Our Friends at the Topological Media Lab bring us:
Fabulously Procedural: Braid, Temporality, and the Videogame Sensorium
Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago
Friday Nov 23, 4:00 PM
Hexagram Resource Center, EV 11th floor
1515 Ste Catherine St Ouest.
If we are to make sense of the type of art form that digital games are and could someday become, it is critical to understand the new sensorium — the experiences of temporality, speed, space, protocols, and history — that they open up. This talk turns to the independently produced 2008 platformer videogame Braid. The central mechanic that Braid adds to the usual platformer repertoire is the manipulation of time. Each “world” in the game is subject to a different set of temporal rules that affect the player’s ability to solve puzzles. By intertwining narrative, visual, audio, and algorithmic components, this game interrogates the impulses that drive videogames and the historical subjects that they produce. Through strategic complicity with the activity-oriented attitude that has characterized both Cold War politics and videogames, Braid encourages a powerful form of self-reflexivity in the player. By exploring Braid’s commentary on the history of videogames, I suggest that the procedural operations of the form provide an aesthetic horizon for the experience of our information-oriented, postindustrial society. If cultural works are fields through which the dynamics of different media and modes of production can be apprehended then Braid is, ultimately, a multi-layered exposure (or indeed a “braiding”) of the logics that underlie the contemporary military-industrial-entertainment complex.