Private property, sphere of freedom, player in this game/in general, spectator, developer in this game/in general

“The person must give himself an external sphere of freedom in order to have being as Idea.”

This is what Hegel says in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right (translated by H.B.Nisbet, here is another version). Person refers to an abstract subject that has already become a self-conscious will that has being in and for itself. The external sphere refers to the existence (Dasein) out there that he is to possess, recognize as his own. Freedom is this force of the will, just like gravity is the force of a mass. And idea refers to that freedom realized, by the will now possessing its existence (Dasein), which of course becomes its “private property”.

A private property is not something that can be a property before being private. The inner privacy of the self-conscious will extends itself to possess external objects of nature to make them property of its own. When a person pulls an object off of nature making it an object of culture, at the same time he makes it an “private” object of his own. This property can only become “property in general” after its private existence being negated through exchange or seizure.

As a result, private property is originally generated not through production, but through clamation: a tearing off of an object out of a shapeless nature, which retroactively becomes a “discovery”. Prior to this discovery, the object does not really exist, it is a shape, a phenomenon that is external to the person’s will. However, it might have been put there by a god to make it discovered by the person (or the “player”, as in the case of a game developer). In that case, this fact would not be obvious for the player, who will nevertheless experience this as his discovery and possession of an external object. The disbelief that is suspended by this player is of course the existence of a game developer who put the object for his discovery in the first place. The will of the game developer must be disavowed so as the player to possess the game objects himself, because an object cannot be a property of two wills at once. One must suspend his belief in god so as to live a life as his own.

A game is an existence with rules constructed by a developer before it being experienced by a player. The existence of a game presents itself to its player as an external nature to be possessed by the player’s will as objects of use (including use of them as weapons, consumables, money, status symbols, entertainment etc). The rules (1) define the possible uses of these objects, as well as (2) provide a firm ground of necessities in the presented existence, enabling the free exertion of the player’s possessive rights over this particular Dasein. When rules are not clear, or they are not enforced correctly, or they do not regulate a crucial part of the existence, this creates confusion and harms the freedom provided to the player.

When a game presents an existence with clear rules, the players can freely exert their possessive rights, generating new private property. This newly created property (1) belongs to individual players’ privacy and (2) is peculiar to this particular game’s existence as use-value. However, just like that it can be converted to another value inside the game’s existence, it can also be converted to a value outside it, i.e. real money, or private property in real existence (via an exchange between players of this same game). When A sells his character to B for X dollars, (1) A and B is related by the game’s existence as a common ground of exchange, whereas (2) B’s “external sphere of freedom”, extending from the game to real life, relates B’s property in game to his property in real life, containing both at once. In this exchange, A may or may not consider his character as valuable, A’s “external sphere” as a whole (relating virtual and real) does not concern us here.

Game existence and rules provide a place and a guarantee for the use-value of a player’s in-game private property, which becomes his freedom as a player of this game. However, we must distinguish his being “player for this game” from his being a “player in general”. The freedom concerning the first one is distinct and possibly in contradiction with the second one. Insistence on a particular Dasein and one’s existence in it can be the complete opposite of demanding a “better” Dasein: the attitude of abandoning the actual existence to opt for a better one. This is the arbitrariness of the negative freedom, which can further become a positive freedom to create a new existence. This is how a player wills to create a Dasein, and possibly becomes a game developer. Only as a “player in general” can one become a game developer. A “player of this game” has to step out of this immersion, abandon his rights and freedom in this particular game, negate it to reach the negative freedom of arbitrariness as “player in general”. A “player in general” is someone who knows the particularity of a game, but does not immerse in it. In his arbitrary behavior, he may give the impression of a “lamer” to the immersed “players of this game”. However, what these immersed players cannot see is the “player in general”s involvement in multiple game Daseins at once, mixing them up to create new ones. This negative attitude against particular games and genres secure the ground for positive creation.

***

We have to distinguish between the external nature of a game as immediate, and a player’s “external sphere of freedom”. The first is a “potential Dasein” that the immediate-abstract will of the player confronts. The second is an “actual Dasein” that is being possessed by the player as his own sphere of freedom.

Rules are the necessities that become known by the player in the actualization of his Dasein particular to this game. The necessities enforced by the game’s rules must leave space for uncertainty, either through other players’ potential decisions or through random number generation, for otherwise, the actuality completes itself, and there is no further externality for the player to continue possessing, and the game becomes “boring”.

The “flow” in a game depends on the continued actualization of the player’s Dasein. This actualization consists of the player, confronted by the external nature presented in the game, recognizing and “privatizing” objects, incorporating them in his actual immersed existence as “the player in this game”. For the game to progress, this immersed existence must grow, just like a capital, including either more numerous or more valuable objects in time.

