Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from “experts” with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel.
Comedians kill themselves. Talk to 100 comedians this week, everybody knows somebody who killed themselves. I mean, we always say ignorance is bliss. Well, if so, what’s the opposite? Some form of misery. Being a comedian, 80 percent of the job is just you notice shit, which is a trait of schizophrenics too. You notice things people don’t notice.
We didn’t do the things that tech companies were supposed to do. We didn’t move fast and break things. We didn’t disrupt and abandon. We didn’t do moon shots. We created a future by sitting the world down with a cup of tea and a bun and asking it some questions.
If there is a definitional fight to have, let’s preserve the term ‘sharing,’ reserving it not for anti-economic niceness, but for economic relations that have a social thickness to them. This is why I began with the dematerialization history of systems of shared use. In the end, sharing is about the messy negotiation of access to goods, goods that in the name of sustainability become more scarce. Capitalism is an alienated way of handling those negotiations; sharing forces you to negotiate with aliens.
I appreciate this piece’s zooming in on the notion of friction as a source of meaningful interactions.
So here is the most clichéd nightmare of neoliberalism: precarious post-safety-net existence is embraced (for these systems are not being imposed by governments — rather the reverse: people appear to be supporting the new systems themselves) in ways that turn personal identity and social relations into money-making opportunities.
You like shoes? Go buy shoes. It might even make you happier. But a shoe is just a shoe. There is a kind of intellectual honesty to the purest brand of materialism.
Turns out there is more than one kind of materialism, and not all are equally harmful.
For the Japanese one could say space is unstable. I mean, even the ground is not stable in Japan. You’ll feel an earthquake every other week. Thus time needs to have some stability, the rhythms of life, the year, work, school, the seasons, habits, conventions, rituals and traditions. Time is both fleeting and eternal. Every event, every instance recurs, an its recurrence provides stability. Thus while time flows, the recurrence of elements produce a continuum, a stable ground for existence. French sociologist Augustin Berque has called this “The Mythic Field” a symbolic layer that lies over the Japanese city. The elements that form it are temporal instead of permanent, and it is defined by actions rather than objects. This mythic field consists of local foods, the signs of convenience stores, the vending machines, the fleeting bloom of the cherry-blossom trees, the yearly neighborhood festival, the chimes on the train platforms, Japanese bureaucracy and the emperor. The mythic field contains traditional as well as contemporary elements, and people categorize themselves and their surroundings based on this layer.
I think this “mythic field” might be exactly what I find so comforting about life in Japan (and to an extent also in parts of Southeast Asia, such as the Balinese countryside).
And, as had happened so many times before during the design of Zendo, once I’d finally opened myself up to an idea I’d resisted for so long, I realized that my previous fears about it were totally unfounded.
A short quote from a long (and excellent) read on the design of Zendo which is full of these moments. It’s a great case study showing the importance of being willing to try almost any adjustment to a game. To postpone judgement until you’ve actually seen a rule in action. Because humans tend to be very bad at simulating such things in their heads.
This is all related to one of my core aesthetic goals of the game, namely forcing consequential decisions with partial information, which I’ve always thought of as primarily occurring on the Sniper side, but it really does happen on both sides. As the Spy, you have to decide to do something (accomplish missions), and then what to do (which mission), even though you don’t really know if you’re a suspect or not. How you go about this “doing” is obviously very important, but just the act of overcoming your confirmation bias and starting at all is something you can feel when playing.2 This is one of the parts of the game that I’m most happy with, because I think this concept of embracing uncertainty and making decisions even when you’re not sure is very au courant, in that most big decisions in modern life are made with only partial information, but you still have to make them to the best of your ability.
Some would say this— that the shared use-word is deceptive— that playing music and playing games mean totally different things. & I do think there’s something interesting to tunnel into here, namely the difference between aesthetic play with its unspoken Many goals which may converge into an unspoken One— and game play with its explicitly spoken One goal, which may be partitioned & micromanaged in terms of a manageable Many… […] This is part of why SHIFTING possibility spaces are used in contrast to straight up “possibility spaces” — as long as the space is forever shifting, the particular instance of it that we are experiencing right now cannot be counted as a mere repetition, and is always a unique natural occurence. We must tune into the play experience, to experience even the same computational “game state” as two totally different things when we encounter it at two different times in our life… Allow our body to be the medium… […] Shifting possibility spaces draw on the already very popular “possibility space” concept— but whereas possibility spaces appear too often from the ‘global’ (designer) point of view, which deals with the Universal Set of the situation, or the “space of all possible _____ “, SPS can deal with the immediate sense of possibility at play in the environment. A possibility space is fully spatialized. A shifting possibility space allows for the immanent flow of time to enter its description. […] All these practices involving free movement — PLAYSPACES — the question is to find the practices that we LOVE and VALUE the most, and to NOT limit these to videogames— and to immerse ourselves in these practices, to learn from them what we can, and the possibly, if we feel the desire to do so, to bring back our love of these things to games. To count aspects of the processes in such a way that they can be computed with— but to not disrespect that thing we came to love in the first place.. Not to gamify it, but rather to learn from it what a game actually is, to learn its pattens of movement, the parts of the body and social milieu that it engages, et etc.
Quoting the hell out of this because it is just so, so good. I love the idea of shifting possibility spaces, because the original concept was always too static for my tastes. I really like the idea of the body as the medium, which emphasises the first-person experience of things. To embrace creative play, to expand the concept of game to potentially encompass anything… Just lovely.