Video Game Theory

Your responses to this week’s readings by Ian Bogost, Sherry Turkle and Jane McGonigal:

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15 responses to “Video Game Theory

  1. I have never really played video games so it was interesting for me to read about them since I did not really have a base to build on. I really liked Turkle’s explanation of how it is to play video games. She says “Video games are something you do, something you do to your head, a world you enter, and to a certain extent, they are something you ‘become’” (501). This really helped me because I was able to link this to the way I read. When I am reading something for pleasure I become a part of the world in the story and the world around me just melts away. I guess that is the same thing that video gamers experience. Even though I am not physically doing anything but holding a book and moving my eyes, in my head I am creating a whole world. This disconnect is what I imagine a video gamer is feeling.

  2. I found Sherry Turkle’s article to be intriguing. I thought that her approach to the first real computer generation was interesting. She recognizes that, starting in the 1980s, children have grown up inundated with computer technology. Exposure to video games and the like practically since birth changes the way that we look at ourselves. We have a much more intimate relationship with computers than did our parents. In my opinion, this holding power helps shape our perception not only of the world but of ourselves.

    When we watched “The Matrix”, mirrors and reflection were symbols which appeared continuously throughout the movie. When broached from a Lacanian point of view, Neo’s encounters with seeing his reflection in the mirror, doorknob, and spoon are indicative of him really seeing himself for the first time. Like a child, he is coming into the knowledge that he is an autonomous being which is separate from his mother.

    The “construct” of the Matrix is said to be a “loading program which can make anything happen”; it gives us a “residual self-image, or a digital projection of oneself”. Is this not what video games do for us?

    As Turkle states, “Involvement with simulated worlds affects relationships with the real one” (508). The imaginary construct of video games and of the Matrix allow us to see ourselves as someone else; we can literally be whoever we want to be. In doing so, this changes how we actually come to view ourselves as individuals in the real world. For instance, Neo’s ability to see through the code of the Matrix allowed him to see clearly for the first time. He broke free of the entranced mindlessness with which others walk through their lives.

    Similarly, video games allow us to wall the world out. However, we have to return to that world. When we do, we return as altered beings, changed by our interaction with the machine. Turkle says, “Television is something you watch. Video games are something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, to a certain extent, they are something you become” (501). Like the Matrix, when we penetrate the screen of a computer and “hack the code”, we come out of the experience with a changed perception of who we are and the world we live in.

  3. Sherry Turkle’s article entitled “Video Games and Computer Holding Power” breaks down the experience of video game play to several very specific aspects. One aspect I found most interesting is her theory on how the virtual worlds and characters created in these video games has stimulated the mind of the children of today. She states, “When I was a child I knew about gnomes, wizards and spells from reading stories. Jarish knows about such things in a different way– he lives them” (506). The data and codes created by the designers of the computer games have taken the fictional magical worlds of 2D text and transformed them into digital 3D spaces, where a player can become the character and actually live out his story. Especially after computer games became more complex, with more customizable options for the character and his story, the player can literally move about in this separate world as he pleases, or so it seems. Turkle uses the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons as an example. The player “rolls a dice” to determine his different characteristics within the game and can face hundreds of different scenarios of violence and adventure. However, as the author explains, these scenarios all follow very conclusive rules that determine their outcome (507).

    In many ways I think this total submersion into a world that before was only available to us in our dreams can be a good thing for children and their developing minds. It allows them to live out their dreams in a safe environment and open their minds to something new and exciting. Yet, with all the rules set in place within these games their imagination is limited. When a child reads a book and is allowed to create their own world within their mind there are no limitations or rules to hold them back.

