Bernard Suits' Utopia of Gameplay: A Critical Analysis

Yorke, Christopher Charles (2019). Bernard Suits' Utopia of Gameplay: A Critical Analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.



In this dissertation, I integrate the published and newly available unpublished works of Bernard Suits to arrive at an original, holistic interpretation of his corpus. I identify, analyze, and resolve inconsistencies in his position which have not been previously critiqued in depth. Centrally, I provide a critical analysis of Suits’ relatively obscure utopian thesis: his argument that the ‘ideal of existence’ for humankind is a utopia of gameplay.

More specifically, I demonstrate that Suits’ utopian thesis fails on its own grounds because his utopian vision—the thought experiment upon which his utopian thesis rests for its plausibility—requires that humanity enter a post-instrumental phase of culture unimaginable from our current species-perspective. The nature of utopian gameplay is obscured behind this cultural gap, and thus we pre-utopians have no rational reason to accept Suits’ assertion that it instantiates the ideal of existence. Finally, I sympathetically rehabilitate Suits’ utopian thesis along perfectionist lines as the utopian game design thesis, and show that its main value lies in its role as a regulative ideal, offering a unique set of normative recommendations for our current gaming practices.

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