Touching the Screen
The world of video gaming
The titles forming this recent trend have diegetic time loops, ones built into their narratives and acknowledged by the characters, with the temporally unmoored antics explained by malfunctioning time machines, meddling gods, or simple mental illness.
Faulkner evokes our uncomfortable relationship to the fascism that sits at the core of many games, a Pavlovian dopamine rush meant to mimic the very actions that imperialist militaries use to oppress, control, and murder in the name of jingoistic glory, and subversively offers an alternative path of interaction.
It is a narrative reframing that suggests not empowerment from disempowerment, but rather, redemption through the redefinition of acceptable terms of success. And by overturning the traditional power fantasy, a sympathetic understanding of identity disorders emerges.
Yang’s games are explicitly political, explicitly homoerotic, explicitly masculine. They are technologically proficient and artistically confident. They are some of the most exciting works produced in the video game form in recent times, and are well worth engaging with.
To play FIFA ’14 is less to play at what it is like to “actually” play soccer, but instead focuses on mixing together a sense of actually playing soccer with a sense of experiencing soccer as it is most commonly experienced through the television screen.
Every single stroke is added to that overall score; your overall score is always the total number of strokes you have performed. Short of deleting the game’s data and reinstalling it, there are no restarts, no practicing. Just you and the desert in a constant march forward.