Precisely

Excited to dig into The Values of Precision, edited by M. Norton Wise (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). Most of this collection from the history and philosophy of science delves into the development of precision measuring instruments in science and manufacturing from the late eighteenth century to the present, and I will admit that much of it has little to do with my current research interest in fantastic-media objects and 3D printing. But what does resonate is Wise’s observation, in his Introduction, that precision and accuracy are critical pieces of standardization, or in Wise’s words, “establishing uniformity by agreement” (9).

Problems of establishing precision thereby become simultaneously questions of establishing agreement among a community. Precision requires standardization. (8)

I’ve been thinking about standardization in relation not just to the fantastic-media object’s shape (its resemblance to an ideal, a fictional entity given visual form in film, television, comics, or gaming) but its scale, a quality that becomes important when we think of these objects are part of a set, array, or collection. Particularly important to fantasy wargaming, the scale of the fantastic-media object dictates the mise-en-scene of battle, those tabletop spaces on which metal and plastic armies arrange themselves in tactical orientation to one another. The history of organized wargaming is in large part a history of the standardization of scales for fighting figurines, and these shared scalar qualities are even more important for fantasy wargaming, the dimensions of whose objects (dragons, cyborgs, superheroes, and so on) can be stabilized only through the establishment of conventions and product lines to feed them.

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