Sunday, 28 September 2008

Videogames as metaphors----Ochlocracy

Setting aside that users experience games like Grand Theft Auto, as a simple form of play and entertainment, there is still in such games a meaningful structure of an urban environment which hosts and reproduces human interrelations. The subversion of Grand Theft Auto uses the notion of freedom in public space, in a violent and anarchic environment which by the way justifies the existence of urban forces of repression.

But of course, that is the political consequence of the notion of freedom in an isolated environment that does not include the same codes of coexistence as it happens in real life. In other words there are not distinct criminal behaviours in GTA but simply a simplification of the socio-political reality. What is of major importance in Grand Theft Auto and with the incident of Ralph Baer’s camera, is the suggestion that a form of democracy of everyone means ochlocrasy as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri put it.

A state where the cannibals (we) are doing whatever we want in a constant desire to kill old ladies in the street and go back to observe their blood on the concrete. This political notion of a flocking herd that is unable to handle any circumstance because is deeply involved in a criminal individuality belongs to a common misconception. It is a misconception that functions as concealment for the hypocritical hesitation of the political systems - that are supposed to have established and represent democracy- to include the citizen within the sphere of interaction.

The real question for a citizen which has been detached from any form of power in our contemporary society is not if s/he is able to get involved in a critical thinking concerning something collective, but if s/he is able to negate the form of thinking that relates him/her to be a product of power.

By the way, that was the case thirty years ago. Today the individual engages him/herself in the reproduction of the self as a product power. Unfortunately we face the situation of a voluntary production of the subject as a power object. We haven’t got to do with just a criminal and unimaginative flocking herd but with citizens that they aren’t eager to think for themselves as an entity in the polis (city).

As Negri and Hardt state “Representation fills two contradictory functions: it links the multitude to government and at the same time separates it.”
The current state of representational democracy boosts this kind of individuality where individual thinking is related to a process of self-protection in a political reality of precarious life. When the citizen is detached from any form of power by means of representation and looses his/her involvement in the public sphere, means that there is no way to think outside individualism and at the same time there is no place to reveal virtue as democratic corner stone of politics.

This is not of course a contemporary phenomenon.
From the Athenian city where demos (citizens) banished and executed a few of the most important figures, to the French revolution and up to the cleansings during the revolution of October 1917, we experienced the role of the individual who is obliged to get involved as a Homo Ludens that no instructor had ever paid attention to teach him/her the rules of the game while at the same time that he has been permanently excluded from the creation of the rules.