Posts Tagged ‘revolution’


The world is undergoing a revolution.  In fact, it isn’t irrational to claim that ever since the invention of the telegraph, the world has been undergoing one massive media revolution composed of many smaller revolutions.  With each extension of our bodies (as McLuhan defines a medium), we reconfigure ourselves—we reconstruct the ways our minds view reality, and this is supremely important.  

This week I’ve been thinking in particular about video games.

Video games are often left off of the list, and they have also often gotten a bad rap.  In the academy, I have often gotten the feeling that video games are seen as one of the lowest forms of entertainment—one that rots the brain, and it would be much better for one to simply read some good theory or a new novel—anything that is high culture, for goodness’ sake! Video games often get this bad rap for two reasons: the fact that they are unapologetically pop culture, and some specifically objectionable games that usually make the news (Grand Theft Auto, etc.).  

In the days of Pong, gaming was a simpler affair, and now games have much greater sophistication and greater graphics.  The goal of many of them is to feel more realistic, and those who see the video game glass as half empty usually see games as a form of the feelies or the centrifugal bumblepuppy.  There are distinct movements within gaming that point to a larger movement, and game designers and game consumers have both begun to be louder in their desire to be taken seriously as cultural contributors and as artists. 

Halo, for example, is an extremely sophisticated cultural artifact and as such speaks to issues as varied as environmentalism, humanism, globalism and globalization, the use of science, military criticism, political activism, religious extremism and violence, and technophilia.  Halo is a fascinating study for those interested in how new media work, because to understand Halo is to understand global business and economics, the cutting edge of digital art, wikis and user-based production philosophy, visual artistic expression, and most importantly, the concept of connection and communication in the 21st century. 

The nuance and sophistication of the artists who created Halo, the merciless demand of quality and subtlety required of so many of those consuming Halo, the knowing reconstitution information and product into countless re-presentations—all of these things speak to the organic quality of this piece of cultural production.  Halo, like many projects on the far forward curve of gaming production, has transcended the status of a mere toy.  It utilizes multiple media, multiple forums of expression to tell stories and create pieces of art.  The producers employ subtlety of narrative style, formal shifts and non-linear rabbit holes that keep the project expanding.  They are inventing new forms of communication.  These bricoleurs are largely the D&D nerds, the computer geeks, the people who in high school were the ones the jocks wouldn’t touch with a jousting pole.  These minds—the ones who have learned to see digital code in novels, colors in the street, philosophical material in virtual form, are the ones creating these new forms, and once again, they are largely ignored.  To be sure, they are part of the corporate gaming engine, but their enterprise is on the verge of becoming more than anyone could ever imagine even four years ago.  The way Halo—just one game, albeit the most successful console game in history—has reshaped the world speaks to the growing complexity of the culture and the desire for expression and community within the growing population of the world of those under 40. 

The world is growing, and growing restless.  Some see video games as a form of soma, but the games themselves play with the very idea artistically and reshape the conversation as it is happening.  


This week’s assignment: Google Halo 3.  See if what you find is representative of your conception of what video games are.  See if you can easily assimilate the meaning or complexity of the content and the form of all the hits.  Expand your view of communication, and embrace the vast panoramas that make Halo so unique.  These panoramas of structure, meaning, art, representation, and expression.






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