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Meaningful Play 2018 at Michigan State University

Paper Information

Title"Once Uploaded, This Cannot Be Undone": Orwell As Dystopian Simulation of Participatory Surveillance.
Presenter(s)Justin Wigard
SessionSociopolitical Games
TimeSaturday, October 13, 10:15a-11:15a
LocationLake Ontario
FormatPaper Presentation
DescriptionThis essay will explore generic connections between George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and a recent video game spiritual successor, Osmotic Studio's aptly-named Orwell, as a means of understanding the player-character-role dynamic in the simulation genre. I argue that by participating in an ongoing confrontation with societal surveillance as grounded in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell (Osmotic Studios, 2016) operates as a critical dystopia warning of the sociopolitical stakes in the governance of social media through the participatory concept of play. Here, play is invoked as a mode of participation in Orwell (Osmotic Studios, 2016), wherein the player's actions and choices concerning truth, privacy and reporting have narrative consequences. Because the player inhabits the role of a governmental security agent monitoring information sharing on the internet, the player enacts power through a surveillant assemblage, regulating the populace through digital infiltration. This power is enacted critically through play, forcing the player to confront the tension between digital privacy and digital security by reflecting on the pervasive and prevalent nature of social media in the digital age. Ultimately, it will be shown that the ludic and narrative elements of Orwell (Osmotic Studios, 2016) work in tandem to empower the player through participatory surveillance, encouraging an awareness of contemporary surveillant practices.

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