Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Blog 4
Iteration within ‘Abe’s oddosee’
Personally one of the main reasons I find myself playing the same games for hours is because of the whole notion of iteration. Iteration often occurs when the player gets stuck on a certain level and at a certain part of the level, for example jumping over a bridge or something similar. The player would appear to be consistently repeating the same actions to a possible viewer. However this is not the case as the player tends to try something a little bit different every time to get past this stage. It is this challenge or this possibility to finally get it right and pass the stage which keeps the player addicted to the game. Whilst playing Abe’s oddosee, I found myself stuck on the part of the game where Abe must set a bomb off by pressing down on it as it flashed from green to red. Although I repeatedly missed the green light and got killed, it was the possible consequence of what would happen if i got it right that kept me repeating the level, however trying something a little bit different, (trying to get my timing right). Although my character would repeatedly die and i would replay the same section again i found myself imaginatively engaged to the possibility of being the active part of the game who is controlling what happens thus playing differently each time.
Eventually after getting the timing right and passing this stage, I’d find myself stuck on another section, (jumping over from one rock to another with out being hit by other falling rocks). Again it was this same feeling of iteration which kept me playing, as i knew that just as I got past the last difficult level, there was this same exciting possibility of getting it right and feeling the difference within my active part. It is within my active part of the game which gives meaning to my actions and to the game as a whole.
Word count per entry 332
Blog 3
Discussing the magic circle and the lusory attitude.

In Huizinga’s Homo Ludens, he describes two important elements in playing. The first is the idea of entering what he calls “the magic circle” of play. He explains this as when a person “plays in complete, in sacred- earnest” thus the player “transports into another world, separate from ordinary life”, a “realm of the beautiful and sacred”.
Huizinga also discusses the idea of the “law” or the attitude one must adopt during play. He calls this attitude, the ‘lusory’ attitude. This is when the participant chooses to enter the magic circle accepting certain conditions and rules which one must abide by in order to enjoy the play.
These two aspects of play do not only apply to humans but animals too. The whole idea is nicely demonstrated by the example Huizinga uses. He explains that even dog’s play has certain rules that they follow, that “you shall not bite or bite hard, your brother’s ear” during play. In this way their game is remains fun and enjoyable.
Whilst playing the playstation game Ryman, I found myself entering the magic circle in which I become very involved in the game and in Ryman’s world. The character’s mission to rescue the little pink creatures became important to me at the time and in this new world I was in. Trying to cheat in anyway or skipping the pink creatures in order to finish the level quicker would have ruined the game. And so I found myself abiding by these rules in order to enjoy the game more. There were fixed boundaries within the magic circle I was in. The first boundary is these certain rules which I found my self sticking to. Another one was the space and time limit of the game. The character within the game was only permitted to move in certain areas of the screen and in a certain way, i.e., the character could not swim or fly when falling of a cliff, also the character could not go to certain areas of the screen which were irrelevant and had no purpose to the game, but were only there as part of the pictorial scene. Time was also a limited in the way that each level finished once you get to a certain part of the game, (the end of the level).
Word count per entry 384
Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, Beacon Press (1971, Ch. 1)
Blog 2
Discussing Rhetoric and Moral Panic (Metal Gear Solid)

James W. Chesebro and Dale A Bertelsen in their “Analysing media communication technologies as symbolic and cognitive systems” describe rhetoric as a set of symbols or signals which can be verbal or non verbal and are used to stand for some physical existence, physical characteristics and/or a “physical function of a referent or entity”. These symbols or signals are there to reveal values and beliefs. The symbols and signals can be expressed by speaking, writing or even by behaving in a certain way which shows a personal belief.
Often through effective use of rhetoric, a strong message could be delivered, sometimes strong enough to effect other’s personal believes. A term closely related to rhetoric is the idea of “moral panic”. Stanley Cohen in his “FOLK DEVILS & MORAL PANICS” explains moral panics as when a society is subjected to certain periods where a condition, episode, person or a group of people emerge as a threat to society by their beliefs or ideas. Cohen explains that often the panic is about something that has existed for quite a while yet all the sudden “appears in the limelight”. However sometimes it is a new movement or idea altogether. However often the panic passes and is forgotten after a period.
A game I will look at which demonstrates both ideas, is ‘Metal Gear Solid’.

Metal Gear Solid is about a character named ‘Snake’ who’s objective is to set out on his military mission to save the world from this abstract idea of a nuclear weapon. Within the game are the ‘bad guys’ who snake is against, as they try to steal the nuclear weapons to generate them in the “black market” and sell them to the world. The emphasis of the game is on the idea of war, world peace and weapons of mass destructions.
The main value of the game is to achieve world peace by fighting and killing the ‘bad guys’ who are generating these nuclear weapons. So the main rhetoric is that violence is the answer for world peace, hence war is acceptable.

This game clearly demonstrates the recent on going moral panic on terrorism. And the idea of the generation of “weapons of mass destruction” which is threatening the world is clearly shown. The whole idea of America’s “war on terror” is also shown in the way that Snake is an American and all the ‘bad guys’ who are generating this nuclear weapons are foreigners.

Word count per entry 404

Stanley Cohen, FOLK DEVILS & MORAL PANICS, Basil Blackwell, (1980, p 9-12)
James W. Chesebro, Dale A. Bertelsen, Analysing Media, Communication technonlogies as symbolic and cognitive system, The Guilford Press, (p 177-179)
Blog 1
Wittgenstein on Games

Wittgenstein’s idea on games is that they all generally have overlapping similarities and share some common features. He outlines 3 features which are found in majority of games, however not all games have all three features, but most have at least two. These features are, the game could either be a skills game, something like Tetris, on the other hand, a game may only require luck, i.e. the lottery. And finally the game may have an element of competitiveness. A game must at least have one of these features to be considered a game. Wittgenstein describes games using the metaphor of a rope with different twisted fibres, not a single thread. He also describes games using the idea of family resemblance. Family members often share similar features, i.e. nose, eyes etc but will not all have exactly the same features. This is the case with games.
I will be discussing three games in terms of their shared features. The first game I will discuss is The PC game Minesweeper: Although this game requires some skill in trying to work out, by the number clues given, where the next bomb might be, the game also requires some luck, as choosing your first few boxes is randomly done, with out any thought or skills required. There is no competition in this game, however some may argue that you are competing with the PC or yourself.
Football soccer: This game would be highly competitive as you are competing directly against the other team, and would need a lot of good game controlling skills. However luck does not seem a feature of he game as it is more skills orientated than luck. You need skills to control the ball and make the right moves not luck.
Pin ball: whether this game is more skills orientated than luck orientated is debatable. Some may consider the way you strike the flippers determains how successful you are in the game. Where as some may debate that the striking of the flippers requires no skill and the game is based on luck as the player has no control over where the ball goes, its luck. Again this game is only competitive in the sense that you may be competing against yourself by setting your self higher target scores etc.

Word count per entry 384