Bridging Worlds

With the mass acceptance of video games and the general rise of nerd/geek culture both in visibility and as a marketing base, it was perhaps natural that Ready Player One by Ernest Cline would be developed as a big budget studio release (with Spielberg at the helm, no less). It is a favorite of video game fans and also a best-seller success, offering both a name-check-romp through the eccentricities of fandom and a titillating peek into shouted mists of video game history for outsiders. Despite being positioned as a scion of fandom, my recent experience playing through Gone Home, with its far more complex portrayal of the way people interact with art, made me think back to all of my many experiences in subcultures, and deeply question this "beloved novel’s" vision of fandom, both past and future.

In Fredric Jameson’s book on utopian literature, Archaeologies of the Future, he proposes a nifty Occam’s Razor for science fiction. Which is that one way you can judge a sci-fi work is based on the potential veracity of its imagined version of future or alien art. Works that have art that seems to make sense for its world, both historically and socio-economically - say sculpture on a Mars colony that incorporates its barren landscapes and low gravity, or in a bug-person district whose inhabitants see and smell with a wildly different set of sense organs - seem to Jameson to correlate with novels that have a strong grasp of the multitudinous, often idiosyncratic and conflicted, perspectives and forces that come with any imagined society, small or large.

If you look at Ready Player One, it fails this test with the dullest colors. In Ernest Cline’s version of the world, there is nothing but pasteurized nerd culture and buzzing-fluorescent white corporate wasteland. Is there any thought put into what the evil corporate guys listen to while they cheat at the grand contest? Nope. Any kids making music with hacked gear in the slums? Nope. Virtual environments where you don’t have to grind levels as a class from Dungeons & Dragons? Nope. Fifty years in the future there is just 3D virtual reality based on Everquest that is divided into “planets” which are individual recreations of assorted 80s movies and arcades.

"Bridging Worlds" is a series by LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch about the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation. This time, Eron visited Indiecade - again - and, at first, found himself alienated. The photo project that resulted from this encounter with the "oasis that is Indiecade" can be seen in full on Eron's own site; the following article and selection of photos is a look not only at an event most European readers will most likely never experience themselves, but also a glimpse into Eron's creative process.

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"Bridging Worlds"  is a series by LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch about the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation. 

Imagine the scene: Paris 1874. The city is still in turmoil from the massive fallout of the Industrial Revolution. There are wild all-night cabarets, horse races to bet on, and salons where drinks and culture are passionately discussed. A great obsession with all things Japanese is the fashion amongst the newly well-off as the world continues to grow smaller. You’re at a party, sipping champagne, talking about the most important art event in the Western world at the time, the Salon du Paris.

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"Bridging Worlds"  is a series by LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch about the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation.

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"Bridging Worlds"  is a series by LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch about the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation.

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This is the first of hopefully many essays, interviews and articles in a series called "Bridging Worlds", in which LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch takes a close look at the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation.

This time, Eron visits Dwarf Fortress at NYC MoMA - where he discovers some of the difficulties in exhibiting games at museums but also accidentally stumbles on some nearby potential solutions.

440Eron Rauch, "A Land to Die In (Every Player Corpse from 1-70)" from A Land to Die In (Detail)

A few weeks ago, LA-based artist, writer and VGT-reader Eron Rauch contacted me to discuss some of the finer points of In-Game Photography. This conversation led me to ask him to collect his thoughts in an essay about the relation of In-Game Photography and traditional photography and art. Here it is.  

If you are anything like me, you had friends who linked Rainer's "The Art of in-game Photography." If you are anything like me, you saw many of your friends duke it out on Facebook and Twitter over whether or not this was a legitimate art — whether it was  even photography.