Author Archives: Alex Myers

Jim Rossignol, Editor of RPS and writer-extraordinare, wrote a fitting farewell tribute to the late JG Ballard on Offworld today.  In it, Rossignol eloquently examines Ballard’s effect not only on his own creativity, but on that of contemporary culture and the consumerist society Ballard saw growing around him.

The future would be boring, said Ballard. Our modern age sits at the point at which the march of rationalism and reason has peaked, divorcing us from our early extremism and our innate primitivism, and giving us a bland culture of calm consumer choices and deadened emotions.

Rossignol looks to the ideas Ballard cultivated in his best works, like Super-Cannes, Crash, and The Atrocity Exhibition.  Surreal expositions about the dangers of boredom in the human psyche and lengths to which we might go to entertain ourselves.

But now, we have video games to relieve that pressure.  Video games represent a

safe excursion to the gladitorial arena … our excursions, or psychological medications, are not literal violence, but the fantasies of exploration and victory that are delivered in gaming

I couldn’t agree more with Rossignol or Ballard.  Video games are a safe release for the pressures and stresses of life.  They do so in a way that the passive comforts of books and movies can’t.

Aside from touting gaming as part of a healthy mental diet, Rossignol also examines, or rather, dusts off and pumps-up another of Ballard’s bits of wisdom:  Culture should not come from a vacuum. Culture, especially those who make it, should feed on anything that moves.

Read the full, wonderfully written piece here.

Games As the Next Avant-Garde

April 23rd, 2009 | Posted by Alex Myers in Link-out - (4 Comments)

Darius Kazemi, of Tiny Subversions, recently posted his transcription of a GDX talk given by Ian Schreiber on “Duchamp, Pollock, Rohrer: Games as the Next Avant-Garde”.  In it Schreiber posits that a greater understanding of the twists and turns underlying Art History would benefit those game developers wishing to push the medium further.  He says that the contemporary dichotomy between those lauding media-centric views and those championing the experiential in games was settled over 50 years ago by the art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg.  Greenberg pursued a purely media-focused theory of modernist art while Rosenberg talked more about the experiences of the viewer.  Schreiber maintains that contemporary game criticism is primarily “Greenberg-esque, judging games on formal elements, if it’s fun for the reviewer it’ll be fun for the player.” and calls for a more Rosenbergian style of criticism,

[The] problem is games are interactive, everyone has a different experience, that experience carries highly personal meaning. In short, games are a postmodern artform. At the same time we review them as if they’re modern art. Ask yourself, if you write reviews, what would postmodern game crit look like? If we accept games as varied experience, how do we review and critique that?

While Schreiber, as channeled by Kazemi, simplifies the Greenberg-Rosenberg dichotomy a bit much, it’s an interesting and enlightening read for anyone looking for a more experiential focus to games criticism.

The Danger in Cloud Computing

April 20th, 2009 | Posted by Alex Myers in Link-out - (Comments Off on The Danger in Cloud Computing)

In his ‘Ragdoll Metaphysics’ column for Offworld, Jim Rossignol mulls over the tradition of science-fiction to predict the next great technical/social revolution.  The Cloud-sourced service that OnLive is offering has been speculated upon in the past.  We’re even seeing the first few attempts climb out of the primordial pool to lie gasping on dry land.  Digital Download services such as PSN, XBLA, Steam and Impulse are becoming ubiquitous and irreplaceable and Cloud-gaming is the next evolutionary step.  Though the implied dangers for the consumers are a huge step backwards in terms of digital intellectual copyrights.

Cloud-computing values the rights of the company over the consumer.  Like Rossignol, I’m a tad nervous about placing all my eggs in one basket.  Some trundling idiot might just come by and step on all of them at once.  It’s happened before. (CF: this walmart music service story)