Panem et circenses: Bejeweled, Fun & Politics

by Tobias Winnerling*

 

 „All things considered, it looks as though Utopia were far closer to us than anyone, only fifteen years ago, could have imagined. Then, I projected it six hundred years into the future. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval.“
– Aldous Huxley: Brave New World. With an introduction by David Bradshaw, London/Stuttgart 2000, S. 32.

Fun is said to unpolitical – or better, to be apolitical: Without any necessary connection to anything political. Eugen Pfister has just argued in this vein in his discussion on the political dimension of games. Games like Bejeweled – which do not carry any conscious political message – may easily be seen as unpolitical therefore apart from them being a more or less direct emanation of the sociopolitical circumstances of the time of their making. If all these little games would be political, the word would be depleted of its meaning. To my mind however this does not go far enough. Of course, if everything is political, nothing is political anymore, that’s how the argument can be carried further. And what is constructed with the ultimate purpose of delivering pleasure is not made for the political arena then, because it has neither meaning nor purpose of a grander design; it does not care about People, Society, Economy, Truth, Justice or other values or goals politics are supposed to be directed at. But I would like to suggest that what is at hand here might really be case of categorical confusion.

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