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how to do things with videogames, Uncategorized

Easy and Catchy

The two ideas that Bogost presented in Chapter 18 were:

(1) All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They should reward the first quarter and the hundredth

(2) Each game must have an exciting, relevant theme and be easy enough for most people to understand. Finally, each game should be so sturdy that it could be played time and again, without wearing out

Examining “easy to learn”

Bogost makes the assertion that “mechanical simplicity is less important than conceptual familiarity” (128). In essence he is saying that it is not necessarily how easy the controls are but rather how similar the concept is to preexisting games. However, it is not enough for the game similar but also it must possess some type of widespread societal understanding. “Familiarity is thus the primary property of the game, not learnability” (127). However, this begs the question, what about games that are not as straightforward as (Bogost’s example) Pong? How do games like Assasin’s Creed that bare almost no resemblance to any modern day game become so unbelievably successful? Where is the familiarity that Bogost talks about? For those who have not played Assasin’s Creed, it is a game based in two different worlds (both in modern day and in the past). It is the job of Desmond Miles to sift through centuries of ancestral memories and history in order to reach a type of mankind nirvana by discovering the fate of mankind and altering the end of the world. Miles acts as an assassin during different time periods including the 12th, 15th, and 16th centuries in an attempt to recover all the missing Pieces of Eden. An argument could be made that this is just an elaborate puzzle game but is it too different from the basic concept of a puzzle to be considered “familiar”?

Examining “time and again”

“The game’s allure must simply inspire multiple plays” (129). Bogost says that a game must be “catchy” much like a song. It must inspire a kind of cognitive itch within its users. Once Bogost presents this idea, he begins to ground videogaming in a cultural and social context. “Cultural connections help habituate ideas. They give them form, acclimatizing listeners—or players—to the social contexts in which ideas might be used” (132). War games such as Call of Duty begin to make social statements about the state of war. Although COD takes place in the era of World War II, it is no coincidence that the first COD was released in 2003 (the same year the Iraq War began). It could be said that COD could be a means to begin a conversation about the basic concepts of war.

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