Dwell editor Geoff Manaugh's BLDBLOG is always an excellent, thought-provoking read, but the entries for this past week while he's been in London have been particularly interesting to me for some reason (check out the current entry on photography of Saddam's former palaces).

I always find Manaugh's constant proposals and as-yet-unrealized ideas fascinating. I found this interview with Jim Rossignol about video game culture so compelling that I went right out and bought the subject's book and so far it's pretty good (though I have to say Manaugh's interview really strikes best at what is so interesting about the current state and future of videogaming---which at this point should really be a separate category on BLDBLOG. (*note: And I just received an e-mail from the book's publisher at the University of Michigan Press that there is a free e-version of the book here)

I'll admit I enjoy video games quite a bit, but it's always with quite a bit of guilt. Back when I played them all the time it always felt like there was something better I should be doing, and now when I hear about kids playing games I scoff and consider it "such a waste of time." It's not something I really want to encourage for my own kids. But Manaugh's interview with Rossignol further confirms something that I've long suspected: vide games have a brighter future than just about any other form of entertainment, and some day college professors will be assigning essays on video games that haven't yet been made.

Consider the way Manaugh brings his art and architecture into the discussion of video games:

". . . blogging has tapped into a massive class of unprofessional writers who, nonetheless, have strong opinions about the built environment. After all, they’re surrounded by it at all times. It’s not just Harvard graduates now who have the microphone, so to speak; even some kid in the suburbs—playing videogames—can offer an opinion about architecture, and it almost definitely will not involve references to Mies van der Rohe. It will be about shopping malls, or the suburbs themselves, or the ruined cities you see in movies like Terminator Salvation. It will be about the architecture of videogame worlds.

In any case, I think as people start to realize that they can have an opinion about architecture, in the same way that they can have an opinion about the food they order in a restaurant, or an opinion about a book they've just read, then they will also realize that they can ask questions about the buildings they see all around them. You know: why am I surrounded by buildings that look like this? Or: why on earth is there a road in the middle of that children’s park downtown? Or why can’t the world look like this—or this, or this? Very soon, you start speculating about how the world could really be."

". . .at what point might architects stop putting out $100 coffee-table books that are only bought by libraries, and instead commission someone to design a game environment that features all of their buildings? It’d be a new kind of monograph. You buy the new Grand Theft Auto—but all the buildings are designed by Richard Rogers. It seems like you’ve got incredibly imaginative and very passionate people playing those games, so why not present your buildings to that audience? It seems like a missed opportunity."

". . .Anyway, what would user-generated content be in architecture? The most immediate thing that comes to mind is when you do things like geo-tagging, or immersive gaming, like cellphone gaming, where you chase someone through the Louvre based on cellphone signals—things like that. It seems, though, that user-generated content for architecture only exists through the digital world: you can have a temporary Google Maps mash-up that allows you to see who else is in Trafalgar Square with you—but that’s about as deep as it gets. Compare that, for instance, to showing up in London with your own Trafalgar Square. What might be called a gamer’s approach to architecture still has unrealized structural possibilities that might even allow that sort of thing to happen."

I am really looking forward to Manaugh's upcoming book.