  4. pferd von Gestreift

    After exploring Jane McGonigal’s site, http://www.avantgame.com, I immediately went to http://www.worldwithoutoil.com, and spent nearly three hours there taking in the vlogs and blogs of its member. Jane McGonigal, self-described as a game researcher and designer and as a future forecaster, began this project with PBS as an experiment to connect people and to solve one of the world’s most pressing issues, that of the impending end of fossil fuel. It’s an economic issue but also a social issue, which is shown through the many videos and blogs posted. Not only did members invent ways to deal with transportation and the rising costs directly caused by lack or high expense of transportation, but they explored the social implications and even acted them out. Some viewers sent in videos of skits or of themselves living out situations of gas shortages. They figured out systems for getting food, how mail would work, and what other economic industries would be affected.

    As there were not too many parameters for what members could and could not post or how to experience the hypothetical oil shortage, every person interpreted it in a very different way. Some chose to see the shortage as a game to be mastered and won. These members set out logical plans and used strategies to solve the larger problems like riots and possible war with other countries for resources.
    In the abstract for her paper, “This Is Not a Game: Immersive Aesthetics & Collective Play”, McGonigal discusses how digital communication created these huge masses of connected people that could not have connected in any other way and would not have connected but for social networking sites.
    The increasing convergence and mobility of digital network technologies have given rise to new, massively-scaled modes of social interaction where the physical and virtual worlds meet.
    For many, this sounds as frightening as the ‘rise of the machine’ and very dangerous. The idea that so many people can get connected to each other so fast and form collective ideas sounds very much like mass riots on a more organized, threatening scale. But I think if these skeptics look over worldwithoutoil.com, they would see the good that they can do.

  5. Jane McGonigal talks about some interesting breakthroughs going on in the realm of science through the revolutionary aspects of video game technology. Her article “The New Game Plan” sheds light on the reality that video games are going to be more of a part of scientific research than we ever could have imagined, “The Institue for the Future are launching an MMS game that places scientists within an immersive, collaborative environment designed to keep them all engaged over many weeks, months, and possibly years. Dramatic fictional scenarios, multi-player missions, and performance feedbacks like scoring and progressively harder challenges will direct players’ scientific forecasting activities and push them to continue seeking creative, collective solutions” (55). Given that in the past, video games were often viewed as merely entertainment for little children—it is now clear to see that technology and aspects of reality, which in the past seemed irrelevant, are becoming much more influential within the present context of reality. This may be because those little boys and girls who grew up with these video games are now using the same thoughts that went into the video game to produce much bigger theories and aspects of science based off of the rules and regulations surrounded by aspects of video game play. If this is so, then the future of humanity is directly linked to the current technologies that seem irrelevant to reality. No average person could have thought that the invention of the Atari could have had as big of an impact on our society as is currently seen. My Grandfather, for instance, always ridiculed my brother for playing video games all the time, telling him that he will never amount to anything by playing or majoring in video games. Currently, we can see that my Grandfather was false, and that video game technology is becoming more and more relevant to our current society and the way we function with one another and reality. This may be due to the pervasive us of visual rhetoric. Ian Bogost talkings about visual rheteric within his artle “Procedural Rhetoric”. He states that “One would be hard pressed to deny that advertisements, photographs, illustrations, and other optical phenomena have some effect on their viewers” (24). Video games obviously are appealing to their players on more than one level—huge corporations advertise within video games constantly and our children are directly affected by these images. I am arguing that the reason video game technology is so pervasive within current scientific inquiry is because the current scientists working with these technologies were directly affected by digital rhetoric in their past video game play, which could subconsciously be affecting the way they handle scientific analysis. This facts prolongs the use of video game play and helps for video games to break out of the realm of pure entertainment to actual impact on academia through video game use within scientific fields—c reating even more of a profit for the video game companies that are in control of such things.

  6. Bluedays_Bluejays

    When reading ” Gaming Science” Jane McGonigal States ” cleverly designed games are starting to use their players to perform real science, creating a new audience of pupils and volunteers who collectively compare in task like sorting stardust, classifying galaxies, and improving search algorithms.( 55)” This statement discusses how the gaming is picking up new players through making the game more realistic. Different games will attract different audience. A mystery gaming system may interest a deceive. One game in specific, it is sort of an old game is where in the world is Carmen Sandiego. In this game you have to solve mysteries to find Carmen. This is one way to start the creative thinking and roll out the ideas as a detective.

