Are computer games simply games?

ZEYNEP ESRA İSTANBULLU
ISTANBUL
Published 08.03.2019 00:59
Perfect Woman, Germany, 2014, Computer game, PC.
Perfect Woman, Germany, 2014, Computer game, PC.

Offering a deeper perspective on computer games and their political backgrounds, the exhibition 'Games and Politics' is now at Istanbul's Studio-X, after San Francisco, Bucharest and Sao Paulo

The concept of computer games has been in a process of constant transformation since the 1970s. The ordinary forms seen in PAC-Man and Super Mario have transformed into conceptual world designs that reflect and question complex social realities. Now, the computer game is a brand-new area of artistic expression.

The "Games and Politics" exhibition, which is currently hosted by Studio-X Istanbul after showing in San Francisco, Bucharest and Sao Paulo, studies how computer games develop their political potentials through the use of game language.

Throughout the traveling exhibition, which was developed by the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), visitors can attend various talks and workshops.

Presenting exceptional works by many prominent game designers from Uruguayan "Gonzalo Frasca," the first figure who examined the political opportunities of computer games, to Belgian "Tale of Tales," "Games and Politics" is an interactive exhibition.

The exhibition presents 18 games that study recent social problems and 16 of them are suitable for an active experience. Via these politically high-brow computer games, "Game and Politics" studies the opportunities and the limits of the category while expressing an oppositional stance in the entertainment industry. Presenting computer game as a political, social and artistic channel, the exhibition also asks the question, "How can a computer game develop its political potential without breaking loose from its language?"

The exhibition focuses on marginalized situations based upon the superiority of "the other." For instance, "Sunset" offers the opportunity to experience precarious working conditions while "Perfect Woman" studies social gender issues; "This War of Mine" exposes the results of gunfights; "Yellow Umbrella" studies anti-totalitarian revolutions; "Escape from Woomera" makes the players experience the conditions of immigrants and refugees.

Curated by Stephan Schwingeler, the former curator of ZKM and current professor of Game Design at Media Academy Stuttgart, with Jeannette Neustadt-Grusche and Sophie Rau, the co-curators of Goethe-Institut, the exhibition will be at Studio-X Istanbul until Saturday, March 16.

Games the exhibition features include "Madrid", "The Cat and the Coup," "Papers, Please," "Democracy 3," "Perfect Woman," "Killbox," "Unmanned," "Phone Story," "This War of Mine," "Orwell," "Coming Out Simulator," "Dys4ia," "TouchTone," "Sunset," "Yellow Umbrella," "The Westport Independent," "1378 (km)" and "Escape from Woomera."

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