Video Games and Ludic Times: Gaming Era, Decade and Millennial

[The following post is Achintya Debnath’s runners-up entry for the 2022 Blog article writing competition organized by DiGRA India]

It goes without saying that time and game have a primitive relation tracing back to origins in the initial forms of hymns, rituals, songs and paintings. The primitive relation became much more engaging with the reminiscence of toys, cave paintings and recent archeological findings[i]. Further, no game can be played without fixing time, period or zone, in general, and specific era, decade and millennial, in particular. Every generation passes it (game) to its next generation single handedly with or without modification. For instance, Ludo has been transformed into app-based mobile game with the modification of a ‘no cheating option’ at all whereas Chess, Card games and Sudoku remain similar to as they were before, with minor variations. Since videogames have been analyzed from many perspectives in Humanities thinking[ii] (Mukherjee, 2017, p. 2) it is highly unlikely not to see them through the lens of time[iii] to say the least. The module/theme “time and game” has its own characteristics and speculations which have rarely been discussed. Hence, the significant milieu of ludology i.e. the importance of ludic era, decade and millennial has been left out from the study of games. Notwithstanding, Mukherjee has showed authentic accuracy regarding the imperative of postcolonial time and era. Further, he goes beyond certain specificity when he uncovers the subaltern paradigm of game culture[iv]. Postcolonial period and time have the main theme of ample number of computer games (Mukherjee, 2017). Nevertheless, in this essay I will try to locate the changing characteristics of time and game in the sense of both culturally and literally. In order to do that, firstly, I will try to locate the interface between time and game by focusing on the existing scholarship of recent scholars.

             The recent monograph Video Games and Post Colonialism: The Empire Plays Back creates the context for exploring issues of space, time and identity as described in the postcolonial theoretical positions of leading postcolonial thinkers’ vis-à-vis their application in computer games (Mukherjee, 2017). So, the interface of time and game might open a new paradigm of game study. Furthermore, Mukherjee addresses the representation and experience of space in conceptions of Empire vis-à-vis in empire-building videogames, as understood in terms of both cartography and the lived experience of space and the key problems regarding the postcolonial (re)construction of temporality and history in terms of how videogames provide a hitherto unique perspective on the issue. This shows a diverse plethora of understanding postcolonial times and its predicaments. In video games, whether, directly or indirectly related to questions of post colonialism through the exploration of both identity and cartography, the player occupies a position that simultaneously straddles both types described above and questions them (Mukherjee, 2018, p. 517). Mukherjee has quoted Verancini here “as settler colonial phenomena are primarily about the reproduction of one social body in place of another, it is not surprising that settler colonialism should be especially suitable for games that manage to capture and represent the proliferation of particular sociopolitical entities through time”(Mukherjee, 2017, p. 12).


[i] For instance recently more than a 4000 years old dice board made of stone has been discovered in Sumer.

[ii] Mukherjee points out that in recent years, game study has a closer engagement with issues relating to gender, race, and diversity is in evidence.

[iii] Mukherjee has created context for exploring space, time, and identity as described in the theoretical positions of leading thinkers of post colonialism vis-à-vis their application in computer games.

[iv] For further information see Playing Subaltern: Video Games and Post colonialism (2018).

References

Mukherjee, Souvik,  Playing Subaltern: Video Games and Postcolonialism Games and Culture issue SAGE, 2018, Vol. 13 (5) 504-520.

Mukherjee, Souvik, 2015. Videogames and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books, Palgrave MacMillan. 

Mukherjee, Souvik, 2017. Videogames and Postcolonialism: The Empire Plays Back, Springer UK.

-2010. ‘Shall we kill the pixel soldier?’ perceptions of trauma and morality in combat video games, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds; Volume: 2 Number: 1, Nottingham.

Achintya Debnath is a student of History, pursuing his M.Phil at the CSSSC. Since his childhood, he loves to read novels, dramas, poems, and other genres of literature. Therefore, his first research monograph shows an intensive study of Vaishnava literature. After completing his M.A including an A+ dissertation on the mentioned field from Presidency University, he cracked both NET and SET exams (Assistant Professorship for colleges and universities). Throughout his scholastic records, he has been a recipient of many scholarships, awards, and prizes. His research interest greatly lies in esoteric practices of swakiya and parakiya in Vaishnavism including twelve rasa such as santya, dasya, sakhya, batsalya, madhuriya. Very recently he is engaging with the paradigm of  sakhya rasa and its implication in games study. Further, recently he has worked on the mobile users of PUBG in India and its dynamic of issues – such as banning on PUBG, the governmental restrictions on playing PUBG, etc. Besides this, he is also continuing his research in Vaishnavism focused on its wide range of literature. 

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