by tommy.rousse

A piece on Gordon Calleja’s concept of “miniatures” is still bumping around in the cogitation skunkworks, especially since I’m 3/4ths of the way through In-Game. In the meantime, a few worthwhile quotes from pieces I’ve been reading:

“When a work is produced, the creative act is only an incomplete, abstract impulse; if the author existed all on his own, he could write as much as he liked but his work would never see the light of day as an object, and he would have to lay down his pen or despair. The process of writing, however, includes as a dialectic correlative the process of reading, and these two interdependent acts require two differently active people. The combined efforts of author and reader bring into being the concrete and imaginary object which is the work of the mind. Art exists only for and through other people.”

—Sartre, quoted in Gordon Calleja’s In-Game

“Without the player there are no ethics or politics, no values and no messages. Objects can have embedded values, technology can be political, but only inasmuch as there is a human who makes the politics. This is of course not in accord with the basic philosophy behind proceduralism. However, even at the deepest level of abstraction, politics, ethics, and culture intimately and ultimatelypersonal.

To write against procedurality is to sing the body, the presence, the player. Against procedurality an army of players stand and play, breaking the rules, misunderstanding the processes, appropriating the spaces of play and taking them somewhere else, where not even the designer can reach. Against proceduralism is a player who wants toplay.

The risk of proceduralist rhetoric is to identify play with reason, to control play and guide it to a predetermined purpose. And another risk is to foster the dominant idea of the designer as the provider of meaning for the game. If there is an exceptionalist argument to make about games, an argument that justifies that games as aesthetic form are different than others, is that games belong to players – at most, games belong to the designer if she wants to establish a dialogue with the player through the game – but play, the performative, expressive act of engaging with a game, contradicts the very meaning of authorship in games. Players don’t need the designer – they need a game, an excuse and a frame for play. All of this is missing from the rationalist project of proceduralism, and all of this can be argued against procedurality.”

—Miguel Sicart, “Against Procedurality