Alexander R. Galloway – Gaming, Essay on Algorithmic Culture

Alexander R. Galloway

book – Univ Of Minnesota Press – ISBN 0816648514
Beyond the narratology / ludology debate, videogames studies are catalyzing theoretical energies everywhere. But investigating the videogame medium in its own essence is quite different than constructing polished speculations based on cinema studies (as it’s largely done). Galloway, instead, clearly makes a difference, writing one of the most interesting book in this field to date, probably also because he’s a videogame player himself. He’s basing his approach on an almost perfect synthesis and core idea: “videogames are actions”, intended as the combination of the playing corporeal and incorporeal actions. Maintaining the focus on the medium and analyzing it from his own conjecture (a ‘diegesis/non diegesis’ based accurate classification), the author defines videogame as an “algorithmic cultural objects”. So he makes the software (and its continuously running code) a strategical node in the analysis. The ‘action’ initiated by playing is then orchestrated by the code, in a kinetic symbiosis that ends only when one of the two parts stops. The conceptual consequences of the operator’s relatively new possibilities (like ‘pausing a game’ or activating a ‘slow motion’ feature) are then unveiled. As well as some of the videogame specific formal qualities are researched in their roots, as in the delightful list of classic movies sequences discussed in the chapter ‘Origin of the first person shooter’. The body and its greater involvement (compared to the ears / eyes struggling, in most of screen based contents) is then used as a performative tool, but with a different type of mental ‘immersion’. Even within the strictly industry-controlled rules (and the consequent spontaneous phenomenon of ‘countergaming’), the asymmetrical body/mind involvement is charged by the constant recall of the notion of ‘real’, that make us moving and quickly reacting in front of a screen and an apparently influential controller.