Thursday, 8 March 2007

Play and pleasure blog # 4

“..Rewards and punishments shape a player’s sense of pleasure and overall play experience” (Salen K & Zimmerman E 2004)

Reward is a positive reinforcement and can take different forms. Reward can shape behaviour in everyday situations. For example, a young child could be bribed with a bar of chocolate to sit still; adults defer reward when working for later gain. In the context of games there are four different types of reward, one of which is ‘reward access’ which is when a player is able to reach a new level in the game.

In ‘Mango Quest’ the reward is to reach subsequent levels en route to getting the mango at the top of the tree. As you pass each obstacle, each level becomes more difficult. There were times I was not able to complete a level and would fall back to the previous level. This would frustrate me but knowing that if I kept trying to get to the top of the mango tree I would be rewarded, reduced my frustrations so I kept trying.

The pleasure of flow is when I am focusing totally on enjoying the game and am in an “emotional and psychological state of focus and engaged happiness” (Salen K & Zimmerman E 2004). There is a definite chance of failure, and I could tell how well I was doing. ‘Mango Quest’ incorporates two of Csikszentmihlyi’s descriptions of the components of flow in that there are: “clear goals and feedback” within the game. The game is “goal oriented” and it is possible to make “meaningful choices”.

The pleasure of iterative possibility in ‘Mango Quest’ occurred when I failed a particular level, and had to redo it. When doing it the second time around, I was more aware of how to avoid the obstacles, and this allowed me to get past the obstacle I had failed on before. This made the game pleasurable because I learnt from my mistake and was able to complete the game with better ability by changing my technique. It was iterative because I repeated the level, but changed my approach slightly. For example, getting past the eating Venus fly trap, the first time I didn’t know to use both the arrows keys simultaneously. When I did this on the second occasion, I succeeded. This type of motivation is “ludic” and involves the ability to move up a level in the game (Carr D, Buckingham D Burn A Schott G (2006)


Carr D, Buckingham D Burn A Schott G (2006) Computer Games: text narrative and play UK Polity Press

Salen K & Zimmerman E 2004 Rules of Play: game design fundamentals USA Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Blog 3 on lusory attitude and the magic circle

Blog 3.

Huizinaga believes that when playing a game the player or players enter the ‘magic circle’. The magic circle consist of boundaries. “As a player steps in and out of a game, he or she is crossing that boundary- or frame that defines the game in time and space” (Salen and Zimmerman 2004)

The circle is a special place with in time and it’s a space created by a game. weather the game be have physical components for example a dolls house, playing ‘ mummies and or a rugby pitch playing sport. Or have psychological components playing ‘guess who’, trying to guess what celebrity the other player has thought off.
The player or players of the game can escape from reality with in the magic circle.
Another element to the magic circle are rules. “ the magic circle of a games is the boundary of the game space and within this boundary the rules of the game play out and have authority.” (Salen and Zimmerman 2004)

Lusory attitude from my understanding is that the relationship between the player and the game. “ the lusory attitude is an extremely useful, concept as it describes the attitude that is required of game players for them to enter into a game. ,” (Salen and Zimmerman (2004).
The players have to adopt and except the rules of the game in order to play.

According to Huizinga “ play must serve something which is not play that it must have some kind of biological purpose”(Huizinga,Johan (1970)). I think what he is trying to say is that play is in born in humans.

When playing dinner dash I could apply this to the magic circle. I was completely absorbed in the task at hand waiting on all the tables and trying to find out the best technique to serve and clean up and take orders. All that the same time. The game had boundaries, you only had a limited about of time to complete the task, if you did not attend to the tables quick enough then you would lose money. Also there was a time limit to the game before it was over, and with in this time you had to make as much money as you could.

Applying the Lusory attitude to this game, well I made the choice to play the game and I could not take part in the game until I downloaded it this was my choice, I was in right state of mind that I wanted to have fun and competed the game. I also excepted and adopted the rules of the game to complete it to my best ability. When the game was over, I excepted this and went back to real life!

