Monday, December 21, 2009

Um... Define "Institutions of Power..."

Ian Bogost (at, via Mark Guzdial):

“Games are like folk music of the 1960s,” Bogost said. “They grew up with it. They identify with it. And it isn’t something really co-opted by institutions of power.”

You know, I'm inherently sympathetic to whole "games in education" question, but unfortunately, the primary exponents of this activity come across as cynical, disingenuous hucksters.


Unknown said...

That comment had nothing to do with educational games. Maybe you'd care to explain the cynicism and disingenuousness in what amounts to a pull quote? Or is it just fun to blog acrimoniously about people without mustering argument or evidence?

Tom Hoffman said...

Well, let's see... games have been co-opted by institutions of power, including the U.S. Army, Microsoft, and Georgia Tech, to name a few. Computer games as a form are more completely controlled by "institutions of power" than any other expressive medium I can think of.

The control is not total, but the major platforms are corporate owned and controlled to a degree that would have been inconceivable in the 1960's. e.g., I can write a game using Flash, but you can't play it on your iPhone, because Apple doesn't want you to.

Beyond that, folk music comes from an authentic folk tradition, or at least draws inspiration from one. Video games aren't folk music, they are Tin Pan Alley. They're primarily commercial, and occasionally academic.