Jane McGonigal and Reality is Broken… What a topic. When we read her book, I could barely stand her writing. Each section goes on about how there is just three steps and to wait because it gets better like my life… But I’m over all that criticism, because I’ve come to terms with the positive merits content as well as her optimism. Its really is good stuff, despite the beef I had (still kinda have) with her writing. But! She does cover massive gaming territory. Looking back and comparing her work to the other others we read, I can hardly believe it. She breaks down different platforms into insightful components that ended up being a great foundation for our new media studies.
Throughout Ready Player One, I kept wondering if Halliday’s gigantic fortune was the cause of the problem? Halliday and OG were said to have some of the largest sums of money in the novel’s world. If his hundreds of billions were to be pumped back into the world, could it have made a difference? Art3mis certainly thinks so. Wade is not so optimistic. It is hard to tell. Halliday was a genius, but he also was detached from the world. He did not care what happened to humanity nearly as much as he cared about the 1980s. Even if Halliday wasn’t the problem, the distribution of wealth, coupled with the irresponsible use of resources, monetary and natural ones, were the problem.
First off, I’d like to say I really enjoyed the book. It was a fast paced and fun. And that’s not even unrelated to my post. The novel incorporated a lot of the concepts we discussed throughout the course and put them into play as literature. In that sense, it took a different, but not less related approach to understanding and representing videogames. Where the other texts we read were theory based social science/ philosophical works, the novel lives as art. Ready Player One delivered an art as art. While the others were definitely more important to scholarship, Ready Player One helped keep gaming fun
This slide presentation gives several useful aspects to social gaming. It reviews statistical information on players and social game use. It notes patterns in game types and qualities. It gives an in depth analysis on how these noted qualities reveal game design. Most of the content is related to social networks that have nothing to do with proximity, but even so, the account is at the least a close cousin to my project. The similarities cross in different places in ways that are useful to my research.
Björk, S. (2010). Principles and patterns of social games: Where’s the difference compared to other games?. GCO Games Convention Online 2010. Leipzig.
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.”
I was reviewing Galloway and noticed a bit of analysis towards the end of chapter one that reminded me of The Beatles:
“Gaming is a subjective algorithm, a code intervention exerted from both within gameplay and without gameplay in the form of the nondiegetic operator.”
Of course, the quote uses the same language as in the track “Within You Without You.” But there is a bit more to it than that. Both the song and quote point towards similar concepts of how art transcends the bridge into reality. The Beatles use the term to describe ones relationship to life (nondiegetic in “without” and diegetic in “within”) and Galloway in his observation on nondiegetic user interaction within and without the narrative. We can better understand the division between the two mediums by getting to the crux of the linguistic truth embedded in the relation between “within” and “without” and by viewing how each medium employs that truth.
Odd Man Out is a drinking game I developed this past year. At the start of game play, one person is ‘it’. This person says a word or phrase, then immediately turns out the lights for an unspecified amount of time. As soon as the lights cut out, the other players physically respond to the word. When the lights come back on, the ‘it’ player selects the top performance to be ‘it’ next and asks the weakest performance drink.
Odd Man Out has the temporality of Snapchat. That, combined with uninhibited context of alcohol, allows for personality to live freely in the name of play. I imagine the alcohol qualifies the game as rated MA or 21+ here in the States, and could be as controversial as video game violence. Nonetheless, drinking acts as an incredibly rewarding punishment. There are no specified quantities, so the game is compatible with everyones limits. It can be fun to play without alcohol as well, but there is something inherent in the context of social drinking that beautifully cultures the elements that make Odd Man Out a good game.
The success of Odd Man Out rests in how it rewards subjective expression in the social setting. Like Derrida’s playful interpretation of play or his linguistic interpretation of conveying truth, play in this game intersects with reality in a way that removes itself. Odd Man Out allows players to interpret language and interject associations through the once removed context of acting/body language (sound happens frequently too). The competitive linguistic personifications that form the diegesis of the game push players to get as silly as possible. They look inward in the dark, and outward in the light. The loose rules allow for collective bargaining and even team work during play. Rounds almost always reinforces individuality and effort with hearty laughter.
I decided to include this game in my research blogs because successful play represents uninhibited social interaction that fluidly builds connections between friends and strangers in ways that transcend play. This is very similar to the type structure I’d like to achieve with the video games I’m working on now. However, I have decided to avoid connecting drinking with the video games. I do want to achieve the same levels of distortion between socializing, winning, loosing and playing that Odd Man Out has strongly exhibited.
P.S. If you want to play a game, you’ve got to forget how you can pin it down with words, because you can’t have both! (paraphrased Derrida)
For my research assignment I’m going to present and analyze an emerging medium in video gaming. I recently connected with a young entrepreneur who’s creating a Brooklyn based startup installing gaming systems in bars. The goal is to encourage and enhance face-to-face interaction through video gaming. He is creating a localized network that enables smart phones to act as controllers. I’m helping design several games that utilize this environmentally specific platform so that game play crosses real space through specifically designed operator interaction as well as non-player diegetic incorporation. I’ve been pushing to incorporate simple concepts from ARGs and RPGs to turn operator acts like button pressing into secondary narrative objectives of social interaction that intersect with the game in the same way that Eddo Stern notes nondiegetic machine acts can be “metaphorically patched artifacts” (Galloway 31). In this sense, we hope to create and aid in complex social games that are nested within our mini games that make full use of the technology that comprises this new gaming platform. My project will consist of wireframes maps of the games as well as comprehensive notes and discussions that connect my design with the logic of this course. This is an analysis in real-time, so it may also reflect the production process, and will only be able to account for this process through the paper’s due date. If the wireframe process becomes too cumbersome in relation to deadline, I’ll confine my research project to a more traditional discussion on the medium as it relates to the design process.
The narrative in Ready Player One takes place in two main spaces: reality and OASIS. Throughout the novel, the division between these spaces gets more complex. Wade’s time in the virtual space far exceeds his time in real space. Upon the reader’s entry into the story, Wade’s virtual life supplants his real life. For him, reality is only useful to maintain a functioning body that can access OASIS.
As the narrative progresses, implications from the virtual world crosses through the real world. The sixers’ attempt to murder wade ends up killing many real people. Wade’s plot to infiltrate the sixers at the end of the novel takes the concept of an epic win and makes it happen in reality. At the end of the book, Wade decides he wants to spend his time in the real world. In this way, the narritive functions like a coming of age story in the context of virtual culture.