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Debord's Board Game
February 23, 2008 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Playing Kreigspiel on a LAN. Guy Debord created a board game in 1977 called Kriegspiel, a war game ostensibly based on the principles of Clausewitz as articulated in On War. An online version of this game was recently created by the Radical Software Group, and released online. The rules seem slightly more complicated than chess.
posted by dkg (29 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like to just randomly play this game, move across the board at whim, see where it takes me.
posted by Falconetti at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


The second bookforum link is just excellent. Great writing. Thanks for the tip.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:35 AM on February 23, 2008


Not to be confused with the 1899 Kriegspiel, whose rules actually are slightly more complicated than chess.
posted by eritain at 10:45 AM on February 23, 2008


the article about Debord is really interesting- thanks!

Another simple-yet-compelling wargame that fascinated me for a while is "Slay." It's similar, from what I gather of Kriegspiel, in that it's pure strategy- no dice-rolling on random variables whatsoever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:07 AM on February 23, 2008


Kriegspiel News
posted by stbalbach at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2008


For most grognards, when you say "Kriegspiel" you mean the Prussian style of wargaming with team play, custom rules, blind moves through a referee etc.. There is also an Avalon Hill game of that name. I read the Bookmarks piece a few weeks ago when it came out and was surprised as I had never even heard of Debord or his game before, most obscure.
posted by stbalbach at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2008


Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very interesting post. Debord was a deeply flawed but brilliant human being, and one of the ironies of the Situationists is that, in the end, this "proletarian" movement had only one member: Debord. That's why his comrades often called him "The Bore" (a much stronger insult for a Situationist than for anyone else).

This, however, is monumentally stupid:
His 1967 book, The Society of the Spectacle (the other thing he’s known for), was the high point in a lifetime of faultfinding, paranoia, and alienation. In 221 short theses, it attacked a cultural “spectacle” in which consumer items and pat images had replaced social relationships. These ideas seem old hat in an age inured to Viagra ads and the many phases of Madonna. In 1960s France, though, they proved galvanizing. Debord’s malaise was the kind some people feel when they see Times Square for the first time. His genius was to back up that malaise with theory.

If you actually read The Society of the Spectacle rather than glibly dismiss it with a wave of your Parliament Light, you'll find it remains radical and challenging as well as profoundly fruitful from a theoretical point of view. Sounds like Nathan Heller contented himself with the Wikipedia page.
posted by nasreddin at 12:50 PM on February 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Today I learned something about Guy Deboard that I never imagined I would learn.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:50 PM on February 23, 2008


Well put, nasreddin.

I can't find the quote I was looking for from Debord, but it's something like this: He was giving a talk in a shopping mall in the late 80s, promoting whatever it was he was working on, and someone asked him if he thought Situationism was the progenitor of Punk. "Fuck off," he said.

It's fine to incorporate his frustration into analysis of his contributions, but do not presume to minimize them. He was a really important media theorist, and culture jamming, postmodern art, hypermedia, and analyses of our media saturated world would be far poorer if he hadn't dnoe the work he did.

This is a super post, by the way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:49 PM on February 23, 2008


culture jamming (...) would be far poorer if he hadn't dnoe the work he did.

'culture jamming' could be even more lame?
posted by signal at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2008


signal, do you have any idea what you're talking about? I doubt it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:27 PM on February 23, 2008


I know quite a damn lot about culture jamming and, beyond giving hipsters something to chuckle at, it's pretty much a nothing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 AM on February 24, 2008


The apparatuses which allow reconfiguration of dominant media have become more democratically available in tandem with the globalization of media, and you doubt that subaltern groups worldwide are benefitting from the use of detournements and culture jamming practices to assert agency, develop common cultural parlance and express identity? I completely disagree.

Or did you think I was talking about Adbusters and the BLF? Pff.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:48 AM on February 24, 2008


Ambrosia, you mean like lolcats?
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:43 AM on February 24, 2008


The apparatuses which allow reconfiguration of dominant media have become more democratically available in tandem with the globalization of media, and you doubt that subaltern groups worldwide are benefitting from the use of detournements and culture jamming practices to assert agency, develop common cultural parlance and express identity?

