Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Espen Aarseth states that games are not intertextual, but self-contained. "You don't need to have played poker or ludo to understand chess, and knowledge of roulette will not help you to understand Russian roulette." [...] "You can be an expert chess player without playing any other game, but to understand a single novel you will need to have studied numerous others."

However, understanding the rules of chess and thinking in logical ways will help you to play other games of the same genre like nine men's morris or the Chinese go. The same rule can be applied to computer games: playing Doom will definitely improve your ability to play Duke Nukem because these games ask for the same skills and the same way of thinking

Comparing chess with ludo is like comparing Shakespeare with Stephen King. Reading a lot of light fiction will not help you to understand world literature. Intertextual references are also hard to find in bestsellers. A lot of games and movies however are completely based on references to other media. Without the Indiana Jones background Tomb Raider could hardly be a success. Without James Bond movies No One Lives Forever would never be that much fun and it would be hard for the player to get into the game. Games might not be textual, but they are still integrated in an "intertextual" system of relations and connections.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger Curtisgeist said...

Aarseth is also saying that there is a narrative is cultural and based on dependencies where as gaming is not. Note that reading Stephen King, while it might help you appreciate Shakespeare more, will not help you understand it. At any rate insisting that one must read the Bronte sisters and Jane Eyre to understand the novel of manners is parochial and elitist.

Also, playing more computer games sure as hell does make it easier to understand and "configure" other games. This dynamic is pretty much innate to the gaming experience. People tend to polarize as either gamers or frustrated/disinterested.

An educated person (not a person educated merely in novels) can pick up a novel and get more out of it than a person who has had less education (of whatever kind). A gamer can pick up a game and play it where as maybe a person wh never had the time/resources/inclination to game before, has a significant barrier to entry (depending on the difficulty of the game of course--a reader's digest book of quotes is easier to thumb through than a novel).

Games are not alike but both cyberdramtists and ludologists lump them wholesale into larger categories.


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