There has been a lot of twitter chatter this week about an endearing rant by Darius Kazemi with the arresting title of Fuck Videogames aimed at encouraging frustrated game designers to embrace other forms of creative expression.
Clearly this is a timely message, and probably a mark of the success that this active community of practice has had in encouraging creative expression in videogames.
I don’t quarrel with Kazemi’s main point — and in fact I’ve often said that there is no hierarchy of media. No individual book, for example, is more valuable than any individual game (or film or TV show) just because it is expressed in lengthy text passages instead of interactive bits or moving images. But Kazemi isn’t talking about books or films. He is talking gelato and cat poop — which I do indeed have a problem with.
This Friday I will be giving a keynote for the Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies Association of the UK (MeCCSA) exploring the question of what a medium is beyond the discussion in Inventing the Medium. I will be talking about the four existing models of Media Theory, and about the new model I discuss in ITM and in an earlier article for Popular Communication, which is based on the work of Merlin Donald and Michael Tomasello.
This Hellenistic period terracotta of two women playing the ancient game of knucklebones – a form of dice – (from an image on the British Museum website) is iconic for me of one way to think about what a medium is.
A popular and very useful textbook in Interaction Design defines the field with this diagram:
As I explain in the Introduction and especially in Chapter 2, Inventing the Medium is not meant to substitute for the body of knowledge mapped above but to complement and recontextualize it, by drawing on disciplinary methods and craft practices that are absent from the HCI/Interaction Design map of the design process.
Here is how I would express it, using the same diagram: Continue reading
The premise of Inventing the Medium is that computation has created a new medium of representation. How do we know when we have discovered a new medium? One answer might be that we know it by the combination of terror and delight that we experience as pioneering practitioners explore the new affordances for human expression.
For cinema there is mythic moment associated with the birth of film, the Lumière Brothers 1895 showing of a film about the everyday occurance of the arrival of a train.
The publication of Ian Bogost’s How to Do Things with Videogames has opened up the question of whether or not games are a medium in themselves or just a part of the larger medium of software systems (as one reviewer suggests) or as I would call it, the digital medium. Continue reading