Abstract: More fun writing than playing: the critical videogame blogosphere as emerging approach to knowledge creation

As I said in my stereotypical update post, I’ve been writing a paper to present at a conference in Oxford, in July. Here’s the abstract and the bibliography for the paper, to whet your interest in the final piece (which will be published in the conference proceedings ebook).

It’s a happy coincidence actually that while I’ve been considering this idea of the “distributed subject” in this (and one other) paper, Michael Abbott of The Brainy Gamer has just written about the confluence of Buddhist practice/insight and videogames, with a particular focus on the lack of the “self”  (or it’s illusory nature). I recommend his “Notes on Becoming” as something in a similar vein.

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In the following paper I will look at the section of the online community of videogame bloggers I have been involved with since 2007, beginning with an outline of some of the steps that allowed them to arrive at the status of ‘experts’ in the field of game criticism. Along the way I will need to examine the nature of community in online situations, and apply Benedict Anderson’s insights on the nature of community to examine how this particular community imagines itself. I will look at what it says it does and how it frames what it is for, but examining this alone is not quite enough, as the community is as much a product of technical forces as human or social ones. I will avoid the assertion that community is some kind of ‘stuff’ like a social fabric, thus avoiding putting all my explanatory eggs in the basket of ‘social forces’. Instead I will adopt the agnostic approach of Bruno Latour who examines associations between all things, emerging with a conception of the community as a network of actors, presenting a safe path through the twin minefields of technodeterminism and social constructivism. I will then take a slight detour to recent discussions on the nature of cognition and the mind, and find parallels with the network community that enable me to suggest the epistemic conditions are emerging for a successful challenge to the long-dominant conception of the humanist subject. It is my contention that a new Foucaultian episteme is fast approaching, and that a new ‘subject of knowledge’ is perhaps visible at work in the internet community I call ‘the critical videogame blogosphere’.

Key Words: Videogames, Community, Blogging, The blogosphere, Criticism, Expertise, Theory of Mind, Benedict Anderson, Bruno Latour

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Bibliograhy:

Alexander, Leigh. “Analysis: Developer Disdain For Games Writing Illuminates Wider Gulf”. Gamasutra. May 11, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://gamasutra.com/view/news/34408/Analysis_Developer_Disdain_For_Games_Writing_Illuminates_Wider_Gulf.php.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (London New York: Verso, 2006).

Bogost, Ian. “Persuasive Games: Exploitationware”. Gamaasutra, May 3, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6366/persuasive_games_exploitationware.php.

Bryant, Levi. “It Thinks – Some Reflections on Blogging”. Larval Subjects. May 25, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/it-thinks-some-reflections-on-blogging/.

Burch, Anthony. ‘Far Cry 2 and the Pragmatism of Evil’ (Presentation at the Game Developers Conference 2010, San Francisco, California, March 9–13, 2010).

Clark, Andy. Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997)

Clark, Andy & Chalmers, David. “The Extended Mind”. Analysis, Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan., 1998.

Cook, Dan. “A Blunt Critique of Game Critism”. Lost Garden. May 7, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://www.lostgarden.com/2011/05/blunt-critique-of-game-criticism.html.

Doull, Andrew. “Dear Dan”. ASCII Dreams. May 9, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://roguelikedeveloper.blogspot.com/2011/05/dear-dan.html.

Golding, Daniel. “Doing Things With Critics”. RedKingsDream. May 9, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://redkingsdream.com/2011/05/doing-things-with-critics/.

Harman, Graham. Prince of Networks. (Melbourne: re.press, 2009).

Hocking, Clint. ‘Dynamics: The State of the Art’ (Presentation at the Game Developers Conference 2010, San Francisco, California, February 28 – March 4, 2011).

Kellogg, Ronald T. “Professional Writing Expertise”, in The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance. eds. K. Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Robert R. Hoffman, Paul J. Feltovich, (Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 393.

McCrea, Christian. “Playstayxian”. Twitter. May 8, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://twitter.com/#!/playstayxian/status/67115233780568064.

O’Neil, Matheiu. “Wikipedia and Authority”, in Critical Point of View, A Wikipedia Reader. eds. Geert Lovink & Nathaniel Tkacz, 312.

Plante, Chris. “A million ways to die: With nukes, tanks and guns, players have killed Osama for years”. The Daily. May 3, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/05/03/050311-apps-accesspoint-osama-1-2/.

Ruch, Adam. “A Riposte to Blunt Criticism”. Flickering Colours. May 10, 2011. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://flickeringcolours.net/v2/2011/05/a-riposte-to-blunt-criticism/.

Wikipedia contributors. “Expert”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Expert&oldid=430388313 (accessed May 27, 2011).