I stand corrected. Culture jamming is lamer than I thought.
posted by signal at 3:46 AM on February 24, 2008


Oh, and you might want to check the expiration date on your thesaurus. Some of those words are starting to smell kind of funny.
posted by signal at 3:55 AM on February 24, 2008


Ambrosia, do you some examples of what you consider culture jamming in the context your talking about? Some of the confusion probably stems from detournment or whatever being repackaged as culture jamming only used in the context of Adbusters, etc. When I hear the term "culture jamming" I only think of it as a lame offshoot of certain bits of Situationist thinking.
posted by Falconetti at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2008


Addendum: ...while you seem to think of it as some sort of heroic revolutionary praxis.
posted by Falconetti at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2008


Yeah, I'm neither prepared nor motivated to read from my statement of purpose or research notes to a class of trolls, when I'm feeling pretty validated on this point by having just Friday been accepted to do graduate study on this stuff. woot. Suffice it to say I believe that creative, resistant interaction with mass culture is both heroic, sure, I'm romantic about it, and a necessary, naturally emerging part of our intermedia/hypermedia literacy. "Culture jamming" is just a specific political moment's hallmark strategy of recreating meaning, in the family of appropriative and found art, dating back through Situationism to Dada. It's not just seen in punk rock postering campaigns, it's appearing as a feature in digital culture's relationship with pre-digital, and will be a tool of detourning and questioning hegemonic media permanently, no matter if it remains hip or not. Here's a paper I liked.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2008


"Ambrosia, do you some examples of what you consider culture jamming in the context your talking about? Some of the confusion probably stems from detournment or whatever being repackaged as culture jamming only used in the context of Adbusters, etc. When I hear the term "culture jamming" I only think of it as a lame offshoot of certain bits of Situationist thinking."

I tend to think of it more as media Marxism, where the means of media production have found their way into the hands of people who create their own culture. For that, you can look anywhere from Shepard Fairey to YouTube. And that's where I think there was an intersection with punk, in the DIY ethos.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2008


What I find a bit bizarre about all of those links is it appears to be presented as if this Debord fellow (sorry, never heard of him) invented wargames de novo, as if one day in 1977 he came up with the first and last war game since chess. Tactics came out in 1954, leading to the founding of Avalon Hill in 1958... but maybe I misunderstand his particular insight.
posted by wilful at 4:14 PM on February 24, 2008


klangklangston, media Marxism indeed (link re: Esfir Shub, first found footage filmmaker, contemporary of Vertov and Eisenstein and a chick). But what we have here and now, imo, is Marxism in a Hitchcock zoom with Baudrillard behind the camera. In found footage, culture jamming, detournements, etc. the means in question in are themselves some part simulacra, signifiers of their whole visual-linguistic ancestry. And I'm stopping there, Mr. Debord.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2008


Oh, so you do mean LOLcats.

Completely serious question: is creative, resistant interaction with mass culture what you mean by culture jamming?

An not so seriously, I think that accepted to do graduate study on this stuff just validated signal's ... check the expiration date on your thesaurus. Some of those words are starting to smell kind of funny quip.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:44 PM on February 24, 2008


Metafilter: 'high point in a lifetime of faultfinding, paranoia, and alienation'
posted by sfts2 at 7:51 AM on February 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dr. Curare, I would say Culture Jamming is one specific mode of cultural resistance, with certain aesthetic and political characteristics, and that there are lots of other ways, some named and some not.

An not so seriously, I think that accepted to do graduate study on this stuff just validated signal's ... check the expiration date on your thesaurus. Some of those words are starting to smell kind of funny quip.

