Enacting our games

The element that immediately jumped out at me in Laurel’s essay was “Enactment.”

It is interesting that the development of this theatrical genre has been concurrent with the blossoming of computer games as a popular form of entertainment, and I speculate that computer games have in some ways served as a model for it. In fact, it is in the areas that dramatic entertainment and human-computer activity are beginning to converge that pan-sensory representation is being most actively explored. When we examine that convergence, we can see ways in which human-computer activity has evolved, at least in part, as drama’s attempt to increase its sensory bandwidth, creating the technological siblings of the kind of participatory theatre described above.”

Perhaps this element resonated with me because I have next week’s Sherry Turkle essay on video gaming on my mind (which I do) but I also suspect it is because my household is pretty excited about Kinect (formerly known as Project Natal) from Xbox 360.

If you don’t know what that is, here’s a little video that explains it.

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Kinect (and it’s soon-to-be lesser cousin the Wii, and I think there is some kind of Playstation thing coming up that is similar…) is all about sensory involvement. You interact with – you actually control – the computer via your senses. An the computer even also has senses – the facial recognition technology, for example, is a kind of seeing.

But I also think that Laurel’s section on enactment resonated with me because of the connections with McLuhan’s ideas about “sense ratios” and how they are changed when “any one sense or bodily or mental function is externalized in technological form.” How are we changed when we use regular gaming devices, and how much more so when we are using one of these full-body, motion sensing gaming systems?

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