This jam is now over. It ran from 2019-02-10 00:00:00 to 2019-02-17 23:59:59. View 18 entries
History can often feel like something given, reportage on overarching events that people only stand on the margins of, occasionally able to identify a point of reference that touched their own life. “Making history” is seen as an exceptional accomplishment, only available to people who have a lucky confluence of certain talents, resources, visibility, and are in the right place at the right time. And history itself is presented as both unchangeable, inevitably finalized by the passage of time, and directly causative of our present.
The position we give history serves to obscure the fact that it is constructed, repeated, and reconstructed by people, that its perspectives can be expanded, challenged, and changed for a fuller understanding of the present. One place this is especially urgent and true is the history of videogames. When it’s written down, or transformed into exhibitions, documentary films, and other media, this history mostly tends to trace a series of commercially successful home consoles separated by their technological upgrades, sometimes with an analogous, but comparatively minor, story about what PCs, mobile games, and arcades were also doing at the time.
To present this history as a linear progression where videogames simply became more technologically advanced and therefore impressive, experiments or dead ends have to be trimmed, and incorporating personal experience beyond identifying popular characters and franchises that will most likely be re-sold to us through collections and legacy IP is discouraged. People who make and talk about games are presumed to be working from the same set of references, which can lead to a narrow set of possibilities. History is repeated, but only in part. Alternately, I think everyone who plays videogames has something to add to the collective history of the form which doesn’t fit into this structure, and a lot can be gained from treating yourself as a living source, writing and sharing this perspective.
Just think about it, what was something specific to the way that you played or experienced videogames that you feel like hardly anyone ever talks about? How can the community-based, experiential, specific, overlooked and personal enrich the common-knowledge history of videogames?
Like the Visual Essay Jam in 2017, and the Manifesto Jam in 2018, this jam is primarily focused on a type of writing with the goal to shake up typical positions and presumptions from which we make, play, write about and discuss videogames. However, personal histories can take a huge variety of forms, so this jam is also open to a variety of formats, including zines, small games, and illustration.
Need some examples?
These are just some of many possible examples of how to capture overlooked videogames through personal histories, though writing tends to be the most straightforward for me. Regardless, the only requirements for this jam are to start brainstorming now, work on your project during the week of February 10th through 17th, and post some form of it to the jam page. Good luck, and I can’t wait to see what we uncover!
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