Thursday, 8 March 2007


Word count: 1553

Wednesday, 7 March 2007


- Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric (2006). The game design reader: Rules of play anthology.
MIT Press

- Poole, Steven (2000). Tigger happy: Vidoegames and the entertainment revolution.
New York ,Arcade Inc.

- Wolf, M J. P and Perron, B., (2003) The video game theory reader.
London: Routledge.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


S.Johnson in his book "Everything bad is good for you" stated that playing games are not fun.
If its not, why then so many people all over the world is loving it and spending endless nights in front of the computer locked in the Magical Circle of the games.

The pleasure that comes from playing games is strongly connected with pain and anxiety.As we read in S. Pool book (2000, p.169)"Pleasure increases up to a point according to difficulty. So it seems very likely that one crucial component of videogaming pleasure is in fact a certain level of anxiety. This sounds counterintuitive but is supported by simple experiments that report increased heart rote and adrenaline levels among videogame users"
Gaming pleasure is not only the "most elemental videogame pleasure is the heathen joy of destruction"(S. Poole 2000, p.2) but also the aesthetics."The original Greek meaning of aesthetics refers to things that are perceived by the senses. Modern video games- dynamic and interactive fusions of colorful graphic representation, sound effects, music, speed and movement- are unquestionably a fabulously sensual form." This form of pleasure can be seen in Samorost 2. Where the graphic is amazing and together with the sound it gives you an impression of a movie packed with magical creatures and noises.Or the graphics of the Godfather is as good as the movie.People, sounds, it is so real that you feel attracted to the game.

Another important aspect of pleasure in digital games is a reward.
Rewards in games are something that makes us happy and satisfied . The rewards in a digital game are: new levels (Samorost 2,Beakins Great Mango Quest),new better guns (Doom 2), promotions, new friends ,more money in Sims, or just a blink noise in Fishy. According to Hallford and Hallford(2002) we have four kinds of reward: rewards of glory, sustenance, access and facility. So every game has different reward and we always know before playing the game what sort of reward we can expect to get. Like in Samorost we have got reward of access because each level is in a different location, you never know when you will be next and that encourages you to play, because you cant wait to see where you will be next.
Looking at Beakins Great Mango Quest, although it has not got such beautiful background as Samorost 2 and you don't really change locations it is still hard to stop playing, as the rewards are simple to get and it does not take as much time as in Samorost 2. The rewards are new levels, which here are just higher positions on a a tree. And it makes you excited when you see the bird going higher and higher so this is obvious pleasure of this game.Although what is really irritating is the repetition of the levels ,when you can not go any higher and you find yourself doing one thing over and over again it makes you really stressed and this is obvious the real pain of the game.


"Play is older then culture, for culture however inadequately defined always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for man to teach them their playing "(Salen, Zimmerman 2006, p.97)That is why J. Huizinga introduced term Homo ludens- man the player. In his opinion that is the real name for homo sapiens. As play was with us from the beginning and we didn't have to teach anyone how to play.

Play is crucial in our development, it helps us to learn the limits ,teaches social and physical restraints. In Japan kids are encourage to fight with each other while playing just to know the limits -when to stop fighting to avoid being hurt or hurting the other player and it works as Japan has got the lowest number in crime offences.
Digital games also help us in many ways.
They makes are relaxed, they train our memory and concentration, they make us think.

There are four characteristics of games.They are voluntary, outside ordinary life, they have got fixed boundaries and promote social groups.
The strongest point is that they all are outside ordinary life.When you are playing the game you entering so called magical circle. "One of the most important characteristic of play was its spatial separation from ordinary life. A closed space is marked out for it, either materially or ideally hedged off from the everyday surroundings"(Salen, Zimmerman 2006, p.113)
The magical circle in case of a digital game is psychological. It is a safe area where you can kill ,lead you team to a victory, build a house or discover a mystery.
In the circle you are doing things that are impossible in a real life. In Sims you are creating humans , controlling their lives. It is the player that decide whether they will go to work, whether they will have more friends or enemies. While playing the games you are beyond normal life you don't care about anything except the life on your computer screen.

