Badiou on game design, part 1A: place of the subjective

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

This is a reproduction of Badiou’s Theory of The Subject by replacing his political terms like “proletariat/modern revisionism/imperialist-bourgeois world” with game design terms like player/avatar/gameworld:

A player that exists in a game is already divided into player-as-such (A: the player) and player-in-place (Ap: the avatar).

This scission (AAp) is determined by the avatar as the place in the game: Ap(AAp) = P, where P is the structure, set of places, the game world. This determination is in turn divided into two:

  • Ap(A): the determination proper, of the player by the game world
  • Ap(Ap): the relapse of structure, determination of the avatar by the game world

What player does in a game, is determining the determination of herself by the gameworld, the torsion A(Ap(A)). It is then split in two:

  • A(A):  the reaffirmation of the pure identity of A. The player being the player, having a freedom. This is correlative to the avatar being an avatar, completely determined by the gameworld: Ap(Ap)
  • A(Ap): the limiting application of player’s efficacy to the avatar, its place in the gameworld

The player belongs to the gameworld as an avatar, but she is also included as a player, and thereby becomes a limit, an obstacle in this gameworld. That’s why a ‘simulation’ game cannot exist. ‘Simulation’ signifies a gameworld where only the full belonging of the avatar Ap(Ap) and pure freedom of the player A(A) exist.

But the true terms of game design are Ap(A), determination of player by the avatar, and A(Ap), the limiting of this determination by the player, the terms by which the gameworld affirms itself without closure, and the player includes itself therein without abolishing herself.

For example, in Tetris:

  • there is a scission AAp between the player A and the current piece Ap
  • this scission is determined by the current piece Ap(AAp) = P that belongs its place in the gameworld
  • shape and 2D placement of the current piece
  • (1) determines the player Ap(A)
  • (2) determines the piece itself Ap(Ap)
  • of these two, only the first is the determination proper.
  • the player then moves the piece by keyboard, by the process of torsion, thereby determining her determination by the piece: A(Ap(A))
  • this torsion consists of
  • (1) the player’s freedom A(A) (correlative to piece’s belonging Ap(Ap))
  • (2) her limiting of the piece’s movement by being included A(Ap)
  • of these two, only the latter has a real effect.
  • the player, as being included, becomes an obstacle that prevents the blocks from becoming too tall.

Next part: Badiou on game design, part 1B: action, manor of the subject


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