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Key Terms And Concepts

These are some notes and quotes I took from Ch. 1 to help me stay consistent with Galloway. They are coming in handy with my paper so they might help with yours too. I cut out most of the Diegetic/Nondiegetic things because that conversation has been had many times already.

Video Game– “A cultural object, bound by history and materiality, consisting of an electronic computational materiality, consisting of an electronic computational device and game simulated software.”

Machine– typically has input devise like keyboard or controller and output like a screen.

User– communicates with software and hardware through input device. A.k.a. operator.

Software to Hardware– Software is data that issues instructions to the hardware of the machine. The hardware turns the coded software into the ‘materialized’ game.

Action– “Word one for video game theory.” The user interacts with the materialized game that makes the medium unique.

As “Object and Process”- Video games only exist as an object in process. “They can’t be read as texts or listened to as music, they must be played.” -Aarseth

Active Audience Theory– Media theory “that claims audiences always bring their own interpretations and receptions of the work.” Galloway points the reader to resist this theory for video games action.

Action-Based Medium- From cybernetics and IT. States “an active medium is one whose very materiality moves and restructures itself” Represents a shift from passive spectatorship to action.

Machine to User– “[The Machines] act in response to player actions as well as independently of them.

Machine actions- “acts preformed by the software and hardware of the game computer.”

Operator actions- “acts preformed by players.”

*Games are often rated in hours of total gameplay.

Friedrich Kittler (code)– German media theorist. Paraphrasing him, Galloway states, “code is the only language that does what it says. Code is not only a syntactic and semantic language; it is also a mechanic language.” Like the speech act (ex. “I now pronounce you husband and…).

Video games as software systems- Stresses this point as key to understanding medium. Videogames, being algorithmic functions are more closely related to other kinds of software than other kinds of games.

Ambience Act– A timeless safe place where the operator produces the only stimulus. The machine will randomized environment changes independent of user action (“in a state of pure process”). The machine becomes “purely aesthetic,” like painting or film.

Offline– Moments of player passivity filled with film or animation that relates to diegetic whole of the game. A playful bit of perspective: “Formally speaking, cinematic interludes are a type of grotesque fetishization of the game itself as machine.”

“Nondiegetic operator acts in video games are an allegory for the algorithmic structure of today’s informatic culture.”

Game– An activity defined by rules in which players try to reach some sort of goal.

Play– Executed within fixed limits of time according to rules that are freely accepted, but absolutely binding with its aim in itself. A game produces feelings of tension, joy, and consciousness that it is “different” from “ordinary life.” – Huizinga. “culture arises in and through play.”

*Galloway separates play and game theory from his videogame analysis to decentralize play in relation to the medium as a whole. Play is a component of the medium, but not the foundation. Galloway argues that Huizinga and Caillois overly focus on the human experience, which detracts from other components of the medium.

The dromenon– the ritual act. Strongly relates to the diegetic operator act inside the imaginary world of gameplay.

Move act– changes the physical position or orientation of the game environment.

Expressive acts–  interacting with the environment.

Disabling acts– death and software crash are examples. These nondiegetic machine acts negatively impact diegetic user experience.

Enabling acts– bonuses and other nondigetic machine acts that positively impact diegetic user experience.

The HUD is uncomfortable in its two-dimensionality, but forever there it will stay, in a relationship of incommensurability with the world of the game, and a metaphor for the very nature of play itself. The play of the nondiegetic machine act is there fore a play within the various semiotic layers of the video game. It is form playing with other form.”

“I have deliberately avoided the assumption… that videogames are merely games that people play on computers. Such a position leads to a rather one dimensional view of what video games are. I have also tried to avoid privileging either play or narrative, another tendency that is common in other approaches… Thus I suggest that video games are complex, active media that may involve both humans and computers and may transpire both inside diegetic space and outside diegetic space.”

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