Friday, 9 March 2007


Cohen, Stanley (1987).Folk devils & moral panics : the creation of the mods and rockers. , Oxford: Basil Blackwell

Huizinga ,Johan(1970).Homo Ludens : a study of the play element in culture. London : Maurice Temple Smith Ltd

Johnson, Steven, (1968).Everything bad is good for you: how popular culture is making us smarter.London : Allen Lane

week one

The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that there is nothing that is common to all games, games have certain similarities and relations with each other. He advised his reader not to think, but to look, at the vast range of things that we call games. Some games involve winning and losing, but not all; some are entertaining, but not all; some require skill or luck, but not all.
Games do not all share the same features but have overlapping similarities. He mentioned that the concept of games is like a rope made of twisted fiber, with no single thread. An important element is the notion of ‘family resemblance’. Members of family share some features, but not all.
The concept of games has blurred edges. There is no precise meaning.

I will compare the game tetris to bike mania 2. They are both called games but their concepts are very different. Bike mania is more entertaining, has different challenges and has less space boundaries. However for both games you need certain skills and they are both competitive as they keep you’re your score and level.

These examples contribute to Wittgenstein’s theory as they display similarities and also the differences between games.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

week five

This week we discussed why people play games when they are not fun. It made me think of the time my brother was 12 and I was 9 and we spend hours in front of the computer. Playing Pacman, Worms and donkey Kong- like games. We got sometimes so incredibly frustrated that fights were inevitable. Despite all the frustration, aggression, all the blood, sweat and tears.... we wasted hours in our computer room.. and this week I found out why..

It is all about the rewards!!: the glowing feeling of victory when I killed a worm from my brothers team (he named the worms most off the time sophie1, sophie 2, etc.. so I would not want to kill them…. Did not work), the little dances off joy I did when Pacman eagerly swallowed the little yellow dots without being attacked by the scary Blinky, Pinky, Inkey, and Clyde.

According to Steven Johnson are games not fun, people just keep playing them because of the rewards.
General gaming rewards are:
More lives, new levels, power ups etc.. and there are always new and various rewards . These rewards keep you playing despite all the pain and frustration.
This is because the human brain is wired to seek out rewards although the actual reward is completely irrelevant (it does not make a difference in real life whether Mario conquers some evil monster or not)

I played frogger I was the frog and my task was to make it across the road without being hit by traffic, and then make it across the river by skilfully hitching a ride on the floating logs. Very simple and the rewards were clear: every time I made a step without getting; run over, eaten or drown there was a ‘happy sound’. There was an even happier sound when I got to the opposite of the river..Furthermore your level and high score are displayed on the screen.
I felt very 9 again, despite the frustration of getting run over, I sensed that old feeling of joy when frog got safely to the opposite of the river and that’s what kept me playing.

Week four

Huizinga states that play is very important to humanity.
The characteristics of play according to him are
play is voluntary
play is outside ordinary life
play has fixed boundaries
play promotes social groups.

“The formal characteristics of play might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside “ordinary” life as being “not serious, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.”(Homo ludens, p13)

The time and space boundaries, social groupings who stress their difference create a magic circle. A safe are. An enchanted zone were special rules apply. When you are playing a game you are entering the magic circle.
As Huizinga mentioned: there is no material benefit. no profit can be gained by playing games. Deciding to play a game to choose to enter the magic circle requires a certain attitude.
The Lusory attitude is where a player must enter a state of mind that allows them to play the game. You accept the rules and limitations, to gain pleasure from a game.
When I was playing Fishy I had to accept that I was a fish and wanted to eat small fish. I also had to accept that I did not have much space to swim in.
When I was playing Doom I had to accept that I had to kill people, or could be killed myself And that I could only go into certain corridors and rooms. And by accepting these conditions I could both enter into my fishy- and my Doom magic circle.

Week Three

This week we talked about Moral panic and how it is generated.
The term moral panic was used for the first time by Stanley Cohen in 1972 to describe media coverage of Mods and Rockers in the United Kingdom in the 1960s
Moral panics are fueled by media. They fixate on a behavior or group, frequently a minority group, and they start representing it as dangerously deviant behavior. These exaggerated reporting create mass moral panic. They help define the group and give this group an identity. This only encourages more and more people to get involved.
According to Stanley Cohen; Moral panics revolve around a perceived threat to a value or norm held by a society normally stimulated by glorification within the mass media or 'folk legend' within societies. Panics have a number of outcomes, the most poignant being the certification to the players within the panic that what they are doing appears to warrant observation by mass media and therefore may push them further into the activities that lead to the original feeling of moral panic.
Some examples of moral panics are:
· Gun crimes
· Happy slapping
· Teenage pregnancy
· Film piracy
Moral panics are generated by rhetoric. As Brian Sutton smith describes it: “persuasive language” which attempt to convince the reader.

Rhetoric is an expression of values and beliefs and can take besides language other forms as clothing, behavior.. etc..

When you are applying rhetoric to games you can:
examine the rhetoric of representation of games
(What do people say about the game, trailers, the back of the box)
examine rhetoric within games
(Language, clothes, behavior express of values and beliefs)

I am going to apply both on the games sissy fight:

The sissy fight site represented the games as: “A playground war between a bunch of girls out to ruin one another's popularity and self-esteem. Bitchin'. The object is to physically attack and majorly dis your enemies until they are totally mortified beyond belief. You'll never come out on top without making the right friends, so be careful who you're nice to. Because in the end, only the shrewdest will survive with their social status intact!” another text said: “ the most ultimate and humiliating schoolyard popularity battle”
The pictures on the site showed one mean looking- and one crying girl.
It is represented as a very girly game (meaning.. a very colourful site with little hearts on the I’s)
The games own values were simple: grab, tease, scratch, as much as possible.. you can tattle on everyone and lick your lolly. But you have got to have a good timing.. for example: When you tease someone but nobody joins in you look like an idiot..

Rhetoric: As long as you are mean, sneaky and hurt as many people as possible you will make it (in life).