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New Article - Suppose Suppose
http://normallyrascal.com/2014/08/03/suppose-suppose/ This post presents a couple of thought experiments inquiring into the assumptions we make about interactivity and agency. In describing these two atypical scenarios I hope to impress occasions where our expectations of the medium's physical and metaphysical operation clashes with our impressions of reality, and show this problem to be shared with our everyday relationship with the medium of games. The first scenario is more strongly allegorical. Using the medium of film as a stand in for videogames, we can easily cop the simplicity of putting a fixed, linear narrative (ie. what's on the tape) into the realm of unknowns. The trouble comes in accounting for the actual origins of the tape's narrative. The possibility space for the contents of an unwatched tape mirrors the phase spaces of a videogame, to the point where the system that is conventionally held to define the narrative of a game - someone playing it - is no less deterministic than that of the collapsing of a tape's possible narratives into one actual narrative through the process of putting it on TV and watching it. In essence, the narrative you experience as you play, say, Assassin's Creed, is set in place long before you boot up the game. In the second scenario, the roles of computer and human are switched. Players are defined by some academics and theorists by their priority of agency over the actions of the computer, but by framing human actions within a game/system as predicated on what an android allows of them, it quite seems like the android possesses a greater privilege of agency than any other participant. This dynamic is true of many games, however, such as Final Fantasy VII and The Last of Us, but it's especially true of those we often consider to be loosed from authorial intent by virtue of a complex random generation algorithms. The computer lacks a face but it still governs the board. In this context, player agency is a bit of a red herring.