Mediating Theory Project


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Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost
Procedural Rhetoric

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Mediating Theory Project

  1. 1. Mediating Theory in Persuasive Games By Ian Bogost a Project by Greg Pace Writing Across Media 303 – George Boone – Fall 2013
  2. 2. Introduction: About the book  Bogost is an award winning author and game designer whose work focuses on video games and computational media.  He owns his own game studio and heavily writes about video games being an expressive medium.  In the book he argues:  Video games represent how real and imagined systems work. They invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them.
  3. 3. Video games represent how real and imagined systems work. They invite players to interact with those systems and form judgments about them.  2 Problems Arise:  1) Why is it that video games are not taken seriously as a form of literature and art.  2) How can we define video games as a form of literature and art.  The goal of persuasive games is to do exactly that through a new type of rhetoric coined as “Procedural Rhetoric.”
  4. 4. “Procedural Rhetoric.” What does it mean?  Before we can explore the true meaning of procedural rhetoric and how it applies to video games we must understand:  What “Rhetoric” is,  Where it comes from  Learn about the different types of rhetoric we encounter in our lives.  Each type of rhetoric has its advantages and disadvantages in accomplishing its main goal  Video games provide new and exciting ways to do so.
  5. 5. What is Rhetoric? The Origins of Rhetoric  When people think of rhetoric there is usually a negative connotation associated with it.   An example would be on the news when they talk about political rhetoric being a negative which is not always true. Rhetoric first appears in Plato’s Gorgias (aprox. 2500 years ago)  (Rhetor) means “orator” and “his practice”  Oral and public  (as if in the public forum with the goal of persuasion/present an argument)
  6. 6. What is Rhetoric? The Origins of Rhetoric (continued)  Socrates   Continue with a description or narration of events  Proof and evidence and the probabilities that such evidence is found   Speakers should begin with an introduction of the argument Finally end with conclusion restating the argument. Aristotle  States rhetoric can also be written  Effective expression  In writing, speech, or art that accomplishes the goals of the author and absorbs the reader and viewer. Writers and artist need this because they have expressive goals not just to persuade an argument.
  7. 7. What is Rhetoric? Defined by Plato and Socrates as a means of verbal persuasion (as if they were in the public fourm representing themselves)  Aristotle describes it also as written persuasion as well as effective expression.  What does this mean for things like photographs, movies, and anything visual? Aren’t that also trying to satisfy persuasion and effective expression? 
  8. 8. Visual Rhetoric  Visual communication cannot simply adopt the figures and forms of oral and written expression because of this a new form of rhetoric must be created to accommodate these media forms such as photographs, drawings, graphs and tables, and motion pictures.
  9. 9. Visual Rhetoric  Verbal and written text is understood relatively slower overtime where as something like images are comprehended almost instantaneously sometimes unknowingly to the viewer.  This kind of instantaneous response is popular in advertising where rather than persuading someone to buy something they just end up doing it without even thinking about why they are buying it.
  10. 10. Digital Rhetoric Times Have Changed  In order to account for things like message boards, emails, blogs, and wikis we use a type of rhetoric called digital rhetoric.  Lots of digital rhetoric is similar to rhetoric, written letters have become emails, and conversations can be come instant messages.  While this might be true for certain examples of things on the internet but what has changed are the following variables the internet provides:  Speed (How fast things be done on the internet)  Reach (How many people can see it on the internet)  Anonymity (can be anyone no name required)  Interactivity (changes based off the user)
  11. 11. Digital Rhetoric  For example  a webpage with an intention of rhetoric can be written by anyone  viewed instantly by anyone anywhere  inside that site multiple hyperlinks  bring you to relevant information pertaining to the subject or claim the site is making.  This can be applied to message boards, wikis, blogs and more. This kind of rhetoric can involve human interaction similar to rhetoric in video games but it does not account for the procedurality that exist in video games.  Like rhetoric, procedurality is a difficult term to understand.
  12. 12. Procedurality  Procedures are often thought of established, entrenched ways of doing things.  Only when they go wrong do we really notice them, “after several complains, we decided to review our procedures for creating new accounts.”  Computers bring a new level of procedurally because they are not like humans in the sense that they are programmed with specific “procedures” that effect its outcome.
  13. 13. Procedurality  Retail store example of returning something after its return date.    Humans might allow it to be returned vs a computer would reject the request Not to say computers cant have procedures to give frequent customers an option to return pass the return window. This kind of thing happens all the time and because procedurality is fundamental to computers they are particularly suited to procedural expression.
  14. 14. Procedurality  Procedurality in computers represent a process within a process.  Video games are all bound to these processes that exist within processes. Graphic logics such as movement, gravity, and collision detection are all processes that make up the process of the game.  All of these processes in a virtual video game space can author arguments, which is the original goal of rhetoric.  So when we put all this together we can begin to understand the rhetoric in video games, procedural rhetoric.
  15. 15. Procedural Rhetoric  The goal of Persuasive Games is to define procedural rhetoric in video games and give examples of such rhetoric and how it is relevant in today’s world where video games are an industry larger than Hollywood itself.  Procedural rhetoric is the practice of using processes persuasively, just as verbal rhetoric is the practice of using oratory persuasively and visual rhetoric is the practice of using images persuasively.
  16. 16. Procedural Rhetoric  Procedural rhetoric’s arguments are made not through construction of words or images but through the authorship of rules of behavior, the construction of dynamic models. Procedural rhetoric’s afford new and promising ways to make claims about how things work.  Because video games and other forms of procedural rhetoric are so interactive and rely on humans involvement as a mediator, you can really see how video games processes allow for more effective expression and the ability to persuade as an art.
  17. 17. Examples of Procedural Rhetoric  Throughout the book Bogost showcases procedural rhetoric in three domains  Politics  Advertising  Education  Using some examples from the book as well as my own examples below you will find links to my commentary of the procedural rhetoric over footage of the game play.  Click Here