In an interesting tweet, Kathleen Sulli remarks that the student readers of Bogost’s Newsgames say, “don’t just explain how to play the game– explain the underlying issues.”. The question would be that of how to get at the underlying issues. How do you determine what questions to ask? What to analyze? And how to analyze it? To answer these questions you need concepts and a theory. Concepts and theory are not so much representations of reality as they are ways of organizing empirical research and posing questions. Here my post has to be brief as I’m heading out the door soon, but I would like to suggest that my previous post on double articulation is just such a model.
It will be recalled that the first articulation of double articulation deducts and forms matters, turning them into organized substances. Here we’re talking about the plane of content that pertains to assemblages of material bodies. The question is one of how these machines form bodies in new ways, generating new assemblages and bodies. A piece of software or a game is just such a machine that deducts matters and forms them in a particular way. But here we must ask, what are the materials being deducted and formed by a game, and what new formed substances are they producing? Here the matters being formed would be of four primary sorts: the human body, human modes of perception, social relationships, and cognition. For any game we can ask how the software and hardware used changes the nature of our perception, cognition, affectivity, use of body, and influences our social relationships. In what way does it form these matters into particular sort of substances? This was, I believe, precisely what Bogost sought to determine with Cowclicker and social games. More needs to be said here but it’s time to run. It’s also important to analyze the plane of expression but more on that anon.