"Overview and Conclusions" by Sherry Jones (August 16, 2014)


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I am the Game Studies Facilitator for the #Metagame Book Club (http://bit.ly/metagamebookclub). This is my Week 5 Lecture on "Overview and Conclusions." This is an overview lecture of major concepts and theories I have discussed during Weeks 1-4 lectures. Please see my previous slideshows for clarification of the ideas discussed in this slideshow.

Live Video Lecture - The live recorded youtube video of this lecture is included toward the end of this presentation.

Join the Metagame Book Club - We welcome all educators interested in gaming in education, game-based learning, gamification, and game studies to join the #Metagame Book Club.

#Metagame Book Club (July 15 - August 16, 2014)

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"Overview and Conclusions" by Sherry Jones (August 16, 2014)

  1. 1. #Metagame Book Club Track 1: Game Studies Week 5: “Overview and Conclusions” Sherry Jones Game Studies Facilitator @autnes http://bit.ly/metagamebookclub
  2. 2. Overview of Weeks 1-4 In today’s discussion session, I will be reviewing some of the Optional Texts assigned during Weeks 1-4. The Optional Texts serve to clarify and/or extend concepts and theories mentioned in the Main Texts we have read so far. In consideration of time, I will only address the major arguments presented in each of the selected Optional Texts for discussion. Let’s Go!
  3. 3. Game Studies Texts for Analysis Review of selected Optional Readings from Weeks 1 - 4: ● [BOOK CHAPTER] "Genre and the Video Game" (Chapter 6 of The Medium of the Video Game by Mark J. P. Wolf ● [ARTICLE] Adapting the Principles of Ludology to the Method of Video Game Content Analysis by Steven Malliet ● [BOOK] “The Meaning of Video Games” by Steven E. Jones - Ch. 5 - The Wii Platform ● [ARTICLE] "Molleindustria: 10 Years Of Radical Socio-Political Video Games" by Chris Priestman, IndieStatik
  4. 4. Review of Week 1: “Play, Game, and the Magic Circle” “Genre and the Video Game” (2000) by Mark J. P. Wolf
  5. 5. What is Genre? ● Genre (latin genus) = class, kind, style, or sort. ● The term first appeared in Aristotle’s The Poetics. Aristotle discusses Tragedy and Comedy as objects of imitation (represent human nature). Clinton explains: “Aristotle establishes genre in terms of both convention and historical observation, and defines genre in terms of both convention and purpose” (Dan Clinton). ● Modern definitions of genre: ○ Genre is a style formed by similar conventional forms (Karlyn Kohrs Campbell). ○ Genre is a form of social action (Carolyn R. Miller). ○ Genre is the ground for writing invention (Anis Bawarshi). ● Each of a genre’s constituent elements can be influenced by external forces/ideas and change form. Thus, a genre is always in flux.
  6. 6. What are Video Game Genres? Mark J. P. Wolf argues that video game genres are different from literary and film genres, since video games provide interactivity, and call on the player audience to participate in the diegetic world of a game. Wolf further explains that: “The game’s objective is a motivational force for the player, and this, combined with the various forms of interactivity present in the game, are useful places to start in building a set of video game genres. The object of the game can be multiple or divided into steps, placing the game in more than one genre, just as a film’s theme and iconography can place a film in multiple genres (the film Blade Runner, for example, fits both science fiction and hard‐boiled detective genres)” (Wolf).
  7. 7. Taxonomy of Defined Game Genres Constituent elements of a video game genre, such as specific types of actions, objectives, purpose, sequences, scenarios, help define it. A game can be categorized in multiple genres if it contains other genre elements: ● “Adventure - Games which are set in a world usually made up of multiple, connected rooms or screens, involving an objective which is more complex than simply catching, shooting, capturing, or escaping, although completion of the objective may involve several or all of these” (Wolf). ● “Collecting - Games in which the primary objective involves the collecting of objects that do not move (such as Pac‐Man or Mousetrap), or the surrounding of areas (such as Qix or Amidar). . . . This term should not be used for games in which objects or characters sought by the player‐character are in motion” (Wolf).
  8. 8. Genre of Pac-man in Space?
  9. 9. Review of Week 2: “Two Schools: Narratology vs. Ludology” “Adapting the Principles of Ludology to the Method of Video Game Content Analysis” (2007) by Steven Malliet
  10. 10. Qualitative Video Game Content Analysis Seeking to synthesize various video game study methods proposed by narratologists and ludologists, Steven Malliet calls for a “qualitative video game content analysis” study method, which applies the ludologists’ formalist principles to analyze video games. Referencing Gonzalo Frasca, Malliet finds that most studies fail to address a game’s formalist elements: “Following Frasca (2003), it can be argued that these studies have investigated elements of representation rather than elements of simulation, and consequently, that a number of characteristics that are essential to the game play experience have been overlooked” (Malliet).
  11. 11. Representation vs. Simulation 1 Malliet creates a scheme for analysis with the following criteria: Elements of Representation 1. Audiovisual Style - Analyze “graphical explicitness and level of graphical detail, in addition to the filmic atmosphere that is created.” 2. Narration - Analyze action scenes that unfolds in the game, and how the action scenes influence characters’ behaviors. Elements of Simulation 1. Complexity of Controls - Analyze “the mental and physical efforts are analyzed that are required of a player in order to successfully and efficiently interact with the game program.” (Malliet)
