Videogames are an interesting medium with a contentious name. Some videogames provide players with open spaces for them to navigate and explore. Other videogames let players create their own rules. Others still are virtual representations of board games or real life games, while a large number of videogames are stories that players navigate through. Some videogames even have little, if any, components that anyone could recognize as a game. Indeed, videogames can sometimes be games and other times they can be gameless stories, but they are always something that the player (another contentious term as sometimes the player is more of a reader) experiences. For the past few years, I have dedicated my time researching the rhetoric and composition of games. I have presented and published on games as rhetorical texts, and my focus has always been, to borrow a trope from literary studies, “the game itself.” Indeed, I have a book coming out later this year on the composition of games – one of a three part series, and what Reviewer 4 said was “a magnificent text that brings closure to the Bogost / Ensslin era of game studies.” So, having done everything I set out to do with regards to what videogames are, I turned my gaze inwards to engage in a bit of much needed introspection and asked myself: how do videogames make me feel? This question can be interpreted in two ways. First, it can be taken as “what are the processes by which videogames make players feel?” I’m not too concerned with that question (yet). Instead, I asked it in its second sense: what are the feelings that videogames elicit from me when I play?
For this weekend’s second post I would like to write briefly about the other anime I finished watching recently: Hi Score Girl. I initially went into the anime because “anime about videogames.” Indeed many of the reviews refer to it as a love letter to 90s arcade culture [1, 2, 3], and I don’t blame them. Many of us who lived through the boom and bust of arcade fighter culture see the struggles of the protagonist trying to earn respect and we see some of our younger selves in him. But I quickly lost interest in the nostalgia trip. Instead, what kept me going through the end of the anime was the way it depicts the heroine of the story and the way that the other characters treat her. You see, dear reader, the heroine of the story, Oono, suffers from some kind of mental health condition… and no one cares. This, I argue, is a good thing.