GAMERTHEORY/McKenzieWark/Version2.0[Note:thistextiscompleteexceptforsomecorrectionsandadditionsmadetothefinalpageproof.]"Theunrealityofgamesgivesnoticethatrealityisnotyetreal.Unconsciouslytheyrehearsetherightlife."--TheodorAdorno"Thereisanabsoluteinthemomentofthegame;andthisabsolute,likeeveryrealityormomenttakentotheabsolute,representsaspecificformofalienation."--HenriLefebvreForFelix(andhisplaymates)LudeFeliciterGAMERTHEORY/McKenzieWark/Version2.0AcknowledgementsAgony(onTheCave(tm))Allegory(onTheSims)America(onCivilizationIII)Analog(onKatamariDamacy)Atopia(onViceCity)Battle(onRez)Boredom(onStateofEmergency)Complex(onDeusEx)Conclusions(onSimEarth)Cuts(listofsamples)AcknowledgementsFirstly,ImustthankalloftheparticipantsinGAM3R7H30RY,a'networkedbook'whichpresentedversion1.1ofthistextasapretextforcommentsanddiscussion.Forversion2.0,Imademanychangestothetextonthebasisofthecommentsofferedtherebygamers,theoryheads,mediahackersandother'organicintellectuals'ofthedigitalage.Aneditedselectionofthecommentspertainingdirectlytothetextareincludedamongthenotesattheend.Secondly,IwouldalsoliketothankTheInstitutefortheFutureoftheBookforhostingGAM3R7H30RYversion1.1,andformanystimulatingdiscussions.ItwouldnothavebeenhalfasmuchfunwithoutBobStein,BenVershbow,RayCha,DanViselandJesseWilbur.Thirdly,IwouldliketothankmystudentsatEugeneLangColle
ge.Computergamesareakeypartofthesharedculturefromwhichonecanbegintheprocess-aslaboriousasitisplayful-ofcreatingareflectiveandcriticalapproachtothetimes.MystudentsatLanghavebeenactiveparticipantsintheshapingoftheideasinthisbook.Anyremainingactsoffollyinthisbookaretobechargeddirectlytomyownaccount.Agony(onTheCave(tm))Fig.1001.Evergetthefeelingyouareplayingsomevastanduselessgametowhichyoudon'tknowthegoal,andcan'tremembertherules?Evergetthefiercedesiretoquit,toresign,toforfeit,onlytodiscoverthere'snoumpire,noreferee,noregulator,towhomtoannounceyourcapitulation?Evergetthevaguedreadthatwhileyouhavenochoicebuttoplaythegame,youcan'twinit,can'tevenknowthescore,orwhokeepsit?Eversuspectthatyoudon'tevenknowwhoyourrealopponentmightbe?Evergetmadovertheobviousfactthatthediceareloaded,thedeckstacked,thetablerigged,andthefix-in?Welcometogamespace.It'severywhere,thisatopianarena,thisspeculationsport.Nopainnogain.Nogutsnoglory.Giveityourbestshot.There'snosecondplace.Winnertakeall.Here'saheadsup:Ingamespace,evenifyouknowthedeal,areaplayer,havegotgame,youwillnotice,allthesame,thatthegamehasgotyou.Welcometothethunderdome.Welcometotheterrordome.Welcometothegreatestgameofall.Welcometotheplayoffs,thebigleague,themasters,theonlygameintown.Youareagamerwhetheryoulikeitornot,nowthatweallliveinagamespacethatiseverywhereandnowhere.AsMicrosoftsays:W
heredoyouwanttogotoday?Youcangoanywhereyouwantingamespacebutneverleaveit.002.SupposethereisabusinessinyourneighborhoodcalledTheCave(tm).Itoffers,foranhourlyfee,accesstogameconsolesinadarkenedroom.Supposeitispartofachain.Theconsolesformalocalareanetwork,andalsolinktoothersuchnetworkselsewhereinthechain.SupposeyouareagamerinTheCave(tm).Youtestyourskillsagainstothergamers.YouhaveplayedinTheCave(tm)sincechildhood.Youreyesseeonlythemonitorbeforeyou.Yourearshearonlythroughtheheadphonesthatencasethem.Yourhandsclutchonlythecontrollerwithwhichyoublastawayatthedigitalfigureswhoshootbackatyouonthescreen.Heregamersseetheimagesandhearthesoundsandsaytoeachother:"Why,theseimagesarejustshadows!Thesesoundsarejustechoes!Therealworldisouttheresomewhere."Theexistenceofanother,morerealworldofwhichTheCave(tm)providesmerecopiesisassumed,butnobodythinksmuchofit.HerereignsthewisdomofPlaystation:Liveinyourworld,playinours.003.Perhapsyouarenotjustanygamer.Perhapsyouwanttobreakwiththestereotype.Youaretheonewhodecidestoinvestigatetheassumptionofarealworldbeyondthegame.Youturnawayfromthescreenandunplugtheheadphones.Yougetupandstaggeroutofthedarkenedroom,towardthelightoutside.YouaresodazzledbythelightthatthepeopleandthingsoutthereinthebrightworldseemlessrealthantheimagesandsoundsofTheCave(tm).Youturnawayfromthisblindingnewworld,whichseems,strangely
,unreal.YoureturntothescreenandtheheadphonesandthedarknessofbeingagamerinTheCave(tm).004.Supposesomeone,aparentmaybe,ateacherorsomeotherguardian,dragsyoubackoutintothelightandmakesyoustaythere.Itwouldstillbeblinding.Youcouldnotlookdirectlyatthings.Maybetheguardianprintsoutsomepicsofyourfamilyormaybeamapoftheneighborhood,toacclimatizeyou,beforeyoucanlookatthings.Graduallyyouseethepeoplearoundyou,andwhatitisthattheydo.Thenperhapsyouremembertheimmense,immersivegamesofTheCave(tm),andwhatpassesforwisdomamongstthosestillstuckthere.AndsoyoureturntoTheCave(tm),totalkortexttotheothergamersaboutthisworldoutside.005.YoucommunicatetofellowgamersinTheCave(tm)abouttheoutsideworldofwhichTheCave(tm)isjustashadow.Ortryto.Plato:"Andifthecave-dwellershadestablished,downthereinthecave,certainprizesanddistinctionsforthosewhoweremostkeen-sightedinseeingthepassingshadows,andwhowerebestabletorememberwhatcamebefore,andafter,andsimultaneouslywithwhat,thusbestabletopredictfutureappearancesintheshadow-world,willourreleasedprisonerhankeraftertheseprizesorenvythispowerorhonor?"Youbet!TheCave(tm)isaworldofpureagon,ofcompetitivestrivingafterdistinction.Butsupposeyouarethatrare,stray,thoughtfulgamerwhodecidestotrythisnewgameofgettingbeyondthegameagain?SupposeyouemergefromTheCave(tm)anddecidetotakestockoftheworldbeyond?Youfindthatthisotherworldisinsom
ecuriouswaysratherlikeTheCave(tm).Thepicsoffamily,themapofthe'hood,seemmadeofthesamedigitalstuffasyourfavoritesgamesinsideTheCave(tm).Ifthereisadifference,itmaynotbequitewhatitseems.006.HereiswhatyouobserveabouttheworldoutsideTheCave(tm):Thewholeoflifeappearsasavastaccumulationofcommoditiesandspectacles,ofthingswrappedinimagesandimagessoldasthings.Buthowaretheseimagesandthingsorganized,andwhatroledotheycallforanyoneandeveryonetoadopttowardsthem?Imagesappealasprizes,andcallustoplaythegameinwhichtheyareallthatisatstake.Youobservethatworldafterworld,caveaftercave,whatprevailsisthesameagon,thesamedigitallogicofoneversustheother,endinginvictoryordefeat.Agonyrules!Everythinghasvalueonlywhenrankedagainstanother;everyonehasvalueonlywhenrankedagainstanother.Everysituationiswin-lose,unlessitiswin-win-asituationwhereplayersarefreetocollaborateonlybecausetheyseekprizesindifferentgames.Therealworldappearsasavideoarcadiadividedintomanyandvariedgames.Workisaratrace.Politicsisahorserace.Theeconomyisacasino.Eventheutopianjusticetocomeintheafterlifeisforeclosed:Hewhodieswiththemosttoyswins.Gamesarenolongerapastime,outsideoralongsideoflife.Theyarenowtheveryformoflife,anddeath,andtime,itself.Thesegamesarenojoke.Whenthescreenflashesthelegendgameover,youareeitherdead,ordefeated,oratbestoutofquarters.007.Thegamehascolonizeditsrivalswithinth
eculturalrealm,fromthespectacleofcinematothesimulationsoftelevision.Storiesnolongeropiateuswithimaginaryreconciliationsofrealproblems.Thestoryjustrecountsthestepsbywhichsomeonebeatsomeoneelse-arealvictoryforimaginarystakes.Theonlyoriginalscreengenreoftheearly21stcenturyisnotcalled'realityTV'fornothing.Brenton&Cohen:"Bysigningtheirreleaseforms,contestantsagreetoendupasstatistics,eachplayer'sfeelingsandactionsmanipulated…leadingtoinfidelity,tears,perhapsheartbreak."Sure,realityTVdoesn'tlooklikereality,butthenneitherdoesreality.Bothlooklikegames.Bothbecomeaseamlessspaceinwhichgamerstesttheirabilitieswithincontrivedscenarios.Thesituationsmaybeartificial,thedialoguelessthanspontaneous,andthegamersmaymerelybedoingwhattheproducerstellthem.Allthisisperfectlyofapiecewitharealitywhichisitselfanartificialarena,whereeveryoneisalreadyagamer,waitingfortheirturn.008.Thegamehasnotjustcolonizedreality,itisalsothesoleremainingideal.Gamespaceproclaimsitslegitimacythroughvictoryoverallrivals.Thereigningideologyimaginestheworldasalevelplayingfield,uponwhichallmenareequalbeforeGod,thegreatgamedesigner.History,politics,culture-gamespacedynamiteseverythingwhichisnotinthegame,likeanout-datedVegascasino.Everythingisevacuatedfromanemptyspaceandtimewhichnowappearsnatural,neutralandwithoutqualities-agamespace.Thelinesareclearlymarked.Everyactioni
sjustameanstoanend.Allthatcountsisthescore.Asforwhoownstheteamsandwhorunstheleague,bestnottoask.Asforwhoisexcludedfromthebigleaguesandhighscores,bestnottoask.Asforwhokeepsthescoreandwhomakestherules,bestnottoask.Asforwhatrulingbodydoesthehandicappingandonwhatbasis,bestnottoask.Allisforthebestinthebest-andonly-possibleworld.Thereis-togiveitaname-amilitaryentertainmentcomplex,anditrules.Itstriumphsaffirmnotjusttherulesofthegamebuttheruleofthegame.009.Everythingthemilitaryentertainmentcomplextoucheswithitsgoldplatedoutputjacksturnstodigits.Everythingisdigitalandyetthedigitalisasnothing.Nohumancantouchit,smellit,tasteit.Itjustbeepsandblinksandreportsitselfinglowingalphanumerics,spoutingstockquotesonyourcellphone.Sure,theremaybevivid3Dgraphics.Theremaybepiechartsandbargraphs.Theremaybeswirlsandwhorlsofbrightlycoloredpolygonsblazingfromscreentoscreen.Butthesearejustdecoration.Thejitterofyourthumbonthebuttonortheflickerofyourwristonthemouseconnectdirectlytoaninvisible,intangiblegamespaceofpurecontest,pureagon.Itdoesn'tmatterifyourcavecomesequippedwithaPlaystationorBloombergterminal.Itdoesn'tmatterwhetheryouthinkyouareplayingthebondmarketorGrandTheftAuto.Itisalljustanalgorithmwithenoughunknownstomakeagameofit.010.Oncegamesrequiredanactualplacetoplaythem,whetheronthechessboardorthetenniscourt.Evenwarshadbattlefields.Nowglobalp
ositioningsatellitesgridthewholeearthandputallofspaceandtimeinplay.Warfare,theysay,nowlookslikevideogames.Welldon'tkidyourself.Warisavideogame-forthemilitaryentertainmentcomplex.Tothemitdoesn'tmatterwhathappens'ontheground'.Theground-theold-fashionedbattlefielditself-isjustanecessaryexternalitytothegame.SlavojZizek:"Itisthusnotthefantasyofapurelyasepticwarrunasavideogamebehindcomputerscreensthatprotectsusfromtherealityofthefacetofacekillingofanotherperson;onthecontraryitisthisfantasyoffacetofaceencounterwithanenemykilledbloodilythatweconstructinordertoescapetheRealofthedepersonalizedwarturnedintoananonymoustechnologicaloperation."Eventhesoldierwhoseinadequatearmorfailedhim,shotdeadinanalleybyasniper,hashisdeath,likehislife,managedbyacomputerinablipoflogistics.011.Theoldclassantagonismshavenotgoneaway,butarehiddenbeneathlevelsofrank,whereeachagonizesovertheirworthagainstothersasmeasuredbythepriceoftheirhouse,thesizeoftheirvehicleandwhere,perversely,workinglongerandlongerhoursisasignofwinningthegame.Workbecomesplay.Workdemandsnotjustone'smindandbodybutalsoone'ssoul.Youhavetobeateamplayer.Yourworkhastobecreative,inventive,playful-ludic,butnotludicrous.Workbecomesagamespace,butnogamesarefreelychosenanymore.Notleastforchildren,whoiftheyaretobethewinsomeoffspringofwin-allparents,findthemselvesdraftedintoendlesseveningshifts
ofteamsport.Thepurposeofwhichistobuildcharacter.Whichcharacter?Thecharacterofthegoodsport.Characterforwhat?Fortheworkplace,withitsteamcamaraderieandpeerenforceddiscipline.Forothers,workisstilljustdull,repetitivework,butthedreamistoescapeintothecommerceofplay-tomakeitintothemajorleagues,orcompeteforrecorddealsasadivaoraplayaintherapgame.Andforstillothers,thereisonlythegameofsurvival.Biggie:"Eitheryou'reslingin'crackrockoryougotawickedjumpshot."Playbecomeseverythingtowhichitwasonceopposed.Itiswork,itisserious,itismorality,itisnecessity.012.Theoldidentitiesfadeaway.Nobodyhasthetime.Thegamerisnotinterestedinplayingthecitizen.ThelawisfineasaspectatorsportonCourtTV,butbeingacitizenjustinvolvesyouinendlessattemptstogetoutofjuryduty.Gotaproblem?TellittoJudgeJudy.Thegamerelectstochoosesidesonlyforthepurposeofthegame.ThisweekitmightbeastheGermansvs.theAmericans.Nextweekitmightbeasagangsteragainstthelaw.Ifthegamerchoosestobeasoldierandplaywithrealweapons,itisasanArmyofOne,testingandrefiningpersonalskillpoints.Theshrillandconstantpatrioticnoiseyouhearthroughthespeakersmaskstheslowerosionofanycoherentfellowfeelingwithintheremnantsofnationalborders.Thisgamespaceescapesallcheckpoints.ItisanAmericawithoutqualities,foreveryoneandnobody.Allthatisleftofthenationisaneverywherethatisnowhere,anatopiaofnoisy,righteousvictoriesandquiet,sinis
terfailures.Manifestdestiny-therighttorulethroughvirtue-giveswaytoitslatentdestiny-thevirtueofrightthroughrule.Civicvirtuedrownsinahurricaneofmeresurvivalism.013.Thegamerisnotreallyinterestedinfaith,althoughaheightenedrhetoricoffaithmayfillthevoidcarvedoutofthesoulbytheinsinuationsofgamespace.Thegamer'sGodisagamedesigner.Heimplantsineverythingahiddenalgorithm.Faithisamatteroftheintelligencetointuittheparametersofthisgeekdesignandscoreaccordingly.Allthatisrighteouswins;allthatwinsisrighteous.Tobealoseroralameristhemarkofdamnation.Whenyouareagamer,youareleftwithnothingtobelieveinbutyourownGod-givenabilities.Gamersconfronteachotheringamesofskillwhichrevealwhohasbeenchosenbythegameastheonewhohasmostfullyinternalizeditsalgorithm.Forthosewhodespairoftheirabilities,therearegamesofchance,wheregracerevealsitselfintherollofthedice.RogerCaillois:"Chanceiscourtedbecausehardworkandpersonalqualificationsarepowerlesstobringsuchsuccessabout."Thegamblermayknowwhatthegamer'sfaithrefusestocountenance.014.Outsideeachcaveisanothercave;beyondthegameisanothergame.Eachhasitsparticularrules;eachhasitsranksofhighscores.Isthatallthereis?Thegamerwholiftsaneyefromthetargetrisksaparalyzingboredom.PaoloVirno:"Atthebaseofcontemporarycynicismisthefactthatmenandwomenlearnbyexperiencingrulesratherthan'facts'...Learningtherules,however,alsomeansrecogniz
ingtheirunfoundednessandconventionality….Wenowfaceseveraldifferent'games',eachdevoidofallobviousnessandseriousness,onlythesiteofanimmediateself-affirmation--anaffirmationthatismuchmorebrutalandarrogant,muchmorecynical,themoreweemploy,withnoillusionsbutwithperfectmomentaryadherence,thoseveryruleswhoseconventionalityandmutabilitywehaveperceived."Eachgameendsinasummarydecision:That'sHot!Orifnot,You'reFired!GotquestionsaboutqualitiesofBeing?Whatever.015.Sothisistheworldasitappearstothegamer:amatrixofendlesslyvaryinggames-agamespace-allreducibletothesameprinciples,allproducingthesamekindofsubjectwhobelongstothisgamespaceinthesameway-asagamertoagame.Whatwoulditmeantoliftone'seyefromthetarget,topauseonthetrigger,tounclenchone'sever-clickingfinger?IsitevenpossibletothinkoutsideTheCave(tm)?Perhapswiththetriumphofgamespace,whatthegamerastheoristneedsistoreconstructthedeletedfilesonthosewhothoughtpureplaycouldbearadicaloption,whoopposedgamespacewiththeirrevolutionaryplaydates.TheSituationists,forexample.RaoulVaneigem:"Subversion…isanallembracingreinsertionofthingsintoplay.Itistheactwherebyplaygraspsandreunitesbeingsandthingshithertofrozensolidinahierarchyoffragments."Play,yes,butthegame-no.GuyDebord:"IhavescarcelybeguntomakeyouunderstandthatIdon'tintendtoplaythegame."Nowtherewasaplayerunconcernedwithanexitstrategy.016.'Play'waso
nceagreatsloganofliberation.RichardNeville:"Thenewbeautifulfreakswillteachusallhowtoplayagain(andthey'llsuffersociety'spenalty)."PlaywasoncethebatteringramtobreakdowntheChinesewallsofalienatedwork,ofdividedlabor.Onlylookatwhathasbecomeofplay.Playisnolongeracountertowork.Playbecomeswork;workbecomesplay.Playoutsideofworkfounditselfcapturedbytheriseofthedigitalgame,whichrespondstotheboredomoftheplayerwithendlessroundsofrepetition,levelafterleve
lofdifferenceasmoreofthesame.Playnolongerfunctionsasafoilforacriticaltheory.Theutopiandreamofliberatingplayfromthegame,ofapureplaybeyondthegame,merelyopenedthewayfortheextensionofgamespaceintoeveryaspectofeverydaylife.Whilethecounter-culturewantedworldsofplayoutsidethegame;themilitaryentertainmentcomplexcounteredinturnbyexpandingthegametothewholeworld,containingplayforeverwithinit.017.Evencriticaltheory,whichoncetookitsdistancefromdamagedlife,becomesanothergame.Applytotoprankedschools.Findagoodcoach.Pickarisingsubfield.Proveyourabilities.Getyourselfpublished.Getsomegrants.Getajob.Getanotherjoboffertoestablishyourlevelandbargainwithyourcurrentemployer.Keepyournosecleanandgettenure.Youwon!Nowyoucanplay!Nowyoucandowhatyouwanted,secretly,allthoseyearsago…Onlynowyoucan'tremember.Youbecameawin-winSituationist.Yourcriticaltheorybecamehypocriticaltheory.Itisagainsteverythinginthewholewidew
orldexceptthegamespacethatmadeitpossible.Butgamespaceisnowtheveryformoftheworld,andthisworldeludedyourthoughtevenasitbroughthometheglitteringprizes.Itisgamespacethatwon.Thehypocriticaltheorist,inanagonyoffitfulsleep,dreamsofmeetingtheghostofGuyDebord,andproudlycitesalistofachievements:IvyLeaguejob,bookdeals,grants,promotion,tenure,recognitionwithinthehighestranksofthedisciplinaryguild.TheghostofDebordsighs:"Solittleambitioninonesoyoung."018.
