I agree with you now..? Maybe…
Last week, I did not have anything good to say about Bogost and how he thinks that story lines and games don’t belong together. Today, I can agree with some of Bogost’s points, but I ultimately think that there should always be different types of games out there, with or without characters.
Between the two articles we read, I am going to focus on Bogost instead of Kat Brewster because I found more claims within Bogost’s that I am able to discuss and pick apart.
So, oddly enough, I found Ian Bogost’s argument appealing and sensible. Bogost is trying to argue that games are better off without characters within his article Video Games are Better Without Characters for the Atlantic. The majority of his claims are centered around the game SimCity and one of the first claims he makes is that the game itself is not about people or the residents of the game. He says that SimCity is more “about urban societies, about the relationship between land value, pollution, industry, taxation, growth, and other factors.” (Paragraph 5, Bogost)
Bogost goes on to explain that the issues that are bought up with in the game are not directly related to the actions that are taken by the ‘people’. More so, the issues are created and characterized based off of the creator’s/player’s viewpoint, caprice, and/or ideology. (Bogost) He says that the players experience a model of some aspect of the world, in a role that forces the player to see that model in a different light, and in a context that’s bigger than their individual actions. (Bogost) This takes the idea of characters and their power within the game away. This gives the player a chance to see how something works outside of their actions, like in SimCity, the players become aware what happens when the tax prices are too high. The residents leave in a fit or they don’t pay them and the city goes to crap and can not be kept up.
Bogost asks the question “why have we assumed that the only or primary path to video game diversity and sophistication lies in its representation of individuals as opposed to systems and circumstances?” and this is a very important question to understand and ask when evaluating the game industry and the types of games that are out there. Bogost thinks that the industry has left the work of systems and circumstance and that it was a bad decision. I personally think that movement creates more and that more is important, whether that be more games or more diversity or more features or more outlets/genres of games. More is good, right?
Further into Bogost’s argument, he makes the following statement, which I feel is very important. “Maybe the obsession with personal identification and representation in games is why identity politics has risen so forcefully and naively in their service online, while essentially failing to build upon prior theories and practices of social justice.” As a member of Generation Z, born 1996 and later, my identity has been who I am and what makes me, me. I grew up being told that I am unique and the no one can take my identity from me and with this, I can understand why Gamers have the want to insert their identity within something that they do.
Bogost claims that “video games have primarily become an apparatus for exercising self-identity rather than just a kind of media.” I agree with this statement, but I do not agree with the tone that Bogost has attached to it. I do not think that it is a bad thing that video games can hold our identities, I think that it is just another feature of video games. There are plenty of games that have no way of holding an identity of a player, Tetris for example. I think that with how much variety there is within video games, there is enough room for everyone.
I think that whether you prefer to have your identity with you while you play, or you just want to play a game without characters, there is room for you.
Bogost, I. (2015, March 13). Video Games Are Better Without Characters. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/video-games-are-better-without-characters/387556/