“The unreality of games gives notice that reality is not yet real. Unconsciously they rehearse the right life.” – Theodor Adorno
I am a theorist, activist, and media practitioner. I generally think of these things as inseparable; theory needs politics and practice to be relevant, politics need theory and practice to be effective, and practice needs theory and politics to be meaningful. I have always engaged with the bigger picture, and I have a hard time not tackling projects and ideas as part of a holistic system. I am interested in building worlds as a practice of resistance to forces that otherwise seem overwhelming.
A well-designed game can be a separate world that is nevertheless related to the ordinary worlds we move through in daily life. Like these ordinary worlds, game worlds are bounded by rulesets that are both explicit and implicit. They are procedural, meaning that they often demand structured interaction to negotiate them. They are valorized and incentivized, and players are rewarded for certain actions and choices. But unlike the ordinary worlds we inhabit, mistakes can be made and reversed. There is a permissiveness to a play environment that is not necessarily available to all residents of ordinary worlds. We can learn to bend — and alter — rules in play environments. As tools for interrogation, emancipation, and change, game worlds may be one of the greatest tools available to radicals today.
Of course, it’s not that simple. Well-designed games require time, effort, and thought. Which is to say nothing of the difficulties caused by the rise of games as an industry, the roots of video games in the military-industrial complex, and the appropriation of play strategies by corporatism.
I want to make games that empower people to see and do things differently. I want to do the theoretical legwork to reappropriate play for social good. I want to make a bold political gesture with both these things, because another world is possible. We can rewrite the rules.