Choose Your Own Procedural Rhetoric

This Bogost piece is messing with my head just a bit. As in, everywhere I look, in digital spaces and whatever we are calling this space that we are in when it is not digital, everywhere I see procedure. And yes, thank you Bogost for referencing Weber’s Iron Cage conundrum as it still bothers me ever since I had to read The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism as a very impressionable freshman in college. It does seem, as Tristan put it aptly in his blog, self-defeating. There is no way around procedure.

Less Blog, More Present

I am attaching my presentation for today!

In the Age of Digital Reproducibility: Game (and) Rhetoric

"While we both use the term rhetoric, we use it in different contexts, although not in entirely different ways" (Bogost 52).

What is this if not a summary of all the concerns of rhetoric and communicability we have covered thus far this semester?

[more in a moment. . .]

Is Journet being a little snobby?

Bogust’s notion of procedural rhetoric is one that deserves further study in rhetoric and composition if we as writing instructors intend to deploy computer technology and video games in the classroom – especially so if we want to get the most of these technologies. Procedural rhetoric for Bogust is the use of persuasive techniques contained within processes, just as, for example, visual rhetoric is the practice of using images persuasively (28).

vague musings on gaming and such

This is going to make it seem like I'm really stuck on this topic (maybe because I am), but what kept coming to mind, especially in reading the Selfe & Hawisher chapters, was that there are different types of games. Not just ones that allow players to socialize versus encouraging anti-social behavior, but racing games versus puzzle games versus RPGs versus MMORPGs versus casual games.

Proceeding to rhetor

I find Bogost's piece to be quite interesting when viewed through the lens of COTS gaming. With procedural rhetoric we could see players who use games in new, different, or unexpected ways as subverting the procedures in place to achieve what they want from the game. "Bending the rules" as Bogost puts it can be difficult in computer systems, but I think we can see a good example of this in the mod community. The key is in the code, the inflexible rules that govern the procedures.


This was my second time through Bogost’s “Procedural Rhetoric,” and this time around I was struck by how indebted it was to Enlightenment-era discussions regarding the nature of understanding.

Selfe & Hawisher, Chap. 5- Interchapter II

Selfe & Hawisher, Chap. 5- Interchapter II

Vocabulary Bank

“Narrative, Action, and Learning,” Debra Journet

story & discourse: “structuralist theories of narrative emphasize the distinction between ‘story’ (the sequence of casually and chronologically related events enacted by characters in settings) and ‘discourse’ (the manner of telling or modes of representation through which the underlying story is revealed” (95)

Modern Primitives

All this talk of narratives, starting in Journet’s article and continuing as a common theme throughout Part 2 of Gaming Lives, got me thinking about something Kurt Vonnegut used to talk about during his public lectures (I saw him speak in Bloomington around 1994). He would first explain how he didn’t receive a degree in literature, but rather anthropology, which he claimed gave him a more scientific perspective on storytelling.

Video games and literature

That is, video games based on classic literature, as opposed to video games as literature. The latter is true, of course, but not what I'm talking about here. Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy, etc. etc.

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