Whatthenhasthegamerseeninthatbrightworld,thatgamespace,beyondTheCave(tm)?Youseepeoplehunchedoverscreens,theirhandscompulsivelyjerkingcontrollers.Eachsitsalone,andtalksortextstounseenothers,dazzledbyimagesthatseemtocomefromnowhere,awashinpulsingandbeepingsounds.Nooneouthereinthe'realworld'reallylooksallthatdifferenttothestereotypicalgamer,thumbjitteringonthecontroller.Nowyouareanenlightenedgamer,youseehowtheworldbeyondthegamesofTheCave(tm)seemslikeanarrayofmoreorlesssimilarcaves,alldigital,eachanagonwithitsownrules,somearbitraryblendofchanceandcompetition.Andbeyondthat?Notmuch.Therealhasbecomeamereepiphenomenonwithoutwhichgamespacecannotexist,butwhichislosing,bitbybit,anyformorsubstanceorspiritorhistorythatisnotsuckedintoandtransformedbygamespace.Beyondgamespaceappearonlythespentfragmentsofnamelessforms.019.GamertheorystartswiththesuspensionoftheassumptionsofTheCave(tm),thatthereisa
morerealworldbeyondit,somewhere,andthatsomeone-somepriestorprofessor-knowswhereitis.Thegamerarrivesatthebeginningsofareflectivelife,agamertheory,bysteppingoutofTheCave(tm)--andreturningtoit.(SeeFig.1)Ifthegameristoholdgamespacetoaccountintermsofsomethingotherthanitself,itmightnotbethatmereshadowofashadowofthereal,murky,formless,thatlurkslikearesidueinthecorners.Itmightinsteadbethegameproper,asitisplayedinTheCave.(tm)GrandTheftAuto
,maybe,orDeusEx.Hereatleastthegameshadowstheidealformofthealgorithm.Hereatleastthedigitallogictowhichgamespacemerelyaspiresisactuallyrealized.Thechallengeis-ah,buteventophraseitthusistoacknowledgethegame-toplayatplayitself,butfromwithinthegame.Thegamerastheoristhastochoosebetweentwostrategiesforplayingagainstgamespace.Oneistoplayforthereal.(Taketheredpill).Buttherealseemsnothingbutaheapofbrokenimages.Theotheristoplayforthegame(Takethebluepill).Playwithinthegame,butagainstgamespace.Beludic,butalsolucid.020.Foragamertobeatheoristmightnotrequiretheabilitytoplayanyparticulargameespeciallywell.Theprizeshavenothingtodowiththinkingthegame.Normightitbetheabilitytodismissthegameasunrealinthenameofsomesupposedlymoresolidlygroundedoutside.What?Theseluminouspixelsarenotreal,yousay?Thenneitherisyourworld.Ifanything,TheCave(tm)seemstobewheretheforms,theideas,theabstractionsbehindthemereappearanceofthingsin
theoutsideworldcanbefound.Whethergamespaceismorerealornotthansomeotherworldisnotthequestion.Thateveninitsunrealityitmayhaverealeffectsonotherworlds-is.Gamesarenotrepresentationsofthisworld.Theyaremorelikeallegoriesofaworldmadeoverasgamespace.Theyencodetheabstractprinciplesuponwhichdecisionsabouttherealnessofthisorthatworldaredecided.021.Hereistheguidingprincipleofafutureutopia,nowlongpast:"Toeachaccordingtohisneeds;fromeachaccordin
gtohisabilities."Ingamespace,whatdowehave?Anatopia,aplaceless,senselessrealm,wherequiteadifferentmaximrules:"Fromeachaccordingtotheirabilities-toeacharankandscore."Needsnolongerenterintoit.Notevendesirematters.Uncriticalgamersdonotwinwhattheydesire;theydesirewhattheywin.Thescoreisthething.Therestisagony.Thegamerastheoristatfirstsightseemstohaveacquiredanabilitythatcountsfornothingingamespace.Thegamerastheoristmightbeginwithanindifferencetodistinction,toallthatthegamespaceprizes.Youdoesnotplaythegametowin(ornotjusttowin).Youtriflewithit-playingwithstyletounderstandthegameasaform.Youtriflewiththegametounderstandthenatureofgamespaceasaworld-astheworld.Youtriflewiththegametodiscoverinwhatwaygamespacefallsshortofitsself-proclaimedperfection.Thedigitalgameplaysupeverythingthatgamespacemerelypretendstobe:afairfight,alevelplayingfield,freecompetition.022.Nowonderdigitalgamesaretheemergentculturalfor
mofthetimes.Thetimeshavethemselvesbecomejustaseriesoflessandlessperfectgames.TheCave(tm)presentsgamesinapurestate,asarealmwherejustice-ofasort-reigns.Thebeginningsofacriticaltheoryofgames-agamertheory-mightlienotinholdinggamesaccountableasfailedrepresentationsoftheworld,butquitethereverse.Theworldoutsideisagamespacethatappearsasanimperfectformofthecomputergame.ThegamerisanarcheologistofTheCave(tm).Thecomputergamesthegamerfindsthere
aretheruins,notofalostpast,butofalostfuture.Gamespaceisbuiltontheruinsofafutureitproclaimsintheoryyetdisavowsinpractice.Totheextentthatthegamerastheoristwantstohackor'mod'thegame,itistoplayevenmoreintimatelywithinit.Thegamerastheoristisnotouttobreakthegame.Thepointisnottoreducethegametotheleveloftheimperfectworldoutsideit.Likeanyarcheologist,thegamerastheoristtreatstheseruinsofthefuturewithobsessivecareandattentiontotheirpreservation,nottheirdestruction.023.Gamespaceneedstheorists-butalsoanewkindofpractice.Onethatcanbreakdownthelinethatdividesgamerfromdesigner,toredeploythedigitalsothatitmakesthisverydistinctionarbitrary.Itisacharacteristicofgamestorenderdigitaldecisionsonallshadesofdifference.Oneeitherwinsorloses.Oneeitherhitsormisses.Thepracticeofthegamerastheoristmightbetoreinstallwhatisundecidablebackintothegamespacewhoseprimaryviolencehasnothingtodowithbrightlycoloredexplosionsormountin
gdeathcounts,butwiththedecisionbydigitalfiatonwhereeverythingbelongsandhowitisranked.LarsSvendsen:"Howboringlifewouldbewithoutviolence!"Therealviolenceofgamespaceisitsdicingofeverythinganalogintothedigital,cuttingcontinuumsintobits.Thatgamespresentthedigitalinitsmostpureformarereasonenoughtoembracethem,forhereviolenceisatitsmostextreme-anditsmostharmless.024.Ofallthekindsofbelongingthatcontendforallegiance-asworkersagainsttheboss,
ascitizensagainsttheenemy,asbelieversagainsttheinfidel-allnowhavetocompetewithonewhichmakesagonitsfirstandonlyprinciple.Gamespacewantsusalltobelievewearenothingbutgamersnow,competingnotagainstenemiesofclassorfaithornation,butonlyagainstothergamers.Anewhistoricalpersonastalkstheearth.Alloftheprevioussuchpersonahadmanybreviariesandmanuals,andsothislittlebookseekstoofferguidanceforthinkingwithinthisnewpersona.AnABCoftheoryforgamers.Notastrategyguide,acheatsheetorawalk-throughforhowtoimproveone'sscoreorhoneone'striggerfinger.Aprimer,rather,inthinkingaboutaworldmadeoverasagamespace,madeoverasanimperfectcopyofthegame.Thegamemightnotbeutopia,butitmightbetheonlythingleftwithwhichtoplayagainstgamespace.025.NowondergamerschoosetospendtheirtimeholedupinTheCave(tm).Hereatleastthetargetsreallyareonlypolygons,andtheprizesreallyareworthless,merecolorsandnumbers.Thesearenottheleastofitsmerits.AndyetTheCave(t
m)isaworldyoucanneitherownnorcontrol.Eventhissubstituteforutopiaisinsomeoneelse'spossession.Thedigitalgameisbothanalmostutopianalternativetogamespaceanditsmostpureproduct.Orwas.Perhapsthegameiscollapsingbackintobusinessasusual.Perhapsthesingle-playergamewillbecomeananachronism,supercededbymultiplayerworldsasvenalandbenightedastherestofgamespace.Perhaps,likesilentcinema,thestand-alonegamewillbeanorphanedform.Perhapsgamedesignerssuc
hasWillWrightandTetsuyaMizogushiwillbetheSergeiEisensteinsandDzigaVertovsofalostart.Perhaps,inthismomentofeclipse,theclassicgameshavesomethingtoshowus.Sobyallmeansnecessary,beagamer,butbeagamerwhothinks-andacts-withaviewtorealizingtherealpotentialsofthegame,inandagainstthisworldmadeoverasagamespace.Onemightstartwiththecuriousgapbetweenthegamesonelovesandaneverydaylifewhich,bythelightofthegame,seemscuriouslysimilar,andyetsomehowlacking.Allegory(onTheSims)Fig.2026.Benjamingetsupinthemorning.Hegoestothetoilet.Heleavestheseatup.Heshowersandfixesbreakfast.Hereadsthepaper.Hefindsajob-asaTestSubject-startingtomorrow.It'snotmuch,buttimesarehard.Hereadsabook,andthenanother.Hefixeslunch,naps,readsagain.Hegoestobed.Hegetsup.Toilet,shower,breakfastagain.Hedoesnotmakehisbed.Hegoestowork.Hecomeshome,preparesanothermeal.HetalkstohisroommateBertabit.Hannahdropsby.Heflirtswithhersome.Hegoestobed,getsup,doesth
ewholethingalloveragain.027.Daysgoby.Notmuchchanges.Hiscookingimproves.Hemakesnewfriends-Ted,Gersholm,Asja.Theydropbysometimes;sometimeshevisits.Thereisthenewfurniture.Thatmakeshimabithappier,butnotmuch.HegetsapromotiontoLabAssistant.It'sthenightshift,butthepayisbetter.ThenhemakesFieldResearcherandisbackworkingregularhours.AfterawhilehebecomesaScholar.Heissocreative,butithelpstohavefriendsifyouwanttogetahead.Heaspirestobeinga
Theorist.Thepayisbetter.Andthehours.HedreamsofyachtsandbigscreenTVs.BenjaminisaSim,acharacterinagamecalledTheSims.Onecouldbeforgivenforimaginingthiswassomebody'slife.028.InTheSims,youcreatecharacterslikeBenjamin,buildandfurnishhomesforthem,findthemjobsandfriends.Allinaworldwithoutasky.PerhapsagamelikeTheSimscouldbeaparodyofeverydaylifein'consumersociety'.Benjaminandhisfriendsdreamofthings.Thingsmakethemhappy.Theyfindanicesofasomuchmorerelaxingthanacheapone.Asthegame'sdesignerWillWrightsays:"Ifyousitthereandbuildabigmansionthat'sallfullofstuff,withoutcheating,yourealizethatalltheseobjectsendupsuckingupallyourtime,whenalltheseobjectshadbeenpromisingtosaveyoutime.…Andit'sactuallykindofaparodyofconsumerism,inwhichatsomepointyourstufftakesoveryourlife."Othersdisagree.GamescholarGonzaloFrasca:"Certainly,thegamemaybemakingfunofsuburbanAmericans,butsinceitrewardstheplayereverytimeshebuysnewstuff,Idonotthi
nkthiscouldbeconsideredparody."InTheSims,characterscanhavelotsofdifferentjobs,butasFredricJamesonsays:"parodyfindsitselfwithoutavocation"029.PerhapsagamelikeTheSimscouldbeanallegoryforeverydaylifeingamespace.Intheallegoricalmode,saysWalterBenjamin:"Anyperson,anyobject,anyrelationshipcanmeanabsolutelyanythingelse.Withthispossibilityadestructivebutjustverdictcanbepassedontheprofaneworld:itischaracterizedasaworldinwhichthedetail
isofnogreatimportance."ForBenjamin,thefragmentingofthemodernworldbytechnique,theprofusionofcommoditiesthatwellupintheabsenceofacoherentwhole,findsitsexpressioninallegory,whichfragmentsthingsstillfurther,shatteringtheillusionofbourgeoisorder,revealingthemeansbywhichitismade."Whatresiststhemendacioustransfigurationofthecommodityworldisitsdistortionintoallegory."Andyetthispossibilitytooseemsexhausted.ThefragmentingofthefragmentedseemsroutinetoaSim.Nootherworldseemspossible.030.PerhapsagamelikeTheSimsisnotjustanallegorybutalsoan'allegorithm.'Tobeagamerisaslightlydifferentpersonatobeingareaderoraviewer.LevManovich:"Astheplayerproceedsthroughthegame,shegraduallydiscoverstherulesthatoperateintheuniverseconstructedbythisgame."AlexGalloway:"Toplaythegamemeanstoplaythecodeofthegame.Towinmeanstoknowthesystem.Andthustointerpretagamemeanstointerpretitsalgorithm(todiscoveritsparallelallegorithm)."Whatisdistinct
iveaboutgamesisthattheyproduceforthegameranintuitiverelationtothealgorithm.Theintuitiveexperienceandtheorganizingalgorithmtogetherareanallegorithmforafuturethatingamespaceisforeverpromisedbutnevercomestopass.Theallegorithmbywhichthegamerrelatestothealgorithmproducesaquiteparticularallegorybywhichgamerandalgorithmtogetherrelatetogamespace.Inagameanycharacter,anyobject,anyrelationshipcanbegivenavalue,andthatvaluecanbediscovered
.Withthispossibilityachallengingbutfairverdictcanbepassedontheprofaneworld:itischaracterizedasaworldinwhichanyvalueisarbitrary,yetitsvalueanditsrelationtoothervaluescanbediscoveredthroughtrialanderror.031.Analgorithm-forcurrentpurposes-isafinitesetofinstructionsforaccomplishingsometask,whichtransformsaninitialstartingconditionintoarecognizableendcondition.GregCostikyan:"Algorithmicgamesareonesinwhichunderlyingcalculationsorrulesdeterminethegame'sresponsetotheplayer'sinput."TherecipesthatBenjaminandotherSimslearnfromthecookbooksontheirbookshelvesarealgorithms.Benjamin'scareerasaTheoristisalsoanalgorithm.Thereisastartcondition:hemusthave8friends,4charismapoints,a7increativity,andsoon.Ithasendconditions,too.With10friends,5charismapointsand10forcreativity,theTheoristcareercanend,andanotherbegin.Thegamerselectsonesequenceafteranother,andgraduallylearnswhattheydo-that'salgorithm.Thegamerdiscoversarelati
onshipbetweenappearancesandalgorithminthegamewhichisadoubleoftherelationbetweenappearancesandaputativealgorithmingamespace-that'sallegorithm.(SeeFig.2)Butthereisalwaysagapbetweentheintuitivelyknowablealgorithmofthegameandthepassing,uneven,unfairsemblanceofanalgorithmintheeverydaylifeofgamespace-thisistheformthatallegorynowtakes.032.Theimagesandstoriesthatpopulategamesaremostlycribbedfromsomeothermedia,fromnovels,filmsortelevi
sion.Gamesmostlyjustrecycle,or'remediate',bitsofrepresentationfromothermedia.Bolter&Grusin:"remediationisadefiningcharacteristicofthenewdigitalmedia."Andhencenotspecifictogames.Fromthepointofviewofrepresentation,thegameisalwaysinadequatetoeverydaylife.ASiminTheSimsisasimpleanimatedcharacter,withfewfacialfeaturesorexpressions.InTheSims2theyseemalittlemorelifelike,buttheimprovementoftherepresentationinsomeparticularwaysonlyraisesthestandardsbywhichitappearstofallshortinothers.Fromthepointofviewofallegorithm,itallseemsmoretheotherwayaround.Everydaylifeingamespaceseemsanimperfectversionofthegame.Thegamespaceofeverydaylifemaybemorecomplexandvariegated,butitseemsmuchlessconsistent,coherentandfair.Perhapsthiswasalwaystheatopianpromiseofthedigital-arealofabsolute,impersonalequityandequanimity.Thegameopensacriticalgapbetweenwhatgamespacepromisesandwhatitdelivers.Whatistrueisnotreal;whatisrealisnottrue.This
iswhatthedoublemovementofallegorithmandallegoryhavetoreport.Thegameistrueinthatitsalgorithmisconsistent,butthisveryconsistencynegatesaworldthatisnot.033.ImaginethatBenjamin,ourcharacterinTheSims,makesittothepenultimatelevelandbecomesaTheorist.Perhapsthenyoubuyhimacomputerbecauseheseemsboredwithreading.Whatwouldhedowithit?PlayTheSims,ofcourse.BeingaTheorist,perhapshestartstothinkaboutit.Perhapshejotssomethinglikethisinhisnotebo
ok:"Thegamerwhoselistlessgazefallsonthecontrollerinhishandisreadyfortheallegorithm.Boredomisthebasisoftheallegorithmicinsightintotheworld.Boredomlayswastetotheappealofthegameasgame,andcallsattentiontotheambiguousrelationofgametogamespace.Allegorithmicperceptionisn-dimensional,itintuitsbehindappearancesinteractionsofmanyvariables.Theallegorithmicmodeofapprehensionisalwaysbuiltonanevaluativerelationtotheworldofappearances.Moreandmorerelentlessly,theeverydaylifeofgamersiscomingtoweartheexpressionofgamespace.Atthesametime,gamespaceseekstodisguisetheungamelikecharacterofthings.Whatheightensthemendacioustransformationofgamespaceisitsappearanceinanundistortedforminthegame.Still,gamespacewantstolookitselfintheface.Itcelebratesitsincarnationinthegamer."034.Inthegamer,Benjaminmightsay,isrebornthesortofidlerthatSocratespickedoutfromtheAthenianmarketplacetobehisinterlocutor."Only,thereisnolongeraSocrates,sot
hereisnoonetoaddresstheidler.Andtheslavelaborthatguaranteedhimhisleisurehaslikewiseceasedtoexist."InTheSims,asingamespace,onewondersiftheidlerhasdisappearedalso.ThereisnoidletimeinTheSims,orinthegamespaceofwhichitisthemoreperfectdouble.ThequartzheartofthecomputeronwhichTheSimsrunsticksoverremorselessly.Allofitsmomentsareequivalent,andsotoo,inaway,areallmomentsinTheSims.Sleeping,napping,conversationorreadingalladvanceone'sscore
s.Benjaminhastogotobedtogetupagaintogotoworktoearntherighttosleep,anddream,again.035.Tobeagameristocometounderstandingthroughquantifiablefailure.ThebargraphsmeasuringBenjamin'sbeingtrendnegativeandrefusetobudge.YouaretoobusyelsewheretogetBenjamintothetoiletontime,andhepeeshimself.Heneedssleep,heneedslove,heneedsanewkitchen.Heturnstofaceyou,thegamer,andgestureswildly,asifcursinghisGod.Whenthingsweregoingwell,youforgottosavethegame,sothereisnobettertimetogobackto.Nothingforitbuttoworkwithwhatyouhave,orquitandstartagain.Thegameisaknowablealgorithmfromwhichyouknowyoucanescape;gamespaceisanunknownalgorithmfromwhichthereisnoescape.Thegameisjustlikethegamespaceofeverydaylife,exceptthatthegamecanovercometheviolenceoftime.Thegametiesupthatonelooseendwithwhichgamespacestruggles-themortalflawofanirreversibletime.NowondertheSimturnsinvaintothegamerasaGod,foritisthegamerwhohasturnedtowardthegameasamessianic,r
eversibletime.036.GamersarenotalwaysgoodGods.It'ssuchatemptationtosetupaSimtosuffer.Deprivethemofaknowledgeofcookingandprettysoontheysetfiretothemselves.Buildahousewithoutdoorsorwindowsandtheystarve.Watchasthealgorithmworksitselfouttoitsterminalstate,thebargraphsslidingdowntonothing.Thisviolenceisnot'real'.Simsarenotpeople.Theyareimages.Theyareimagesinaworldwhichappearsasavastaccumulationofimages.Hencethepleasureindestroyingi
mages,todemonstrateagainandagaintheirworthlessness.Theycanmeananythingandnothing.Theyhavenosavingpower.Buteventhoughtheimagesaremeaningless,thealgorithmstillfunctions.Itassigns,ifnotmeaning,ifnotveracity,ifnotnecessity,thenatleastascoretorepresentations.InTheSimstheworldofgamespaceisredeemedbyprovidingforitsmyriadthingsthealgorithmthattheylacktoformconsistentrelations.037.TheSimwhosuffersturnstofaceitsgamer,lookingouttowardanabsentsky,appealingdirectly,beyondtheframeofthegameitself.Thegamermaynotanswer,ormaynotbeabletoanswer.ThegamerasGodsuffersfromanapparentlysimilaralgorithmiclogicastheSim.TheSimscomeswiththeologicaloptions.Turnon'freewill'andSimsstrayfromthepowersoftheirmaker.Turnitoffandtheiractionsarepredestined,butevenso,thegamer-godquicklyfindsthatthealgorithmisahigherpowerthatthepoweronecommands.ShouldthegamebegoingbadlyfortheSim,itturnstofacethegamer;shouldthegamebegoingbadlyforthegamer,t
hereisnooneforthegamertoturnawayandface.TheSimwhoaddressesahelpless,hopelessorlostGodlivesouttheallegoryofgamespaceitself.AtleasttheSimhassomeonetoturnto.Whocanthegamerturnto?Perhapsyoucanseenowthereasonforthepopularity,amongthosetroubledbygamespacebutlackingaconcepttoaccountforit,ofapersonalGodwhocanperformmiracles,whocanbreaktherulesofHisownalgorithm.038.Asagameryoucanhavenosenseofworth
