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Playing With Reality: Environment, Situation, and Games

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Talk delivered at Different Games 2014. Explores how games “play with reality,” opening various avenues for inquiry around notions of environment and situation. Makes reference to Sartre, Goffman, and Baron Von Haussmann, among others, and offers up the following definition for game: “Games are semi-regulated situations that unfold over time and resolve based on the creative participation of one or more players.”

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Playing With Reality: Environment, Situation, and Games

  1. 1. PLAYINGWITH REALITY Jeff Watson, PhD Assistant Professor, OCAD University, Digital Futures Director, Situation Lab http://remotedevice.net @remotedevice
  2. 2. ACTION
  3. 3. How games “play with reality”
  4. 4. Two touchstones: Environment and Situation
  5. 5. Two touchstones: Environment and Situation
  6. 6. Georges-Eugène Haussmann Urban Planner Boulevards of Paris, “Haussmannization”
  7. 7. Situationist International Revolutionary Group Psychogeography, the construction of “Situations” Guy Debord, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Rauol Vaneigem, et al. c. 1957 - 1972
  8. 8. “[Only] play can deconsecrate, open up the possibilities of total freedom . . . the freedom, for example, to turn Chartres Cathedral into a fun-fair, into a labyrinth, into a shooting-range, into a dream landscape.” Raoul Vaneigem, quoted in Plant, The Most Radical Gesture, 129.
  9. 9. Theory of the Dérive Guy Debord, 1958.
  10. 10. Environmental Game Design The practice of designing games with and around the physical, digital, social, and emotional environment of players so as to manifest an impact on the way in which that environment is used
  11. 11. Environmental Games and Direct Action The transformative potential of environmental games lies in the fact that they can be more than just a call to action -- they can meaningfully be the action itself
  12. 12. Gaston Bachelard – The Poetics of Space, Topoanalysis
  13. 13. Gone Home
  14. 14. Erving Goffman Sociologist Dramaturgical Analysis The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)
  15. 15. DRAMATURGICAL CODES PERFORMANCE
  16. 16. Action: Macon Money (2010) Impact mandates: build personal connections, support local business Game actions: build personal connections, support local business
  17. 17. Action: Reality Ends Here (2011-present) Impact mandates: collaboration, peer discovery, media experimentation Game actions: collaboration, peer discovery, media experimentation
  18. 18. Situation
  19. 19. Situation (noun) a set of circumstances in which one finds oneself; a state of affairs. synonyms: circumstances, (state of) affairs, state, condition
  20. 20. Situation (via Sartre) “The situation is an appeal: it surrounds us, offering us solutions which it’s up to us to choose.” (Theater of Situations) “Thus we begin to catch a glimpse of the paradox of freedom: there is freedom only in a situation, and there is a situation only through freedom.” (Being And Nothingness)
  21. 21. The writer is in a situation in their epoch. Jean-Paul Sartre Editorial in Les Temps Modernes, Issue 1 (1945)
  22. 22. An opportunity to act
  23. 23. “We’ve got ourselves a situation…”
  24. 24. Eudaimonia & Eupraxis
  25. 25. Games are Situations
  26. 26. Games ∈ Situations
  27. 27. What do you do? Super Hexagon
  28. 28. What do you do? Chess Boxing
  29. 29. What do you do? Myst
  30. 30. No game is an island
  31. 31. Star Trek: TNG
  32. 32. Go
  33. 33. Team Fortress 2/Oculus Rift
  34. 34. Defining Game
  35. 35. I perceive four common factors: representation ["a closed formal system that subjectively represents a subset of reality"], interaction, conflict, and safety ["the results of a game are always less harsh than the situations the game models"]. Chris Crawford, 1981
  36. 36. A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, 2003
  37. 37. [An] activity which is essentially: Free (voluntary), separate [in time and space], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make- believe. Roger Caillois, 1961
  38. 38. A game is a rule-based formal system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable. Jesper Juul, 2003
  39. 39. “Not this, but…”
  40. 40. Games are permeable regulated situations that unfold over time and resolve or conclude based in whole or in part on the creative participation of one or more players. Jeff Watson, just now
  41. 41. Games are permeable regulated situations that unfold over time and resolve based on the creative participation of one or more players. Jeff Watson, just now-er
  42. 42. Games are semi-regulated situations that unfold over time and resolve based on the creative participation of one or more players. Jeff Watson, just now-est
  43. 43. Permeability
  44. 44. “Not this, but…”
  45. 45. Ludic Paraludic
  46. 46. Ludic Paraludic
  47. 47. Ludic Paraludic
  48. 48. Ludic Paraludic
  49. 49. Shrovetide
  50. 50. Mario Kart
  51. 51. Nidhogg
  52. 52. Hidden in Plain Sight
  53. 53. Spaceteam
  54. 54. JS Joust
  55. 55. Journey
  56. 56. The Castle Doctrine
  57. 57. Metal Gear Solid
  58. 58. Candy Box
  59. 59. Flappy Bird
  60. 60. PLAYINGWITH REALITY Jeff Watson, PhD Assistant Professor, OCAD University, Digital Futures Director, Situation Lab http://remotedevice.net @remotedevice

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