To target is to blaze across the agonizing gap between self and world, between cognition and its object. And yet the target does not stand alone and isolated. It appears not only against a background of other moments; it appears against a background of other meanings. Every target is embedded in a series of events that exceeds the moment of opportunity for targeting. To target is to discriminate and rank possibilities within an event. It is to battle one’s way in a deliberate and deliberative line from moment to moment, across the surface of the event, targeting the moment of maximum opportunity.

In everyday life, rattling around in gamespace, your relation to objects is all too often contingent, ambiguous, ineffective. You labor to connect with clumsy drunk motions, and even if you do its hard to know the point of it. In Rez, things are different. The relation between you and other passes through a character for whom action in space is risky, challenging, but far less ambiguous. Your character alternately merges into this gorgeous colorful world, drawing you with it; or your character offers to you a narrow but clear point of view. It offers up targets. You lock on, release, fire. Targeting cuts through all that is slippery, vague or dull about being in the world. Each moment of time in the game has a clarity and consistency that time in mere gamespace hardly ever achieves.

In everyday life, time exacts its toll in unknown increments of attrition. Objects tax the body in unobserved, unobservable ways; gradually, or suddenly, through some analog slide best not known to intimately — death. Time is violence. Topology offers up endless powers for transforming one object into another, for remaking anything and everything, from atoms to the atmosphere. And yet these powers work only against things in space, not against time. All one can do in gamespace is take potshots at time, which relentlessly chips away at life. In the game, there is at least the possibility of scoring points against time. In Rez, time starts out slow enough to enable the gamer to string together sequences of targets. Once you succeed at this, the tempo increases, and the gamer targets times of increasing intensity. If the gamer is defeated, if time wins out, it is only against a character. When the gamer walks away from the battle intact, it is with the temporary suggestion of a victory against the temporal itself.

In Rez, various colorful shapes appear as the enemy, but they are arbitrary, abstract. As if to highlight this, they sometimes move in quirky but predictable ways. They are not really the enemy. Or rather, they are only the proximate enemy. Time is the enemy. Targeting attempts to transform time from a medium of events, where one thing alternates with another, to a medium of self fulfillment, where by picking out a deliberative line across its surface, time can be made to register the integrity and significance of one’s character — and by proxy one’s self — and reward it with the next level. Within the game, targeting becomes an act that recruits time the eternal enemy to one’s side.

Things appear to die in Rez when you shoot them. The music swells and the colors blaze in all their glory. But there can really be nothing on the other side of a mere sign of death. These signs are digital, mere repeatable bits; death is not. Niall Lucy: “Death is always absolutely singular.” Signs can always be exchanged for other signs. Death is something else. Jacques Derrida: “Dying can never be taken, borrowed, transferred, delivered, promised or transmitted.” It can never be incorporated into topology, which is nothing but lines upon lines along which to borrow, transfer, deliver, promise, transmit, etc, etc. Death is the last line, the last threshold for topological space. Dying is analog, a slippage toward nothingness. Hence the appeal of targeting. The appalling drag and friction of death can be turned into a sign and made the aim of a targeting. In Rez, the brightly colored signs of imminent threat loom up against the horizon of time. The game makes it appear as if one has no choice in the matter. Targeting appears as a violence without guilt. One targets out of necessity. But in targeting, one battles the signs of death, disposing of the problem of the impossibility of the signs of death ever having any meaning, this side of death itself.

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(2) Comments for 132.
posted: 10/24/2006

I like the idea of a stylized world like Rez being less ambiguous than normal video game space–I can imagine most people scratching their heads with confusion if seeing that sentence out of context. But I agree. It’s kind of like GTA’s polar opposite, which a very detailed, realistic world where time is something you can almost take for granted. If you think about it, almost all games offer “targets,” in a way–characters to talk to or places to go that will trigger a sequence of events–but in Rez, the whole targeting process it simplified and then sped up. Straight to the point (and, of course, less ambiguous because of this).

McKenzie Wark responds to Ke
posted: 10/25/2006

Ke writes: “If you think about it, almost all games offer “targets,” in a way–characters to talk to or places to go that will trigger a sequence of events–but in Rez, the whole targeting process it simplified and then sped up.”

Exactly: that’s what interests me about Rez. It boils games down to one of their key aspects. There’s other things to games besides targeting, but that’s a key one.

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(1) Comments for 133.
posted: 3/12/2007

I really like the idea of “Time is violence” in there. Time seems to be omnipotent, everywhere, and yet there never seems to be enough of it, no?

I have yet to play Rez, since I lack funds, a Dreamcast, and a place to find Rez, but I have heard much about it, and this has raised my interest in it even further. Everyone speaks of it’s fast-paced gameplay and trippy acid trip-like graphics, and if it’s trippy and fast enough to get it’s own section in Gamer Theory, it must be good.

Heheh. For some becrazed reason or another, I am suddenly reminded of several episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” “Time Enough at Last” being the most obvious, “Passage of the Lady Anne” coming in a close second.

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(2) Comments for 134.
posted: 8/29/2006

to be fair, i’ve ony read about 10 pages of this. it’s refreshing to see rez on your game list.

enemies move the way they do to facilitate gameplay. either they’re abstract because it justifies their movement, or thematic coherance called for them to be abstract and their movement was conceived within those constraints to optimize gameplay. as opposed to moving to highlight the abstract forms.

this is off topic of the textual content, but your title (with the leet speak) doesn’t really strike me as the right move. none of the games you discuss foster a leet community, and even if they did, leet is still a negative and offensive stereotype of gamers.

it feels like the sort of thing that is going to push away readers who are actual gamers, and attract people who don’t really play games, and just look at gamers as some foreign body to study.

oh. i really like your chapter names.

McKenzie Wark responds to Rob Fitzpatrick
posted: 8/30/2006

The title for the book version won’t be in leet.

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(2) Comments for 135.
posted: 5/25/2006

I think this is (almost) your FIRST reference to DEATH in the book
I would guess that you need to flag up some thoughts on violence and simulated death in an intro…or cover it earlier after all its SUCH a big thing with the moms – and dads – like I would be disappointed to find “my little angel” shooting up up on the PC rather than downloading faeries to colour in. But who knows! Her big sister has an MSN handle that says she’s a “frickin robot and wants to cut through those she loves”…and I’m still taking to her! I guess its a “when they are ready they are ready” thing.

That is a weak post – kill it off if you like…KILL IT! DIE THOUGHT!

Ha Oh By the way I do realise that something is missing from this work. HUMOUR I don;t think I’ve laughed once since I started reading 2 hours ago…You might like to ask if I am your “average” reader if I carry on for two hours without a break (or a giggle).

McKenzie Wark responds to simon
posted: 5/25/2006

I’m sorry it isn’t funnier. I thought the Benjamin the Sim part was at least witty, but maybe not.

I like to write against the grain, hence i don’t take the violence thing to be central.

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