Thursday, November 02, 2006

Taylor: "simply entertainment"

I have always been impressed with T. L. Taylor's scholarship, and happy and priviledged to be allowed to play and work with her - ok, occasionally also exasperated or surprised, but that's a good thing as I would otherwise have been a victim of total hero worship. I have told you all before how much I like her Play Between Worlds, but today I am offering a quote which contains a large part of the reason for my continued devotion to new media technologies and the social spaces they facilitate:

The common framing of games as "simply entertainment" often obscures the ways they act as key cultural sites in which forgoing participation may have real costs. We increasingly live in a world in which opting out of technological systems is more and more difficult and yet participation within those systems pushes us to accept structures we might oppose. Try eliminating a technology (especially a communication one) from your life for a week and see how you fare. As people find their friends, family, colleagues and the broader culture engaging in some sphere, the desire to participate can be quite strong and also a social imperative. We might also consider the ways participating in particular forms or places always are tied up with questions of power. Separate does not mean equal, and sometimes we can see quite clearly the benefits that come from being in particular spaces. I do not want to suggest that we do not have choices that we can make, but instead want to highlight that there can be meaningful benefits and costs attached to those choices. (Taylor 2006:135)


Linn said...

Funny, I was thinking about this exact quote the other day, as well! I was thinking that you could compare the involvement, attachment and cultural significance of MMORPGs with Central Park, maybe. How would people react to the sentence: "Central Park is just a park!". And to what extent do New Yorkers involve themselves in Central Park politics? I imagine quite excessively. But why, when it's just a 'park'?!
I'm uncertain what she means by 'Separate does not always mean equal', though. Any thoughts?

Mom of Three said...

I hate to admit it. But I am far more twitchy if the Internet isn't working than I am if the phones are down, the cable is out, almost anything else. If you could give me the choice between losing my overn, washing machine, blow dryer, or car for one day over the Internet, I'd still keep it.

I abhor the telephone. I always have. But I can return email until the cows come home. It doesn't intrude on my space like the blasted ringing phone.

Torill said...

I think "Separate does not mean equal" relates to power. If you are separated from an arena it may still have influence on your life, and you can definitely lose out on something due to your lack of involvement and participation. This is an important factor when considering the need for being available and connected.