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To screen or not to screen

Posted by Bart

So I am in this discussion with Douglas Wilson (of Dark Room Sex Game fame amongst other things) about Wii things and we might be starting to tussle about whether the “screen” is bad or good because basically in my Wii paper I wanted to argue that the screen saves the Wii from the horrors of VR/ubicomp fantasy. The Wii is ultimately, like most other digital games, screen-bound – so no worries. Well this whole anti-screen thing just keeps coming back and I think its tangled up in the gestural revolution (?) in gaming (and I have things to say about Natal and mocap in general on this now), augmented reality and ubicomp fetishes and a good old back-beat of neo-VR transcendentalism.  I guess I really like screens.

Anyway the dark room sex game is an important implementation but I am more intrigued by Doug’s latest project which is a wizard dueling game… this reminds me also of some ideas we had for the INTONE recitation game (using Harry Potter-esque spell recitation).

I guess one thing I’ll say without thinking hard is this… if we are going to make games where people engage each other directly (rather than via a screen) then why not just play rock, paper, scissors? Variations on this mechanic can be funny or embarrassing or cute or cool but the experience is relatively shallow (this is a provocation :)… its my anti-casual game stance again. The screen, for better or for worse, is the source of some kind of “world/narrative” in which the player’s bodily experience (pushing buttons or waving wiimotes) might become more meaningful… now I am sure you can do this without a screen – you could create a vast aural soundscape or something and LARPing certainly does not use screens but i’m not convinced this makes screens a problem (critique of Western ocular-centrism notwithstanding)