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Are Computer Games Real?


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Slides for keynote talk at the Nordic Game Research Network PhD-seminar 'Computer Game Research - Theory and Method' June 17-19 2008, InDiMedia / VR Media Lab, Aalborg University (DK) and Dronninglund Slot, June 17–19, 2008.

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Are Computer Games Real?

  1. 1. + Are Computer Games Real? Patrick J. Coppock <> University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  2. 2. + Computer Games: Half-Real or Real?  Jesper Juul (2005) suggests computer games are “half real” because:  Playing computer games is a real world activity people take part in  People feel involved with games and care about what happens when playing them  Game-playing has (or may have) negotiable consequences in the real world  My question:  So why can we not just say that computer games are “real”?
  3. 3. + Big Question: OK. But what do we actually mean by “real”? Here: and first and foremost,”Cultural Units”
  4. 4. + Material Cultural Artefacts
  5. 5. + Intangible Cultural Artefacts
  6. 6. + Mediated Cultural Artefacts
  7. 7. + Tangible, Intangible & Mediated Cultural Artefacts
  8. 8. + “Open” [Aesthetic] Works  “Open works” are communicative strategies designed by authors with an active interpretational role for their readers in mind (Eco 1984)  “An open text cannot be described as a communicative strategy if the role of its addressee (the reader in the case of verbal texts) has not been envisioned as at the moment of its generation”  “The reader as an active principle of interpretation is a part of the picture of the generative process of the text.”
  9. 9. + The Play of Intention in Text
  10. 10. + Transmedia remediation
  11. 11. + Speed Runs as Narrative Processes 
  12. 12. + Openness and Negotiation of Consequences  Juul (again):  It is necessary to describe the relationship between the game activity and the rest of the world, e.g. between:  Game rules  Variable and quantifiable outcomes of games  Emotional attachments of players to various types of outcomes
  13. 13. + Key sources and issues  Sources:  Player Experience  Player Biographies  Player Memory  Issues:  Player conjectures about, conceptions of, (past, present and future) actual and possible consequences for self and others.  Narrower (more “local”) and broader (more “global”) pertinence and identity issues
  14. 14. + Factuality and Fiction  The actual world as a cultural construct (Eco):  The experienced world as a “multitude of world pictures or stated descriptions […] epistemic worlds that are frequently mutually exclusive”  Fictional possible worlds:  “Small worlds”;“Handicapped worlds”;“Parasitical” on the actual world. “Constructed by human minds and hands”.
  15. 15. + Beyond Culture  “Even though the real world is a cultural construct, one might still wonder about the ontological status of the described universe.
  16. 16. + Self, Other and World as Process
  17. 17. + Past, Present, Future Possibility and Actuality
  18. 18. + Intertwining Past, Present, Future Possibility and Actuality Past Actualities Present Actualities Future Actualities Past Possibilities Present Possibilities Future Possibilities
  19. 19. + Colin Powell Slides
  20. 20. + Atom Egoyan
  21. 21. + Orhan Pamuk
  22. 22. + Elif Shahak
  23. 23. + Kimveer Gill
  24. 24. + Super Colombine Massacre RPG!
  25. 25. + Dylan Klebold and Erik Harris
  26. 26. + The Cultural Role of Fictional Possible Worlds  Fictional characters live in a handicapped world.When we actually understand their fate, then we start to suspect that we too, as citizens of the actual world, frequently undergo our destiny just because we think of our world in the same way as fictional characters think of their own.  Fiction suggests that perhaps our view of the actual world is as imperfect as that of fictional characters.  This is the way that successful fictional characters become paramount examples of the “real” human condition.  (Umberto Eco)