Ishai Barnoy


In 2008, Ishai graduated from the University of Maryland's MFA program in creative writing. Since then, he's been teaching at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria.

  • Session Proposal: Who Are We Pretending to Be? (Am I doing this right?)


    Hey all,

    Not much to say. Just curious — and, well, excited to offer up something. I’ll try to frame this something in the form of a curiosity of some sort, because I guess I find myself curious about this, too.

    My (Clumsy) Complaint: Identity politics — or the overt exploration of identity in general (for example, like, in the study of video games?) — is often rigid and self-congratulatory and melodramatic and generally fraught with differently-flavored varieties of basically the same blank insistence (“see me, see me”), even whilst the mainstream consciousness that granted such politics widespread practical agency has continued to appeal rather to identification — a very compelling pretension to being something specific, rather than dealing with the pretension of numerous oppressive others — and has thus more successfully been able to get under our skin.

    Hopefully, if you’re not taking the above complaint to be mainly sexist, racist, colonialist, and what not, then maybe we can all join to have a talk about what exactly games are offering us by way of people, places, animals, objects … that we can be. It’s too simplistic to call it “pretending to be.” I’ll accept “identifying” — but “identifying as,” rather than “identifying with.”

    I hope I’m making sense.

    Mostly, I’d like to consider the medium of role-playing games, but I certainly welcome any insertions (ooh, “insertions” — I like this accident) from other “identifying as”-style works into the discussion. Here, I mean any role-playing games — from whatever varieties of the childhood game of pretend to the disaffected (and mostly male) young person’s table-top dice-rolling pencil-and-paper variety to the (at once neurotic and strangely open) adult varieties of role-playing done, ideally (we like to think), “in” the proverbial “bed.” Eh, the last is where I thought I wanted to insert “insertions.” The only thing is: I’m not sure to what extent “insertions” are real. Likewise with orcs and summon skeleton spells, and with playing doctor and pretending to be a pokemon.

    The academic discussion should probably unfold in more or less this way: Why this? Why that? Why this way? Why that way? Bla, bla, bla…

    Catch my drift? Interested? Bored? Grossed out?

    Let me know.

    — Ishai