www.dichtung-digital.org/2010/soderman.htm

Every Game the Same Dream?
Politics, Representation, and the Interpretation of Video Games

by Braxton Soderman

 

Every Day the Same Dream is a short art game created by the radical game designers Molleindustria, formed and fronted by the Italian artist Paolo Pedercini. The game was produced in 2009 and has since garnered praise within and without the gamer community. This essay pursues a sustained close reading and playing of the game with the goal of providing an interpretation of its complex political meanings. During the exegesis of the game I explore new, interpretive forms of analysis that have arisen around the video game medium (i.e. Espen Aarseth's notion of simulational hermeneutics and Alexander Galloway's concept of gamic allegory). I argue that these forms tend to privilege the understanding of game mechanics and player actions over visual and narrative representations in a game. While these new hermeneutical methods are undeniably useful for uncovering the significance of a particular video game I show how they can be used to marginalize and eclipse interpretive methods focused on gamic representations, thus potentially truncating a game's overall significance or "message." This essay demonstrates that Every Day the Same Dream's political meanings cannot be exhausted by focusing exclusively on game mechanics or player actions, and that a critic needs to pay close attention to the entirety of a game's meaningful modalities—including visual and narrative representation—in order to understand the totality of a game's significance. In the end, while I engage with recent theories of interpretation within game studies, the core of the essay pursues a viable, political reading of Molleindustria's haunting, remarkable dream.

Introduction
Molleindustria's Political Games and the Reception of Every Day the Same Dream
Interpreting the Video Game
The Mechanics of Political Marginalization
Exploring the Political Immediacy of Video Games
The Gamic Allegory of Every Day the Same Dream
Mediating the Politics of Every Day the Same Dream
The Endgame: History as Déjà vu
Notes
Works Cited


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