Pluto and Eris - a dialogue
Astrology as Fiction

The Power of Games

Over on ihobo today, I adapt  Noël Carroll’s thoughts about the power of movies to digital and other games. Here’s the opening few paragraphs as a taster:

Where does the power of games lie, that they can entertain hundreds of millions of players, and engage gamers so intensely that they can forget even to eat?

In 1985, philosopher Noël Carroll wrote about “The Power of Movies” in a seminal paper exploring why the moving image had become “the dominant art form of the twentieth century”. The paper was unique in that rather than looking at cinema as a medium it considered the Hollywood blockbuster-style movie as a genre in its own right, and then explored what it might be about these films that made them so intense for so many people. The power of movies, in Carroll’s eyes, consists of two elements: widespread engagement (movies engage a broad mass audience) and intense engagement (movies hold interest strongly).

What intrigues me about Carroll’s observations is that these are two phenomena now shared with digital games. Mass market games (e.g. Wii, Facebook, Scrabble) have generated widespread engagement, while titles targeting the gamer hobbyists (e.g. Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Minecraft) generate intense engagement. This leads to obvious questions about how Carroll’s account of the power of movies relates to the power of games: what is the relationship between the two?

Read more in the Power of Games post at