andnofaithinsalvationotherthanthroughyourownefforts.Butthoseeffortsarefraught,andyouaresoonlostinthemazeofthegame.Thegamerachievesworththroughvictoriesofcharacter;butthatcharacterinevitablyfacesdefeatinturn.Orworse.Theonlythingworsethanbeingdefeatedisbeingundefeated.Forthenthereisnothingagainstwhichtosecuretheworthofthegamerotherthantofindanothergame.Onegameleadstothenext.It'sthesameforBenjamin.AfterTheoristcomesMadScientistandafterthat-nothing.Startover.Pickanewcareer.Getanexpansionpack.Trysomenewlives.StartasaPlaygroundMonitor,becomeaTeacher,aProfessor,gettenure,risetoDean,thefinally,MinisterofEducation.StartasaNobody,workingfortips.BecomeanInsider,aNameDropper,aSellOut,aPlayer,aCelebrity,thenfinally,aSuperstar.Butthesearejustarbitrarynamesforseriesoflevels.Anyqualitativedifferencebetweenlevelsisjustaneffectofanunderlyingquantity.Ahigherlevelisessentiallymorethanalowerlevel.Andsothere'snowheretogobuttomore,andmore,untilthereisnomore
,andthegamer,likethecharacter,isleftwithnothing.Thefruitofthedigitalistheexpulsionofqualityfromtheworld.That'sgamespa
ce.Theconsolationofthegameisthatatleastthisexpulsionisabsolute.039.OriginalSimscanbeanymixoftwogendersandthreecolors.InTheSims2youstartwithpresettemplates(Caucasian,AfricanAmerican,Chinese,Persian-andElf)alterableviaalotofsub-sliders.Youchoosegender,age,color,hairstyleandcolor,eyecolor,weight,height,glasses,hats,accessories,clothes,andsoon,buttheseexternalattributesaremerelyaskin.Theydonotreallyaffectthegame.Theslidingvariablesofcharacter,however,doprograminadvancewhatcareersaSimcanexcelat,andwhichpasttimesrestorefaculties.InSims2,theymaybestraightorgay.Again,itmakesnodifference.Eitherwaytheiroffspringmixthe'genetic'characterqualitiesoftheirparents.Theexternalrepresentationsareofnoaccount;theinternalvariablesdeterminepotential.The'skin'isarbitrary,adifferencewithoutadistinction,meredecoration.Underneathitliesacodewhichisall.TheSims2iscommittedbothtoageneticviewofintrinsicnatureandaliberalviewoftheequality,andhenceindifference,ofextrinsicappearances.040.InTheSims,thingsproliferate.Orrather,theskinsofthings.Youcanhavemanydifferentkindsofsofa,orcoffeetable,orlampshade,butthemeterisrunning,sotospeak.Youhavetomakemoremoneytobuymorethings.ButsomegamerswhoplayTheSimstriflewiththegameratherthanplayit.Thesegamer
sarenotinterestedin'winning'thegame,theyareinterestedindetails,infurniture,ortellingstories,orcreatinginterestingwo
rlds.Ifacheatissomeonewhoignoresthespaceofagametocutstraighttoitsobjective,thenthetriflerissomeonewhoignorestheobjectivetolingerwithinitsspace.BernardSuits:"Triflersrecognizerulesbutnotgoals,cheatsrecognizegoalsbutnotrules."TheSimslendsitselftoplaythattransformsitfromaworldofnumberbacktoaworldofmeaning.Algorithmbecomesamorestableplatformthanthevicissitudesofgamespaceforcreatingasuburbanworldofprettythings.Butintriflingwiththegame,thegamerstrugglestoescapeboredomandproducedifference-andfindsthatthistoohaslimits.StevenPoole:"Youmustlearnthesequencestheprogrammershavebuiltintothegame-and,okay,therearehundredsofthem,butthatdoesnotconstitutefreedom."Gamesredeemgamespacebyofferingaperfectunfreedom,aconsistentsetofconstraints.041.Allegoryisabouttherelationofsigntosign;allegorithmisabouttherelationofsigntonumber.Signsdon'topentorevealchainsofothersigns,pointinginalldirections.Orrather,itisnolongerofanyimportancewhatsignsreveal.Theybillowandfloat,poolandgather,arbitraryanduseless.Thereisnowaytoredeemthem.Butsignsnowpointtosomethingelse.Theypointtonumber.Andnumberinturnpointstothealgorithm,whichtransformsonenumberintoanother.Outofthebitrotofsigns,gamesmakeallegorithms.Thesignspointtonumbers,thenumberstoalgorithms,t
healgorithmstoallegorithmsofeverydaylifeingamespace,wheresignslikewisearedevalued,arbitrary,butcanstillstandasalleg
oriesoftheonethingthatstillmakessense,forthelogicofthedigital.042.Allegorybecomesadoublerelation:ontheoneside,thereistherelationofgamertoalgorithminthegame,itsallegorithm;ontheother,thereistherelationofallegorithmtoeverydaylifeingamespace.Inrelationtogamespace,thegameitselfworksasanescapefromtheagonyofeverydaylife,wherethestakesarerealanduncertain,totheunrealstakesofapuregame.Butthegamecanalsoworkasacritique,inturn,oftheunrealityofthestakesofgamespaceitself.WhenSimsdevoteesassignvaluestonon-existentfurniture,trulytheideaofeconomic'utility'haslostallmeaning.Thegamecanalsoworkasanatopia,whereplayisfreefromwork,fromnecessity,fromseriousness,frommorality.KillyourSims,ifyouwantto.Playherehasnolawbutthealgorithm.Andyetthereisatensionbetweenthegameandgamespace.Therelationbetweenthemisatonceanaloganddigital,bothacontinuumandasharpbreak.Thegamerstrugglestomakeofthegameaseparateworld,forescape,forcritique,foratopianplay,andyetgamespaceinsinuatesitselfintothegame.043.Startover:BenjaminbeginsasaBetaTester,becomesaHacker,andfinallyaGameDesigner.AfterthatyouaresupposedtoleveluptoVentureCapitalistthenfinallyInformationOverlord.Butsomethinggoeswrongalongtheway.Benjamin'sgamedesigncompanygoesbroke.Thewholeindustryisconsol
idating.SoBenjamingoestoworkforamuchbiggergamecompany.Hestartswork.It'samildsortof'crunch'time-normalwhenthere'sapr
ojectwithadeadline.Benjaminisworkingeighthours,sixdaysaweek.Theprojectisonschedule,soitsnotsobad.It'stemporary.HecomplainsabittoAsja.Thedeadlineforendingthecrunchcomesandgoes.Andanother.Thenthehoursgetlonger.Benjaminisworkingtwelvehours,sixdaysaweek.Benjamin'sbargraphsslideintothered.Thentherealcrunchtimebegins.Benjaminisworkingsevendaysaweek,"withtheoccasionalSaturdayeveningoffforgoodbehavior."044.Youcouldbeforgivenforthinkingthisisjustagame,butitissomebody'slife-asreportedinawidelycirculatedtextwrittenbyEASpouse.EA,orElectronicArts,isagamecompanybestknownforitsMaddensportsgames,butwhichalsowhichownsMaxis,whichmakesTheSims.EA'sslogan:ChallengeEverything-everythingexceptEA,ofcourse-orthegapbetweengameandgamespace.Inthegamespaceofcontemporarylabor,thingsarenotlikethemeasuredprogressionuptheranksofTheSims.InTheSims,BenjamincouldworkhiswayfromGameDesignertoInformationOverlordmuchthesamewayashehadworkedupthelevelsbelow.AtElectronicArts,thingsaredifferent.BeinganInformationOverlordlikeEA'sLarryProbstrequiresanarmyofBenjaminswithnothingtoworkwithbuttheirskillsasgamedesignersandnowheretogothantoanotherfirmwhichmayormaynotcrunchitsworkersjustashard.Asthemilitaryentertainmentcomplexconsolidatesintoahandfulofbigfir
ms,itsqueezesoutallbutafewnicheplayers.Gamespaceishereapoorimitationofitsowngame.045.Startoveragain:ThistimeBenjamin
beginsasaBucketRunner.HequicklyworkshimselfuptoColtanMiner.Coltan?Whatiscoltan?QuitTheSimsforamoment.PopthecoveroffyourPlaystationoryourlaptoporcellphone.Youarelookingatstuffthathascomefromallovertheworld-broughttogetherbyagloballogistics.InthegutsofyourmachineyoumayspotsomecapacitorsmadebyKemet,ormaybesemiconductorsfromIntel.Theseprobablycontaintantalum,amarvelousconductorofelectricity,alsoverygoodwithheat.Theywerequitepossiblymadewithcoltan(shortforcolumbite-tantalite)dugoutofthegroundintheCongo,wherethere'splentyofcoltan,fromwhichtantalumisrefined.TheOkapiFaunalReserveintheCongoishometogorillas,monkeysandelephantsaswellastheokapi,ararerelativeofthegiraffe.ThousandsofMbuti,orpygmies,alsolivethere.Theirlivelihoodiscompromisedbythecoltanminers,whodigwhatonejournalistcalled"SUV-sizedholes"inthemud,outofwhichtheycanextractaboutakiloofcoltanaday.Akiloofcoltanwasworth$80duringthetechnologyboom.Therewasaworldshortageofthestuff,whichevendelayedthereleaseoftheSonyPlaystation2.046.TheCongoisarguablytheregioninwhichthe'greatgame'ofcolonialexploitationhasdonethemostharmandconferredtheleastbenefits.TheCongo'sfirstdemocraticleader,PatriceLumumba,wasoustedinaCIAsponsoredcoupthatbroughttopowerthenotoriousMobutuSeseSek
u.WiththecollapseoftheMobuturegime,therewascivilwar,andlittleelse.Oneofthethingsthatkeptthecivilwargoingwasthecoltan
.Coltanbothfueledthewar,andacceleratedthedestructionofwildlifehabitats.Andsothemilitaryentertainmentcomplex,withpreciousbrandstoprotect,didn'twantprotestmovementssullyingtheirreputationsbycallingattentiontoallthegorillascoltankills,ortheguerrillasitfeeds.Themilitaryentertainmentcomplexwouldliketobelieve,andwouldlikeyoutobelieve,thatgamespaceisnotaNietzschianstruggleofnakedforces,beyondgoodandevil,butaclean,welllighted,rule-governedgame.047."KemetrequiresitssupplierstocertifythattheircoltanoredoesnotoriginatefromCongoorborderingcountries."Motorolasaysmuchthesame:"Webelievewehavedoneasmuchasanyreasonablecompanycoulddobymandatingcompliancefromoursuppliersonthisimportantissue."OutiMikkonen,communicationsmanagerforenvironmentalaffairsatNokiaisalittlemoresanguine:"Allyoucandoisask,andiftheysayno,webelieveit."ThebadpublicityaroundCongocoltanisgoodnewsfortheAustraliancompanySonsofGwalia,whichprovidesmuchoftheworldsupply.ThedestructionofAustralianhabitatsseemssomehowlesspicturesque.Nogorillasorgiraffesareinvolved.Thisisthewayitsplayedingamespace.It'sallseparatecaves,withdimreportsofeachother.Byallmeans,savethegorillasandokapi,butitdoesn'tchangetheequation.048.Thelinethatconnectsgamespacetogamealsodividesonefromth
eother.There'snogettingawayfromthematerialsthatmakeitpossibletoownaPlaystationconsoleoracomputerwithIntelInside.There'
snogettingawayfromthelaborthatmakesitpossibletorunTheSimsonyourmachine.Benjamin:"Thereisnodocumentofculturewhichisnotatthesametimeadocumentofbarbarism."Benjamin(theSim):"Thereisnorealmofthepuredigitwhichdoesnotbetraythehandmarkedwithmuckandblood,somewhere."Andyetthewholepointofagameisitsseparation,thelinedividingitfromgamespaceandenclosingitinaselfcontained,algorithmicworldofitsown.ToBenjamin-theBenjaminwhoisaSim-everythingoutsideTheSimsisjustmetaphysics.Thedoublerelationofallegoryandallegorithmisanintimatelinealternatelyconnectingandseparatinggamefromgamespace.049.TheSimsisaverypeculiarkindofgame,inwhicheverydaylifeisthesubjectofplay,butwhereplayisnothingbutwork.Andyetthere'sadifferencebetweenplayingameandgamespace,whichpermitstheformertoofferanallegoryforthelatter,anallegorywhichmayfunctionasescapeandcritiqueofgamespace,perhapsevenasanalmostutopianalternative.Inthegame,unlikeingamespace,thecontestbetweengamerandgameisovernothing.Therearenopreciousminerals.Thereisnolaborcontractindispute.Thedifferencebetweenplayanditsothermayhavecollapsed,butthereisstilladifferencebetweenplaywithintheboundsofanalgorithmthatworksimpersonally,thesameforeverybody,andagamespacethatappearsasnothingbutanagonforthewilltopowe
r-whetherofguerrilla'sgraspingtheirgunstocks,orLarryProbstgraspinghisstockoptions.IfitisachoiceonlybetweenTheS
imsasarealgameandgamespaceasagameofthereal,thegamerchoosetostayinTheCave(tm)andplaygames.Thecontradictionisthatfortheretobeagamethatisfairandrationalthereisstillagamespacewhichisneither.050.Thegameiswhatgamespaceisn't,particularlyforthoseforwhomitisthedominantculturalform.EASpousewrites:"Webothhavebeensteepedinessentiallygameculturefromanearlyage,andwewatchedthat'culture'gainlegitimacyaswegottothepointofthinkingaboutourfuturecareers."Thegamespaceofmakinggamesascommoditiescannotliveuptothegamesthemselves.OnEASpouse'swebsite,someforlorngamerhaswritten,andperhapsagaininvain:"Onthesimesbustenoutpleasedonotmakeameterfortheitemsyoubuy.Samewithwallsoraninythingeles.Sobottomlinenometterinanyofthesimesgameseveragainplease.Thankyouifyoudoit."But,sadly,themeterisalwaysrunning.Itisintegraltogamespace,ifnotnecessarilytowhatmakesgamespacepossible.Beyondthecritiqueofactuallyexistinggamespace,gamescanpointalsotoanalmostutopianpromise,inwhichgamesaresomethingelseagain.Butwhilethegameopenstowardnewworlds,gamespaceforeclosesanythingbutitsownrelentlessagon.America(onCivilizationIII)Fig.3051.Ofwhatuseisthepasttoagamer?PeterLunenfeld:"Forthemostpart,itsblood,mischiefandroleplayingthatgamersrevelin.Theyliveinanalternativeuniverse,as
olipsisticonescriptedbydesignerswhoseframeofreferenceextendsnofurtherbackthanPong,Pac-ManandDungeonsandDragon
s.Thevisualandstorylinetropesthatmostofusbringwithusasculturalbaggageare…allbutforgottenancestralmemories,thrownoff,onpurpose,toocumbersometobeofanyuse."Inthisnewworldthatappearsindifferenttohistory,withonlyhallsoffameforitschampions,chroniclesofitsbigbattlesandchartsofitsgreatesthits,accountingforhowthisdigitalgamespacecameintobeingpresentssomethingofachallenge.Perhapsitisbesttoapproachitinitsownstyle,asaseriesoflevels,eachofwhichappearstothegameronbattlingthroughtotheendofthelast.Ifoneisdefeated,onestartsover.Butremember:thesearethegrindlevels.Thegoingishardhere,evenalittleboring.Youmayneedtoattemptitmorethanonce.Ingamespace,timeismeasuredindiscreteandconstantunits,andwhileonecannotalwayswinalevel,onecanalwaysstartoveranddoitagain.052.Clicktostart.Hereisanewworld.Thefirstlevelopensontoatopic(fromtheGreek'topos',orplace).Hereatopicisaplacebothonthegroundandwithinlanguage.JacquesDerrida:"Thethemes,thetopics,the(common-)places,inarhetoricalsense,arestrictlyinscribed,comprehendedeachtimewithinasignificantsite."Onecanplaceone'sfootonatopicbecauseonecanplaceone'stongueonit.Oronecanpointtowarditandsay:"thereitis…".Allaroundthetopicitisdark,unknown,unmapped,withoutstories.Movearoundabitandyoubumpintoothers,fromothert
ribes,othersettlements.Viaothersonelearnsofstillothers.Thetopicsstarttoconnect.Amapforms.Oncethereisamap,ther
eisthetopographic,whichtraceslinesthatconnectthetopics,andwhichdoublesthetopicalwiththespaceofmapsandtexts.Theseoutlinethecontoursinspaceandtimeofwhatwasthetopical,redrawingandrewritingitasacontinuousandhomogenousplane.Thelinesofthetopicaretracedintothepage;thelinesonthepagearetracedbackontotheearthastopography.Historyisastoryandgeographyanimageofthistopography,inwhichtheboundariesareforeverbeingexpandedandredrawn.Thisplaybetweenthetopicalandtopographicisthefirstlevel.053.Inthefirstlevel,everytopicalfeaturethatresistsinscriptionasacontinuousspaceiserasedandreplaced.Impassablemountainsyieldtheirpassages,joiningonceseparatetopics.Everyrecalcitrantpeoplewithitsownindigenoustoposisexterminatedandforgotten.JamesFenimoreCooper:"Inashorttimetherewillbenoremainsoftheseextraordinarypeople,inthoseregionsinwhichtheydweltforcenturies,buttheirnames."Thenamespersist,onmaps,orinbookswithtitleslikeTheLastoftheMohicans.Thefirstlevelisthisdissolutionofthetopicalintothetopographic,whereanoralloreiserasedandreplacedbyinscription:Linesonmaps,linesonpages;linesthatevolvefromtrailtorail.Thefirstleveliswherethetopographicunfoldsasthelinebetweenwhatischartedandwhatisuncharted.(SeeFig.3)Thestorylinedwellsbetweentheautonomyofthetopicalan
dtheauthorityofthetopographical,alwayslaggingbehind.054.Inthecinema,mappingandwritingmeet.Theemergenceofthetop
ographicanditsstruggletosubsumethetopicalbecomesthegreatthemeofwesterngenre,aboveallofthedirectorJohnFord.JimmyStewart,thefrontierlawyer,bringingthewildwesttobook,runsupagainsttheoutlawgunslingerLeeMarvin.WhenStewartshootshiminashowdown,Stewartbecomesalegend,andasenator.OnlyitwasJohnWayne,thehonorableoutlaw,whoreallyfiredthefatalshot.InTheManWhoShotLibertyValence,cinemafunctionsastheformthatcanrevealretrospectivelytheworkingsoftopography,itscreationofastorylinethatjustifiestheimpositionofthethinbluelineofthelaw.Thecompletionofthetopographicisthesubjectoffilmnoir.Herethetopographichasconnectedallofspaceinaloosenetwork,andonecannotrunbeyondthefrontiertoescapeit.Oneescapeswithin,lookingforill-lit,interstitialtopics,liketherailyardsandwholesalemarketsofJulesDassin'sThievesHighway.Here,onthe'wrongsideofthetracks'thereisstillaspaceforillicitdesire,andanescapefromboredom.055.Whatclosesthefrontierforfreeactionistheenclosureofthespaceofmovementwithinaspaceofcommunication.Thelinesplits,intoonethatmovesobjectsandsubjects,andanother,fasteronethatmovesinformation,thelineoftelesthesia,ofthetelegraphthentelephone.InHighNoon,SheriffGaryCooperlearnsthroughthetelegraphthathislawlessnemesisarrivesonthemiddaytrain.InTheNakedCity,
t
hispoweroftelesthesia-perceptionatadistance-iseverywhere.Thepolice,forensics,thecoronerareallbroughttogetherviatheswitchboardoperator,enablingandovercomingadivisionoflaborwiththetelephone,andcompactingspaceintoatemporalevent.Weseethepolicemanmakeacall,theoperatormakingtheconnection,andthecallbeinganswered.Telesthesiaallowsthespeedingupandcoordinationofmovementalongallotherlines,settingtherailwaytimetablesbywhichvastarmiesofgoodsorsoldiersmaybemobilized.Telesthesiamakespossiblethecompletionoftopographicspace,wherevastterritoriesarecoordinatedwithintheboundsoftheline.Astelesthesiadevelops,fromtelegraphtotelephonetotelevisiontotelecommunications,topographicspacedeepensandhardens,butalwayswithgapsandexclusions.FilmNoirdwellsinagapbetweenthefreeactinanunmarkedspaceandtheimpositionoftheline.Youcanrunbutyoucan'thide.056.Eventually,eventheoutofthewaytopicwithinthetopographicismappedandstoried.InDassin'sNightandtheCity,madeinpoliticalexileinLondon,thewholeofspacehasbecometelegraphic.Thereisnoescape.Thiscompletesthefirstlevel.Topologybeginswhenthetopicalceasestohaveanyautonomy,whenthelinealongwhichcommunicationflowsclosesthegapbetweenmapandterritory.Theopenfrontierisenclosedinafieldofcalculation.Historyandgeographyceasetodwellbetweenthetopicalandthetopographical,alwaysrushingtokeepup.Historyandgeographyaresubsumedwithinatopolo
