Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Blips: Interactive Reading
Source: Scenes of Emancipation: On Jacques Ranciere's Aisthesis
Author: Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon
Site: The American Reader
In an excerpt from the most recent issue of The American Reader, Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon introduces a republishing of the final chapter in philosopher Jacques Ranciere's latest book Aisthesis. Sturgeon write as an advocate for the act of reading amidst claims that the the written word is less relevant due to the implied passivity of reading as compared to the interactive nature of new media. As Sturgeon points out, this line of logic severely undersells the act of reading, which is quite interactive through mental stimulation, as well as the surrounding critical discourse that has stemmed from reading through the ages.
What does this have to do with games? Well, I bring up this essay as a sort of cautionary tale for game advocates who would tout the sort of interactivity that games offer as a sign of progress or superiority. In reality, the problem with many games is that while basic button-pressing, stick-pushing interactivity keeps your thumbs busy and may make you feel like you're a part of the game world, it can also be a shallow form of interactivity; the equivalent of scanning a line of text with your eyes and turning a page with your fingertips. The shape that this interactivity takes only establishes the medium of a particular work and little else of any intellectual or emotional depth.
Too many games are just about turning pages without the thought-provoking stories that can make being an active reader so rewarding.