From McKenzie Wark, G4M3R 7H30RY

From “Agony”:

Even critical theory, which once took its distance from damaged life, becomes another game. Apply to top ranked schools. Find a good coach. Pick a rising subfield. Prove your abilities. Get yourself published. Get some grants. Get a job. Get another job offer to establish your level and bargain with your current employer. Keep your nose clean and get tenure. You won! Now you can play! Now you can do what you wanted, secretly, all those years ago. Only now you can’t remember. You became a win-win Situationist. Your critical theory became hypocritical theory. It is against everything in the whole wide world except the gamespace that made it possible. But gamespace is now the very form of the world, and this world eluded your thought even as it brought home the glittering prizes. It’s gamespace that won. The hypocritical theorist, while dreaming, meets the ghost of Guy Debord, and proudly cites a list of achievements: Ivy League job, book deals, grants, promotion, tenure, recognition within the highest ranks of the disciplinary guild. The ghost of Debord sighs: “So little ambition in one so young.”

6 thoughts on “From McKenzie Wark, G4M3R 7H30RY

  1. *Sigh.* Sadly, part of what Wark is after here is an understanding of the mode of being that has transformed the world into a kind of gamespace without the game, treating the world as if it were algorithmic. There are no cheat codes, no saves. And by the time you’ve got enough tenure points to fight the boss, do you have enough energy left to fight — or remember why you wanted to fight in the first place?

  2. Games, which are decried right and left as a form of escapism, would then constitute working iterations of our reality algorithm…

    Isn’t it ironic that society is so quick to dismiss its own fiction as escapism?

    Or maybe games entail a layer of abstraction too many?

  3. its not that the algorithms work that people like games for its that they are easier to beat than the algorithms that make up real life. gamespace is mimicing the algorithms of lifespace at a simpler level. It is easier to figure out how the Locust use cover in Gears of War than it is to figure out how to get hired because if you fail repeatedly in beating the locust you wont play the game or buy more things. If you fail at getting hired you are the one who suffers and no one else (well except your family maybe). Lifespace is not mimicking gamespace, gamespace is just a metaphor for the competition and need for survival that has always existed in lifespace.

  4. But lifespace isn’t just about algorithms of increasing complexity. It is about the very possibility to override any intended algorithm. In my opinion, this differentiation is a lot more effective than a simple relation of mimicry. Algorithms in both spaces are constructs: only in lifespace, however, is there something beyond, a non-algorithmic state. One can, after all, persists in living without engaging in any form of competition or other societal contingencies. An excellent take on this is Melville’s short story ‚ÄòBartleby the Scrivener’.

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