One of my classmates, Louis, described David Golumbia’s piece, “Games without Play,’ as a rant, and I think Louis is right. Golumbia spends a lot of time basically complaining very densely about people that have began to misinterpret the word “play’ with the evolution of video games. But I believe his piece goes a little bit deeper than that. He spent a fair amount of time analyzing why people become so addicted to these FPSs and RPGs, and how it possibly relates to real life.
When I was reading the article, I was very interested in that section where Golumbia talks about mining and working in games like WoW. He basically says that players spend hours doing things like mining for tin, iron, and coal, just to gain experience or gold. He then goes on to talk about how these games “simulate the world of capitalist work,’ and uses this as an argument as to why people are so attracted to the game.
As a gamer with experience in Pry, Gone Home, Madden, and occasionally Call of Duty, I found Golumbia’s essay to be fairly relatable. I believe that games like Gone Home and Call of Duty fit the bill for the types of games that he is seemingly arguing against. Apparently, in games such as these, so much time is spent mindlessly shooting at people, or addictively clicking everywhere to try to find the next clue, that they are no longer “play.’ At this point in these games, all sense of that word is lost. One is merely simulating some sort of possible scenario.
When we get to games such as Madden and Pry, they are more of traditional “play’ games. Especially in Madden, it is very cut and dry. There are a very clear set of rules, and one player competes against another in a strategic manner, much like chess. Although Pry doesn’t straight up match this sort of definition, I believe that it would fall into the same category. Although there isn’t a clear set of rules, the player is prohibited on what they can do, but he or she still has to make strategic choices that may affect the outcome of the game.
For me, these arguments prompted me to think about what kind of impact these games have on a society. I wish he would have spent more time discussing why these people were having more fun mining fake ores and making fake money, and what kind of impacts it has on the economy and society when they could be mining real gold for real money. It just seems like he spent so much time talking about how so many people are misinterpreting the definition of play and why they are so addicted to these “Games without play,’ but he doesn’t talk about why it’s important when it comes to globalization.
As a very dense essay, Columbia presents a series of very compelling arguments as to why people have skewered the meaning of “play,’ and why these “Games without play’ can be so addictive. But I think he leaves too many loose ends for such a long essay. A few times he touches on how these games may affect our economy, but he always turns away, back to simply describing these games.