Saturday, February 6, 2010

"The Opposite of War isn't Peace, it's Creation": Computer Games and the Interactive Process

My brother is a game designer and critic who believes that computer games are the next great artistic frontier.

There are many reasons why this concept fascinates me. As someone who's interested in the power of creation as opposed to destruction, there is something deeply intriguing about a medium that is by default interactive, requiring both the maker and the player to engage in the creative process.

In literary criticism, we often discuss the idea of the reader as a co-creator with the author, for the reader's interpretation shapes the imaginative reality of a text, some would argue, as significantly as the author's words. Interactive art, however, takes this idea to the next level, creating a reality that is blatantly dependent on the involvement of both the designer and the player.

In some senses, there can be no passive game players. Such a paradox defies the rules of the game's own medium.

What is the point of all of this in the context of peacemaking? I'm still trying to figure that out.

But I think there are hints in Esquire's 2008 article on game designer Jason Rohrer, titled "
The Video-Game Programmer Saving Our 21st-Century Souls," the subscript of which reads, "Jason Rohrer's solitary and stubborn quest for a future in which pixels and code and computers will make you cry and feel and love."

And there are hints in Adam Cadre's 1998 interactive fiction, Photopia.

And perhaps there are hints (though I'm sure he would deny it) in my brother's recently developed game about terrorist hunting. A game which ends with Noam Chomsky's words, "Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."