Recess! is a correspondence series with personal ruminations on games.
Dear Alper and Niels,
My apologies, I fell off the Recess! horse there for a minute. But I’m back in the saddle. Let’s see, what were we talking about again?
Alper obsessively played Ultratron for a while, got bored, stopped and felt guilty for spending 11 hours on it.
Niels helped make Toki Tori 2, got all conflicted about his feelings for the game and went on about how elegantly its world conveys his story.
Sigh. I hope you’ll both excuse me while I don my schoolmaster’s cap and proceed to school you.
It’s telling Alper feels Moves offers more meaningful play than Ultratron. He’s stuck in what Sutton-Smith calls ‘the rhetorics of animal progress’. The idea that play is only meaningful when it contributes to ‘individual development and group culture’. Alper, you should lighten up and maybe submit to the rhetoric of frivolity. Put simply, you should allow yourself to play the fool. Because “unlike the rest of us, who are all losers in most of the conventional senses, and most surely in the mortal sense, the fool transcends triviality.”
Niels, on the other hand, should do himself a favor and read Remediation because he seems to think ‘immediacy’ is the holy grail of media. The medium should disappear, it should not get in the way of the audience’s experience of the message. Well Niels, I have news for you: immediacy is only one possible media mode and its drawbacks are considerable. Most importantly, it precludes critical engagement of an audience with a medium’s message. Hypermediacy, on the other hand, foregrounds the workings of media. It foregoes ‘immersion’ and ‘seamlesness’ in favor of bricolage and seamfulness (PDF). In doing so, it allows for active audience engagement. Don’t you wish that for your stories?
In short, let’s restate our assumptions. I’ll go first:
- Play can be meaningful and useless at the same time.
- Games can tell stories without being immersive.