the early 2000s. If you don’t remember, here’s a commercial:

Continue reading

Facebook is Basically the Matrix, Based on the Ideas of Descartes

In Meditation I: “Of the Things of Which We May Doubt,” the correlation between Descartes’ musings and the 1999 movie The Matrix are pretty easy to see: both address the perception of reality and determining and deciding truth and falsehood in that reality. Both delve into the idea that our very senses are capable of deceit, to the point that we could be asleep, trapped in a virtual reality constructed by an indeterminate power.

Descartes is determined to challenge his past perceptions about reality by deciding to reject anything but that which is devoid of doubt (#2), building up to a conjecture about the suspicion of the actuality of reality. He also notes that our culpability to this lie is in proportion to the power of the deceptive party (#10); in the movie, the robots have taken over the world and stuck humans in pods that prevent them any type of contact with the real world, except for groups like Morpheus’s crew.

Continue reading