Videogaming and its discontents.

Two pieces –Jane Pinkcard’s Salon piece on her sense of dissatisfaction with games as she matures, and the GrandTextAuto bit on the old Voyager CD-ROM If Monks Had Macs – implicitly converge on something that could be overdue: the rehabilitation of interactive media as working expressive forms. Perhaps a lot of people have been trying to avoid the memory of the economic debacle that the multimedia hype of the early 90’s created, but I have fond memories of such titles as Morton Subotnick’s All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis, the Beat experience, Laurie Anderson’s Puppet Motel, and the like. There was someting novel and compelling about them when they came out – a freshness of vision, an energetic re-presentation and framing of cultural practice. The web has superceded a lot of the didactic fantasies of the original works, but I think there’s something left over that hasn’t been taken up much since, a kind of primarily aesthetic, discreet interactive experience. Many of us who work in the game-space have been avoiding the “I” word for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that substantially more money exists, and always will exist, in the mainstream game markets (and thus, for their study). But we need to be willing to consider going outside the game-paradigm – while happily taking elements from it – if we’re really going to make its technologies do what we really know it can.

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