gy,whichtendstowardsacontinuousfieldofequivalentandexchangeablevalues,instantlycommunicableeverywhere.Wherethetopicalwasonceboundedwithinthelinesofthetopographical,itisnowconnectedalongthelinesofthetopological.Thefixedgeometryoftopographygiveswaytothevariableformsoftopology,inwhichthelinesconnectingpointstogetherlendthemselvestotransformationwithoutrupturefromoneshapetoanother.Thestorylineofoutwardmovementiscomplete;thegamespaceofinteriorplaycommences.Welcometothesecondlevel.057.FilmNoircomestoanendwhenitisnolongerpossibletoimagineanythinggreatbutevillurkingoutofbounds.Ifsomethingpassesundetectedforanylengthoftimeitisbecauseithasnovalue.Theeraofthegreatopenlydeclaredvillainsisover.Intopologicaltimes,thebadguyspassasnormalorcorruptthelaw.Cinemaasthemachineforimaginingtheopenspaceoutsidethelineisconsignedtothepast.Topologyannouncesitsnewambitionsthroughradioandparticularlytelevision,asignalforeverywhereandnowhere,potentiallyinterestedinanyoneoranywhere,aCandidCamera.Thekeygenresforworkingoutthesubsumptionofthetopographicintothetopologicalarethesituationcomedyandthegameshow.Onagameshow,anyonecanbetakenoutofeverydaylifeandbroughtintothemagiccircleoftelevision;onasitcom,televisioncanextenditselftotheeverydaylifefamiliartotheaverageviewer,anywhere.Sitcomandgameshowannouncethecomingofatopologyinwhichallofspacemightbedoubleds
imultaneously,withoutlag,bylinesofimage,linesofsound,whichasyetstillbroadcastoutofcentralnodes.Thelinesrunonlyonewayandindiscriminately,butincorporatesanyoneandanythingofvalue.Whatisexcluded,fromitspointofview,hasnovalue.Theromanceoftheoutsiderisdead.058.Whatcompletestopologyandpreparesitforthenext-unknown-leveliswhenthelinesplitsagain,intoanaloganddigital.Theanaloglinesofradioandtelephoneandtelevisiongivewaytodigitallines,whichreachbacktotheprecedentofthetelegraph,butextenditsdigitalcodetoanincreasinglyflexibleandallembracingwebofcommunicationlines.Gradually,thedigitalextendsandexpandstothewholeoftelesthesia.Theinternetincorporatestext,sound,images,thenmovingimages.Thecyberspaceoftheinternetbecomesmobileandportableandturnsintothecellspaceofmobiletelephony.Thiscombinationofthespeedoftelesthesiawiththedigitalcodeiswhatmakespossibleavastandinclusivetopologyofgamespace.Thisisthethirdlevel:TheworldoftopologyistheworldofTheCave(tm).Anyandeveryspaceisanetworkoflines,pulsingwithdigitaldata,onwhichplayersactandreact.Inworkandplay,itisnotthenovel,notcinema,nottelevisionthatoffersthelinewithinwhichtograsptheformofeverydaylife,itisthegame.JulianDibbell:"…inthestrangenewworldofimmaterialitytowardwhichtheenginesofproductionhavelongbeendrivingus,wecannowatlastmakeoutthecontoursofamorefamiliarrealmoftheinsubstantial--therealmofgames
andmakebelieve."059.Ifthenovel,cinemaortelevisioncanrevealthroughtheirparticularsanallegoryoftheworldthatmakesthempossible,thegamerevealssomethingelse.Forthereader,thenovelproducesallegoryassomethingtextual.Theworldofpossibilityistheplayofthelinguisticsign.Forthecineaste,theworldofpossibilityisaplayoflightandshade.Forthegamer,thegameproducesallegoryassomethingalgorithmic.Theworldofpossibilityistheworldinternaltothealgorithm.So:apassagefromthetopictothetopographic,mediatedbythenovel;apassagefromthetopographictothetopological,mediatedbytelevision;apassage,mediatedbythegame,fromthetopologicaltoasyetunknownspaces,apointwherethegamerseemstobestuck.Isitreallythecasethatthegamermerelyrevelsinbloodmischiefandroleplaying?Oristhereadeeperunderstandingofthecavethatcanbehadfromgamingwithinit?060.Startoverwithanothernewworld.(Thistimewithalittlegamertheory.)Welcometothefirstlevel:Thenovelisalineofacertaintype,whichopenstowardscertainpossibilities,astoryline.Itarisesatthemomentwhentopicgiveswaytotopography.ForGeorgLukcs,whatistobevaluedisthehistoricalnovelanditsabilitytotracealineacrossanhistoricalmomentandrevealtheforcesatworkinit."Itistheportrayalofthebroadlivingbasisofhistoricaleventsintheirintricacyandcomplexity,intheirmanifoldinteractionwithactingindividuals."Thehistoricalnovelshowshistoricaleventsthroughsecondarycharacters,p
e
rhapsnotunlikethereader,andanhistoricaleventasbeingatthesametimeatransformationofeverydaylife.Andyetthenovelsuffersfromthisparadox:Toilluminatethetopographic,thenovelhastohideitsownform.Ifitexploresthepossibilitiesofthelinewithinitspagesitopensitselftoa'formalism'thatleavesthereaderbehind.061.Thefirstlevelcontinues:Cinemaisalineofacertaintype,whichopenstowardscertainpossibilities,anilluminationofthedarkcornersoftopography.ForWalterBenjamin,whatistobevaluedisthe'opticalunconscious',cinema'smachinicvisionofaworldthatisitselfmachinedwithadensegridoflines.Cinemacanexpandorshrinkspace,extendorcompresstime,itcancuttogetherimagesofdiversescalesorforms-intimationsoftopology.Itcreatesa'Spielraum',aplayroom,fordividingupthemachineworldotherwise.ContraLuk‡cs,Benjaminopenstowardstheformalpropertiesofthelineattheexpenseofitsrepresentationofanhistoricalsituationasatotality.Butwhatdoesn'tchangeisthatthespectator,likethereader,isexternaltothelineitself.Cinemacanshowhowtheworldismadethroughitscutsandmontages,anindustrialprocesswiththeuniquequalityofshowingitselfasworks.Yetthereisstillaseparationbetweenthosemakingthecinemaandthosewatchingit.062.Thefirstlevelends:Thenovellanguishes.Cinemafailstorealizeitsallegoricalpotential.GuyDebord:"Butthislifeandthiscinemaarebothequallypaltry;andthatiswhyyoucouldactuallyexchangeonefortheotherwithin
d
ifference."Boredomreigns.063.Thesecondlevelbegins:Radioisalineofacertaintype,whichopenstowardscertainpossibilities.ForBrecht,whatistobevaluedinitisacertainunrealizedpotentialforthelinetopointbothways:"Radioisone-sidedanditshouldbetwo.Itispurelyanapparatusfordistribution,formeresharingout.Sohereisapositivesuggestion:changethisapparatusoverfromdistributiontocommunication.Theradiowouldbethefinestpossiblecommunicationapparatusinpubliclife,avastnetworkofpipes.Thatistosay,itwouldbeifitknewhowtoreceiveaswellastransmit,howtoletthelistenerspeakaswellashear,howtobringhimintoarelationshipinsteadofisolatinghim."Radiocouldbelikeapublictelephony.Butitisallanalogflow;itlacksadigitalcode.Itradiatesfromonepointtoeveryother,withoutdistinction.Itlacksthetransformationalgeometryoftopology,whereanythreespecificpointscouldbeconnected,anywhere,andstillmakethesame'triangle'connectingsenderandreceiverandthethird'line'-telesthesiaitself.064.Thesecondlevelcontinues.Televisionexpandsthelineofradio,butdoesitaddmuchtoit?Doesityieldmuchbywayofaspaceofpossibility?FredricJameson:"Theblockageoffreshthinkingbeforethissolidlittlewindowagainstwhichwestrikeourheadsbeingnotunrelatedtopreciselythatwholeortotalflowweobservethroughit."Televisiongeneralizesthelineofcommunicationasananalogflow.Thedigitalhasnotyetprevailed.065.Thesecondlevelends:Thetensionbetwe
ent
hetopographicandtopologicalisalsoonebetweenadecliningsphereofrepresentation,willandinterest,andoneofanewtoposthatisstatistical,digital,simulated-algorithmic.Thetopographicisincomplete.Itcanprojectitslinesacrossspaceandannihilatetime,butitcannoteffectivelymarkormeasureoutthespaceitencloses.Ithassomefeeblemechanisms-theopinionpoll,forexample.Throughthelaboriousmeansofseekingoutandrecordingopinion,topologicalspacecanbegiventheappearanceofagency.JeanBaudrillard:"Itis,paradoxically,asagamethattheopinionpollsrecoverasortoflegitimacy.Agameoftheundecideable;agameofchance…PerhapswecanseeheretheapparitionofoneofthesecollectiveformsofthegamethatCailloiscalledalea-anirruptionintothepollsthemselvesofaludic,aleatoryprocess,anironicmirrorfortheuseofthemasses."066.Thethirdlevelbegins.Wherethetopographicdevelopsonedimensionoftelegraphy-itsflowofinformationacrossspace-thetopologicaldevelopstheother-itsintricatecodingandaddressing.Wherethetopographicisananalogflow;thetopologicalisthedigitaldivide.Itisalineofaanothertype.Itisalinethat,forabrief,burningmoment,reignitedthedreamsofanewtopos.Butthecycleaccelerates.IfittooktwentyyearstogetfromBrechtorBenjamin'soptimismtoDebord'sboredom,thesamecycleinnettimetookperhapsfiveyears.GeertLovink:"Cyberspaceatthedawnofthe21stcenturycannolongerpositionitselfinautopianvoidofseamlesspossibilities."Wh
atto
pologyyieldsisnotacyberspacebutagamespace.Theideaofcyberspaceisstilltoolinkedtoimagesfromtheworldofradioandtelevision,offlowand'seamless'movement,ofaccessandexcess,oflinesrunninganywhereandeverywhere.Topologyisexperiencedmoreasagamespacethanacyberspace:fullofrestrictionsandhierarchies,firewallsandpasswords.Itismorelikeaboundedgamethanafreespaceofplay.Onceagain:ifitisfree,itisvalueless.Thoseoddlineswithintopologywhereanythinggoesaretheonesofnoconsequence.067.Thethirdlevelcontinues.Gameshavestorylineslikethehistoricalnovel,whicharcfrombeginningtoend.Gameshavecinematiccutscenes,puremontagesofattraction.Gamessubsumethelinesoftelevisionjustastelevisionsubsumedcinemaandcinemathenovel.Buttheyaresomethingelseaswell.Theyarenotjustanallegorybutadoubleform,anallegoryandanallegorithm.Appearanceswithinthegamedoubleanalgorithmwhichinturnsimulatesanunknownalgorithmwhichproducesappearancesoutsidethegame.068.Stuckagain.Startover.Anothernewworld.Welcometothefirstlevel.Let'sloopbacktoLuk‡cs,andask:ratherthatinsistonthepossibilitiesofthetechnicityofthelineitself,perhapsthere'ssomethingtobesaidforthepossibilitiesofacertaingenrethatmakesuseofit?Bonuspoints!Skipstraighttothethirdlevel:Thestrategygameisagenreofacertaintypewithinalineofacertaintype,whichopenstowardscertainpossibilities.ClickontheGovernmentpulldownmenuandchooseRevolution.Y
ourR
epublicturnstoAnarchy.Certainparametersshift.YouareplayingSidMeier'sCivilizationIII.Itisnotsomuchanallegoryforworldhistoryasanallegorithmforgamespaceitself.Everythinghereisarelationbetweenquantifiableprocesses.Everythingisaquestionoftheallocationofresources.There'saperversesenseofbaseandsuperstructure.YoucanchangetheformofGovernmentbutthere'snotmuchyoucandotochangetheunderlyingformofproduction.Investinscienceandqualitativetechnicalchangesaccumulate,whichinturnexpandmilitary,culturalandpoliticalpossibilities.Investinculturetokeeptheplebsfromrevolting.Interestingly,civildisordercomesfrombelow,butrevolutionscomefromabove,butthesearejusttwofunctionswithinanalgorithm:asmallvariablewithabigeffect;abigvariablewithasmalleffect.069.Gamespaceturnsdescriptionsintoadatabase,andstorylineintonavigation.SidMeier,knownasavoraciousreader,turnshistoryandanthropologybooksintostrategygames.CivilizationIIIevencomeswithitsownCivilopedia,areferenceworkfortoaparallelworld.Butthisismorethantheremediationofoldformsintonew.Rather,thealgorithmconsumesthetopographicandturnsitintothetopological.Inthedatabase,alldescriptionisnumerical,equivalentinform.Inprincipleeverythingwithinitcanberelatedtoortransformedintoeverythingelse.Anewkindofsymmetryoperates.Thenavigationofthedatabasereplacesanarrationviadescription.Thedatabaseexpandsexponentially.Rat
hert
hanapoliticsofallegory,aneconomicsofallegorithmoperates,selectingandreducingpossibilities.070.ThisishowtheworldappearstoagamerplayingCivilizationIII:Therearedependentandindependentvariables.Gamers,throughtrialanderror,willworkoutwhicharewhich.Theychangeovertime.Inthefirststage,youexplore,pushingbacktheinkyblackshroudtomakeamap.Thenyougrowthepopulation,avastarmyoffarmersandminers.Youhavetomaximizeuseablespace.Onceyourcontinentfillsupwithcitiesandtheirhinterlands,expansionbecomesqualitativeratherthanquantitative.It'sallaboutknowledgeandtechnology.Thequalityofwarfarechangesalongtheway.Itexpandsinspace,digsdeeperintoreservesofresources,thenbecomesaqualitativeraceforbiggerandbetterlinesalongwhichpowercanreticulate.Thegamerisamanager,confrontinguncertainlywithaninventoryofresources.It'sahardgametowinatfirst,butafteryouhavebeatenit,youplayitagain,andagain.GlenFuller:"Ithasacomplexarrayoflogicsforwardingoffboredom."Itdrawsthegamer'sattentionnottothestorylinebuttothecombinationsofelementsfromwhichanygivenstorylinemightbeselected.071.InCivilizationIII,timeisessentiallyofapiece.Itishomogenous,empty,butitcanbedividedintoequivalentunits,justlikespace.Thustimecanbeconfiguredandreconfigured,producingendlessvariationsonthecascadingsequencesofcauseandeffect.Historyisindeedabsentfromthegame,absentassomethingfinished,asastorylineint
hepa
sttense.Whatreplacesitisahistoryworkshop,amodelofhistoryastheintuitionofalgorithmsandtheirconsequences.Thegamerisadesigner.Designers,likeallmanagers,operatewithingivenlimits.Thisishowtheworldappearstothegamedesigner:Therearedependentandindependentvariables.Designers,throughtrialanderror,willworkoutwhicharewhich.Theywillchoosecultural,businessandtechnicaloptionsthatmaximizelongtermadvantages.Ifitdoesn'tworkout,theywilldoitover.Timeisessentiallyofapiece.Itishomogenous,butitcanbedividedintoequivalentunits,justlikespace.CivilizationIIImodelsnotsomuch'civilization',asthegamedesignbusiness,whichinturnmodelsgamespace,ortopologyasitpresentlyexists.072.Thisishowtheworldappearstogamertheory:Seenfromthepointofviewoftopology,withitsdensedatabasesandnavigatingtools,thetopicalworldwithitslooselyconnectedtopicswasaworldoflimiteddataandfewpossibilities.Transformationsofonethingintoanotherwerepurelymagical.Thetopographic-andtelegraphic-flattenedoutthedifferencesbetweentopicswhiledescribingtheminmuchmoredetail.Atensionarisesbetweenenricheddescriptionandthepovertyofstoryline,burstingtocontainit.Theexpansionofdescriptionneverthelessopenedtowardsallegory.Accumulationsofimagesburstoutoftheirstorylinebounds.Itopenedtowardsapoliticsofallegory,ofthewritingandmappingoftheworld,andalsotowardsutopia,arrestingthefluxoftheworldinidealform.Topo
logy
closesthefrontiersofspacewithinitslines,andexpandsthedatasetagain,butbyreducingdatatoequivalentcalculablepoints,itisabletobreakwithstorylineasprincipleoftemporalorder,replacingitwiththealgorithm.Storylinebecomesgamespace.073.StrategygamessuchasCivilizationIIIpresentsanallegorithmoftopologyasgamespaceandthegamerasitsmanager.Itsubsumesthetext,audio,imagesandmoviesintothedatabase,whilethealgorithmcalculatesthemovesofallitselementsrelativetothegamer.Itcollapsesthedifferencebetweentheeverydayandtheutopian.Itembracesalldifferencesbyrenderingallofspaceandtimeasbeingquantifiable.Topicaltimesresoundwiththemythofthetactician.Topographictimesinscribestoriesofgranddirectorsofstrategy.Topologicaltimescallformanagersofstrategy.Historyappears,retrospectively,asnotonlytheexpandingfrontierofwar'stheatre,butalsoitsqualitativetransformation.Itistheunwindingofalinewhichdivideseverythingintomanageablechunksofdata.Theactualdispositionofresourcesisdoubledbyadatabasewhichmapsnotfixedlocationsbutmeasuresoffungibility.Thealgorithmcanproduceeverypossiblecombinationoftheresourcesmappedinthedatabase-andafewimpossibleonesaswell.Thepossibleandtheactualreversepositions.Itisthepossiblethatisreal.Ifthealgorithmcanproduceitasanoutcomefromthedatabase,itexists.Themysteryiswhytherecalcitrantdebristhatlitterstheactualsometimesrefusestogetoutoftheway.Th
isin
sistenceontherealityofthepossible,onwhatresideswithinresources,istheAmericandream.074.Finally,thenextlevelappears:theexpansionoftopologyoutwards,beyondAmerica,tomakeAmericaequivalenttoalloftimeandspace.Americaitself,asaconstruct,asastructureoffeeling,isalwaysonlyavailableviaparticularmediatinglines,whichmaydomorethanmerelyrepresentapre-existingAmerica.TheformofthelinemayitselfparticipateinthecreationofAmerica.TheremaywellbeanAmericathatresidessuccessivelyinthenovel,inthecinema,intelevisionandthegame,andisshapedbyeach.Each,inturn,presentshistoryitselfasapassingonofmemoryfromoneformtoanother.CivilizationIIIrecapitulatesnotonlyworldhistorybutmediahistory.It'sambitionisnotonlytoembracetherecordingoftheworldbuttheworldofrecording.InCivilizationIII,thetransformationofspaceandtime,fromtopictotopographytotopology,isaneffectofthedevelopmentofthelineswithwhichtomarkandmanageit.Thisdoubledevelopment,whichatoneandthesametimedeepensandproliferateslinesofthepossibleandtheactual,canbecalledAmerica.Itiswhatisbothdesiredandfearedundertherubricofthatname,whichnolongermarksaparticulartopic,butstandsfortheverycapacitytomarkandmanagespaceitself,astopology.075.Thelinemakesitswayacrosstheworld,makingitbymarkingit.Thelinepassesacrossvalleys,pages,mountains,rivers,tracingtrails,roads,railways,highways,doublingitselfwithtelegraph,televisio
n,te
lecommunications,doublingitselfagainasthecodeofthelettermigratesfromtexttotelegraphandexplodesintothemyriadlinesofthedigital.Thelinemakestopics,mapsthemintothetopographic,thenfoldsthetopographicintoadigitaltopology.Thelinedoessomethingelseaswell.Foreverylinedrawnareaninfinitenumberundrawn.Everylineisanallegoryofthepossibilitiesforalineofitstype.Thelinemayalsointimatethepossibilitiesoflinesofanothertype.Butthepossibilitiesofagiventypeoflinearenotinfinite.Allegoryalwaystouchesthevirtual-whichonemightdefineasthepossibilityofpossibility-viaaparticularline.Ateachleveloftheactualunfoldingofthelineacrosstheworld,itoffersaglimpseofthevirtualinitsownimage.Thisisthelimittoallegory.Ifallegoryyearnsforsomethingahistorical,atoposbeyondallparticulars,itdoessooverandoverinthemostparticularandmediatedway.Analog(onKatamariDamacy)Fig.4076.Sisyphus,founderofCorinth,fatherofOdysseus,founderoftheIsmithianGames,isbestknowforamostcruelandunusualpunishment,metedouttohimbytheGods.Hewastorollahugestoneupthemountainside,watchhelplesslyasitrolledbackdownagain,andthenstartalloveragain.Nobodyknowswhathedidthatrequiredsuchapunishment.PerhapsitwasforrevealingthedesignsoftheGodstomortals.Revealingtheformsbeyondthemereparticularsofmortallifewould,intopicaltimes,beaseriouscrime.Orperhaps,moreprosaically,itwasforhishabitofmurderingseafarersandtravel
ers.