  12. 12. Representation vs. Simulation 2 Malliet proposes a scheme for analysis with the following criteria: Elements of Simulation (Cont’) 2. Game Goals - Analyze three main types of game play, which are: “competitive play, explorative play and narrative play.” 3. Character and Object Structure - Analyze “the complexity of these systems . . . as well as the ideology that is hidden in the rewards a player is given.” 4. Balance between User Input and Pre-programmed Rules - Analyze degree of player’s freedom and influence over pre-programmed actions. 5. Spatial Properties of the Game World - Analyze the geography of a game, sometimes represented by a map mechanic. Or, evaluating the realism of the game environment. (Malliet)
  13. 13. Review of Week 3: “Cultural and Social Dimensions of Games” “The Meaning of Video Games: The Wii Platform” (2008) by Steven E. Jones
  14. 14. The Wii Universe
  15. 15. Platform Studies - Wii In Chapter 5, Steven E. Jones calls for platform studies to examine how a player’s experience of games is influenced by the platform. such as the Wii: “The Wii has rejected sheer power and its affordances (such as realistic high- definition graphics, or the ability to play DVDs) in order to be smart and fast, the fittest rather than the most ferocious dinosaur,and thus to survive in a place -- the [family] niche to which it is uniquely adapted--set apart from the main competition between Microsoft and Sony. . . . The Wii’s simple white box is both the symbolic representation and the literal embodiment of this targeted adaption model. It’s smaller -- roughly 6” X 8.5” X 1.7” as opposed to roughly 10” X 12” X 3” for the Xbox and PS3 -- what its marketing has referred to as the size of three DVD cases and lighter”(Jones).
  16. 16. Platform Studies - NES Steven E. Jones further discusses Nintendo’s software culture that is closely tied to its hardware platforms; game software becomes the family “branding” for the hardware: “Super Mario Bros. was released for the NES and was closely associated with the innovations of that system, and lent its own aura to the system in turn, in a kind of symbiotic development loop. . . . Kohler argues that Super Mario Bros. was a breakthrough in 1985 in terms of gameplay and narrative, the most complex and extended game to that point, and it was the first game of its era to make reaching the story’s conclusion the primary goal; though you were scored, the point was really to save the princess and see what happened in the conclusion” (Jones).
  17. 17. Meaning and Platforms Meaning we infer from a game is contributed by several layers - a game’s software design, the gaming platform’s hardware design, and game design, all through various designers’ socio-cultural lenses. Jones references Montfort and Bogost’s argument on the meaning of platforms: Montfort and Bogost argue that a “platform is a perspective,” an abstraction, a way of conceptualizing a system for delivering a video game to the game player. In this sense, any platform is a ‘virtual console’ -- a cultural construct as much as a hardware and software construct” (Jones). “Miyamoto has also said that the Wii was designed to overthrow the stereotype of the antisocial video game player; again the goal was not technological but cultural” (Jones).
  18. 18. Review of Week 4: “Constructs of the Real and the Rhetoric of Games” "Molleindustria: 10 Years Of Radical Socio-Political Video Games” (2013) by Chris Priestman, IndieStatik
  19. 19. An Interview with Paolo Pedercini, aka Molleindustria Paolo Pedercini is a Professor of Experimental Game Design at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art, and a distinguished artist and political activist. He expresses political critiques and leftist ideologies via the medium of video games, all personally created and published under his moniker, Molleindustria. Molleindustria games daringly address and challenges a wide range of polemical real world issues, such as religion, sex and gender, terrorism, capitalism, and copyright laws. In his interview with Chris Priestman, Paolo Pedercini reveals his intentions for expressing via the game medium.
  20. 20. On Games and Simulations for Sensemaking “I want to see games and simulations being used to make sense of the world around us; I want to see them next to text or moving images – and not in an ancillary role. I want to see more journalism, more philosophy, more history education, more experimental geography, conceived natively for interactive media.” (Pedercini)
  21. 21. On Game Design Creating Myths “Interactive media come with an exceptional bias toward ambiguity. You can’t quite make a clear argument, as you would with plain text or speech. People play and interact in different ways and tend to apply their pre-existing mental models to interpret what happened and why – something that, in computer games, isn’t always explicit. Intentionally or not, game designers create a constellation of meanings and allow players to explore it. If you are a critical gamer, you may try to test the limits of this constellation, find out what worlds are possible, what actions are forbidden. You may want to map these design choices against your understanding of “real world” systems. You may realize, for example, that all the cities allowed by SimCity are essentially manifestations of the same urbanist idea/myth.” (Pedercini)
  22. 22. On Designing Critical Play “I think the role of a socially conscious game designer is to foster this type of critical play. . . . This is, however, very different from Bioshock’s approach to politics and history. Ken Levine claims that the Bioshock titles work as Rorschach tests, since some players see them as a love letters to Objectivism, while others as attacks to Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movements. This ambiguity is built in and intentional; it’s a way to infuse a dumb shooting game with a sense of importance, a way to give the idea of dealing with serious and complex issues while cowardly withdrawing from any position or judgement. Or, as Levine says, these games are about *not* buying into any of these “extreme” ideas. Guess what. That’s also an ideology. It’s Liberalism, and it’s about putting patches here and there while keeping things as they are.” (Pedercini)
  23. 23. A Molleindustria Game “Every Day the Same Dream” by Molleindustria
  24. 24. Watch Webinar To This Lecture
  25. 25. Lecture By: Sherry Jones Game Studies Facilitator Philosophy, Rhetoric, Game Studies @autnes Writings & Webinars Access Slides: http://bit.ly/gamestudies5