Interactivity is one of the key conceptual apparatuses through which video games have been theorized thus far. As many writers have noted, video games are distinct from other forms of media because player actions seem to have direct, immediate consequences in the world depicted onscreen. But in many ways, this “interactive” feature of video games tends to manifest itself as a relentless series of demands, or a way of disciplining player behavior. In this sense, it seems more accurate to describe the human-machine interface made possible by gaming as an aggressive form of “interpellation” or hailing. Drawing primarily upon the work of Louis Althusser, I argue that traditional theories of interactivity fail to acknowledge the work of video games—in other words, the extent to which video games define and reconstitute players as subjects of ideology.
What are the exact aspects of the videogame medium, the precise features or combinations of features that lend themselves to expressing ideas and meaning? To chart this out, I begin with an American legal case that serves as a foundation for the basic issues involved and then move on to show how this relates to some of the broader attitudes the world of videogame discourse. Based on this, I break down the expressive strategies of videogames into three aspects—non-playable sequences, rule-based systems, and the relationship between the two—which I then illustrate with examples proving that videogames can indeed be an expressive medium.
This article discusses some ideological issues related with the simulation of social systems in The Sims, proposing an interpretation of The Sims as an ideological game. This paper will focus on describing The Sims as a social simulator of a postcapitalist society: what The Sims proposes as an ideological game is a simulation of a specific set of values linked with a capitalist culture. Therefore, it can be considered not as a social simulator, but as a simulator of an ideology of modern capitalist societies. The last goal of this article is, then, to propose an analysis of the relation between rules, gameplay and ideology in certain computer game simulations.