Published by Ian Bogost in , Unit Operations seeks to set out a critical theory which can be applied to any medium, whether it be literature, poetry, cinema or. Bogost explains that computational systems “rely on unit operations as their tag-ian-haydn-smith tag-university-of-texas-press tag-review tag-pmpick. Studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital. Age, pp. 19– London: Arnold. Ian Bogost, Unit Operations: An Approach to. Videogame Criticism. Cambridge.
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I insist on this broader understanding of unit operations to allow its logic to resonate across expressive forms, from literature to film to software to video games. First, Bogost compares a Baudelaire poem with a Bukowski poem.
Both poems are about seeing a beautiful stranger on the street and the depressing realization that you will never see them again.
It would be overzealous to equate this figure that fascinates with a software subsystem. In this case, the character from either poem is defined by several rules.
They bgoost a beautiful stranger on a crowded city street, and the user will never see them again. To iterate this point, Bogost uses the example of a computer program tracking the background data of potential terrorists.
The program has created an abstraction because, like the poems, there are elements of uncertainty and mystery created by finite rules. How this idea ties into video games is that a unit operation can be analyzed distinctly to gauge what the message of a video poerations can be.
To make this point Bogost explains that games are organized by their technological capacities rather than their IP or even controls.
Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism
We define a game by what the software allows us to do in it. This is distinct from film or books, which divide themselves by the story.
Genres structure a creative approach to narrative; they describe a kind of story…game engines differ from genres in that they abstract such material [guns, villain, etc. How does this work in application? Essentially, a video game asks a player to make sense of a bunch of data patterns or abstractions. Games demand that players be capable of making this synthesis palpable in their own experience. They always show a way of things working that are limited by human thought.
Number two is the big one here. Subjectivity is where you, the individual, come into the equation. A video game player interacting with a large series of unit operations is generating an experience that is not intrinsic to the game.
The message of a game is basically its depiction of reality the simulation and the subjectivity is our reaction to it based on our individual experiences. How does one apply this to video game criticism?
The player shoots a missile that moves very slowly at a terrorist, often hitting civilians instead. The surviving civilians go on to become terrorists themselves.
Unit Operations: An Approach to Video Game Criticism
Bogost says that this is a prime example of simulation fever or someone having a strong reaction to a depiction of reality in the game. I can run around smashing cars and shooting civilians, which is obviously not realistic. This is important to video game criticism simply because the concept of unit operations neutralizes a lot of the value arguments people still make to this day. A linear game is just one that is more biased than an emergent game. Both are just techniques for communicating with the player.
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Unit Operations | Ian Bogost
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Overview of ‘Unit Operations’ by Ian Bogost (part 1) | Avoiding/the\Void
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