Dutch anthropologist Huizinga came up with a concept of a Lusory Attitude. This is the attitude that you get when you are inside the magical circle.
While playing the Need for speed Underground you are coming out with a competitive attitude
because you have to win the race to get some money and make you car better and faster.So the player is putting all of his energy into the game, just to win. While playing a game called Qake your attitude is different.To save the world you need to kill a lot of creatures on your way and collect some keys to open the doors to go to the next level. So in the magical circle you are someone who have to save the world, it is obviously unreal, but the attitude can change and the player is likely to feel more angry while playing the game and killing everything on his way.
It is characteristic for the games that they are always unreal, beyond our lives and they can not be taken serious. As the we read Huizinga words in S. Pool book(2000, p.165 ) "Games are not serious(...)They are somehow intellectually degrading". In Doom 3 when you are becoming a marine on Mars and you need to complete the missions that you are given you are stuck in the magical circle but after you stop playing you are no more a marine based on Mars.Because games have got fixed boundaries and every game has to finish at one point or it is a football game on the pitch or you are video game.Play always begins and ends.


Every video game express some values and believes called rhetoric. According to Burk rhetoric is" a persuasive discourse, or an implict narrative, wittingly adopted by members of particular affiliation to persude others of the veracity and worthwilness of their beliefs"(Salen, Zimmerman 2006, p. 302).This phenomena is clearly visible in games like Manhunt or Doom 3.
Those games are well known for fighting and killing everything what is on the player way.Those kind of games are seen in the society as bad which may provocate violence. Especially Manhunt, where you can see a lot of violence.The key point in the game is to kill everyone on your way if not they will kill you. So the rhetoric of the game is shouting that killing and fighting is good.
This attitude sometimes lead to so called Moral Panic, which actually happened in 2005 when Manhunt was banned in several countries and shops because of its extreme violence. But this has lead to even bigger amount of buyers and players.
The opposite situation is with Samorost 2 where the main character is trying to find his dog.And his only weapon is his brain.It is a puzzle game, and the player have to do everything in correct order to find the dog. The rhetoric of the game is showing us that to solve the problems we need to use our brains, we need to think and this will lead us to the victory. The game is totally against the violence and as i was looking through its reviews you cannot find a bad one, again opposite to Manhunt Samorost through the rhetoric was accepted by the society.
Looking at rhetoric's in the game Sims we can say that it promotes a healthy attitude towards life. For example you need to manage your sim money in order to pay the bills and buy some food, you need to socialise with others to make the sim happy, clean the house etc. This game is good for children as it teaches them that you need to earn money , pay the bills, and socialise in order to survive.It can also teach that you have to be careful with spending the money, if you would buy some goods as TV or new bed you will not have enough for the basics as food or water.
The game is like a real life and may help some kids to understand the value of money.


In today s world digital games play huge role in our lives. The 40 years old industry earns billions of dollars each year. Despite being so important in the 21 century , it is impossible to define word game." A definition of game that helps a game designer to create new game of commercial product will be very different from a definition that helps a sociologist to construct a new research problem about player behaviour. At the same time, both designer and sociologist might learn something unexpected by looking at their work through definitions of the other(K. Salen, E. Zimmerman 2006, p.77)
As Wolf and Perron write "The video game is now co as everything from the ergodic(work) to the ludic (play); as narrative, simulation, performance, remediation and art"(2003, p.2)
As Wittgenstein is quoted (Salen, Zimmerman 2006)) there isn't anything common in the games except of "a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing"

Wittgenstein introduced us a theory of "family resemblance".
He compares games to a family where all of the members have some similarities and differences but it it impossible to describe them all as one. It is much easier to describe them as individuals, because despite the things that makes them similar they have got more differences.
Lets look at the Samorost 2 and Sims.What is similar in the games? You cannot define them as one,because they are so different Samorost 2 is a puzzle solving game when a man is trying to rescue his dog. And Sims is a game when you are creating a person and living his life, nothing similar to wondering through magical places in order to get closer to finding the dog.