Dizziness and Disorder: Aporia as Genre in Roger Caillois

Peter Mcdonald


The study of video game genre is beginning to look beyond formal and aesthetic concerns towards the social, economic, and ideological premises that are embedded in each genre. Following the cue of Marxist literary theory, this paper argues that we can critically re-read existing typologies for moments in which they foreclose on these wider problems. Roger Caillois' foundational text Man, Play, and Games (1958/1962) is taken as a paradigmatic case and examined for its semiotic structure. Caillois four types of game are shown to be just so many types of uncertainty, and a limited subset of the possible kinds of playful uncertainty. Extrapolating from Caillois, this paper makes the argument that these moments, or aporia, are a primary site of ideological investment and as such help explain the reasons why certain genres gain hegemonic status.