Claus Pias: A Media Archaeology of Computer Games


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Presented as part of of J. Stenros, O. Sotamaa, B. Perron, S. Deterding & S. P. Walz: The Game Studies Language Exchange Program: Uncovering Hidden Gems of European Game and Play Research. Peer-reviewed panel, DiGRA 2013, August 28, 2013, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Claus Pias: A Media Archaeology of Computer Games

  1. 1. claus Piasa media archaeology of computer games Sebastian Deterding MAGIC Lab, Rochester Institute of Technology DiGRA 2013, Atlanta, August 28, 2013 c b
  2. 2. 2 claus pias * 1967 Professor, media theory and history; director, Center for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg Dissertation at Bauhaus University Weimar under Joseph Vogl
  3. 3. 3 michel foucault Archaeology of Knowledge marshall mcluhan Medium Theory friedrich kittler (War) media technologies as conditions of possibility for historical forms of knowing media history,made in germany
  4. 4. an archaeology of cybernetics • Cybernetics/simulation/computation is the episteme of our age, computers are its media-technical condition of possibility • Information processing is the main object, output, boundary, starting point of knowing today • Information processing = cosm0s = thinking = meaning: a soul-less, body-less machine • As cybernetics waned as a philosophy in the 1970s, it became naturalised as CS • Cybernetics must ignore the analog and materiality 4
  5. 5. an archaeology of cybernetics • McLuhan understood media as extensions of man • Cybernetics understands computers as »human- extended machines« (Licklider): flattens thinking/ acting, man/machine, mind/matter • Computer games exemplify the cybernetic conditions of possibility of knowing 5
  6. 6. 6 2002 2011
  7. 7. computer spiel welten • Why are computer games (the way they are)? • What are the historical (discursive, technical) conditions of possibility for computer games to emerge? • How do they in turn condition the forms of knowing possible in and with computer games? • 3 discursive fields and cases show the homology of computer games and cybernetics: action/SAGE, adventure/Internet, simulation/war games 7
  8. 8. action Attentive time-critical selection of optimal actions 8
  9. 9. action • Time-critical choice of predefined actions: Taylorist scientific management • Machine-tracking of human action in numbers: experimental psychology, WWI Army Mental Tests • Training and control of users: behaviorism • Real-time interaction with GUI invisibilizing rules: Computerisation of flight simulation training 9
  10. 10. adventure Reasoned decision-critical choice of optimal routes 10 arpanet colossal cave
  11. 11. adventure • World as mapping of node relations: relational databases • History as routing through and changing of nodes: graph theory as used in telephone routing algorithms • Decision-making as memory-less result of current node state 11
  12. 12. simulation Patient configuration-critical choice of optimal possible set 12
  13. 13. simulation • Numerical modelling of decision-making: mathematic game theory • Translation of reality into probability distributions: WWII operations research • Model-based exploration of possible futures: war games • Object-oriented programming: SIMULA 13
  14. 14. why care?
  15. 15. »You are all just replicating the cybernetic episteme of our age. What are your blind spots and limits of knowing?« historicizing proceduralism 15
  16. 16. @dingstweets Cheers!