In Defense of Procedurality – Hawreliak

Summerising post really that contrasts the differing opinions towards Bogost’s Procedural Rhetoric. One useful criticism that is particularly worth noting is:

‘Now I’d like to move to the second objection, namely, that Bogost focuses too much on the formal characteristics of the game, and not enough on other components like narrative, paratext, aesthetics, and so on. I don’t get a sense that Bogost suggests that procedurality is in any way hermetically sealed off from the other components of a game.’

For my own work that is so focused on the para-textual qualities of a game, and how those impact back onto the rules of the original game, a para-textuall exclusive analysis of games is limiting.

However this point is quick to be balanced as Bogosts over arching position is one that suggests ‘any single organizing approach (e.g. narratological, procedural, etc.) is essentially arbitrary.’

There is also an interesting example of Civilisation as a form of procedural rhetoric that conveys a very particular message:

‘For example, a civilization needs roads and railways to transport goods for trade, and to bring in luxuries such as Silk or Steel. Increased trade makes for happier and more productive workers, and infrastructure improvements positively influence your citizens’  happiness and standard of life. Moreover, railroads make it easier for workers to clean up pollution, which affects your citizens’ happiness and standard of life. In this game we see that infrastructure improvements are necessary for producing high output economies: if you stop building stuff, the economy, and subsequently, the civilization, will crumble. Thus, Civilization shows through process that a fully functioning economy depends upon government projects. This is very much in line with Barack Obama’s now (in)famous, “You didn’t build that” speech.’

Does this mean civilisation has an underlying left wing message? In my own experience of civilisation certain real world truths do jump out and make you reconsider things, for example, its position on religion as merely a way of keeping people occupied and happy; something that becomes steadily outdated with the rise of science, is a message with far greater relevance beyond civilisation.

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