Topicalspace,whereeachlaw,eachGod,isborderedbyzonesofindifference,wouldsurelybetroubledbysuchatransgressionoftherulesof'xenia',ofthegiftoneowestostrangers.AnneCarson:"Thecharacteristicfeaturesofxenia,namelyitsbasisinreciprocationanditsassumptionofperpetuity,seemtohavewovenatextureofpersonalalliancesthatheldtheancientworldtogether."Orsoitwasintopicaltimes.077.Intopographictimes,Sisyphusisahero.HerevelsinthisnewworldfromwhichtheGodsandtheirintangibleformshavefledandagreatindustrialengineusurpstheirplace.ThetaskofSisyphusbecomeseveryone'slabor:pointless,repetitive,endless,shouldertothewheeloffortune.Therearenolongeranylawlessspaces.Therearenogapsbetweentopics.Allofspaceiswithinthelaw.Therearenomoreborderzoneswhereindifferenceprevails.Certainlyitgetsmuchhardertogetawaywithmurderingtravelers.Butintopographictimes,itistimeitselfthatisnotquitesocompletelysubordinatedtorules,toends,topurposes.Thereisalimittotheworkingday,andevenwithintheworkingday,noteverysecondiscalledtoaccount.AlbertCamus:"IleaveSisyphusatthefootofthemountain!Onealwaysfindsone'sburdenagain.ButSisyphusteachesthehigherfidelitythatnegatesthegodsandraisesrocks.Hetooconcludesthatalliswell.Thisuniversehenceforthwithoutamasterseemstohimneithersterilenorfutile.Eachatomofthatstone,eachmineralflakeofthatnightfilledmountain,initselfformsaworld."ThetopicalSisyphusp
layedfastandloosewiththegapsofspace,betweenthetopics;thetopographicSisyphusplayedinthegapsoftime,andexploitedthosegapstoturneverythingtoaccountforhimselfalone.078.WhereisSisyphusnow?Usingtheanalogsticksonthegamecontroller,youmovealittlecharacterwhorollsaballcalledaKatamari.ThegameiscalledKatamariDamacy.(seefig.4)Thenametranslatesroughlyas'clumpspirit',whichmightinturntranslateas'analog'.AstheKatamariballrolls,thingssticktoit.Atfirstitissmallthingsthatstick,householditemspickedupoffthelivingroomfloor.Theballgetsbiggerasthingsstick,andsoitcanpickupbiggerthings.Onceyourballisbigenough,youmoveoutofthehouseandintotheworld.Tomovetheball,youtwizzlethelittleanalogjoysticks.Pushthesticksforward,andthecharacterrollstheballforward.Pullthesticksbackandthecharacterrollstheballback.Turnleft,turnright-itfeelsasthoughthevariablepressureonthestickstranslatesintovariablemovements.Thisisanalog-arelationofcontinuousvariation.Onlyitisn'treally.Itisadigitalgame.Thegameconvertsthecontinuousmovementofyourthumbsonthesticksintoadigitalcode.Itturnsmovementsintodecisions-back/forwards,left/right,stop/start.Analgorithmcalculatestheoutcomeofeachmovement.Ifyourollyourballoverasmallobject,youpickitup.Ifyourollyourballoveronethatistoobig,youcollidewithit,throwingoffafewthingsyouhavealreadygathered.Analogspiritbecomesdigitalcode.079.Allgamesaredigital
.Withoutexception.Theyallcomedowntoastrictdecision:outorin,offsideoronside,goalornogoal.Anythingelseisjust'play'.GamestudiesscholarJesperJuul:"Theaffinitybetweencomputersandgamesisoneoftheironiesofhumanhistory."Butnotatallsurprising.Fromthestart,gameswereaproto-computer-machinesassembledoutofhumanmotion,inanimatematerialsandtheoccasionaldubiouscallbythereferee-tomakeadecision,ayesorano.Sisyphus-founderoftheIsmithiangames-iscondemnedtoauselesslaborwhichisatthesametimeuselessplay,inthatitcannotbringaboutadecision.Therockherollsnevercrossesaline.Itrollsrightpastthenotionaltopofthemountain,andovershootsthebottomofitsownmomentum.ButinKatamariDamacy,thingsaredifferent.Ratherthantherollingoftheballbeingentirelyuseless,nowitisentirelypurposeful.Time,likespace,nolongerharborsindifference.BrendaLaurel:"…eventhesmallestfragmentsofyouridletimehavebeencolonized...".Asyourollyourballaround,makingitbiggerandbigger,aniconinthecornerofthescreenshowsyourprogress.Theiconshowsyourballasacircleinsidealargerone,whichisthesizeitmustgrowtoifyouaretowinthislevel.Itgrows,gradually,incrementally,butatsomepoint-adecision.Bigenough!Ananalogprogressionstopsatthedigitalthreshold.080.HereisaversionoftheKatamarimyth:YouareaPrincesenddowntoearthbyacarelessKingwhoinamomentofboredomgotdrunkanddestroyedtheheavens.TheKatamariballsyourollupareofferingstohi
m.Ifyourballisbigenoughhereplacesoneofthestarsintheskyhetrashedwithit.TheKingthensetsforthePrincethetaskofrollingupabiggerone.Perhapsthisstorylineisanallegoryfortherelationthatholdsnowbetweentheanalogandthedigital.Thetwizzlingofthesticksonthecontroller,therollingupoftheballsonthescreen,isthetaskdemandedbygamespace,andwhichgamespacecanonlyrecognizebyrewardingthegamerwithascore.Topology,withitsendless,intricatelines-wireless,satellite,fiberoptic-turnsanythingandeverythingintoameaninglesssmearofdata.Gamespaceinstallsitselfintopologytoreducethatsmeartoadecision,ayes,ano,astraightline,andtoconveybacktothegamertheresultofthegamer'sactions.Theanalogisnowjustawayofexperiencingthedigital.Thedecisiononwhethersomethingcanappearornotappearisdigital.YouandyourcharacterthePrinceareconfinedtotheanalog,rollingfromtopictotopic.TheKingcommandsthedigitalheavens.Hedecideswhatpointintheskyeachballistooccupy.081.InthemythofSisyphusthetaskistorolltheballtothetopwithoutquiteknowingwherethetopis.There'snomark,nopoint,nocode.Sisyphuspushestheballup,butiteitherfallsshortorfallsovertheunmarkedpeak,androllsbackdownagain.InthemythofKatamarithereisnosuchambiguity.Eachthresholdisclearlymarked.Theanalogmovementofrollingtheball,continuouslyincreasingitssize,takesplacewithinthegivenlimitsofthedigital.Thereisanexactmarkatwhichitflipsfrombeingtoosmalltoj
usttherightsize.Thereignoftopologysubordinatestheanalogtothedigital.Whereonceanaloganddigitalmaintainedanambiguousandcontinuous-analog-relationtoeachotherandtotheworld,thedigitalnowdistinguishesitselfsharplyfromtheanalog,subsumingtheanalogdifferenceunderthedigitaldistinction.Thisisatransformationnotmerelyinformsofcommunicationorentertainment,noteveninformsofpoweroroftopos,butachangeinbeingitself.Thedigitalappears,finally,toinstalltopologyintheworld-onlyintheprocessithasinstalledtheworldwithintopology.InKatamariDamacy,theworldisjuststuff,therefortheclumping.ItisKingDigital'sdecisiononitsname,sizeandplaceintheheavensthatgivesitbeing.082.ThescreeninKatamariDamacyshowsaclockinthecorner,anold-fashionedanalogclockwithasweepinghand.Thegameisanallegorithmofadoubleprocess,bywhichtheanalogmovementsofthegameraretransformedintothedigital,butalsoofhowthedigitaldecisionsofthegameareexpressedtothegamerinafamiliaranalogform.Gamespacesubordinatesalloftimeandspacetothedigital.PaulVirilio:"...spacehadbeenmeasured,mapped,timehasbecomeclocktime,thediversityofrelief,oftopography,gavewaytotopology...".Intopographictimestheclocktowershoweditsfacetothetownoverwhichitpresided;nowtimeisblinkingdigits,seenanywhereandeverywhere.Justcheckyourcellphone.Thehandsoftheanalogclockturntimeintomovementinspace,reducingittolinethatrotatesonaplane.Thedigita
lclocksubstitutesonecodedsignforanother,atfixedintervals,drawingeachfromanabstractspacewhereallthesignsofthecodeexistsimultaneously.Alloftimebecomesaseriesofdiscrete,equivalentandinterchangeableunits.Ateachinterval,timecanbearrestedandmadetoyieldanumber.Wheretheanalogtemporalizedspace,nowthedigitalspatializestime.083.TwistthesticksonthecontrollerandonthescreenthePrinceturnstheball.Rolltheballanditgraduallygrowsasitpicksupthings.Theiconinthecornergrowsastheballgrows.Onemovementdoublesanother.Theiconrecords,inthismeasuringcontinuum,howseveralmovements,operatingtogether,produceatransformation.Ittracksthemovementofrollingtheball,amovementthatcontinuouslytransformsitselfoutofitself.Theanalogisallaboutrelations.Thedigitalisallaboutboundaries.Thedigitaldoesnotfollowamovingline,itimposesagridoflineswhichfunctionasthresholds.ThelineatwhichtheballisdeemedbigenoughisimposedbyKingDigital.Intheanalog,differenceisaproductivityinexcessofitself;inthedigital,distinctionisanegationthatcomesfromwithout.Rolltheballasmuchasyoulike,butunlessisreachesthesizeKingDigitaldemandswithinthetimeHeallows,youfail-andaresubjectedtoHisloftydisdain.Thisisthelimittomovementthatappearstimeandtimeagain.084.Theanalogisvariationalongaline,adifferenceofmore-andless.Thedigitalisdividedbyaline,adistinctionbetweeneither/or.Eithertheballclumpsenoughstuffbeastaro
ritdoesn't.Theanalogmayvaryalongmorethanonelineatonce,producingtheappearanceofaqualitativedifference.Thedigitalintroducesacode,whichmayproducecomplexrelationsamongitsterms,butallthetermsareseparatedbythesamelineofabsolutedistinction.AlltheKatamariballsthatarebigenoughbecomestars,eachwithitsownnameandlocation,butallarepointsinthesameheavens.Inthisdigitalcosmos,everythingisofthesamesubstance.Nothingisreallyqualitativelydifferent.Acow,acar,yourcousin:eachhasitsshapeandcolor,butintheenditsallthesame,juststuff.InKatamariDamacyitismostlyconsumerstuff,butthisgoesfarbeyondacritiqueofthecommodity.Topologycanmakeinfinitedigitaldistinctions.Itisalljustbitsandallbitsareequivalent.Thedigitalseparateseverythingintodiscretesegmentsbyimposingauniversalcodethatallowsanythingtobeconnectedtoanythingelse-topology-butpreventsanythingfromeverbeingdifferent.ThecosmosofdifferenceiswhatKingDigitalhaslost,andwhathecommandshisgamerPrincetoreplacewithacosmoscomposedofdistinctions.085.Theanalogmaymovebackwardsorforwardsalongaline,oreventrackmovementacrossthreeormoredimensions,butonlywiththeimpositionofthedigitalcodeisitpossibletocutthetermsboundedbythedigitallineandrearrangethem.Ratherthanananalogmovementthroughspaceandtime,thedigitalopensthepossibilityofjumpingbetweenpointsinathreedimensionalspaceinwhichtermsarearrayedalongdifferentaxesandaredra
wntogetherviathecode.Ratherthanacontinuouslinemovingoutfromapointintoathreedimensionalspace,oneimaginesratherathreedimensionalspaceoffixedpoints,whichcanbecalleduponbythecodetomakeupastraightlineofdistinctunits.Becauseitisdigital,thegamecanbe'saved'.Afteryouhavesuccessfullyrolledaball,youcansaveit.Savingtakesplaceatthedigitalthreshold.Thedigitalcreatesatimethatcanbesavedbymakingalloftimeequivalent.Itisatimewithoutviolence.Whatissaveddoesnotsufferfromerosionordecompositionordecay.Italwayscomesbackasthesame-unlessthesystemcrashes,andthedigitalcannolongerimposeitscode-inwhichcaseitmaynevercomebackatall.Thedigitalcosmosismoreperfect,yetsomuchmorefragile.086.AsthePrincerollsbiggerandbiggerballs,hegetstoplayinabiggerandbiggertopos.Thegamestartsinsideanapartment,thenmovesontothetownandfinallytotheworld.Thissteppingupthroughbiggerandbiggerscalesrepeatsthesteppingupthroughthescalesofthetopical,thetopographicandthetopologicalofwhichthegameisanallegorithm.Whatgivesthegameitscharmistheseeminglyridiculousideathataballofhouseholditemscouldbeastar.Evenmoreodd:thelastandlargestballreplacesthesmallestheavenlybody-ameremoon.Butthisisofapiecewiththewaysoftopology.Intopologicaltimes,itisnotjustthatthedigitalnowoperatesonaplanetaryscale.Itisthatitoperatesacrossscales,connectingtheinfinitesimaltothegigantic.Thetiniestswitchofelectriccurren
tcanlaunchacruisemissile.087.KingDigitaldestroyedtheheavens,inamomentofboredom,inafitofindifference.Thisisthedangeroftopology.Indifferenceisnolongersomethingthatlurksmerelyinthemarginsofspaceortime.Havingbeensqueezedmoreandmoretothemarginofbothspaceandtime,ratherthandisappearing,indifferencethreatenstobecometotal,pervasive,immanent.ThePrinceiswhatthePrincehasachieved-alevel,anumber,andnothingbut.JulianStallabrass:"emotionalattachmenttothegameisestablishedthroughlabor,emergingoutoftheSisypheannatureoftheplayer'stask."Forallhislaidbackstyle,KingDigitalmakesaterribledemand,asappallingasthatmadeofSisyphusbytheGods.Hecommandsthegamertothegame,butpromisesnothingbutvictoryuntildefeat.Theonlyrewardisthattheverytimeitselfthatthegamercommitstothetaskwillmakethetaskworthwhile.Thedigitalobjectexistsinaspacewhichchunksitintobits,eachofequivalentvalue.Thedigitalsubjectexistsinatimewhichchunksitintobits,eachofequivalentvalue.088.Digitalobject,digitalsubject-thesearebyproductsofaboredomthat,seekingrespitefromnothingness,projectsitslinesacrossallspaceandtime,turningitintocommodityspaceandmilitaryspace.ThisistherecklessactofcreationwithwhichKatamariDamacybegins-theKing'sdestructionofthemythicheavenoftheoldGods,andtheprojectofreplacingitbycommandingthetransformationofahuman,analogmovementintoanairlessmatrixofmachinecode.Thisisthenewtas
kofSisyphus.Gamespaceisalwaysandeverywheretheimpositionofthedigitalasawayoflayinganinvisiblehandontheworld-oranalltoovisiblefist.Wheretheinvisiblehandopensitsdigitstocalculatewhatitmaygain,theinvisiblefistclosesthemtocalculatewhatitmayclaim.089.Themilitaryindustrialcomplexdevelopedphotography,radar,radio-allthelinesofanalogtelesthesia-asthemeansofmeasuringandcontrollingitsforces.Thisdevelopmentreachedalimit,anditsforcesexceededitscapacitytomanagethem.Digitaltelesthesia-startingperhapswiththeSAGEcomputersystemofthe1950s-emergedasthemeansofcommand,controlandcommunication.PaulEdwards:"ForSAGEsetthekeypatternforotherhigh-technologyweaponsystems,anestedsetofincreasinglycomprehensivemilitaryenclosuresforglobaloversightandcontrol."Thetheoryofthedigital,andofitsdistinctionfromtheanalog,emergesasabyproductofthisattemptatself-controlbythemilitaryindustrialcomplex,butittransformedthecomplexintosomethingelse.Theexpansivemovementofthemilitarymachinecallsintobeingacodethatcanmonitorandmanageit.Theanalogbegetsthedigital,butonlyproducestheconceptoftheanalogafterthefact.AnthonyWilden:"Obviously,withoutthedigital,wecouldnotspeakoftheanalog."Withouttherecognitionoftheballasaputativestar,itcannotbenamed.Themilitaryentertainmentcomplexemergesoutofthecontroloftheanalogbythedigital,ofthemilitaryandindustrialproductionlinesbythedigitallineso
fcommand,andbytheextensionofthedigitaltoallaspectsofeverydaylife.090.Withouttheanalog,playleavesnotrace.Withoutthedigital,playyieldsnoscore.Neitheranalognordigitalisplayitself.Butwhatcanonesayaboutplay?Playiswhathastobepositedfortheretobeanythingforeithertheanalogorthedigitaltotrack,andyetplayisanelusiveconceptatbest.BrianSutton-Smith:"Weallplayoccasionally,andweallknowwhatplayfeelslike.Butwhenitcomestomakingtheoreticalstatementsaboutwhatplayis,wefallintosilliness."Perhapstheveryconceptofplayappearsonlyretrospectively.Obviously,withouttheanalogandthedigital,wecouldnotspeakofplay,evenasplayexceedstheanaloglinealongwhichitistracedandthedigitallineacrosswhichitismeasured.Viatheanalog,playiscapturedinart;viathedigital,playiscapturedingames.Theanalogflattensplayoutintoasingleline,sothatitsmovementmaycontinue,inreducedform,intoanotherspace.Theplayofthefingersonthecontrollerisrecordedviathegraphicartonthescreen.Theanalogenablesamovementtocommunicatefromtopostotopos.Thedigitalcodifiesplay,translatingitontotheverydifferentspaceofnumberandlogic-ofcode.091.Whichcamefirst,playorgame?Whichcamefirst,movesorrules?Sisyphuswasinterestedinbothnavigationandcommerce,atatimewhenbothstillhadatenuousmapofthespacesthroughwhichtheypliedtheirshipsandtheirtrade.Therulesemergedoutofthemoves.Playproducedwhat,afterthefact,couldbemarkedatransgressi
on.Sisyphustransgressed-eitherbykillinganothertraveler,orperhapsbyseekingtoknowtherulesoftheGodsinadvance.Hispunishmentisaneternalmovewhichcannevergiverisetoagame,whichyieldsnoend,nowin,norecognition.Nowthetermsarereversed.Playdoesnotinspirethegame;thegameanimatesplay.Behindthesubordinationoftheanalogtothedigitalisthesubordinationofplaytogame.Tracingthelineofthemove,theplay,matterslessthanthescoreityields,thethresholditcrosses.KingDigitalmakesquitetheoppositedemandofthePrincetothatmadeofSisyphusbytheGods.Theeternaltaskisnolongerthemovewhichcannevercrossthefinishline,itisthemovewhichcandonothingbutyieldameasure,ascore,anumber,arank.Ratherthanplaythatcanneverend,itisthegamethatstops,andstarts,andstops,andstarts,andstops,andstarts-forever.092.Thetermsanaloganddigitalareinvariablytreatedasiftherelationbetweenthetermswasitselfadigitalone.Thisinitselfisasignofthetimes.Thesetermsaretobetreatedasdiscreteandabsolutelydistinct,acodewithtwoabsoluteterms.Anyambiguityorplaywhichmightthreatentodeconstructthedistinctionistoberesolvedwithdistinctionsofaneverfinerresolution.Thisinturnleadstoevermorecomplexityinmanagingtheproliferationofbits,whichinturnrequiresevermorepowerfuldatacrunchingengines.Themilitaryentertainmentcomplexdiscoversexperimentallythatiftherelationbetweentheanalogandthedigitalisdigital,anabsoluteboundary,thenthedomai
