Friday, 9 March 2007

Pleasure, Pain and Play

There are often many pleasures and pains of playing digital games. Therefore in the ever growing business of video games, they must be suitable for its audience. For example aesthetics can often be defined as "of or pertaining to sensuous perception received by the senses". (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). Consequently a video game must be designed for its player to ensure they have the ultimate gaming experience. When looking at the idea of reward, many players continuously ask themselves why they decide to play some games over and over again? Or why they frustrate themselves with complicated strategic games? Lastly many will ask why they always have to win? Reward plays a key part in gaming. For example “Players who have enjoyable and productive learning experiences with a game will sustain positive attitudes about learning that subject". (2006, p.391) Therefore the reward is likely to be significant to the individual.

When looking at the game Pro Evo on the Play station, I began to wonder what sort of reward I was after. For example the game is a sporting game so I became very competitive. In Pro Evo I could choose my football team from a variety of teams. I then choose the location and to play against the computer. I could control my team by using one player at a time. At the beginning I found I wasn't very good, however through repetitious playing, I gradually got better. The need to win was gradually increasing. For example "Players must continually practice in order to develop the skill sets necessary to successfully survive or thrive in a game". (2006, p.189). In the end I discovered I wanted a reward of glory in this particular game. When looking at the game Fishy, you had to control a fish by moving up and down so you don't get eaten. It did become boring at times, however I kept playing in the need for a reward. Arguably you could say it was another glory reward. Lastly I looked at the game Tomb Raider on the play station. I had to complete levels set in different locations and gain new weapons. After playing this game I gained the rewards of facility. You can increase you status and enhance your abilities. The type of rewards which did not appear in these games was rewards of access and rewards of substance.


Oxford English Dictionary (1989) Retrieved on 28th February from the World Wide Web:

Vorderer, P., Bryant, J. (2006) Playing Video Games, United States of America: Lawerence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Humo Ludens

When looking at games and play, it is often easier to discover where the terms originated from. For example "Paidean is equivalent to play; a primary power of improvisation and joy, Ludus, closer to game suggests the rules within which paidea is often contained". (2006, p.10). Therefore play includes games. Wittgenstein's characteristics of game are also relevant, for example here are the 4 rules, competitive, rule based, skilful and luck. All of these factors can be applied to game. When looking at the 'magic circle', it looks at "Huizinga's concept of the magic circle as a core concept to refer to the special place and time created by a game". (2006,p.32). Therefore play had no fixed boundaries of time space and rules. When looking at the magic circle, it is equal to the games special 'content'. The effect can also be physical or psychological. When looking at the lusory attitude, it is when a player decides to enter the magic circle; a good state of mind is required for this.

I have decided to relate this theory to the game I played called Banjo Kazooie. When playing this game I had to adopt a lusory attitude. This is because I had to be in the right state of mind to play the game as it required my concentration. When I had decided to play the game, I was then entering the magic circle. In the game I played a character called Banjo who with his friend a bird called Kazooie goes on a journey to save Banjos sister. During the game, I had to complete levels, collect puzzle pieces to go on to the next level and do little tasks. Many games "require a gamer to overcome obstacles if she hopes to proceed from level to level". (2002, p.40). Therefore I felt I could gain a lusory attitude because I new how to overcome the boundaries and therefore felt safe in the circle. I also played the game Zelda on the Nintendo 64, this game also had a similar concept and a set of rules to follow in order to feel safe in the circle. I found this game more challenging than Banjo Kazooie as I could sometimes not complete the levels.


King, G., Krzywinska, T. (2006) Tomb Raiders and Space Invaders, United States of America: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.

Kerr, A. (2006) The business and culture of digital games, London: SAGA Publications Ltd.

King, G., Krywinska, T. (2002) Screen Play, Great Britain: Wallflower Press.

Ban These Evil Games

The term rhetoric can often be defined as "the art of using language so as to persuade or influence others; the body of rules to be observed by a speaker or writer in order that he may express himself with eloquence" (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). Therefore rhetoric is simply persuasive language; however it can also be any other form of communication. It can also have cultural values. For example speakers and writers can hold values and beliefs. Rhetoric can also attempt to persuade an audience of the truth or importance of your own values and beliefs.

When applying the term rhetoric to the games I have played, I can also apply the representation of the game itself. For example I played the game Manhunt, which came out in 2003. The game is played from a third person perspective, and tells the narrative story of James Earl Cash. From playing the game myself, I found it to be extremely violent and it was not enjoyable to play. The game was in fact banned in several countries. When looking at Manhunt you could argue that it uses persuasive language. On the other hand, although it is violent it does not necessary mean that someone will go out and kill someone. However these types of games do cause moral panic, for example video games can "teach maladaptive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving." (2006, p.366). When comparing Manhunt to another game I played called Condemned on the Xbox 360, you could argue that the sole objective of these games is to cause violence and kill. This is because the main character is a man trying to prove his innocence and find out the truth about himself. When applying rhetoric to this game, I found the objective was to shoot any man in your way. The emphasis was on killing and aggression. The values were that if a man attacks you then flight back with what you have. Secondly the solution is to use your weapon. Lastly when looking at rhetoric, shooting people is seen as justice in the game as the character is innocence. This type of genre of game has many negative traits attached to it; this could be because computers games are more “intense” than any other media form. Questionably it could also be the “interactive nature of games”. (2006, p.348).

Bibliography :

Oxford English Dictionary (1989) Retrieved on 22nd February 2007 from the world wide web:

Vorderer, P., Bryant, J. (2006) Playing Video Games, United States of America: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Why Games?

Video games have become increasingly popular in contemporary society. They are called games because of the "repetitive training of coping skills". (2003, p.139). When looking at the theorist Wittgenstein his theories can be applied to games. For example "game is very loosely- defined, and Wittgenstein used the term as a prime example of a category based on family resemblance" (2003, p.139). For example a family will have many similarities, however they won't all be the same, this is evident in eyes, nose, ears etc. He also stated that games have no accurate boundaries. They don't all share the same features, and therefore have blurred edges. Although Wittgenstein studied game theory, he wasn't actually interested in them. Instead he was interested in how the actual concepts and words worked.

When applying this theory to the video games that I have played, I played the game Doom 2. In this game you had to shot anything with a gun. This game followed natural concepts which are required of a shooting game. However when applying Wittgenstein's theory to this, you could argue that the game is like a rope, made of twisted fibres with no single thread. Therefore there isn’t a specific set of norms and values for the game to follow. When comparing this to 'James Bonds 007' on the Nintendo 64, you could argue that, although they follow the same concept they differ greatly. This is because when I played this game, I had to complete levels to get to the next stage and choose the character I wanted. I could also choose from a variety of weapons through progress in the game. I found from playing this game it allows a "simulating first-person experience" (2003, p. 138). These games share many 'family resemblances' which are highlighted in the characteristics of the game.

When looking at the following two games I also played, Civilization 2 and The Sims, they are both played on the PC. Although they are fairly different, they both share many similarities. For example in Civilization 2, I had to build my own city, I could also choose a character to go and explore. In comparison, when I played The Sims, I could design my own house, choose my characters and by in charge of their 'virtual world'. You could argue that both games require knowledge and skill.

Bibliography :

Wolf, P. J Mark., Perron, B. (2003) The video game theory reader, Great Britain: Routledge