Archive for October 4, 2009

Intentions of Creators of Games & Limits to What You Can Talk About In Communities

There was one other question that I felt was important that we ended up touching upon in class on Wednesday but I thought it should be its own separate post: What is the difference between a game teaching us to understand how someone ‘sick’ felt, and a game teaching us to act that way? Do people have to have something ‘inherently wrong’ with them to bring the game into the ‘real’ world, like some people blame video games do? I would say absolutely not. Remember our earlier class discussion about ARG’s and finding clues in a newspaper (in the ‘real’ world)? This is my evidence backing up my ‘absolutely not’ statement. Perhaps even in textual narrativity there may be a way/ways that a person will bring the game into the world the person lives in (depending on how much the person identifies with the context of the game/storyline). I am not much of a gamer myself, but if was, I could probably come up with at least a few other examples.

To answer the first question I mentioned in this blog post, no one except the creator of the game knows what the intentions were for making it, although I am sure many of us would be/are curious to know. Some even come up with theories, like how Bogost thought that “JFK Reloaded’s” game design features suggested “that the developers stated goal was a ruse meant to inspire new perspectives on the historical event itself” (“Persuasive Games,” 132-133). I have noticed that many first person shooter games that we have recently discussed in class could have this aspect, or just perhaps being able to gain more perspective on the event which the game was based upon.

In another whole area itself, but still related to the first question about games and intentions, was what we talked about in class for what the army does sometimes for placing people in the field. I found it interesting that the Army uses a certain video game to help place people in the field by logging onto the person’s video game account (with permission) to see his/her stats (what the person was best at versus what the person was worst, or mediocre at). So even though they did not create the game, they used the game for their own intentions, which I think touches on a whole different part that was not addressed in my first question of this blog entry (but does relate). It does seem to me a bit unrealistic to decide what guns people should use based on their stats (because shooting a real gun feels incredibly different than hitting a button on their controller), although I do not see it unrealistic do use people’s stats to log into other abilities, maybe such as aiming, but more so the mentality of different positions people get into to put the person in. However, I do not know exactly what the Army uses for placement options when they look at a certain person’s video game’s statistcs.

I couldn’t decide to put this part last or first, but it got put in the end of this blog, but either way I feel it appropriate to discuss this since we have been on the unit of communities. Some communities in cyberspace are more formal, like religious prayer groups when they might meet in a chat room, per say, versus writing on your best friend’s Facebook wall about all the fun they had that Friday night when they went out partying. The same applies to real life communities. But either way, when you are having a discussion of some sort, I feel you should think about what you say/the way you say certain things and always be aware because it might offend people. I think communities grow closer and more together this way. Of course, depending on the setting and situation depends on how open you can/should be (formal versus informal), but either way, respecting boundaries makes a group/community more cohesive, in any ‘world.’

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Games Changing Perceptions, and Spilling Over Into One’s Cosmos

On Wednesday in class, we proposed many issues and discussed many subjects on community, one of the more important questions (I felt) being: What blurs the line between games and real life/where is the line blurred? We pondered that one for a while.

We talked about how Victor Turner says that you can enter into this ‘space,’ you perform a ritual, or perhaps maybe a right of passage of some sort, and then you come out of the ‘space’ changed. What I found most intriguing was that whatever you did in that ‘space,’ it would spill over into all other aspects of your life. We discussed this in other words in class by saying that your new perspective would then expand into the rest of the cosmos.

We also discussed the “magic circle (of play)”  where there is no spillover into the cosmos because you go into the space knowing that it is just a game, so therefore you will come out of that ‘space’ after the ritual (or whatever else it may be) unchanged (because you already knew that it was just a game).

Liz came up with yet another theory of the “magic circle,” her own version of a meta-culture type of circle, but I would like to focus on Turner’s attitude out of these three ideas in this entry. There are some unsettling games that have been created such as “Christ Killa,” where the whole point of the game is to go around killing all the different Jesus’s. The first person shooter goes around shouting, “Wake up, Jesus! It’s time to die!” What kind of change might this game provoke? I supposed it depends upon the person; the change for a very religious Roman Catholic might be coming out of the ‘space’ with extreme disgust or anger, or the change might make an individual think it is okay to go around killing.

How does this spill over into one’s cosmos? Again, the spillover could occur in many ways, depending upon that person’s perception of the game. In class we played “V-Tech Rampage,” and the change that I came out with was me needing to think harder about why people would make such games. Liz had some insight to one of the games we discussed; apparently “Super Columbine Massacre RPG” was made specifically to be a first person shooter game, perhaps so one could see what the Columbine shooting was like from a different perspective to gain different insight(s). Yes, it is true that I probably do no share the same feelings and emotions as the shooter I am playing, but that does not mean I cannot gain a new or more in-depth outlook on the situation.

I feel I have a lot to say about Wednesday’s discussion and I feel I have written plenty to think about in this entry as it is. Therefore I am going to write another separate post addressing another question that I felt was also one of the more important subjects we discussed. (That way this post doesn’t get too bogged down and will hopefully be easier to read.)