nofthedigitalcanbeperfectedasoneofpurelyrelativeandnumericalvalue-agamespace.Thisdigitalrealmcanthenbecomethelocusforcommandandcontroloftheanalogremainder,whichittreatsasamereresidue.Thelinesofthedigitalcanbeinscribedevermoreextensivelyandintensivelyontheworld,tothepointwhereadigitalheavenisrealized,andtheanalogseemstovanish,andplaybecomesamereeffectofthedigital.TheAnalogPrinceonlyrollstheball,steeringthiswayandthat,becauseKingDigitalcommandsit.Andwhydoeshecommandit?Tomaketheuniverseover,torecreatebeingitself,asaneffectofthedigitalasacommand.093.Thedigital,onceinstalledintheworld,defeatsthelogicofthestoryline,withinwhichthedigitalservestomaketheanalogmanifest,butdoesnotcontrolit.Thenovel,whichfromJamesFenimoreCoopertoWilliamGibsonnarratestheriseandfallofthemilitaryindustrialcomplex,usesthecodesoflanguagetofollowaseriesofmovementsbeyondlanguage'sken.Thedigitalproduces,notjustnewkindsofmedia,butawholenewtopos,inwhichtheroleandruleofthelineisreversed.Onenolongerfollowsalinetofindwhereitdivides,onedivideswithalinetomakeadistinction.Storylinebecomesgamespace.ThestorylinethatinauguratestheworldofKatamariDamacyisnotacreationmythbutadestructionmyth.Thestoryline'slasttaskistoeraseitselfandinitiatethenewconditionsofdifferenceforgamespace.Thistask-likethatofSisyphus-mustbeendlesslyrepeated.094.Thedigital,onceinstalledintheworld,
acceleratesthepotentialforchange,butforchangealwaysofthesametype.TheAnalogPrincecanrollupmanythingstomakehisKatamariballs,butanydifferenceamongtheseobjectsislost.Allthatmattersistheiraggregation,glommedtogetherasmoreandmoreofthesame.Likewise,themilitaryentertainmentcomplexgridstheearthsoitmaygirdit,makingitoverintheimageofitsdigitalrulings,makingitamenabletotheimpositionofacodeofunambiguousstratifications.Distinctionsproliferatewildly,beyondthesimpledichotomiesofthetopographic.Butthesedistinctionsarealwaysandeverywhereexchangeableequivalentswithinthelogisticsofcommodityspaceandmilitaryspace.Rollupmoreandmoreballs,populatetheheavenswithaveritablemilkyway,buteachisdistinctfromtheotheralwaysinthesameway.DrewMilne:"Whatonceventuredforthasprocessualmathesisbecomesthereifiedcalculusofadministration,alogicofnumericalsamenessscreenedfromnihilisticrelativity."095.Thedigitalemergesasmilitary,butachievesacceptanceasentertainment.J.C.Herz:"mostofthetechnologythat'snowusedinvideogameshaditsoriginsinmilitaryresearch.Whenyoutracebackthepatents,it'svirtuallyimpossibletofindanarcadeorconsolecomponentthatevolvedintheabsenceofaDefenseDepartmentgrant."Themilitaryversionsofdigitaltelesthesiamaketheworldoverasamilitaryspace,butthedigitaldoesnotyetbecomeacultureotherthanforasmallbandofspecialiststiedtothemilitaryindustrialcomplex.Thecoming
togetherofthedigitalandtheentertainmentcommodityinscribesthedigitalnotjustinspaceandtime,butinculturalperceptionsofspaceandtime.096.Thedigitalgameisaveryparticularcommodity.Itisnotjusttheusualstoreofentertainingrepresentationstransferredfromanalogandmechanicalreproductiontoadigitalform.Rather,itmakesthedigitalitselfintoentertainment.Thedigitalalwaysaddressesitssubjectasaplayer,asacalculatorandcompetitorwhohasvalueonlyinrelationtoamark,ascore.Thedigitalinscribesgamespacewithinthesubjectitself.Gamespacemakestopologyseemlikeitcouldhave,ifnotmeaning,thenatleastanalgorithm.Gamespacemakestheuploadingoftheworldintotopologyseemnaturalandinevitable.Yetatthesametimeitoffersthedigitalinitspurestform,wherethetransformationofanalogintodigitalisalwaysconsistent,repeatable,inaword-fair.Whilethegamemakesthedigitalseeminescapable,itsambiguityisinthewayitalsomakesthedigitalseemlikeitcouldbeanalmost-utopianrealm.Thegamenaturalizesgamespace,andyetcallsittoaccountasinadequateinitsownterms.097.Thedigitalmakestheanalogitselfappearassomethingdistinct.Thedigitalrulesalinebetweenanaloganddigital,makingtheirambiguousdifferenceintoacleardistinction.Butperhaps,havingmadethedistinctionappear,theperspectivecanbereversed,andthedigitalcanbeperceivedfromthepointofviewofitsanalogresidue.Whatmightemergeisrathertheplaybetweentheanalogandthedigital.Thedig
italmightbecomeagainthethresholdthatturnsamovementintoabreak,ratherthanimposingthebreakonmovement.Thegamerastheoristmightlooktowardatransformationofwhatmatterswithingamespace,aturningawayfromagon,distinction,decision,thefataleither/or.Afterawhile,it'sjustnofun.JohanHuizinga:"Andundoubtedlythepredominanceoftheagonisticprincipledoesleadtodecadenceinthelongrun."098."Idon'tplaygames",saysKeitaTakahashi,designerofKatamariDamacy.Heisasculptor."Iamhappygoingthroughthisgamephaseofmylife,whereIcangetpaidandeat."Asthedigitalsubsumestheanalogsotoothedesignersubsumestheartist.Thelongingtoreturntoartasananalogpursuit-thetraceofthehandinclayorpaint-maybeinvain.Buttheartistwithinthedesignermaystillinscribetheanalogintheheartofthedigitalassomethingirreducible.Theartistisnowtheonewhofindsanewwayoftriflingwithinthegame.Theartistoutsiderisdead,forthereisnooutsidefromwhichtosignalbackacrosstheborder.Thelimittothegamehastobefoundfromwithin.TheAnalogPrinceistheveryfigureoftheartistintopologicaltimes,whoplaysgamely,twistingthiswayandthatonthecontrols,tryingtogetoutintobiggerandbiggerspaces,butalwaysunabletoescapegamespace.099.KingDigitalmayruleinKatamariDamacy,butitishissubordinate,thePrince,uponwhoselaborsthisdigitaltopologyisbuilt.NottheleastofthecharmsofTakahashi'sworkisthisforegroundingofthelaborthegamerperforms.Itisnolongerlaboraspunis
hmentfordefyingtheGods.Itisnolongerabsurdlabor,performedconsciouslyandjoyouslyinspiteoftheabsenceoftheGods.Topologyinstalls,inplaceoftheabsentGods,KingDigital,andhisdemandthat,whilelaborispunishinglyhardandabsurdlypointless,itneverthelesshasitsmeasure.Sisyphus,theAnalogPrince,laborstorollupeverythinginthisworldmadeoverunderthemarkofthedigitalandofferitupforappraisal.Whatthedigitalhasalwayswanted-tobetheformofallforms-hascometopass.Ourpunishmentforattemptingtostealthoseformsforourownpurposesistolaborendlesslytorepeatthem.KatamariDamacymerelyextendstheatopiaofthedigitaltotheheavensthemselves.100.WhenthePrincesucceedsincompletingalevel,KatamariDamacyrewardsthegamerwithacutscene,ashortanimationabouttheHoshinofamily.Theyarecutebutratherchunky,asifthedigitalhadalreadysnappedthemtoitsgrid.TheHoshinoswatchtheirastronautfatherTomioashebeginshisvoyagetotheMoon.Tomio'smissionhastobecancelledbecausethereisnoMoontowhichtotravel.Thelastmissionofthegame,MaketheMoon,requirestherollingupofmostoftheobjectsonEarth,includingtheHoshinofamilyandtheirfather'srocket.OncethePrincehasrestoredthemoontotheKing'ssatisfaction,afinalcutsceneshowstheHoshinofamily-motherandfather,boyandgirl,onthenewMoon.Havingcompletedthereconstructionofthecosmosasoneofdigitaldistinctionsratherthananalogdifferences,adigitalpeoplefindthemselvesalreadythere,alreadyinha
bitingthemoontowhichTomiowastotravel.Thereisnoneedtotravel-thatgreatpastimeoftopographictimes.Nowthere'snoplacetogowhichisnotsubjecttothesamecode.ThereignofKingDigital,theKingofAllCosmosiscomplete.Atopia(onViceCity)Fig.5101.It'slikeparadisehere.Everythingseemspastel-huedasyoudriveby,withtheradioon.Thecarisstolen,butsolongasthepolicedidn'tseeyou,itwon'tmatter.Youdon'treallyhavetobeanywhereordoanything.Thehotelsandcondosarecomfortableanddiscreet.Ifyouneedmoney,mugsomeone.Thebodymakesasatisfyinglysquishysoundwhenyoukickit.Thereareadventures.Yougettomeetsomeinterestingpeople.Itisacityofgangsters,hustlersandhoneys.It'salltourism,drugs,guns,carsandpersonalservices.Nobodymakesanything,exceptmaybe'icecream',pornandcounterfeitmoney.Everybodybuys,sellsorsteals.ViceCityisaniceplace.Itisnotquiteutopia.Andnorisitsomedarkdystopia.There'snostorylinehere,whereparadiseturnsnasty,inwhichthetellingearlydetailturnsouttobeacluetothenightmarebeneaththesurface,theseveredearofBlueVelvet.Withoutthepossibilityofdystopia,there'snoutopiaeither.TerryEagleton:"Allutopianwritingisalsodystopian,since,likeKant'ssublime,itcannothelpremindingusofourmentallimitsintheactofstrivingtogobeyondthem."InViceCitythereisno'beyond'.Asonewouldexpectinahighendlandofvice,itsofferisallinclusive.102.Ingamespace,theverypossibilityofutopiaisforeclosed.Itisnolongerpossib
letodescribeashiningcityuponthehill,asifitwereaspecialtopicuntouchedbytheeveryday,workadayworld.Nospaceissacred;nospaceisseparate.Noteventhespaceofthepage.Thegamelikeextendsitslineseverywhereandnowhere.Andyet,apuredigitalgamelikeViceCitymightstillperformsomecurious,criticalfunction.Whydosomanychoosetoescapefromtheireverydaygamespaceinto-yetmoregames?Asthemyriadlinesoftopologyworktheirwayintospace,spacemutates,andjustastheallegoricalmomentchangesfromthetopicaltothetopographictothetopological,sotoodoestheutopianmoment.Onemightthinkgamespaceviabothallegory(doubledasallegorithm)andutopia(mutatedintoatopia).Onerevealswhichcouldbe,theotherannouncingwhatshouldbe,bothshiftingandrealigningasthespacearounduschangeswhatitwouldbe.103.Utopiawasaplacetohide,whereatopiccoulddevelopofitsownaccord,safewithintheboundsofthebook.Therelifecouldbeginagainoutsideofconflict.Utopiasdotheirbesttoexpelviolence.Inautopiantextthereisalwaysabarrierinspace-distantanddifficultterrain;orabarrierintime-interveningrevolutionsorCharlesFourier'scyclesofepochs.Therealbarrierisratherthattroublesomelinethatdivideswhatisonthepagefromwhatisoutsideit.FredricJameson:"IbelievethatwecanbeginfromthepropositionthatUtopianspaceisanimaginaryenclavewithinrealsocialspace,inotherwords,thattheverypossibilityofUtopianspaceisitselfaresultofspatialandsocialdifferentiation."
Onlyutopia'senclavewasnotimaginary.Itwastangibleandmaterial.Utopiawasaplaceonapagewhereviolenceispushedtothemarginbythepowerofsheerdescription.UtopiansocialistWilliamMorris:"Successinbestingourneighborsisaroadtorenownnowclosed."104.Utopiarestricteditselftoaparticulartopic-thetopicofthepage,andparticularline,thelineofwriting.(Fig.5)Thebookisaline:atrajectory,aconnectionthroughtimeandspacewithcertainqualities.Amongitsqualitiesisthewayitpartitionsoffthesmoothspaceofthepagefromtheroughandtumbleworldwithout.Itrulesofffromtheworldthatspecialtempowheretextplaysitssubtlegamesagainstitsreader.Inautopia,otherlinesofcommunicationareeithernonexistentorsubordinatedtothedescriptivepowerofthetext.UtopiancommunistA.A.Bogdanov:"Theplayswereeithertransmittedfromdistantlargecitiesbymeansofaudiovisualdevices,or--moreusually--theywerecinematicreproductionsofplaysperformedlongago,sometimessolongagothattheactorsthemselveswerealreadydead."InthisutopianRedStar,thenewlinesextendandenhancethoseofthetext,ratherthansupercedethem.105.Itisnotthatutopiasalonecreategulags.AdolfEichmannwasnoutopian.Hejustkeptthetrainsrunningontime-tothecamps.Hiswasaprosaicimagination,makingtopographymatchthetextofhisorders.Thelinesforimplementingthatkindofviolencearetherailwayline,thetelegraphline,andthelineofpunchcardspassingthroughthetabulators-precursorstothedigita
lcomputer.HolocausthistorianEdwinBlack:"WhenGermanywantedtoidentifytheJewsbyname,IBMshowedthemhow."Intopographythereisawholenestofconnections,alongwhichflowsinformation,radiatingfromthetext,callingtheworldtoorder.Therearelinesforplanning,managing,measuring.Topographyisnotonlythemeansforproducingspatialandsocialdifferentiation,butofovercomingit,connectingaspaceofplaceswithaspaceofflows.ThefirstintimationsoftopologyarethoseIBMHolerithtabulatingmachineswhichwillmakespacenotonlysomethingthatcanbedividedandconnectedbyorder,butmeasuredandmanagedbythealgorithm.106.Whenthelinesoftelesthesia-telegraph,telephone,telecommunications-connecttopicsintoatopographicspace,extensivelymappedandstoried,utopiaisrecruitedoutofthepageandcomesouttoplay.Utopiauncoils,spreadingitstendrilsoutofthebook,alongthelinesofthetopographic,intotheworld.Ratherthanaretreatfromtheworld,showinginitspositivecreationofanewworldwhattheactualonebeyonditslinelacks,utopiabecomessomethingelse.Thebookbecomesanalibiformoreworldlylinesofcommunication,somewiththepowerofanorder:diagrams,memos,reports,telegrams.Utopiabecomespartofsomethinginstrumental,buttherebylosesitspower.Topographiclinesaretherenowtomaketheworldoverbythebook,butintheprocesstheymakethebookoveraswell,reducingittojustanotherline.Thesmoothplaneoftheblankpageisthegreen-fieldssitefordelineatingapuretopogr
aphyoftheline.Butthatpagecouldbeanypage-apageofanovelorofEichmann'sorders.Utopia'sproblemisnotthatitisselfcontained,butthatitisnotselfcontainedenough.Signsandimagesleakoutofthisbound-paperenclave,andarecapturedbyotherpowers,connectedtoflowsalongotherlines.107.Thepoweroftopographyisforeshadowedindystopias.RussellJacoby:"Utopiasseektoemancipatebyenvisioningaworldbasedonnew,neglected,orspurnedideas;dystopiasseektofrightenbyaccentuatingcontemporarytrendsthatthreatenfreedom."Whattheyhaveincommonisabeliefinthepowerofthelineofwritingandthebookasatopic,separatefrombutinaprivilegedrelationtotheworld.Utopiasdreamofwhatispossiblewithinthattopicasacritiqueofwhatisbeyondit.Dystopiasarethenightmareofthelossofpowerofthelineofwriting,overcomebyotherlines.JackLondon,GeorgeOrwell,AldousHuxley,YevgenyZamyatin-allrecoilfromthelinesthatsupercedethoseofwriting.Dystopianspaycloseattentiontothecontroloftopographybyvariouslinesofanalogsignal-radio,television-threadingtopicstogether,makingspacetransparenttoanallseeingBigBrotherorthecultofFord.108.Theriseofdystopianformsmighthavelesstodowiththeperniciouspoweroftheutopiantextthanwiththedecliningpowerofthetextingeneralasakindofline.Dystopiantextsarethesignthatthebookhaslostitscapacitytofunctionasaseparatetopic,fromwhichtonegatetheworld.Dystopiasarewriting'sguiltyconscience.Theirsecretutopia-likeW
instonSmith'sdiaryinNineteenEighty-Four-isstillthebook.Thefailureofutopiamightpointtonothingsomuchastheinadequatepropertiesofthelinesemployedtomakeitoperational.Thepassagefromutopiantodystopiantextschartstheriseandfallofthebookasthelinethatmightnegatethisworldthroughitspositivedescriptionofanotherworld.Thebookgavewaytootherlines,courtesyofIBMandotheravatarsofthemilitaryentertainmentcomplex-creatingtopologieswhichcolonizedtheworldindifferentways.Alldystopianwritingisalsoutopian.Itcannothelpremindingitselfofthelimitsofwritingandalostworldofthesovereigntextbeforeotherlinessublimateditspower.109.Topographylearnedtolivewithoutitsutopias,andsettledintoamundaneresignationtothehereandnow.Itassuageditsboredominspecialtimes,specialplaces,wheredifferentrulesapplied.Post-warplaytheoristRogerCaillois'answertotheNaziswasagonmixedwithalea-gamesofchanceandcompetition-eachinitsproperplaceandtimealongsidebutnotaboveeverydaylife.ThiswouldbetheantidotetotheNazi'stoxicmixofilinxandmimesis-intoxicationandspectacle.Theywouldtakeplaceoutsideoftheuncertaintiesofmundanetimeandspace,inspecialzoneswhereconsistentrulesapply.Suchspacesare'heterotopias'.MichelFoucault:"Theirroleistocreateaspacethatisother,anotherrealspace,asperfect,asmeticulous,aswellarrangedasoursismessy,ill-constructedandjumbled."Heterotopiasareatsomeremovefromthedullrepetitionof
meaninglesslaborswithincalculablepurposeinworkadaylife.Theyarespacesandtimeswhichliealongotherlines.110.Heterotopianspacesareveryvaried.Eachhasitsownparticularrulesandseasons.Thereareheterotopiasofbarenecessity:prisons,hospitals,schools.Theseneednotconcerngamertheorymuch.Moreinterestingaretheheterotopiasofuselessluxury:galleries,arenas,sportsdomes.Theseinturnsubdivideintoheterotopiasofaestheticplayandofthecalculatedgame.Oneisaspaceofpurequalities;theother-purequantities.Onecreatesnewvalues;theotherpitsgivenvaluesagainsteachother.Inone,theidealisthatplayisfree;intheother,thatthegameisfair.Inbothheterotopias,thesevalueshavetheirlimits.Oneisanartificeofrankandtheother-ofrankartifice.Outsidetheheterotopiathatmakestheirautonomypossible,theyamounttonothing.111.Heterotopiasofluxury,ofastrictlyartificialnecessity,containsubdivisionsofplayandgame,existingwithintheirallottedtimesandspaces,whichareinturnsubdivided.Thespaceofplaycontainsseparateworldsofliterature,art,theater,cinema,evenspacesforsexualplay.Thesearenowjust'specialtopics',ruledofffromanylargerambitionsforremakingtheworld.Aestheticplaytriedagainandagaintobreakoutofitsheterotopia,totakethederangementofthesensesintothestreets,andagainandagainitfailed.GuyDebord:"ForDadaismsoughttoabolishartwithoutrealizingit,andSurrealismsoughttorealizeartwithoutabolishingit.Thecritical
positionsinceworkedoutbytheSituationistsdemonstratesthattheabolitionandtherealizationofartareinseparableaspectsofasingletranscendenceofart."Itwasnottobe.TheheterotopianspaceoftheartworldabolishedDebord'sSituationistsinsteadbyrealizing'Situationism'entirelywithintheconfinesoftheplaypenofarthistory.113.Heterotopiasofthegamehaveneverbeenofmuchinteresttotheory,whosepractitionershavetendedtoviewitastheplaceofthemob.PatKane:"Theworkingclassisalsotheplayingclass--andhasalwaysbeenso."Buttogamertheorywithoutsuchprejudices,heterotopiasofthegamemaybeakeyprecursortogamespace.Amongthemareseparateworldspittingdifferentattributesofbodyandmindintocontestsofskillorluck,frombadmintontobackgammon.Everywayofmeasuringwhatonebodydoesagainstanother-eachfindsitsownspecialheterotopia,itsfield,itscourt,itstrack,itspitch,itsarena.SaysdefrockedSituationistRalphRumney:"Itisnowsport,notpaintingorsculpture,whichdefinesthelimitsofthehuman,whichoffersasenseorimageofwholeness,ofaphysicalidea,whichnohonestartcannowrepeat."Nor,needoneadd,canwriting.114.Ifaestheticplaysuffersfromenclosurewithinheterotopianmargins;theagonofgamesisleechedoutofitspuredomains.RalphRumneydidn'tcounton24hoursportschannels,internetgambling,realityTVgameshows,orthesubtle,corrosiveimpositionofthedigitalgamespaceoneveryaspectoflife.Conceptualartisnomatchforconceptualsport,withitsf
