“Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction” in Wide Screen

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I am pleased to announce that another essay on videogames, “Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction,” just appeared in Wide Screen. The essay is part of a special issue on videogame adaptation, edited by Kevin M. Flanagan, and includes articles by Jedd HakimiCameron KunzelmanKyle MeikleBobby Schweizer, and Kalervo Sinervo. It’s also open access, so anyone can read it.

Abstract: Most critics of contemporary literature have reached a consensus that what was once called “postmodernism” is over and that its signature modes—metafiction and irony—are on the wane. This is not the case, however, with videogames. In recent years, a number of self-reflexive games have appeared, exemplified by Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable(2013), an ironic game about games. When self-awareness migrates form print to screen, however, something happens. If metafiction can be characterized by how it draws attention to its materiality—the artificiality of language and the construction involved in acts of representation—The Stanley Parable draws attention to the digital, procedural materiality of videogames. Following the work of Alexander R. Galloway and Ian Bogost, I argue that the self-reflexivity of The Stanley Parable is best understood in terms of action and procedure, as metaproceduralism. This essay explores the legacies of United States metafiction in videogames, suggesting that though postmodernism might be over, its lessons are important to remember for confronting the complex digital realities of the twenty-first century. If irony may be ebbing in fiction, it has found a vital and necessary home in videogames and we underestimate its power to challenge the informatic, algorithmic logic of cultural production in the digital age to our detriment.

NSA Related Stuff From Late-2013

I have been relatively inactive on the blog the past few months, and a number of interesting things have happened or been reported. So to celebrate the end of 2013—what I think could easily be called the Year of the National Security Agency, a year that saw perhaps a decisive shift toward the world Dave Eggers recently imagined in The Circle (2013)[1]—I have posted a number of links on recent stories involving the NSA and the national security state below. To address other stories I have neglected over the past few months, I will be posting more general links tomorrow.

A few days ago, Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt reported for The New York Times that, “A federal judge [William H. Pauley III . . .] ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects enormous troves of phone records is legal, making the latest contribution to an extraordinary debate among courts and a presidential review group about how to balance security and privacy in the era of big data.” This comes only eleven days after a ruling issued on 16 December 2013 “by Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, who ruled that the program was ‘almost Orwellian’ and probably unconstitutional.” This latter story was reported by Ellen Nakashima and Ann E. Marimow on 16 December 2013 in The Washington Post. Amy Davidson has written two fairly interesting and incisive pieces for The New Yorker analyzing each ruling: “Judge Pauley to the NSA: Go Big” and “The Domino’s Hypothetical: Judge Leon Vs. the NSA.” (The New Yorker actually has a number of articles addressing the NSA.)

In August the White House commissioned an independent report on the National Security Agency’s activities, and the report, Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (the link is to the actual 304-page report), was issued on 12 December 2013. Michael Morell, one of the report’s authors, has written an opinion piece in The Washington Post, “Correcting the Record on the NSA Report.” And John Cassidy has an article in The New Yorker on the report, “Inside the White House NSA Report: The Good and the Bad.”

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