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Texture and Conditioning

Ian Bogost does a wonderful job of giving meaning to the use of texture and reality based movements in video games. I would like to expand on some of his ideas in respect to real life games and computer games. He begins by talking about the Chinese game Go and it not being the same when he plays it on a computer, I agree. His experience in enjoying the game is touching the stones and board which give him his intuition into what moves to make. I feel the same way about Backgammon. I love to have the dice rolling around my hands and almost need the sound of the dice hitting the wooden or felt board. This sound and the feeling of the round pieces in my hands as I move them around the board are the fun aspects of playing. When I play the computer version scenarios are mapped out according to the parameters of the game and no matter what the sound effects are, when I virtually roll the dice, the sensation is not the same. I feel ripped off in my experience. He discusses the fact of a games rumble and making motion to simulate actual experience through your game console. This may be better in giving life to the game but it is still not real life and no matter how real the rumble and sounds are in a game it is no replacement for the real thing. In fact some of the rumble that is made is not realistic but creates a trained response. “…rumbling is an instrumental kind of texturing: it makes the environment tactile only to allow the user to make better progress within it”. (Bogost, 81) The way I look at it is that gamers are in many ways like Pavlov’s dogs. If a person is playing Call of Duty and there is a fake gunshot that is heard and the controller vibrates like a gunshot the player knows that there is a person shooting at them. This is the same as Pavlov’s dogs drooling every time he enters a room because they associate him with food. This website gives a brief and accurate description of his experiment and findings. What do you think? http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html



3 thoughts on “Texture and Conditioning

  1. I think the comparison you made with the rumble feature and the Pavlov experiment is very interesting. While rumble is meant to make a game feel as though it is real, such as by going off when there is a gunshot or shaking like crazy when going off the track in a racing game, these feelings with the controller actually feel very little like the real thing. Going by the logic that Pavlov’s experiment suggests, over time we learn to not only associate the shaking controller with these feelings, but in the process also feel as though they really are the real thing. It gives us a fake sense of reality. We may think we know what it feels like to perform certain actions because of video games but then if we actually end up experiencing these things in real life, we may be disappointed or unpleasantly surprised that they are nothing like we thought.

    Posted by jamesste | May 31, 2013, 10:56 am
    • I love the part you brought up about the fake sense of reality. It goes right along the thought process I was shooting for. It is true that the rumble doesn’t feel like the real thing and in effect the repetitive jostling that the controller makes gives the player a new feeling for what something might feel like. By that rational we can conclude that the sensation a person gets when hearing a gunshot would be triggered by multiple and different factors. A sound of an actual gunshot or a certain vibration can have the same affect in the form of a reaction. One could also argue that that kind of conditioning could be negative in nature. If a person has got used to playing games with gunshots that have a vibrating controller then maybe a real gunshot would not scare the person and could result in a scenario that would get the person shot.

      Posted by wjcasey | June 1, 2013, 4:49 pm
  2. I agree with your comparison to Pavlov as well. The rumble becomes a nonessential component that becomes directly associated with an abstractly related action. Bogost does mention how synesthesia allows these associations to work adding a third sense to the audio/video limits existing prior to rumble innovation.

    Posted by chasecon | May 31, 2013, 8:50 pm

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