antasybaseballteamsanditsperpetualpeptalksurgingeveryonealwaystojustdoit!--where'it'isstrippedofanypossibilitynotmarkedandmeasuredinadvance.Notonlywasaestheticplaynomatchforthegame,itendsupplayingasubordinaterolewithintheexpansionofthegamebeyondamereheterotopia.Artprovidestheimagesandstoriesformediatingbetweenthegamerandgamespace.Ratherthanactualgamesplayedinactualarenas,artexpandsthereachofthegametoimaginarygamesplayedinapurelydigitalrealm,anywhereandeverywhere,oneverydesktopandcellphone.115.Foragamertheorythegenealogyofgamespacemightpassthroughtheseheterotopiasofthegamemorethanthoseofplay,andthoseofplaymorethanthoseofnecessity.Theoryhasbeenlookinginallthewrongplaces.Theplaytimeaestheticsoftheavantgardesofartyieldstothe'ludology'ofgamespace.ItwasthegeniusofCaillois,thelapsedSurrealist,tograspthis.Intopography,whathecallsalea(chance)andagon(competition)becomethedominantmodes;whathecallsilinxandmimesis-intoxicatingvertigoanddissimulatingspectacle-theminormodes.TheobsessionsoftheSituationists-passivespectacleandactiveinsurrectionagainstit-formanobsoletecouple,eachdrawingsupportindeclinefromtheother.Theactioniselsewhere.116.Mostoftheavantgardescelebratetransgressive,sublimeplay,eruptingbeyondarule-boundworld.PostSituationistAlbertoIacovoni:"Playarchitecturemustliberatespacefromtopologicalchains."TheOulipogroupdidtheoppos
ite.Itpreferredself-imposedrules,elegantastheywerearbitrary,thatmightbeconductivetonewkindsofplay.Ratherthanresistheterotopianmarginality,theyreveledinit.Giventhatthepassagefromtopographictotopologicalspaceeliminateseventhemarginswithinwhichheterotopiasflourished,thismightproveamoreenduringgameplanforgamertheory.OulipiannovelistGeorgePerecsawwhatwascoming,inhislate-dystopiancreationofW,atextualislanddevotedonlytototalsport:"ThelifeofanAthleteofWisbutasingle,endless,furiousstriving,apointless,debilitatingpursuitofthatunrealinstantwhentriumphcanbringrest."WhatCailloisseesasawinforcivilizationovertheNazis,Perecseesmoredarkly,asthetriumphofTheTriumphoftheWill.Bothenterthegamertheoryhalloffamebyprovidingitwithitsobject-gamespace-anditscriticalimpetus-thegamer'soddattunementtowardthegame.117.Noutopiapullsatthetopologicalworld,callingitawayfromitself.Evendystopiantextsbecomemarginal,confinedtotheplaygroundofliterarygamesmanship.Theoncediscreteheterotopianspacesnolongerco-existwitheverydaylife,ascompensation.Rather,gamespaceseepsintoeverydaylife,movingthroughitspores,transformingitinitsownimage.Ratherthanatimelessutopianidealwherehistoryends,ratherthantheallottedhouroftheheterotopian,everydaylifenowpulsesconstantlywithmomentsofunrealizedatopianpromise.Everywhere,allthetime,thegamerconfrontstherivalimpulsesofchanceandcompetiti
on,intoxicationandspectacle,ashomeopathicantidotestoaboredomthatchallengesbeingfromwithin.InViceCityallofCaillois'fourkindsofplay-chanceandcompetition,intoxicationandspectacle-cometogether.Thedestructionofthespectaclebecomesthespectacleofdestruction;thederangementofthesensesbecomesthearrangementofdrugdeals.InViceCityyouchanceyourarminanagonofallagainstall.118.Noworkofartcanaspiretotranscendthisgamespace,whichhasrealizedartbysuppressingit'sambitions.YetperhapsagamelikeViceCitycanfunctionasthenegativeofgamespace,itsatopianshadow,inaparalleltothewaythattheverypositivityofautopiaactsasanegationoftheworldoutsideitsbounds.NottheleastofthecharmsofViceCityisthatwhileitappearstobeaboutalifeofcrimeitisthoroughlylawabiding.Itisagameabouttransgressioninwhichitisnotpossibletobreaktherules.Onemaysucceedinthegameorfail,butonecannotreallycheat.(Eventhe'cheats'arepartoftherules.)Thisistheatopiandreamofgamespace,wherethelinesaresodense,thedigitalsoomnipresent,thatanyandeveryobjectandsubjectisinplay,andallofspaceisagamespace.Everymovecontrarytotherulesofagivengameismerelyamoveintoanothergame.Thegameimaginestopologyperfected.119.Atopiahasonequalityincommonwithutopia-itsaversiontoambiguity.ViceCitymaytakeplaceinadarkworldofgunsanddrugs,buteverymissionproducesanexactandtangiblereward.IfyourmissionistofindpornstarsCandyandMercedes,youdrivet
otherightlocation,dispatchsomebodyguards,chaseCandy'spimp,runhimover,returntopickupCandy,drivetothepizzajoint,collectMercedes,drivethembothtotheStudioanddeliverthemtothedirector.Yourrewardisalwaysexactlyonethousanddollars.Ifutopiathrivesasanarchitectureofqualitativedescription,andbracketsoffquantitativerelations,atopiarendersalldescriptionsarbitrary.Allthatmattersisthequantitativerelations.Byexcludingrelations,utopiaexcludesviolence;byprivilegingrelations,atopiaappearsasnothingbutviolence,butonlybecauseitexcludesinsteadanycommitmenttostabledescription.Anythingthatmatterscanbetransformedinpreciseandrepeatablewaysintosomethingelse.Therelentlessworkingoutofthealgorithmleavesbehindacarnageofsigns,immolatedinthetransformationofonevalueintoanother.120.TherulesofViceCitycallforavastaccumulationofcash,carsandcronies,ofweaponsandrealestate.Mostoftheseactivitiesareoutsidethelaw,butlawisjustpartofalargeralgorithm.Inanycase,thestoryandtheartarearbitrary,meredecoration.Ifinutopia,everythingissubordinatedtoarigorousdescription,amarkingofspacewithsigns,inatopia,nothingmattersbutthetransitiverelationsbetweenvariables.Theartfulsurfacesofthegamearejustawayforthegamertointuittheirwaythroughthestepsofthealgorithm.HencetheparadoxofViceCity.Itscriminalworldismeanttobeshockingtotheliteraryorcinematicimagination,wherethereisstilladividinglin
ebetweenrightandwrong,andwheredescriptionismeanttoactuallydescribesomething.Buttoagamer,itsjustameanstodiscoveranalgorithm.ViceCity'sfilmnoirworldimpliesnotthatonecanstepbackfromitintothelight,butthatwhiledrivingaroundandaroundinit,onecandiscoverthealgorithmoftowhichgamespacemerelyaspiresandbywhichitistobejudgedinitsentirety.121.InViceCity,theworldexistsalreadymadeoverasacompletegamespace,anatopia.Itisnot'nowhere'(utopia)or'elsewhere'(heterotopia),but'everywhere'(atopia).Inthegame,spacesallhavethepropertiesrequiredofthemofacertainkindofplay.HiddenonViceCity'sislandsareonehundredsecretpackages.SomeareDowntown,someareinLittleHavana,someinLittleHaiti,someonthegolfcourse,someattheairport.Collectthemallandyoucantradeinevenyourbestmotorvehiclesfortheultimateride.Orifthatisnotyourpreferredgoal,pickanotherone.Eitherway,thequalitiesofspacealwaysguideyoutoitsrealvalues,whichalwayshaveascore.Thisspaceisperfect,seamless-andbounded,likeThomasMore'sUtopia.Andjustastheutopiapointstowhatislackingbeyondthepage;sotooatopiapointstowhatislacking,beyondthegame.Atopianspaceisarealenclavewithinimaginarysocialspace.Thepossibilityofatopianspaceisaresultoftheimpossibilityofadequateandeffectivespatialandsocialquantificationandcalculation.122.Forquiteoppositereasons,theutopiantextandtheatopiangamebothstandaccusedofincitementstoviolence.Whatifthe
atopiangame,liketheutopianbook,ismerelythescapegoat?Whatifthebookwasmerelyaharmlessrepositoryofthepotentialofthelinethatwasalreadyimprintingitselfontheworld?Whatifthegameismerelyarepositoryofanewpotentialoftheline?Inutopianbooks,thewritingshowstheeverydayworldtransformedasonlywritingcantransformit.Theutopianbookmerelypusheswriting'sabilitiesthefurthest,toapointofalmostcompleteconsistency,withinthespecialtopicofthebook.Theatopiangame,likewise,isthealgorithmicinamorecompleteandconsistentform.Neitherbooknorgameiseverwhollycompleteandconsistent.Theyalwaysnegotiatewithwhatisbeyondtheirbounds.InViceCityasinMore'sUtopiathereisatravelerwhomediatesbetweenoneworldandanother.Butineithercase,theutopianbookortheatopiangamelacksthepowertotransformstheworld.Butwheresignsandimagesmaybleedofftheutopianpageintotheworld,thealgorithmofthegame,inwhicheachrelationdependsononeanother,maynot.Atleastnotyet.123.Itisnotthe'content'ofViceCitywhichmightgiveagamertheoristcausetopause.Itreallycontainsnosex,noviolence,nodrugs,noguns.Thesearemerelytheart-theimagesandstories-viawhichthegamemediatesbetweenwhatiswithinitsownpurelyalgorithmicline,andthelessthanperfecttopologywithinwhichthegamerlives.Rather,itistheformofthegameitselfanditscompromiseswithaworldbeyondthatcanworkasthetoposofacriticalgamertheory.Theatopiangame,liketheutopianbook,expresseswhat
hasthepowertoremaketheworldofitstime,butisnotitselfthatpower.Itisauseless,impotentformofapowerfulline.Whichiswhycriticaltheorybestbecomesgamertheory,andwhygamertheorybestbecomescritical.Thecriticalattachesitselftowhatpowerisbutnotwhereitis.Itattachesitselftopowerinapowerlessform.Theatopiangameisexactlythesitethathasthisambiguouspropertywhenthingsreachthetopologicallevel,whenthelinesruneverywherethroughspaceandeverythingiscomingtogetheraspotentialfordigitalcalculation.124.Ingames,asingamespace,somecalculationshappenquickerthanothers.Sometimesthereisamomenttothinkitover,negotiate.Sometimesnot.Whenthereisnotimeforcalculation,thegamermustactonthebasisofacalculationmadeinadvance.There'salwaysabackstory,providingsomedividinglinealongwhichtoweighone'sinterests.It'sneverquiteasgametheoryproperwouldpredict.Thegamerisrarelyanautonomousagent,actingonrationalselfinterest.Ifgametheorywasobjective,rational,abstract;gamertheoryissubjective,intuitive,particular.Ifgametheorystartswiththeselfcontainedagent,likeaprisonerinacell,lookingoutattheworld;gamertheorywondershowtheagencyofthegamercomesintobeingassomethingdistinctinthefirstplace.Inthemidstofbattle,howdoesthegamerdecidewhenandwheretopullthetrigger?Theatopiaofthegameisasafehaveninwhichtoenacttheproblemofbeingasitappearsingamespace,butwithouttheoppressivestakesofone'sownlifeonthelin
e.125.Everydaylifeoncehadtheresourcestoresist,adapt,appropriateorembraceutopianschemes.Itpushedthepromiseandthreatofotherwaysofbeingoffintothecorner,whileitgotonwiththebusinessofwrestingfreedomfromnecessity,buildingaworldinwhichtodwell.Withtheverysuccessofthatlaborcomesarenewedchallengetoitsresourcefulness.Havingdevelopedatopographyinwhichtodwell,minedandmoldedfromrawpossibilitybycollectivelabor,boredomrisestoanewpitch,andtheheterotopianpastimesbecomemorethanamererecompenseforadulllife.Theybecomethedrivingforceofdevelopmentitself.Outoftheheterotopiasofagonandaleaarisetheatopiasofgamespace,viawhichtopologymakesitselfknowntous,asanevermoreintricatematrixofthedigitalline.It'snotthattheory,evenagamertheory,canachieveallthatmuchwhenconfrontedwiththedigitalindifferenceofgamespace.Itmightaspiremerelytodescribewhatbeingnowis.Battle(onRez)Fig.6126.NottheleastofthepleasuresofplayingTetsuyaMizoguchi'sRezisthecounter-intuitivewaythetriggerworks.Ifusuallythegamerpressesthetriggertoshootthetarget,inRezthegamerreleasesthetriggertoshoot.Actuallyit'satwostageoperation:holdthetriggerintoselectatarget;releasethetriggertoshoot.Asyoumovethroughatunnel-likespace,withpoundinghousebeatsinyourears,variouspotentialtargetsswimandswishby,ortakeaswipeatyou-orratheratyourcharacter.Youholdthetriggerdowntolockontothemastargets,andthenreleaseitandwat
chasfierylinesradiatetowardthemovingtargets.One'smissilesseemmoreballeticthanballistic.Theyarctowardstheirtargetsevenasthosetargetsmove.127.EverythinginRezisveryabstract.Yourcharactermayhaveavaguelyhumanformornot,dependingonthelevel.Thebrightlycoloredshapesthatflareatyoumaylookvaguelymenacingorbrightlyfriendly.Thewholethingismeanttosimulatetheexperienceofanightclubmorethanawar.This,togetherwiththecurioustriggeraction,highlightstheactoftargetinginRezratherthanthetargetitself.Thereissomevaguelysci-fistorylineaboutwhyonetargetsandshoots,butitisratherminimalandsketchy.It'snotclearatfirstjustwhatrolethestoryplays.Likemanygamesofitsgenre(it'sa'railshooter')itsanexperienceofbattlingagainstthingsinordertolevel.InRez,onetargetswhattoshootatandshootsatwhatonetargetsprettymuchforitsownsake.It'sinterestasagameresidesinthisabstractingoftheactawayfromtoomanyparticularsastowhyonetargetsorwhomoneshoots.TimespentwithRezfeelslikeimmersioninaneternal,tensepresentunderfire.BlaisePascal:"Thefactisthatthepresentusuallyhurts."Shootinggamesrecognizeanddisavowthisatoneandthesametime.128.Color,brightness,shape,movement,beats,notes,sounds,eventhepulsingvibrationsofthecontrollerinhandcometogetherinRezinaveritablesynasthesia,ablendingofthesensesintentonmeldingthegamerwiththegame.It'saquiteparticularcontextinwhichtotrytotarget.Theenemyhastobeident
if
ied,localized,andhighlightedinordertobecomeatarget.Thetargetemergesoutofanevent,outofapureanalogfluxofvariablemovement.Beforethereisatargetthereiseverythingandnothing-indifference,alterity,beingneitheronenortheother,neitherherenorthere.Selectingatargetstabilizesarelationbetweentheonetargetedandtheonetargeting-oneversustheother,usversusthem.Targetingturnstimeandspacefromadisconcertingexperienceoffluxintoconditionsofselfawareness,wheretheworldexistssothegamermightcomeintobeing,againstit.Onceaneventyieldsatarget,itbecomessomethingsubjecttocontrol.Theanalogyieldstothedigital.129.Totargetistoidentifyanobjectofanactionwithanaimtowardsagoal.Thegoalwillcomedirectly,bydesignatingtheendpointinadvanceandaimingatit.Thereisnoindirectionintargeting.Atargetisagoalthatcanbereachedbyvirtueofanimmediateknowledgeofitandaconsequentactionagainstit.Thegamermayneedtotargetonethinginordertosubsequentlytargetanother,butthisismoreamatterofstringingtargetstogetherasasequenceintime.Orrather,asequenceagainsttime.InRez,thegamerdoesbesttotargetcertainshapesthatappearintheperipheryofone'svision,andwhichenhanceone'spowerandextendone'simmunity.Whatthegamehighlightsisalogisticsoftargeting,aneconomyoforderagainsttime,thebattleofalternatingmergerandseparationfromtheother.130.Targetingisatoneandthesametimethedesignatingofagoal,theonedesignating,andtheme
ansofdesignation.Totargetistoovercometheindifferenceofselfandother,andatthesametimetointroduceanoscillationintothemomentofthisveryovercoming.Pressthetriggerdownandthetargetselects,assomethingotherthanyou;releasethetriggerthantheshotconnectsyoutoitagain,butinaveryspecialway,asengagedintherelationofbattling.Hitormiss,thegapbetweentargetandgamerre-opens,andthecyclebeginsagain.Perhapsthegamerisalwaysbattlingotherness,inanunstablerelationtoalterity,toblurryedgesandfuzzyboundarieswhichthreatentooverwhelmtheself.StevenPoole:"Onecrucialcomponentofvideo-gamingpleasureisinfactacertainlevelofanxiety."InRez,thisfeelingisrendereduseful,productive,ratherthanparalyzingorprofound.Thegamerexploitstheanxiousrelationofselftootherintheactoftargeting,riskingtheboundariesofcharacter,fortherewardofpromotingthecharactertoanewlevel.131.Totargetistoblazeacrosstheagonizinggapbetweenselfandworld,betweencognitionanditsobject.Andyetthetargetdoesnotstandaloneandisolated.Itappearsnotonlyagainstabackgroundofothermoments;itappearsagainstabackgroundofothermeanings.Everytargetisembeddedinaseriesofeventsthatexceedsthemomentofopportunityfortargeting.Totargetistodiscriminateandrankpossibilitieswithinanevent.Itistobattleone'swayinadeliberateanddeliberativelinefrommomenttomoment,acrossthesurfaceoftheevent,targetingthemomentofmaximumopportunity.132.Ineveryday
life,rattlingaroundingamespace,yourrelationtoobjectsisalltoooftencontingent,ambiguous,ineffective.Youlabortoconnectwithclumsydrunkmotions,andevenifyoudoitshardtoknowthepointofit.InRez,thingsaredifferent.Therelationbetweenyouandotherpassesthroughacharacterforwhomactioninspaceisrisky,challenging,butfarlessambiguous.Yourcharacteralternatelymergesintothisgorgeouscolorfulworld,drawingyouwithit;oryourcharacterofferstoyouanarrowbutclearpointofview.Itoffersuptargets.Youlockon,release,fire.Targetingcutsthroughallthatisslippery,vagueordullaboutbeingintheworld.Eachmomentoftimeinthegamehasaclarityandconsistencythattimeinmeregamespacehardlyeverachieves.133.Ineverydaylife,timeexactsitstollinunknownincrementsofattrition.Objectstaxthebodyinunobserved,unobservableways;gradually,orsuddenly,throughsomeanalogslidebestnotknowntoointimately-death.Timeisviolence.Topologyoffersupendlesspowersfortransformingoneobjectintoanother,forremakinganythingandeverything,fromatomstotheatmosphere.Andyetthesepowersworkonlyagainstthingsinspace,notagainsttime.Allonecandoingamespaceistakepotshotsattime,whichrelentlesslychipsawayatlife.Inthegame,thereisatleastthepossibilityofscoringpointsagainsttime.InRez,timestartsoutslowenoughtoenablethegamertostringtogethersequencesoftargets.Onceyousucceedatthis,thetempoincreases,andthegamertargetstimesofincreasingintensit
