Introduction to Procedural Rhetoric

The notion of procedural rhetoric helps us attend to how processes, logics, and systems of rules constitute a form of persuasion and expression in themselves. Computational systems, and video games in particular, embody this sense of procedural rhetoric in their rules. By representing the processes that define various systems and aspects of the world, video games make arguments about how the world works – or how it should work, could work, or doesn’t work.

From Ian Bogost, questions for procedural analysis:
– What are the rules of the system? How does the game work?
– What is the significance of these rules (over other possible rules)?
– What claims about the world do these rules make? Using the language we have been using in class, you can also ask what attitudes, values, beliefs, and orientations are embodied in these rules.
– How do I respond to those claims?

McDonald’s Video Game. A critical look at fast food practices, from deforestation to animal cruelty to dehumanizing labor conditions.
Phone Story. An educational game about the dark side of your favorite smart phone.
Unmanned. Be all that you can be – as a drone pilot.
Spent. Try to make ends meet in the face of low-paying jobs and unemployment.
Passage. This lo-fi game abstractly and evocatively comments on life, companionship, and achievement.
Every day the same dream. An exploration of the daily grind of corporate life.
Hey Baby. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could annihilate every creep who sexually harasses you?