Salen K & Zimmerman E (2004) Rules of Play: game design fundamentals USA Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Huizinga,Johan, (1970) Homo Ludens: a study of the play element in culture, London Maurice Temple Smith Ltd.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Rhetoric In Games

Rhetoric is persuasive language used to convince people into a certain view point and to capture a person’s attention. Rhetoric is cleverly used in the media; all forms of media use rhetoric because of its simple yet gripping nature. It is ‘clear cut’ and therefore appeals to the public in the sense that they do not have to make an opinion up-it is already given. Therefore, “…the media are credited with an enormous power over society to influence behaviour and thought.” (Newman, James and Oram, Barney (2006) Rhetoric is always applied when a game is marketed. It can be subtle, for example the simple expression of the game’s values via the clothes that a character wears, to obvious statements of fact, such as “the most violent game ever made.” I have played a series of games this week to which rhetoric and values are applied. I will consider “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA)” and “Mario Kart: Double Dash (MK).”
The marketing of GTA is not subtle and immediately shows the nature of the game. In the trailer, the main character is seen running away from a fleet of policemen, and shooting passers by. The hard music in the background and the worn clothes of the character add to this aura and sense of violence. GTA is a thrilling, third person action game in which you have to fight to survive. The concept of the game is violent and killing has to occur to succeed; a person receives points for the death of a person, sometimes even by chainsaw! It does seem fairly obvious that this is not a game for children. “In the most common scenario found in such games an anonymous character performs an act of aggression… (Provenzo,F Engene(1991)
How relevant!
On the other hand, MK is a ‘happy’ game. The trailer has upbeat electronic music and the characters wears bright clothing, which in a way represent fun. The game was named “the ultimate party game” in Total Gamer. The game is fun, vibrant end energetic, completely different to GTA.
So as we can see, rhetoric is always in games and the marketing of them. A person could be easily persuaded or dissuaded into a certain viewpoint on the game by the rhetoric used, hence the constant debates over the values and morals of games like GTA.
(Newman, James and Oram, Barney (2006) Series teaching film and media studies teaching videogames, London, The British Film Institute).

Provenzo,F Engene (1991) Video Kids, Making Sense of Nintendo. Camberige, Massachusetts London,England,Harvard

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

1st enrty what is games?

1st Journal Entry What are games? Games are an essential part of human culture. A person experiences many different types of games throughout his everyday life. Marshall Macluhan believes that "games are extensions, not of our private life, but of our social selves." (Provenzo,F Engene (1991)This is true in that the majority of games humans involve themselves with contain social interaction. There is however no easy, single definition of a game. I would agree with Ludwig Wittgenstein's discussion of games. Wittgenstein observes that games don't all share the same features but they do all contain overlapping similarities, for example tennis and the lottery. Tennis is a skilful, competitive game whereas the lottery is competitive but contains no skill. Both games share a similarity in competitiveness but cannot be defined in the same way. Wittgenstein furthers his argument by comparing games to a rope. A rope has twisted fibres however no single, core thread. Wittgenstein also uses the analogy of a family to compare games and their definition. He argues that just as family members have similar characteristics, for example same eye colour, same hair colour and so on, so do games with their different values like luck and competitiveness. Each have their own similarities but are not identical. Therefore, the definition of a game has blurred edges. Applying Wittgenstein's argument to the games that I have played, his logic is evident. Games like Doom II and James Bond Goldeneye are highly skilled, highly competitive "shoot 'em up" games in which you have to fight and kill enemies, whereas Samorostos II and Lemmings for example are more, light hearted puzzle games. These puzzle games are not competitive in the way that Doom II and Goldeneye are in that they don't give a person the same adrenaline rush and sense of competition. These games do have a similarity despite first impressions; they all contain skill. So you can see certain games have similarities but can be entirely different.
(Provenzo,F Engene (1991) Video Kids Making sense of Nintendo. Camberige, Massachusetts London,England,Harvard University Press)