First of all I want to start by nerding out over the fact that Bogost’s chapter “Encounters across Platforms” had one of Charles Bukowski’s poems in it, since he is my favorite poet probably of all time.
Second, I liked that Bogost used different examples to help flesh out his points. I’ll work backwards a bit and start with The Sims: Hot Date example since I think it is most relevant to the age group of our class. After explaining his opinion of the game as a parody of consumerism, Bogost says that the chance encounter in the game is the unit of operation. The fact that every time your Sim visits the place of dating (whether it be a restaurant, park, etc.) they could meet someone different; the Sims they meet are there purely by chance. He also says that the game allows interactivity whereas literary mediums do not. In the game, although it is a chance encounter, there are a finite number of situations since it is a simulation, as opposed to the infinite number of interactions that could happen in real life. For example, there is no command to tell your Sim to “watch other Sim walk away.” Because of this, the game allows for the freedom of the player to use their imagination and fill in parts of the narrative that they are conducting in the game. Same goes for the reason you might be able to select a topic to discuss with another Sim, but you cannot hear exactly what they are saying. With Bukowski’s poem “A woman on the street,” Bogost is showing not only the chance encounter but also interacting with it and accepting it. Bukowski sees a woman on the street in a chance encounter and immediately thinks of her shoes in his room, perhaps on the floor as if she lived with him. By just the image of her, he creates an imaginary situation where he seems to know her intimately enough to say that just her shoes would light his room. He is fantasizing something due to the chance encounter, which makes it into a unit of operation between the poet and the figure that fascinates. Although the lines aren’t meant to be read in this order, I read them as “like all things / that make a difference. / she walks away” which I love because it emphasizes Bukowski’s acceptance of the chance encounter. Although he has given life to her through meeting her and imagining what some sort of life near her would be like, he simply states that she has made a difference, and then she walks away. It is honest and short and gives a poetic interpretation of beauty to the chance encounter.
To be graded hard: