Non-human gaming

Ruffino, Paolo (2018) Non-human gaming. In: PLAY/PAUSE, 24 January 2018, University of Birmingham.

Ruffino Play Pause Symposium Birmingham Non_Human_Gaming.pdf
Ruffino Play Pause Symposium Birmingham Non_Human_Gaming.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


In this talk, I will critically analyse the rise of video games that require limited human intervention to be played. Idle games such as Cookie Clicker and Adventure Capitalist, games made by algorithms such as No Man’s Sky, the programming of AI to play games such as Screeps, Drivatars and ghost cars in racing games, all suggest that human beings are becoming peripheral in the act of playing and in the definition of video games. Drawing on Sonia Fizek’s analysis of Slavoj Zizek and Robert Pfaller’s concept of interpassivity, and on studies on gamification and self-tracking, I will argue that Non-Human Gaming is not necessarily an exception to oppose to ‘standard’ video games, or a temporary trend. I will argue that the non-human has always been haunting the medium, and that studies on interactivity, agency, and player’s competences have been providing, so far, a comforting perspective that places the human at the centre. In fact, Non-Human Gaming is an adequate response to the disappearance of life from Earth – as it has been imagined, feared, and prophesised by scientists in the last few decades. Alexander Galloway’s concept of video games as allegories of life will be deployed to argue that digital games are transforming into living things, which could entirely replace human players and play by themselves. From this perspective, video games might be seen in relation to the rise of self-driving cars, algorithmic trade exchange, and remote warfare, which could be functioning by themselves after human extinction. Roger Caillois, in his early work on mimicry and mythology, was already prefiguring a similar hypothesis: living beings develop forms of dispersal and waste of energy (of which games are an example) that cannot be explained through a rationalistic view on evolution and species preservation, but are nonetheless defining characteristics of life.

Keywords:Game Studies, Algorithms, Media Studies, procedural content generation
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:30907
Deposited On:08 Mar 2018 11:48

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