Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Political Uses of Fear

Edited screenshot from Lim, by Merritt Kopas

This post is in response to Blogs of the Round Table. Trigger warning for street harassment, passing anxiety, rape culture. 

Here in videogameland we relish fear like children relish Halloween. Actually, we relish Halloween like children relish Halloween. But our uses of fear are essentially escapist, even hedonistic: we lust after the adrenaline rush of shocks and frights and cathartic thrills like the psychologist in Psycho who has a little too much fun delivering the denouement. Games are very good at fear, too, though when we mention this it's usually just before we note how bad they are at ~*love*~. But that primal, animal emotion, that evolutionary hangover that cross-wires nuclear bombs with teeth and claws, is good for more than rollercoasters. It has political uses. By harnessing fear we can trap even the most privileged players in the frightening subjectivity of another. The scariest things are not the ghosts and goblins of seasonal kitsch, but the hidden, suppressed suffering our society produces as if it were a machine specifically constructed for that purpose.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Quizzical Play #1: How to Not Play Dishonored

This month, everyone except me has been playing Dishonored. I read the blog posts, watch the Let’s Plays, and fantasize about the choices I might make – but right now, £39.99 for a new release is the difference between making rent and borrowing money. At the same time, I can't bear to be left out of the blogging frenzy that's struck up around the game. So how can I write about Dishonored without having played it? Simple: maybe nobody else is playing it either.