Robert Jackson has a nice post riffing on my recent discussion of Bogost. As Jackson writes:

He argues that cultural commentators tend to decode images, games, texts from the result of immanent distinctions. Cultural philosophers; those concerned with ‘what something ultimately means in cultural value’ are basically invested in keeping the subjective ontology going, and distracting themselves with the ‘real ideological issue’. Consider Grand theft Auto for example (as a nod to Bogost);

“When we analyze that video game, […], we are to analyze the stories and signs that appear on the screen. Likewise with nearly all cultural theory. Analysis consists in approaching the world as a text to be decoded. The problem with this mode of analysis is that everything in the unmarked space of the distinction becomes invisible. Returning to the example of Grand Theft Auto, the way the game is programmed, how it is put together, the hardware that runs the game, the production teams that produce it, and many other things completely fall off the map.”

Its interesting Levi chooses Grand Theft Auto over any other contemporary example. I don’t want to presume the reasons as to why, other than its an obviously well known game. But Grand Theft Auto (or any other Sandbox genre) has always interested me for the missions it cannot do, ontologically speaking.

Levi’s point here is that when analysts decode “whats really happening”, or in Zizek’s case, the ultimate “lesson” of a cultural aftfact, their analysis holds for what is present to them in the game. This ringfencing, or capturing, comes from the result of a ontological distinction prior to the value. i.e, why we should be concentrating on this bit, rather than that bit. By focusing solely on the elements which are important for humans, Levi’s point is that we run of risk of alienating relations with other equally participating elements; ethernet wiring, the limiting choices of developers, the heavy use of clipping used to render screen graphics (which is interesting in itself).

Jackson really gets to the core of what I’m trying to argue and develop. Read the rest here.