I listened to Ian Bogost’s keynote speech, Videogames are a Mess, at the 2009 DiGRA conference in London recently, and I found that speech interesting and intelligent and, ultimately, disappointing. Bogost suggested that competing game theory assumptions and disparate game research methodologies could all equally co-exist if we just grin and bear it. (At least, I think that was his recommendation.)
At the end of that speech, I was reminded of two things.
1) The joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, it hurts when I do this!” And the doctor says, “Don’t do that!”
2) An article by Robert Craig, published ten years ago in Communication Theory, that said pretty much the same thing that Bogost said.
At the time, I wrote a response to Craig (Myers, 2001), in which I called Craig’s position, basically, a relativist position that, while amiable, ignored real problems and solved nothing. Craig wrote a response to my response (Craig, 2001), in which he said, basically, that if we would just be a little more pragmatic about these sorts of things, our situation would improve.
Well, it’s ten years later, and I don’t think anything’s much improved. And, apparently, in feeling the need to offer a similar solution to a similar problem, Bogost doesn’t think so either.
My guess is that, ten years from now, when all the pragmatists and all the flat ontologists will have again come full circle, we will have another keynote speech delivered and/or another meta-model paper written about grinning and bearing it.