Presentation on theme: "Bogost’s Book: How to Do Things with Video Games"— Presentation transcript:
1 Bogost’s Book: How to Do Things with Video Games Cody ReimerNew Media StudioPurdue 2012
2 Media Microecology“[W]e can understand the relevance of a medium by looking at the variety of things it does” (3).“Games shouldn’t be shoehorned into one of two kinds of uses, serious or superficial, highbrow or lowbrow, useful or useless” (5).Types, roles, and effects of a medium“The medium is the message, but the message is the message, too” (5).
3 Preliminary ThoughtsGiven the title of the book and his description of his aims in creating a media microecology, he seems less concerned with how to do things with video games than what are things video games can doHe picks 20, though there are surely others. Are there some we would have liked to see included/excluded?Bogost includes some functions of games that he doesn’t seem too keen on—are these rhetorically valuable to include when creating a media ecology?
4 Art It’s unfair to say games are not art, given that art doesn’t even know what art isArt forces us to see things differently, to change and change us with it (11)Game Art and art-games: Super Mario Clouds. “These are games that get exhibited, not games that get played.”Ontological question: Is it a game if nobody can play it? (e.g., Flanagan).“At a time when videogames focus on realistically simulating experiences, proceduralism offers metaphoric treatments of ideas” (17).
5 Art cont’d. Braid, Passage, The Marriage 5 common properties: procedural rhetoric, introspection, abstraction, subjective representation, strong authorship
6 Empathy “In writing and cinema, the vignette is often used to inspire empathy rather than to advance narrative” (23).“The vignette is neither essay nor documentary. It does not make an argument, but characterizes an experience” (23).“Feeble characters do not wear shoes anyone wants to wear” (23). You can’t play a peasant in WoW. How effective or compelling can empathy games be?
7 Empathy cont’d. http://www.darfurisdying.com/ Are there examples of non-empathy games having moments of empathy? Bio-Shock? FFVII?
8 Reverence  Resistance: Fall of Man “[V]ideogames have a unique power to simulate the experience of this estrangement [urban warfare] thanks to their propensity for world building. The first time the player cowers behind a bus or encounters a destroyed bathroom, the reality of war surfaces in a powerful way” (27).
9 Reverence cont’d.“The cathedral does not become a symbol of humanity’s annihilation but of the Chimera’s total disregard for human culture and creativity” (29).Free or down-time in cathedral after the Chimera attack is unique within the game—it creates a sense of reverenceThis section focuses primarily on the one game. Are there others we can point to that create the same effect?
10 Music “[B]y becoming increasingly familiar with a song’s structure and form, players experience the transition from the technical pedantry of an amateur to the smooth confidence of an expert” (34).
11 Music cont’d.We play both music and video games, but nosotros jugamos juegos [!] y tocamos musica. Play and game converge, but play separates in relation to games and musicRhythm games feature prominently in this chapter (it’s how games function as music), but what about games where music is not foregrounded, but still essential?
12 Pranks “Receiving a ticket in Parking Wars isn’t a prank on the level of spreading dog poo on the underside of a buddy’s car-door handle. Rather, the combination of latent, ongoing play and occasional ‘gotchas’ makes plays in Parking Wars feel like pranks” (40).Don’t most multiplayer games have such moments? Are we happy with this?
13 Transit “Despite popular opinions suggesting that GTA3 allows a player to ‘do anything,’ it actually offers precious little freedom of action Instead, the game offers freedom of continuous movement” (49).Players develop “an intuitive and continuous relationship with [the game’s] landscape” (49).How many of us still remember how to navigate games we haven’t played in years? What’s at work in our traversing game spaces that makes it so memorable?
14 Branding  In game product placement (fails?) Monopoly Here & Now edition“When familiar products and services find their way into a game world, they serve as shorthand for its social and cultural circumstances” (57).
15 Electioneering Prediction that in 2008, every candidate would have their own game “couldn’t have been more wrong” (58).“Videogames can synthesize the raw materials of civic life and help us pose the fundamental political question, What should be the rules by which we live?” (61).Electioneering games can benefit us by shifting attention from politicking to policyWhile games can focus on policy, can they ever do so at a magnitude of importance? They seem more an academic, intellectual curiosity than a legitimate political tool
16 Promotion  Advergame, product placement, in-game advertising Burger King used these games as a lure to draw Xbox owners into its stores to buy a Value Meal. This and this alone was the games’ primary goal” (67).Promogames: “purpose is to promote the purchase or product or service secondary or incidental to the game itself” (67-8).
17 Snapshots “Snapshots value ease of capture and personal value of photographs over artistic or social value” (71).Game-maker game, and DIY game tools [we might add modding?]“YouTube and Flickr and the like function as social media because they function first as private media” (73).“The snapshot didn’t just popularize photography as disposable, it also helped greater numbers of ordinary people appreciate photography as a craft. A successful game creation platform is one that fulfills such a role” (76).