Yes, I am a wonky fucking dork for this stuff, you caught me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:24 AM on February 25, 2008


I fail to see the deep connection you dudes are drawing between LOLcats and the popular (re)appropriation of culturogenesis. Yes, the (ongoing) democratization of communication technologies is prerequisite to both: If people couldn't publish on the Internet, people couldn't publish LOLcats on the Internet. This is not news. But LOLcats doesn't spring from the democratization of communication; it springs from the existing tendency of human beings to do what's called either 'silly fun' (if you're in on it, if it matches your tastes) or 'imbecility' (if you're not, if it doesn't). In other words, people screw around. This is also not news. People have always screwed around. Now they can screw around on the Internet, and that is news of a very minor sort.

But all of this snark about LOLcats suggests that that's all there is—that there is no big news at all. And that's where I differ. There are ways we communicate that were not possible before and that can and will make a difference in the world. Think about AskMe and the pooling of knowledge there. Think about the many threads here in the blue that have hosted productive discourse, unlike this one. Think about how many times you've looked something up on Wikipedia (and think really hard about how many times you've corrected something on Wikipedia). Think about that kid in Africa who built himself a windmill-powered electrical generator, or about hexayurts, or about the game Diplomacy, or about urban chickens, or Christian naturism, or concatenative programming languages, or twenty-two-tone equal temperament, or participatory economics, or whatever it is that fascinates you that you would never ever have heard about if it weren't for Internet self-publication. Think about the songs you've obtained or ordered online that aren't carried by any record store you could get to. Think about the ways we are now able to look behind the messages we're given, whether by chasing the donations to a political candidate or by chasing the net activities of Holden Karnovsky. Think about JibJab's perfect skewer of the Bush-Kerry race four years ago. (And popular engagement with satire is especially important: The society that loses or chains its satirists loses or chains its self-awareness to the same degree, with horrifying results.) That is the populace getting more and more ability to create culture; it's the undoing of the extreme cultural hegemony of media owners in the 20th century (from "Remember the Maine" right down to "Axis of Evil"). LOLcats is just a funny side-effect of those opportunities, like male nipples are a funny side-effect of reproduction.

Compare it to a much older communications technology, namely writing. I'm sure that each time popular literacy appeared there were people like you to groan, "Oh, man, you mean all of these idiots are going to be able to make crappy cartoons about cats?" Well, yes. (Jim Davis still writes one.) And tin-ear poetry, and ignorant pseudoscientific screeds, and sucky pulp novels, and self-serving propaganda, and , oh yes, libel. But popular literacy also enabled William Blake, Rita Dove, Galileo, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Jane Austen, Richard Feynman, Walt Whitman, Rachel Carson, and Wislawa Szymborska—and here you are still pretending you've reduced it all to Garfield.

It's true that there is pretentious vapidity in the arts/media world, the philosophical world, the academic world, and especially the academy that philosophizes about arts and media. But there's also meat on those bones, if you look for it. And I think we've just proven that there's plenty of pretentious vapidity outside it, too. So as easy as it is to just make fun of anyone who uses big words, give it a rest already.
posted by eritain at 1:59 PM on February 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm sure that each time popular literacy appeared there were people like you to groan, "Oh, man, you mean all of these idiots are going to be able to make crappy cartoons about cats?" ... and here you are still pretending you've reduced it all to Garfield.

Nice (re)appropriation of strawmen arguments, there. (ku)do(s), erit(ai)n!
posted by signal at 6:59 AM on February 26, 2008


If the strawman you mean is "Oh, so you do mean LOLcats," well, then yes, that was my intent.

It turns out there was a reason for the parentheses in "(re)appropriation" too: The creation of culture has always belonged to the folk-at-large, except for its surrender to the controllers of technology in the later twentieth century. I suspect you actually knew that already, and could have understood the word if you'd tried.

Indeed, that fact is kind of implicit in my actual main argument, which precedes the part you quote. I review:
  1. People have always been creating crap at the same time they create culture.
  2. The technologies that are fostering new kinds of crap only do so because they can also foster new kinds of culture,
  3. of which we have examples, here at MeFi and elsewhere,
  4. which is interesting, and worthy of study, even if some people do dork it up.
And that's all I have to say about the war in Viet Namfor emerging culture.
posted by eritain at 4:33 PM on February 27, 2008


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