  7. I found Sherry Turkle’s article to be intriguing. I thought that her approach to the first real computer generation was interesting. She recognizes that, starting in the 1980s, children have grown up inundated with computer technology. Exposure to video games and the like practically since birth changes the way that we look at ourselves. We have a much more intimate relationship with computers than did our parents. In my opinion, this holding power helps shape our perception not only of the world but of ourselves.

    When we watched “The Matrix”, mirrors and reflection were symbols which appeared continuously throughout the movie. When broached from a Lacanian point of view, Neo’s encounters with seeing his reflection in the mirror, doorknob, and spoon are indicative of him really seeing himself for the first time. Like a child, he is coming into the knowledge that he is an autonomous being which is separate from his mother.

    The “construct” of the Matrix is said to be a “loading program which can make anything happen”; it gives us a “residual self-image, or a digital projection of oneself”. Is this not what video games do for us?

    As Turkle states, “Involvement with simulated worlds affects relationships with the real one” (508). The imaginary construct of video games and of the Matrix allow us to see ourselves as someone else; we can literally be whoever we want to be. In doing so, this changes how we actually come to view ourselves as individuals in the real world. For instance, Neo’s ability to see through the code of the Matrix allowed him to see clearly for the first time. He broke free of the entranced mindlessness with which others walk through their lives.

    Similarly, video games allow us to wall the world out. However, we have to return to that world. When we do, we return as altered beings, changed by our interaction with the machine. Turkle says, “Television is something you watch. Video games are something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, to a certain extent, they are something you become” (501). Like the Matrix, when we penetrate the screen of a computer and “hack the code”, we come out of the experience with a changed perception of who we are and the world we live in.

  8. RadicalDreamer617

    Ever since 1950s, videogames have come a long way and believe it or not, they have contributed enormously to the economy as the top earning industry with billion dollars of sales every year. In terms of social effect, videogames dominate the top five most active wikis according to Jane McGonigal, game designer. Videogames, sadly, are usually associated with the rise of teen crime due to violent content, and negative behaviors from gamers such as slacking off, distributing time improperly, etc. However, McGonigal proves such assumptions wrong through her “World Without Oil” project, an online game designed “to harness the collective intelligence of gamers and apply it to a serious global problem.” Players from all over the world participated in this to find out the reason behind the oil shortage and from there, strategized solutions for it. In order to make this happen, these gamers formed their own portal with thousands of blog posts, videos, snapshots to share strategies and to propose resolutions. Also, as a videogame music fan, I think videogame industry creates the most versatile composers of all the time, such as Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), Jack Wall (Myst), Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda), Norihiko Hibino (Metal Gear Solid 1,2,3). They can write for all genres, from casual games to persuasive games applying various musical elements and technology. So are videogames a waste of time and energy or are they considered “the most elevated form of investigation” which enhances our mind with the idea of “collective intelligence”?

  9. Video games and computers do hold a certain power. While reading Sherry Turkle’s article, i couldnt help but think about how I am while playing the SIMS! These games are designed to keep us intriqued. Everytime I think I’ve seen all the game has to offer or that Ive conquered “life” in the SIMS, something new happens. It pulls me in to the point where I close that game and create a whole new one with a family using my name and our families name. “He plays a game to that point where the strategies are a part of you, where he feels like an extension of the game or the game is an extension of him” That statement couldnt be any better! I laugh as I think about how I place myself in the game and create a character who resembles me physcially and has the same traits. As technology advances, these games become more expensive but it doesnt effect the players. Every single sim expansion, no matter the cost, we have to have! So i feel like these games do have a certain power over those who play.

