Posts Tagged ‘games’


I’ll admit, I’m a real sucker for any argument that takes a common sense, turns it on its head, and finds a radically different potential.

That, of course, is what Karl Marx did with classical political economy.

The idea is that what Marx was doing—and what Marxists after him need to do—is less the application of a particularly Marxian method (whatever it is called) and more the two-fold critique of mainstream economic thought and of capitalism, the economic and social system celebrated by classical political economists.

Let me push that idea a bit further: the starting point of Capital consists in the taken-for-granted assumptions of both classical political economy and of bourgeois society and then to develop a “ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” It begins by accepting the rules of both mainstream economic thought and of capitalism and then calling them into question. . .

And it’s what all utopian (and dystopian) writers and thinkers do: they take the existing society and show how it can be radically different—leading to a better (or, sometimes, worse) “no-place.”

So, I was immediately drawn to Jason Goldfarb’s [ht: ja] assessment of the radical potential of Pokémon GO.

Yes, that much derided (in the mainstream press and in popular leftist publications alike) free augmented-reality app that has become an enormous, global success since its launch this past July.* It is criticized for the way “‘mindless’ players trespass and break laws, finding dead bodies and trouble” and “as corporatist, detached from social reality, and ultimately a fantasy disguised to obfuscate class and racial tensions.”

And Goldfarb’s argument? In his view, Pokémon GO has radical effects as it is—and even more radical potential as it might be reconfigured. Thus, for example, while some of Pokémon GO’s Pokéstops (locations where players receive items and can place “lures”) are capitalist stores, others are interesting landmarks, including the gazebo where police killed Tamir Rice in 2014.

Since Pokémon Go incentivizes gathering through lures, it creates a hub around this spot and one that inevitably begins to generate talking, thinking, and perhaps even organizing. Those who are uninterested in social justice and come to catch Pokémon find themselves confronted with the hard social reality.

And the development of the game’s content is just at the beginning. So, in psychoanalytic terms, it’s currently an “empty signifier” that, if the Left takes it seriously, “can help mobilize an alternative version with more political Pokéstops and incentivize communitarianism.”

Pokémon Go is no-doubt problematic, but it also burgeons with radical potential. The Left should never smugly dismiss such explosive sites – that’s the job of beautiful soul liberals. Rather the task of an authentic left is to engage in the muckraking work of illuminating and presencing these points of radical potential.

And, who knows, with the proper encouragement, Pokémon GO players and hackers might end up hatching their own noncapitalist utopia.


*I’ve never played Pokémon GO but I do know, through reading, that it involves finding, incubating, and hatching “eggs.” Apparently, there are different kinds of eggs out there.


Special mention

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Only in America

Posted: 1 October 2015 in Uncategorized
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Last Friday, CBRE and logistics services firm CORE Group LLC hosted New Jersey’s second annual LogistXGames.

Teams from companies such as Lifetime Brands Inc., maker of KitchenAid and Mikasa-branded household products, and mattress retailer Sleepy’s, raced to wrap wine bottles in bubble packaging, assemble boxes and maneuver pallets around an obstacle course and other warehouse-themed races. At stake: the Golden Pallet, and bragging rights until next year’s games.

Jeweler Tiffany & Co., which has a warehouse in northern New Jersey, unseated the defending champion, book publisher Simon & Schuster.

Participants said the competition was an acknowledgement of a less visible, but increasingly vital part of their companies’ operations.

“Sales goes out and gets the order, but we’re the final step,” said John McCranor, vice president of warehouse operations at Lifetime Brands, which has a facility in Robbinsville, N.J. “We have to get the merchandise out to the customers … so I’d say it’s the most important [part of operations]. If we get orders and we don’t supply it and satisfy our customers, we’re going to fail as a company.”

Apparently, there are also lots of warehouse-related computer games, including the Warehouse Game, Warehouse WorkerE.A.R.L.’s Warehouse, and Warehouse Keeper.

Here Comes the Troika

Posted: 16 February 2013 in Uncategorized
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Apparently, the Portuguese are playing a new austerity-era card game: Here Comes the Troika: Once Upon a Time in Portugal-land [ht: sm].

The rules:

Hurry up!

Win the elections and govern all by yourself

Put the money in offshore accounts

If the country goes bankrupt. . .someone has to pay!


The series resumes with the Seven of Clubs: Not regulating Credit Default Swaps as insurance.

Enabled high-stakes betting on company and country credit. Created interconnected web that helped bring down economy.


The series continues with the Seven of Spades: 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act.

Good for bankers, bad for people. Prevents judges from discharging private student loans and other debts.


The series continues with the Eight of Hearts: Mark-to-Make-Believe.

Out and out lying about how much your instruments are worth in order to avoid looking insolvent.


The series continues with the Eight of Diamonds: Extend and Pretend.

The practice of allowing businesses (but not individuals) to renegotiate defaulted loans in order to avoid taking losses on the books.


The series continues with the Eight of Clubs: Off-balance sheet vehicles.

Enron’s favorite technique, adopted by the banks. Move the bad where people aren’t looking.


The series continues with the Eight of Spades: Repo 105.

Accounting gimmick used by Lehman to make balance sheet look $50 billion prettier than it really was.