Juan Carlos Ponce Reyes

BMus by UNAM (National Autonomous Mexico’s University) in guitar performance receiving the Gabino Barreda Medal for his academic merit, and MMus with honors in musicology by the same institution. As a guitarist, he has participated in contemporary music projects and early music ensembles. As a researcher, he has presented his work at conferences in Mexico such as the Karl Bellinghausen Conference in CENIDIM (National Music Research Center) and the Musical Research Conference at Nayarit’s University; and in the international conference LUDO2022 at Royal Holloway University, England.

Agency and codephagy in video games, four study cases in the Mexican context

FROG 2022 – Talk

Through the study of four study cases, the present paper aims to observe in the Mexican context how are in play issues of cultural identity and how different actors put in motion distinct forms of agency. This agency can be understood as “codephagocy” (codigofagia), a concept coined by Mexican-Ecuatorian philosopher Bolívar Echeverría, which describes the relations in which cultural codes “devour” one another, and the dominant code is transformed from the inside due to the remains of the dominated “eaten” code. For the purposes of this paper, I “play” with the notion of code, both as informatical and cultural.

The four study cases selected are ones in which we can see different instances of cultural codes: the video game Mulaka, developed by the Mexican Studio Lienzo where the indigenous codes from the raramuri people (natives from the north region of Mexico) are “in play” with the codes of the game industry; the speedrunner and streamer The Mexican Runner and his NESmanía challenge, in which are used some stereotypical Mexican codes in conjunction with images from different video games; the Minecraft’s “Mexican Mod” that introduces through the informatical code textures, images, and music, elements from Mexican urban everyday life; and the piece 8 Bit Bolero Boom Box from the Mexican artist Arcángel Constantini, playing with the word bolero, the artist takes some golden age boleros and arrange them to 8-bit timbres. Each of these study cases explores different ways in which I identify agency–the capacity of individuals to exercise change in their everyday life–in the form of codephagocy, the interpenetration of cultural identities as a state of code in a domination relationship.


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