Friday, March 9, 2007

Reward, Flow, and Iteration

Iteration is one of the most important factors of play. Iteration is when the player has the option of repeating a game (or level) already played. Personally good iteration in a game for me is very important as it allows the player to repeat the level expanding the game.

When comparing two games, if we look at Doom II and Age of Empires II. It is easy to see which game has excellent iteration and which one does not. Looking at doom II, once I completed the level, I found it easy to repeat the level, as the same monsters would appear on the game and I would know exactly where to go. This is an example of a poor iteration. When looking at age of empires II is set in a far more of an open world, with better artificial intelligence, thus making the game far more random therefore harder/ or different to play than previous. An excellent example of iteration within games.

Reward in games is another important factor of Play, especially in games. Games need to be pleasurable in order for them to be fun. The pleasure pain factor allows the gamer to enjoy the game, but also loose the game. If The player won all the time then it would not be any fun winning. To examine in video games a good example of this would be Amped 3. When I won competitions I could unlock the next competition or the next level. If I lost or did not get enough points then I would not pass. A good example of the pleasure- pain theory.

Homo ludens

In French, the verb jouer is taken from the word jou and in German the verb spielen is taken from the word spiel. In English the verb ‘to play’ is taken from the word play. All the verbs are the same What is different from the French and German , is that jou and spiel mean ‘game’ rather than ‘play’.

Jou, Spiel and Game all mean in Latin as ‘Ludens’

The book ‘Homo Ludens’ written by Johan Huizinga, is about Huizinga’s theory that Humans should not be called Homo Sapiens but they should be called Homo Ludens. This is because Huizinga believes that play is the most essential part of Human life.

His theory is that play has to have four key elements…

These are:-

Ÿ Play is voluntary.

Ÿ Play is outside ordinary life.

Ÿ Play has fixed boundaries.

Ÿ Play promotes social groups.

When related to video games is Huizinga’s theory of play justified? When playing video games play is always voluntary; If someone does not want to play then he will not pick up the controller. Play always has to be enjoyable. When playing video games they are outside ordinary life. Video games have fixed boundaries as there are always a set of rules , and there is never an unlimited area or missions. Whether social groups are always promoted with 1 player games. It can be argued that 1 player games can promote forums and social groups can be promoted through the love of the game, but when actually playing a 1player computer game we do not talk to anyone else as we are absorbed in the game. “Gaming is frequently seen as an isolated activity that undermines ‘natural’ human interaction and ultimately leads atrophy of players social skills.” Schott and Kambouri (2006) Computer Games- Text, Narrative and Play. This can be justified when playing “Dead Rising” It is solely a 1 player game there is no other player involvement when playing it I did not expand my social group even further, if anything I felt I was not part of the social group whilst playing it.



Rhetoric is defined as the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. Or as Brian Sutton-Smith defines its as “A Persuasive discourse, or an implicit narrative, willingly or unwillingly ,adopted by members of a particular affiliation to persuade others of the veracity or worth while ness of there beliefs.” (Salem, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric (2004) Rules of play, Game design fundamentals)

But How is Rhetoric used in the world of digital games?

We can examine rhetoric of the representation of games. To look at the rhetoric of the representation games we must understand that the rhetoric demonstrates the values and beliefs of the author Video games gain a bad press. An example of this was in February 2004 Warren Leblanc (17) killed his 14 year old friend. It was revealed that this murder was executed in a very similar way to the Game “Manhunt”. The Media caused a Moral panic and attacked games such as Manhunt. This is when the media fixates on one group or behaviour usually a minority or sub-culture (in this case violent games . The Media uses Rhetoric to cause a moral panic. The media can use crude rhetoric such as “Ban these evil games” or they can use subtle rhetoric which is the opposite of being crude. This is relevant to video games and it can cause campaigns against violent games and video games in general. Another crucial side effect of a moral panic is that it does attract additional ‘deviant’ individuals to the sub-culture. In this case because of the bad press of Manhunt it put the media spotlight on it saying it was a bad game. Many people wanted to see why it was a bad game so bought it. Many people like playing violent games so therefore bought it. This is known as the deviancy amplification spiral.

We can also examine the rhetoric within games. The Rhetoric within games are different for every game albeit some very similar. For example if we look at Halo the objectives of the game are to defeat the enemy by killing the enemy and destroying enemy structures. The Values of the game are if something attacks you attack back. And the solution to all obstacles is a weapon and tactical fighting. So therefore the Rhetoric would be that shooting and killing is acceptable and forgiveness is not. Does this then suggest that the creators beliefs are that shooting and killing is acceptable? I do not believe so. Surely the creators values and beliefs are that he believes that games should be entertaining, and that violence in a reality created on a computer is acceptable? I believe That the creators of violent games do not believe that shooting, killing and being in organised crime is acceptable.

This therefore all links to the representation of games and bad press that games shouldn’t receive bad press and that rhetoric Is a very persuasive and important part of the video gaming world.

what are games?

What Are Games?

Games are a huge and essential part of life. Games can be playing a board game, a crossword, or playing a sport. But what are games and how do we actually define games. In the dictionary it is defined as “an activity providing entertainment or a amusement, a pastime“. “Games are extensions not of our private live but our social selves“* This is true as to playing multiplayer games like pro evolution soccer or call of duty 3. It can be true of all games however 1 player games in my opinion do not extend our social selves when we play the game as it involves absolute attention. Wittgenstein believes that it is impossible to define exactly what is a game. He discusses that a games have many similar characteristics to classify them as games but also they have characteristics making the unique. Much like a species of animal or a family. I definitely agree with Wittgenstein’s theory of games. When playing Doom II and Samorostos II I could apply Wittgenstein’s theory of games. Doom II did not involve too much thinking, it is a simple objective of kill everything to complete the level. Samorostos II involves logical thinking and problem solving. Each game was different but its similarities were that both involved using skill, and both games were one player games.

(Provenzo. F Engene (1991) video kids making sense of Nintendo. Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England, Harvard (university press)