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AoiR 2009 Cyborg LAN party


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More Human Than Human -- presentation given at AoIR 2009 IR10

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AoiR 2009 Cyborg LAN party

  1. 1. How LAN Parties Deny Our Cyborg Identity “ More Human Than Human” Bryan-Mitchell Young
  2. 4. LAN Party Player = Cyborg ? = ?
  3. 6. Strogg from Quake II and Quake 4
  4. 7. … Perhaps it wasn’t that the LAN party participants weren’t cyborgs. … Perhaps it was that the LAN party participants were, instead, attempting to reject our cyborg identity.
  5. 8. In other words…. Just because you are a cyborg doesn’t mean you have to like it, acknowledge it, or even be aware of it.
  6. 9. “ a cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” that is “simultaneously animal and machine [and] populate[s] worlds ambiguously natural and crafted” “ By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.” --Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto”
  7. 10. Cyborgs actually do exist; [in 1995] about 10% of the current U.S. population are estimated to be cyborgs in the technical sense, including people with electronic pacemakers, artificial joints, drug implant systems, implanted corneal lenses, and artificial skin. A much higher percentage participates in occupations that make them into metaphoric cyborgs, including the computer keyboarder joined in a cybernetic circuit with the screen, the neurosurgeon guided by fiber optic microscopy during an operation, and the teen gameplayer in the local videogame arcade. --N. Katherine Hayles
  8. 11. cyborg imagery could represent a radical break from the past by: “ suggesting a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves” by taking “pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction” -- Haraway
  9. 12. Bodies Play a Large Role in LAN Parties <ul><li>They frequently last 24 hours or more </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You get tired </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You get sore from sitting so long </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You get hungry </li></ul></ul>
  10. 14. Bodies Play a Large Role in LAN Parties <ul><li>Lots of men together in one room for an extended period of time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeing that the person you are playing against actually exists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hearing other people talk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bumping up against others because the space is quite cramped </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And sadly, it can get a bit smelly… </li></ul></ul>
  11. 15. “ The dream of cyberculture is to leave the ‘meat’ behind and to become distilled into a clean, pure, uncontaminated relationship with computer technology” -- “The Embodied Computer/User” by Deborah Lupton
  12. 16. Mmmm meaty…
  13. 18. This notion of “freedom” can also be read as a “sense of freedom from the body, and in particular perhaps, freedom from the sense of loss of control that accompanies adolescent male embodiment” -- Allucquère Rosanne Stone
  14. 19. By being in the same room as the other players, the freedom to do or be anyone is limited. Unlike the common conceptions of the cyborg, the LAN party players are rejecting the freedom.
  15. 20. Why might they want to reject a cyborg identity? <ul><li>Of the 200+ participants: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7-9 were women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The most I recall seeing at these particular events </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less than 10 were outwardly marked as non-white </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexuality is deemed irrelevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Which usually means that everyone is assumed heterosexual </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>In short, this mostly a straight white man’s activity </li></ul>
  16. 21. However, Haraway’s idea of a cyborg is anything but a rigidly defined individual She “reshapes” the figure of the cyborg “as a blasphemous anti-racist feminist figure” that is “is a creature in a post-gender world; [which] has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity”
  17. 22. Thus Haraway’s notion of the cyborg is a challenge to the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy It is little wonder then that straight white guys aren’t exactly thrilled to be cyborgs… Being copresent reasserts the primacy of biology over behavior
  18. 23. The process of becoming a cyborg is a process in which phallic, male penetration is translated into female envelopment. “To become the cyborg, to put on the seductive and dangerous cybernetic space like a garment, is to put on the female.” -- Allucquère Rosanne Stone
  19. 24. If the participants actually are already cyborgs then their attempt to reject this cyborg nature can be seen as a converse of “cyborg envy” is a longing for the organic masculine and thus a “human envy.”
  20. 25. [The image of an inseparable player and game] is a compelling literalization of the ontology of the cyborg — a subjectivity that depends precisely on this collapse of boundary between the human and the machine. [….] In the lived enactment of gameplay there is no player separate to the interface and game world; there is a fusion of the two into a cyborgian subjectivity — composed of wires, machines, code and flesh. [….] The player is not outside the game and the game is not outside the player — both are part of a loop through which information and energy flows. --Jon Dovey and Helen W. Kennedy
  21. 26. Being physically co-present makes the flesh real and it makes it clear the person and the computer are not one-in-the-same.