The actual immersed Dasein of a player cannot be reduced to his “current state”, his level, inventory, XP etc. In this process, it is a fact that the game registers and forgets such information, but the Dasein also involves those information registered by the player’s own memory of game experience, its history. Moreover, what the player remembers is the essential element for game Dasein, whereas the “current state” recorded in game is only an unessential element that exists subordinate to the first one. This can be compared to deposits in a bank account, which only has being as private property in relation to its owner’s will. When the owner withdraws his will, dispossesses it, it ceases to become his private property. Being disowned, it is no longer private, and becomes a general “property in this game” in so far as the other immersed players still consider it as valuable. In other words, it ceases to be an “actual” private property, and becomes a “potentially” private property. When no one considers it valuable, it also loses this potentiality.

Moreover, the game Dasein only exists with relation to the “current state” as registered by the game itself. An actual Dasein in a player’s will is meaningless without being registered in the game’s universe (like when a save game is lost). In this sense, we have to consider the “current state” as the essential element of Dasein.

We have to conclude that neither the immersed player’s will, nor the “current state” can be the essential element of a game Dasein; these two elements together constitute its essence (just like the I and the object that together constitute the essence of sense-certainty). Thus, this two-sided essence of actual Dasein is constituted as a new object of the player as subject.

The object of the immersed player is the game state as his “sphere of freedom”. But this game state only has meaning in its relation to the player’s will. Therefore, the essence of the actual game Dasein (its actualization as a process) is constituted by both of these two elements together.

Who is the subject that takes the actualization of game Dasein as its object? It is no longer the immediate subject of the immersed “player in this game”. But it is also not yet the “player in general”, because the actualization is still only considered in a particular game. Let’s call him the “spectator in this game”, a friend of the immersed player, watching him play, examining his relation with game objects.

The immersed player responds game events directly, like cursing upon losing or taking joy upon winning. The spectator, on the contrary, responses from a reflected position, watching his friend being immersed, enjoying the game events through his responses, commenting on his play, making fun of him etc. Immersion involves a certain tension, as he is directly responsible for the presented or self-assumed “objectives” in the game. Spectating is a more convenient position that affords more thinking, understanding and reasoning to show the immersed player what he can’t see. The spectator also affords to act creatively, through jokes and comments, contributing to the actualization of Dasein that he is observing, mainly at the side of the immersed player’s will.

What we have now is two subjects with objects of their own: The immersed player takes the “game state” as his object, together constituting the actualization of his private Dasein in this particular game. The spectator in turn takes this actualization as his object.

The position of the spectator is crucial to reach to the “player in general”, because only as a spectator can a player unify its object as a “game in general”.

An actualization of Dasein in one game is comparable with one in another game. It is also comparable with one immersed player or another. A game and an immersed player together constitute such an essence, but replacing either of these two elements (with other games or players) does not change the essence they have constituted. Therefore, a spectator can observe several actualizations of Daseins that involve different players and games, without change in his nature of being a spectator. As a result of this process, he develops the concept of “game in general”, and becomes a “player in general” (through being a “spectator in general” at first).

This “player in general” will further attain a negative freedom of arbitrariness that an immersed “player of this game” does not have. Then, he will become a “developer” through negating this arbitrariness into a positive will to create. A “developer of a game” is a particular position that wills to create a particular game (a big big game, or an addictive casual game etc.), but his will to create is universal. Finally, we arrive at a “developer in general” or “hactivist” that wills this universal will (to create a particular actualization of Dasein). “Developers of a game” organize in particular forms of companies or communities, whereas the “developers in general” organize as a universal Network of Developers (or Hacktivists). As can be seen in the game developers in US, a game developer can have both positions at once, that are realized as a game company and an association (e.g. IGDA). In the case of IGDA, it’s current actualization is still “enriched with” developers of particular genres of games (and of particular origins), but it is essential for IGDA to embody a will to universality (hence “International”), and as opposed to its present actuality, IGDA can be considered universal as a process of actualization. This universal will (essential to IGDA) is actualizing through events like GGJ.

***

A similar construction is possible apropos of the critique of ideology. The subject immersed in a particular ideology relies on his “game state” as announced by an authority, while he continually actualizes his particular Dasein. A spectator of this ideology, on the contrary, takes as his object this particular actualization of Dasein with its two essential sides (the immersed subject of ideology and the big other), which is the process of functioning of this particular ideology. Then by observing several such actualizations (involving different ideologies and different immersed subjects) and comparing them to each other, develops the concept of an “ideology in general”, thereby becoming a “spectator in general” or a “subject in general”, i.e. an individual. This position allows for a negative freedom attitude of arbitrariness, which must then be superseded by forming a positive freedom, as a will to create a particular actualization of Dasein. But this will is universal in essence, leading to the same Network of Developers of Daseins. Developers of game Daseins can emerge among digital workers, coders and designers, whereas developers of real Daseins can emerge among designers and planners of real places and systems, such as architects, city planners etc.

(More must be said about the distinctions between professions, like graphic designers falling into advertisement sector for false creativity, or coders assuming some other kind of “task oriented” immersion as an escape from real creativity. The escape routes of architects, planners etc. should also be elucidated. The role of unskilled workers? Various kinds of engineers? Social scientists or researchers? The organization of academia as a network (to develop what)?)

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