  10. I really enjoyed this weeks discussions on Video Games. Espically breaking down how the games could be somewhat transendentalistic in a way. It never occured to me that when we play video games for hours that its our way of disconnecting from the world around us. “Video games are something you do, something you do to your head, a world that you enter…and something oyu become” (Turkle). When one plays a video game, whether they know it or not, they’re about to enter another world. A world that is nothign like the one they know. Its their way of escaping from one reality to the next, no matter how realistic.

  11. 6crookedpillars

    In Jane McGonigal’s “Gamers have skills. Let’s Tap’em” she states, “Thanks to the unique nature of digital gaming, gamers may be the world’s most literate and practiced community when it comes to developing these new, real-world skills of collaboration and collective intelligence.”

    Even though there is a massive community for video game players on the internet and they operate together with a collective intelligence, they’re not exactly the poster group for political and social change.

    I wont deny that the stereotype of gamers who’d rather, “consume rather than create” is an old way of thinking what with forms and and the high demand for unauthorized mods and patches to video games, but I’m not sure that gamers have ‘tap-able’ skills outside of their core interest (games), although they have created a hugely successful model of collective intelligence.

    Her game, World Without Oil, had almost 2000 players. While that’s nothing to be sneezed at, it’s not even a tiny percentage of video-game players around the world. Most gamers are loyal to their main-stream mass marketed games and don’t have any interest in games outside of their favorite genres (I think that is especially true of the newest generation of gamers who have a new first person shooter to burn through every month, whereas us old people had to mix it up a little or we’d never have anything new to play. They’re also the ones that Tipe lyKe th1$.)

  12. This weeks readings on video games have been very interesting. Sherry Turkle’s theory that state that “[video games] for many people, what is being pursued in the video game is not just a score, altered state”(509), is something i can personally relate to. Ever since I was little video game have been a form of therapy to me. If I am not having a good, usually the first thing I do when I come home is play Mario. The game relaxes me. Like Marty in Turkle’s article “Video Games and Computer Holding Power,” the game sweeps me away and at the same time I an in control .

  13. In the past thirty years there has been a major increase in psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression, and many people use videogames as a means to alleviate their daily stress and anxiety. However, some people go beyond the norm as stated by Sherry Turkle in “Video Games and Computer Holding, where “in the right circumstances, some people come to prefer them [video games] to the real”. The increase in Real Player Games, or RPG’s, is also synonymous with this new idea that now people want to be completely immersed in virtual worlds. Videogames allow a person to disconnect from the troubles of the real world by finding solace in virtual reality, which serves as a window of escape for everyday life and traditional social interaction. When looking at the condition of this society, it can also be considered whether or not the need to disconnect has been technologically or symptomatically determined.

  14. When reading the Sherry Turkle article, Video Games and Computers Holding Power, I couldn’t do anything but agree to almost everything that was said. When I play video games against the computer and loose, I feel as though the computer has control over the game and that it made me intentionally loose. By reading the article it made me think that it was designed for that purpose, for the game to be very captivating so that when you lost on a level you would keep trying until you succeeded at it. Most people I know play games for fun and relaxation but it really is not. You get upset when you loose which causes you to get stressed. So why would anyone want to keep playing a video game that causes the things you are trying to get away from? “The holding power of video games, their almost hypnotic fascination, is computer holding power.” (pp. 501)

    • This is definitely very true, I know for myself personally that chess is extremely stressful and I have to take a brief hiatus from the game whenever my rankings go down so that I won’t sink into a depression, but at the same time losing a game is okay. In life, failure has serious consequences, within a game it is okay to fail. Also, the chances of you turning around a failure in a game is more likely than in real life, so in a way games are a place where you can escape the normal consequences of life to a place where you can take risks and not be as severely punished for them. You’re response also made me think of Sherry Turkle’s idea of the perfect mirror, in which she discusses how the computer is a measure of human competence and many people immediately dislike games because they don’t want to be placed in front of that mirror. However, in comparison to real life, seeking perfectability in a game is much more attainable in a game.

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