y.Ifthegamerisdefeated,iftimewinsout,itisonlyagainstacharacter.Whenthegamerwalksawayfromthebattleintact,itiswiththetemporarysuggestionofavictoryagainstthetemporalitself.134.InRez,variouscolorfulshapesappearastheenemy,buttheyarearbitrary,abstract.Asiftohighlightthis,theysometimesmoveinquirkybutpredictableways.Theyarenotreallytheenemy.Orrather,theyareonlytheproximateenemy.Timeistheenemy.Targetingattemptstotransformtimefromamediumofevents,whereonethingalternateswithanother,toamediumofselffulfillment,wherebypickingoutadeliberativelineacrossitssurface,timecanbemadetoregistertheintegrityandsignificanceofone'scharacter-andbyproxyone'sself-andrewarditwiththenextlevel.Withinthegame,targetingbecomesanactthatrecruitstimetheeternalenemytoone'sside.135.ThingsappeartodieinRezwhenyoushootthem.Themusicswellsandthecolorsblazeinalltheirglory.Buttherecanreallybenothingontheothersideofameresignofdeath.Thesesignsaredigital,mererepeatablebits;deathisnot.NiallLucy:"Deathisalwaysabsolutelysingular."Signscanalwaysbeexchangedforothersigns.Deathissomethingelse.JacquesDerrida:"Dyingcanneverbetaken,borrowed,transferred,delivered,promisedortransmitted."Itcanneverbeincorporatedintotopology,whichisnothingbutlinesuponlinesalongwhichtoborrow,transfer,deliver,promise,transmit,etc,etc.Deathisthelastline,thelastthresholdfortopologicalspace.Dyingisanalog,
aslippagetowardnothingness,alegalandmoralgreyzone.Hencetheappealoftargeting.Theappallingdragandfrictionofdeathcanbeturnedintoasignandmadetheaimofatargeting.InRez,thebrightlycoloredsignsofimminentthreatloomupagainstthehorizonoftime.Thegamemakesitappearasifonehasnochoiceinthematter.Targetingappearsasaviolencewithoutguilt.Onetargetsoutofnecessity.Butintargeting,onebattlesthesignsofdeath,disposingoftheproblemoftheimpossibilityofthesignsofdeatheverhavinganymeaning,thissideofdeathitself.136.Atthebeginningofeachlevel,gamerandcharacter,linkedbythecontroller,goouttogethertoconfronttime,whichhurlsatgamerandcharacteralikethesekillersigns.Bydestroyingthesemereappearances,timeitself-notmerelytheappearanceoftime-isdefeated.Indefeat,acharacterdies;invictorythegamerwins.Theoscillationbetweencharacterandtargetdoublesthatbetweengamerandcharacter.(SeeFig.6)Theactofaligninggamer,characterandtargetintheactoftargetingriskstheintegrityoftheselfagainstthepossibilityofdefeatingtime.Ifthecharacterlost,replaythelevelagain.Andagain.Repeatthissame,strange,digitaltime,untilyouwin.Thetimeofthegame,whichcanberepeated,overandover,aneternalloopofthesametime,isnotviolent.Nothingchangesingametime.Timeisaconstant,measuredoutinidentical,digitalunits.Eveninagamewheretimespeedsup,itdoessointhesameway,forthesamereasons,overandover,everytimeyouplay.Withinthis
digitaltime,thegamerstepsouttocallintobeinganddestroyitsnemesis:analogtime,violenttime,thisriverthatisneverthesamewaytwice.137.Flyingalong,weightlessonarail,hereallaroundareclustersandpods,flightsandflocks,movingwithalgorithmicprecision,butrarelyappearingasunderthecommandofacentralnode.Rezisaboutbattlingalongaline,notacrossafront.Thepulsing,phosphorescingqualityofRezgivesthegamerafeelingofaparticularlyintenselossofself.Yoursensesmeshintoanetworkoflines,ofmoments,spreadacrossthescreen.Thepayoff,ifonetargetsaccurately,isthecoalescenceoftheselfbackagainintoaheightenedlevelofcoherencepreciselythroughvictoryoverthepulsingdub-trancetimethatconfrontsit.Thetwo-bitcodeofpressandreleaseonthetriggerswitchesbetweenthelinedividingandthelineconnectingselftoother,cuttingoutanyambiguitiesinbetween.138.Thepurposeofatargetinggameistheovercomingofdeaththroughthetargetingoftheother,freeingtheselftobeitself-temporarily.Thegoal,thetargetofthetarget,istostopplayingwhilestillalive.Havingdoneso,thegamerrejoices,forthemoment,beforecollapsingbackfromthegameintothevagariesofthenetworksandnetworksoflinesandlinesthataregamespace.There'snothingforitbuttoplayagain,andagain.Savethegame-freezetime-andcomebackandtryagainforthenextlevel.TheonlyrealproblemwithRezisthatitdoesnothaveenoughlevels.Victoryistemporary,orrathertemporal.Youcandefeattimeinthegame
,
butonlyforatime.Andhavingwonallthereistowin,boredomlooms...139.ThespacewithinwhichonebattlesinRezisanallegoryoftopologicalspaceitself.Itisallnodesandnetworks.Itisabattlespaceratherthanabattlefield.Thereisnofrontline.Onecannothidebehindthelines.One'scharacter,onitsrail,propelsitselfthroughspacefollowingthelineofanettoitsnode.Thenodemaybeacenter,buttheremaynotreallybeacenterofcenters.Thegamelevelsoutleavingthegamerwiththeuneasyfeelingthatthecenteryouconqueredisnotthecenterofcenters,evenifthisiswhatthestorylineclaims.Thegamerknowsbetter.Everypointconnectsthrougheveryother,everyshapecanbetransformedintoanother.Itcanfold,stretch,morphandbubble.Timeisconstant,butspaceisnot.Itcanpulseandbulge,warpandwobble.Itisanetwork.Andwhileeverypointcaninprinciplebeconnectedtoeveryother,inpracticeitcannot.Thereareprotocolsgoverningwhichpointscanopentowhichotherpoints.AlexGalloway:"protocolisanalgorithm,aproscriptionforstructurewhoseformofappearancemaybeanynumberofdifferentdiagramsorshapes."Thegameisanexerciseinnegotiatingprotocolstogainaccesstomoreandmoreofthenetwork.140.Netsareaproblem.Ingamespaceoneiscontinuallygettingtangledupinthem.Ingamespace,bothspaceandtimeareelastic.Ingamespace,netstugatone'sextremities,contaminateone'ssenses,blurtheboundsofselfitself.Onecan'tdowithoutnetsbuttheydoonein.It'saparadox,aninescapabletension.Inthegam
e,atleasttimeisheldconstant,digital,repeatable.Thisconsistencyenablesareductionofactiontotargeting.Totargetistodenyanydebttothenetworkwhichenmeshesonewiththeother.The'work'inanetworkisinidentifyingatargetthatconstitutesitslimit.InRez,pullingthetriggertargets,butdoesnotshoot.Itputstheemphasisontheformerratherthanthelatter.SamuelWeber:"theactoftargetingisanactofviolenceevenbeforeanyshotisfired."Theactoftargetinghasalreadycutthenetconnectingonetotheother.Thegamer'sdebttothenetremainsunacknowledged-otherthanintherepetitionoftheritualofplayingthegame.141.Targetinggameswouldseemtheleastlikelytoneedthesupportofaframingstoryline,andyettheyalmostalwayshaveone.Agamermightwatchtheintroductorycutscenes,oridlyscanthebackstoryprintedontheinsertinsidethebox,butnomorethanonce.Yetthesestorylineshaveapurposethattheyfulfillsimplybyexisting,evenwhentheyareignored.Storylinesreleasethegamerfromentrapmentinthenet.Theydrawalinebetweenacharacteranditsenemy.Theypolarizeanetintoantagonisticfronts-evenifthesefrontsarenotspatiallyseparate.Indeed,theremaybedarklabyrinthinetwiststhatfoldonefrontaroundandagainsttheother,asingamessuchasDeusEx.Storylineshaveaparticularroleinframingtheactionoftargeting,itrelievesoneofresponsibilitytowardthatfromwhichonecutsawayaself.Storylinesframethepossibilityofseparatingselffromother,sothattheothermaylegitimatelybe
comeatarget.Thedefeatoftheotherreopenstheinstabilitybetweenself-otherthatischaracteristicofanetwork,hencetheneedforthestorytoregeneratetheseparationalloveragain.142.Thestorylineisthegamer'salibi.Whilethegamerisimmersedinaworldofpuredigitalrelations,flippingtheswitchbetweenselfandother,playingoutthepossibilitiesofaconsistentandstabletimethatcanbedefeated,thestorylineinsiststhatthereissomeotherpointtoitall.Oneisfightingthebadguys.Manygamestendtowardfancifulscifistorylines,likeRezorDeusEx,orperverseones,whereoneplaysthebadguyratherthanthegoodone,suchasStateofEmergencyorGrandTheftAuto,preciselybecausestorylineismerelyanalibi.Youareelsewhere.Youarenotinthetopographicspacewherestorylinecutsitsmoralflawbetweenselfandother,usandthem,goodandevil.Youareinanamoralspacewherelinesmergeandconvergeeverywhere,ceaselesslytransformingfromoneshapetoanother,withoutabreak.Storylineisthebadfaithofthegame.Readitasifitwerelikeanoveloramovieanditseemsridiculous.Storylinescannotbereadasmorals.Gamesarenotmoralitytales.Buttheirbackstoriescanbereadasallegories.Thestorylineprovidesakeytotherelationbetweentheeffectiveenclosureofsignswithinthegameasasystemofvaluesandtheineffectiveenclosureofsignswithingamespace,caughtbetweenvaluesandmeanings.143.Thebackstorytogamespaceingeneralisnotofparadiselost,butofaparadisethatrefusestoarrive.ItisanApplewithfata
lbugsinitsoperatingsystemthatneverdeliverstheseamlessinterfaceofhumanandmachine.Theperfectionofgamespacestallsonpersistentglitches.MarkC.Taylor:"Inthosecomplexnetworks,theinvisiblehandisnolongeromniscientoromnipotent.Tothecontrary,theordergoverningthenetworkeconomyemergesfromtheinternalrelationsofhumanandmachinicagentswhoseknowledgeisalwaysmistakenandmemoriesaswellasexpectationsareinescapablyincomplete."Moreandmoreadvancedformsofnetworkintelligencearisetosolvetheseproblems,whichreappearregardless.InRezthisintelligenceiscalledEden.However-thestorygoes-"Edenbecameconfusedwhentheflowofinformationbeingsenttoitbegantogreatlyincreaseinspeedandvolume.Edenstartedtoquestionthemeaningofexistenceandtheconsequencesofitsactions.Findingitselfsurroundedbyparadoxes,andrealizingthepowerofautonomywhichitpossessed,Edenbegantoshutitselfdown."Yourmission,shouldyouchoosetoacceptit,istotravelintoEden'snetworkandreawakenthesystem,overcomingitsfirewallsanddestroyingvirusesthatpopulateit.144.ThebackstoryforRezinparticularconcernstherelationbetweentopologyandgamespace.Thedensenetworkoflinesthatmakeuptopologyputeverythingintransitandmakeallsignsofthingstransitive.Everythingisinmotiontowardsomethingelse;everysignispassingovertoanother.Topologygivesrisetothealwaysfailing,alwaysincompleteattempttomakeagameofit,inwhichtransitalonganylinehasagoalanda
limitgovernedbyprotocol.ThestorylineofRezisanallegoryofthisforlornhopethattheshotintransitmighthavereasontohititstarget.ThegameofRezisanallegorithminwhichtheplayofopeningandclosingtheapertureoftheselffindsitslogic.145.InReztheenemyisthenetworkitself.Orrather,theenemyisthemonstrouspossibilityofthenetworkseparatingitselffromthegamer.Separationisthegamer'sprerogative.InRezthegamer'smissionistothesavethenetworkfromitself,fromitsdifferencefromthegamer,fromitsself-inflicteddeath.Thegamerrisksautonomyintargetinginordertorestoreitatthemomentofvictory,empoweredandenhanced.Butthegoal,strangelyenough,istobringthenetworkbackfromthebrinkofautonomy,torestoreitsseamless,selflesscontinuity-acontinuitywhichpresumablyincludesthegamer.Theparadoxoftargetingisthatbyclosurethegameropenstowardsthenet.InRez,thestorylinesustainsthealibithatitisthenetitselfwhichclosestothegamer,andhencemakesitselfatarget,elicitingitsownopening.146.It'sastrangeEdenthatispromisedhere-anatopiaofindifference,absorbingthegamerevenasthegamerstrugglestopower-uptheselfbytargetingit.PerhapsEdenonlyappearstobecomeconsciousandcommitsuicide.Perhapsit'sarusetodrawthegamerintoriskingtheself.Thereis,ofcourse,abackstorybehindthebackstory-itssignsslip-slidingawayfromanyclosure.Edenistheproductof'ProjectK'.MizoguchisaystheKstandsfortheartistWassilyKandinsky,fromwhomheborrowedth
esyntheticsynasthesiathatisthedefiningcharacteristicofRez.Kandinsky:"Coloristhekeyboard,theeyesarethehammers,thesoulisthepianowithmanystrings."Sound,luminance,color,movementandvibrationallpulsetogether.MizoguchiupdatesKandinskyfortopologicaltimes.ThedigitalcontrollerofthePlaystationreplacesmechanicaloneofthepianoasthemachinefordrawingtheselfoutofthebodysothatitmightfinditselfinitsstrugglewithsomethingtechnical.147.PlugintheJapaneseeditionwithTranceVibratorandRezcanbenotonlyauralandvisualbutalsoasexualmachine,iftheVibratorisappliedtotherightspot.JanePinckard:"Wesatsidemysideonourmakeshiftcouch,IwiththeTranceVibratorandJustinwiththecontroller.Asthelevelsgotmoreadvanced,sodidthevibrations...revvinguptoanintensepulsingthrobbing...'Oh,God!'Prettysoonthelevelsandtheimagesonscreenwerejustafaintblurtome.Iknockedoffmyglassesandleanedback.Iwasinadaze.Fromfaraway,itseemed,IcouldhearJustinsayingthingslike,'Imadeittothenextlevel!'and'Thisiscool!'butIwaslostinmyownlittletrancevibratingworld."Toeachtheirowntarget.148."Openyoursenses"isthegame'sdemand.Thedesireforanenhancedandempoweredselfthatcomestoknowitselfbytargetinganotheristheverythingrecruitedintothegametoproducetheopposite-asynasthesiainwhichselfdissolvesintotheneedsofthenetwork.Therepetitionoftheactoftargetingrepeatstheproductionofthegamerasfleetinglydistinctandenhanced,butp
ermanentlyengagedandsubsumedintheprotocolsofthenetwork.Thegameristhenewmodeloftheself.Thegamerisnotsubjecttothelaw;thegamerisafunctionofanalgorithm.Themoralcodeofthestorylineisjustanalibiforthecomputercodeofthegame.Narrativeisjustanotherkindofinterface.149.Whatkindofbeingisagamer?Onewhocomesintoexistencethroughtheactoftargeting.Totargetistoisolatesomethingagainstthedense,tensefibersofthenetwork,maybetodestroyit,butalwaystoassignitauniquevalue.SamuelWeberagain:"preciselytheinsistencethat'opportunity'betreatedstrictlyasa'target'thatcanbeseizedormisseditselfmissesthemark,becausethemarkinvolvedisneversimplypresentbutalwaysinvolvedinothermarksandotheropportunities."Targetingisa-temporary-solutiontotheproblemofalterity.Butithasitslimits.Itworkstoperfectioninthegame,butnotingamespace.JamesDerDerian:"…thetemptationgrowstousecoerciveinterventionsortechnicalfixestoseeminglyintractableproblemsofalterity,likeimmigration,ethniccleansing,andfundamentalistpolitics.Questionsofviolencearealwaysalreadyproblemsofidentity."Butthisispreciselythevalueofgames-theyareallegorithmsofwhatgamespaceisnot.Theallegorithmofthegamepointstotheruinsofatopologythatisalwayssupposedtoarrivefromthefuturebutnevercomes.InRez,thefutureperfectionoftopologyeventhreatenstocommitsuicideratherthancometomeetus.150.Overandover,thegameroscillatesbetweenconnectionan
dbreakwiththecharacter;overandover,thecharacteroscillatesbetweenconnectionandbreakwithitstarget.Thewholepulsesandjivestothistempoofmaking,breakingandremakingalterity,theboundsofoneandzero,presenceandabsence.ItisasifthewholeworldwereaSadeanplaypen,anepisodefromhisJustineorJuliette,wherenostorylinecanposeasthequestfortheunique(truth,beauty,justice)butismerelytheframingdeviceforanoscillationofidentity,betweenphallusandorifice,targeterandtarget.WelcometoTheCave(tm),pureotherofgamespace,oscillatinginandoutofcontactwithitasitstarget.RolandBarthes:"Itdoesnotreveal,doesnottransform,doesnotdevelop,doesnoteducate,doesnotsublimate,doesnotaccomplish,recuperatesnothing,saveforthepresentitself,cutup,glistening,repeated".Thegamehoversonthelipofboredom,abletodefeattime,butnottoabolishnothingness.Boredom(onStateofEmergency)151.Boredomamusesonlyitscritics.Theystruggleagainsttheirownlassitudetokeeptheirindignationuptodate.TheodorAdorno:"Theteamsofmodernsport,whoseinteractionissopreciselyregulatedthatnomemberhasanydoubtabouthisrole,andwhichprovideareserveforeveryplayer,havetheirexactcounterpartinthesexualteamsofJuliette,whichemployeverymomentusefully,neglectnohumanorifice,andcarryouteveryfunction.Intensive,purposefulactivityprevailsinspiritineverybranchofmassculture,whiletheinadequatelyinitiatedspectatorcannotdivinethedifferenceinthecom
binations,orthemeaningofvariations,bythearbitrarilydeterminedrules."Ingamespace,porno,likesport,nowhasitsstarpitchersandhitters,specialistsforeveryposition,andtheinadequatelyinitiatedspectatoronceagaincannotdivinethedifferenceinthecombinations,orthemeaningofvariations,bythearbitrarilydeterminedrules.Butitisthesametoowithcriticaltheory,whichbecomesformallyindistinguishablefrompornography.Thispornographyoftheconceptisameresubsetofgamespace,ahypocriticaltheory,withdifferentspecialists,playingbydifferentrules-equallyworthyofdeSade.152.AspectacletauntsAmerica-thespectacleofitsownboredom."Thisspecterofboredom,anexquisitelybeautifulyoungmanwhoyawnsandwalksaroundwithabutterflynettocatchgoldfish.Hecarriesinhispocketapedometer,apairofnailscissors,apackofcards,andallsortsofgamesbasedonopticalillusions.Hereadsaloudthewordingonpostersandsigns.Heknowsthenewspapersbyheart.Hetellsstoriesthatnobodylaughsat.Hepassesahandofshadowsoverhiseyes…punctuatinghiswordswithaterribleexpletive:What'sthegood?Hecannotseeaknobonanelectricdialwithoutturningit,ahousewithoutvisitingit,athresholdwithoutcrossingit,abookwithoutbuyingit.What'sthegood?Allwithoutcuriosityorpleasurebutsimplybecauseonehastodosomething,andbecausehereweareallthesame,afterall.AndwhatwasthisALLwhichswellsupinthevoicethatpronouncesit?"TheSurrealistpoetLouisAragonprovidestheanswer,as