Monday, April 27, 2015

Understanding 'Sinai': Three Angles

(I wrote this to be transmitted on Twitter, so please forgive the lack of standards like transitions or rhetorical flourishes that are often just so much wordplay. Still, I felt this is substantive enough to be posted here for, perhaps, a different audience. - JA)

Last night on I dropped (on Twitter)  ‘three angles’ being used in my personal project on SPI’s Sinai (1973) but didn’t really explain them. I'm going to try to explain them in more detail now.
First: specificity. Only looking at modern turn in hex-and-counter wargames, when they focused on contemporary or future-based conflicts. 'Sinai' is among the first (to my knowledge), mass-produced commercial wargames in this trend.

Second: Immaterial labor via Dyer-Witheford/de Peuter's 'Games of Empire'. How are manual wargames same/different from the biomachines comprising virtual games analyzed in 'Games of Empire'? How does Sinai, produced at the beginnings of neoliberal ideological ascendency in the 1970's, reflect these, then, nascent ideals in its production and actual play? What were the latent networks of immaterial labor surrounding both the play and modification of Sinai?

Third: inward turn of narrative. How does Sinai, as a representative of early 1970's wargame design, fit into the centuries trend of inward narrative development most commonly examined in literature? Given the healthy community of players and the wealth of variations/additions created for the game, what does this early example of a 'modern' hex-and-counter wargame have to offer with regards to study of play and narrative?

Fourth: mimesis. Looking at the culture of wargame copies, from acquisition of 'unpunched' copies to worn copies proudly burnished by experienced players. Yet beyond: idea of folkloric transfer of experience through touch and how Sinai, through powerful mimetic properties, reveals both the 'epistemic reservoir' and capacity for 'kaleidoscopic theatre' inherent in 'modern' wargames.

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