Playing the Game – A text on speedrunnning, its history and analysis as a strategy of critique. This is a re-work of a blogpost for the Supra Systems Studio publication, available to buy and download here. Including the full text of the piece in PDF.

We learn through play. By playing, we test the boundaries of the world, its social and behavioural norms, and the qualities of interactions in our system of relationships. Play implies exploring, inventing, and competing within a given set of protocols or limitations, and skilful or successful play denotes peak performance according to those rules. But play can also go one step further, when players understand the system of relationships in which they act so well that they can engage in a practice of détournement, deconstructing and working around the boundaries that everyday players respect unquestioningly.

Over the last decade, video games have evolved from a popularly-maligned hobby of children and “geeks” into one of the world’s most valuable entertainment industry. In the same way that film was both the lightning rod and litmus test for cultural studies in the twentieth century, video games now attract the same level of reflective analysis and critique—and deservedly so. At the fringes of video game practices, we find indications of ways that we might challenge the boundaries of our worlds.

The Supra Systems Studio book is available to buy here

Last updated: 05.2020