Gaming the System: Deconstructing Video Games, Games Studies, and Virtual Worlds

Gaming the System: Deconstructing Video Games, Games Studies, and Virtual Worlds

Gaming the System: Deconstructing Video Games, Games Studies, and Virtual Worlds

Gaming the System: Deconstructing Video Games, Games Studies, and Virtual Worlds

Synopsis

Gaming the System takes philosophical traditions out of the ivory tower and into the virtual worlds of video games. In this book, author David J. Gunkel explores how philosophical traditions--put forth by noted thinkers such as Plato, Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, and Žižek--can help us explore and conceptualize recent developments in video games, game studies, and virtual worlds. Furthermore, Gunkel interprets computer games as doing philosophy, arguing that the game world is a medium that provides opportunities to model and explore fundamental questions about the nature of reality, personal identity, social organization, and moral conduct. By using games to investigate and innovate in the area of philosophical thinking, Gunkel shows how areas such as game governance and manufacturers' terms of service agreements actually grapple with the social contract and produce new postmodern forms of social organization that challenge existing modernist notions of politics and the nation state. In this critically engaging study, Gunkel considers virtual worlds and video games as more than just "fun and games," presenting them as sites for new and original thinking about some of the deepest questions concerning the human experience.

Excerpt

Ian bogost (2007) famously changed the direction of video game studies by focusing attention not on narratives or the logics of play but on the mode of argumentation that is contained, produced, and advanced within the operational procedures of the game. Instead of pursuing research by following the established routes, Bogost introduced and demonstrated the opportunities and challenges of investigating games as a form of rhetoric—“procedural rhetoric”— by which “arguments are made not through the construction of words and images, but through the authorship of rules of behavior, the construction of dynamic models” (2007, 29). This book introduces and develops another shift in perspective. Its concern, however, is not the argument in the game but the game in the argument.

An argument—whether in academic research, law and regulation, marketing and advertising campaigns, or on the streets and in popular discussions—is nothing other than the attempt for one party to gain a discursive advantage over an opponent. Crafting a persuasive argument, following the twists and turns of another’s logic, and developing an insightful critique of the different positions that are already available are all aspects of an elaborate game. and the fact is that some individuals play it better than others. in the ancient world, it is Socrates who is considered to be the reigning champion. in the modern period, however, the prize could easily go to Immanuel Kant.

Kant, in fact, did not just play the game; he gamed the entire system. He knew the deck was already stacked against him, and that if he played by the established rules, there would be no chance of winning or progressing to the next level. So rather than continue to play by the existing protocols and procedures, he simply altered the rules of the game. For those who do not know the story, here is the short version: in the Critique of Pure Reason (episode one in Kant’s critically acclaimed trilogy), Kant notes how efforts in philosophy had run aground. For close to two thousand years, he argues, philosophers have been asking questions that they never quite seemed to get any traction on answering. So Kant, instead of trying to deal with and respond to the existing queries, games the system by changing the questions and the terms of the inquiry. As he described it, “Hitherto it has . . .

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