"Can They Be Important?": Games and Art and Relevance

baudelaire.jpg I don't always agree with Ian Bogost, but I almost always enjoy reading what he has to say. Sexy Videogameland brought up Ian Bogost's address at the Southern Interactive Entertainment & Game Expo earlier this month. He spends most of it talking about poetry - since people love to cry 'How is this relevant to my life?' - and ties it into the game industry. You're probably going 'What in the hell does Archilochus have to do with video games?'. I'd suggest you just read the address:

No, [games]will only be important when -- and if -- others can point to our medium -- to particular examples of it -- and locate moments of individual insight that mattered in their lives. This is a charge for which we have only indirect control. We cannot insure it with transistors and pixel shaders. We cannot will it, we cannot even expect it ... [A] ll we can do is record those flaws, confusions, grievances, shocks, joys, surprises, and hopes.

We might choose to do so in videogames because they are a medium uniquely built for simulating life, for constraining actions, for creating roles others can embody. We might choose to do so in videogames because they are a medium of our moment in history. We might choose to do in videogames so because it is hard to do, because unlike the lyric poem they are a medium with more raw potential than proven triumph.

And then we can hope that history may preserve them, so that later -- next week, next year, next century, next millennium -- someone much like us might encounter them, and see a part of our lives in theirs.

Awww. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think Bogost makes some interesting points (there's a sense of immediacy about trying to prove that games are relevant, that they must prove their worth right now) - and it's certainly framed in a way we don't see often. Archilocus? Baudelaire? Bukowski? If only he'd thrown in some Rexroth or Prévert!

Videogames: Can They Be Important? [Ian Bogost via Sexy Videogameland]


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