If the fantasy of control is the problem, then videogame controllers are the solution.
What can videogames tell us about the politics of contemporary technoculture, and how are designers and players responding to its impositions? To what extent do the technical features of videogames index our assumptions about what exists and what is denied that status? And how can we use games to identify and shift those assumptions without ever putting down the controller? Ludopolitics responds to these questions with a critique of one of the defining features of modern technology: the fantasy of control. Videogames promise players the opportunity to map and master worlds, offering closed systems that are perfect in principle if not in practice. In their numerical, rule-bound, and goal-oriented form, they express assumptions about both the technological world and the world as such. More importantly, they can help us identify these assumptions and challenge them. Games like Spec Ops: The Line, Braid, Undertale, and Bastion, as well as play practices like speedrunning, theorycrafting, and myth-making provide an aesthetic means of mounting a political critique of the pursuit and valorization of technological control.
What if we took a closer look at both the design and the play of videogames to find out how politics and technology intersect there? Ludopolitics takes us beyond the more familiar criticism of the way games represent the world to inquire into what kind of world is enacted there, and what other worlds might be possible. The stakes of the game, and the stakes of the world, appear to be a kind of algorithmic control. But perhaps games at their best are a kind of art work where designer and player can meet and learn something about how the mechanics of control might function. Ludopolitics is a theory-assisted speed run through these big picture questions of our time. ~ McKenzie Wark, Gamer Theory