18 Snapshots cont’d.SimsCarnival is dead. The Movies is dead. What are we to make of this?How would we define “success” for a game creation platform? One that doesn’t die within two years?What about machinima? It seems to function within/as the media ecology of games
19 Texture “Even though image and sound make up much of their raw output, touch is an undeniable factor of gameplay” (80).The players captured in Wii Have a Problem can attest to thisHaptics, Rumble Pak, TextureRecoil of gun, collision, off-road, others?
20 Kitsch Thomas Kincaid and Kitsch (overt sentimentality, overt application of convention, lack of originality)Ferry Halim is the Thomas Kincaid of video gamesClick-management games (Cow Clicker?)“The idea of complex, multiaction challenge endemic to games is reduced to clicking the right object at the right time. It is here that we see the copying and dilution of convention typical of kitsch” (86).
21 Kitsch cont’d.“After all, Facebook games like FarmVille boast tens of millions of players, all clicking cows and crops to show their friends, just like they might display Kincaid cottage paintings or Precious Moments angel figurines” (88).Is this condescending? Given his critique of click-management games with Cow Clicker and his quote from the previous slide, it reads that way
22 Relaxation  Lean forward vs. lean back mediums “Casual games inch closer to Zen because they’re abstract” (92).“Relaxation and reflection arise from constrained environments in which the senses are de-emphasized and focused rather than escalated and expanded” (95).Solitaire, Zen-mode Bejeweled, Shenmue are examples Bogost supplies of relaxing gamesThere are other forms of relaxation than physical, though, yes? This is limited
23 Throwaways Alternative definition of “casual”: “[G]ames that players use and toss aside, one-play stands, serendipitous encounters never to be seen again” (96).How are snapshots (created with game-maker games) different, then, from throwaways?Casual sex metaphor—wha, wha, what?! (100)Core vs casual debate
24 Throwaways cont’d. http://zidane-headbutt-game.funnypart.com/ How effective can editorial games be when they aren’t timely?
25 Titillation  Custer’s Revenge . . . Facepalm Wasn’t comfortable googling RapeLay“[P]erhaps one use of videogame porn is not to titillate at all but to give us a defamiliarized and uncomfortable experience of the various logics of perversion that stimulate other human beings” (109).
26 Exercise  Reductive, overgeneralized, simplistic view of exercise “We think of exercise as a way to compensate for increased use of cars, increased leisure, and greater inactivity at work” (111).Bogost doesn’t believe in blue-collar.Sam & her Wii-Sports tennis elbow.
27 Exercise cont’d. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gh6hzs_7Kc Exergames “simulate and create the social rituals that make us want to be physically active” (116).Wii-fit and chastisement
28 Work  Huizinga’s “act apart” Constative vs Performative speech acts“Stronger examples of performative physical interfaces would act on something more completely, and they would also have the potential to act on more than just the player him or herself” (119).PainStation, Cruel 2 B Kind, World without Oil
29 Habituation “All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They should reward the first quarter and the hundredth” (Bushnell’s Law, 125).“Familiarity is thus the primary property of the game, not learnability; it’s familiarity that makes something easy to learn” (127).“[H]abituation builds on prior conventions” (127).“Mechanical simplicity is less important than conceptual familiarity” (128).
30 Habituation cont’d.Sublime mastery, tracing the edges of a game’s beauty: weird, fringe, alienatingLow skill caps vs high skill capsConcept of “catchiness” on 131, as opposed to addicting“[T]he ludic sublime is probably a very rare terrain” (133).
31 Disinterest “If videogames place us in other people’s shoes, those shoes are very often combat boots” (134).Do we agree with this? True of AAA titles probably, but the indie scene is growingPraise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: NRA Gun Club and The Bible GameI couldn’t bring myself to link Torture Game 2 or Manhunt while we had food in front of us.Torture Game 2 fails for not making us feel.
32 Drill  Drill as tool, as drilling simulation Edutainment and its efficacy (or lackthereof?) with Math Blaster et al.Cooking Mama and simulated drill
33 The End of Gamers“In this book I’ve tried to dig in the dirt of videogames’ media ecosystem” (147).“We don’t need more media ecologists raising their fists in boosterism or detraction, painting overly general pictures with broad brushes. We need more media entomologists and media archaeologists overturning rocks and logs to find and explain the tiny treasures that would otherwise go unseen” (148).Do we feel Bogost has avoided painting with broad brush-strokes in this book?
34 The End of Gamers cont’d. “Media are not democratized; they’re tamed instead” (148).“Domestication is violent and tragic. It strips the stallion of some of its power and magic and beauty. But it also allows the cow to be ranched and milked, the dog to herd the sheep, and the wheat to be predictably germinated” (151).“The more things games can do, the more the general public will become accepting of, and interested in, the medium in general” (153).
35 Final Thoughts“Soon gamers will be the anomaly. If we’re very fortunate, they’ll disappear altogether. Instead we’ll just find people, ordinary people of all sorts. And sometimes those people will play videogames. And it won’t be a big deal, at all” (154).Do we like this vision of gamers/games? How would such a future impact game studies? Where could the field go if it didn’t have to legitimize itself all the time?
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