Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gaming Culture I: Swan Song

Well, its that time of the sem, the time to say goodbye to school and go into three long months of retreat, but of cos there is this little four letter word in the way of now and then.. E.X.A.M... ok.. make that a big problem. Just finished the second hell week with 4 deadlines in 3 days then thrown directly into study break. And blogging is actually my "rest time".... unbelievable...

Anyway, as the last entry for this sem... after thinking about the whole issue about class feedback and blog exercises... i guess i finally managed to earn my two cents worth on this,and my conclusion is that....Arts students are damn slack to be complaining about this module. Probably gonna get stoned for it.. but still.. i think roughly one entry a week is quite a fine workload.. and i sorta like it this way.. cos me being the last minute kind.. would probably die if i had to try to engulf the whole theory near the exam period.

With the blog exercises, at least there is a division of workload by giving us something to think about what was thought in the previous lecture before moving on.. and i think by keeping pace with the blog... would help the learning process a smoother one... but then again.. i do empathize with the ppl who don;t have the time to.. and end up trying to finish everything in one shot. That would definitely be a hassle. But then again, its a blog entry... no word limit (which i exploit in the wrong kinda way by writing REALLY long entries)... means we can actually write as little as we want... so its really a matter that totally boils down to the individual.. but i guess it works for me. Then again.. maybe i am one of the few who are actually passionate enough to be talking week after week about games and just games.. oh well...

Anyway... the final question for the sem.. here we go...

Think back to the very start of the semester, when we talked about the concept of meaningful play, which occurs when "the relationships between actions and outcomes in a game are both discernable and integrated into the larger context of the game" (from Salen and Zimmerman, Rules of Play). When the game is an alternate reality game such as The Beast, where the game does not have any explicitly declared actions and outcomes, and in some cases does not even acknowledge its own existence, is it possible for there to be meaningful play? Does this type of "game" require us to rethink our definition of games?

Well... i guess this brings us back to the point of The Sims that we discussed back in the early days, of it not really being a game cos there is no real quantifiable state of winning or losing in the game... and our conclusion for it was that it was not really a game. However, we did discuss that it would still provide meaningful play a sense if a player were to actually set his or her own mini-goals in playing the game.. like buying the most expensive fridge or something like that.. and work towards that goal.. in that sense.. what we are discussing here is something similar to that.

In games like The Beast, players are like trying to solve the puzzle that the developers set, and depending on how you look at it, it can still fit into our definition of games. If each puzzle that the developers set is likened to a stage or a level.. and if the quantifiable outcome is to solve the puzzle and move on to the next puzzle(level)... then meaningful play can still exists when the collabarative mass of players each work as part of the team in order to acheive this outcome. The rule of the game can be likened to something like "there are no rules... solve the puzzle by any means possible.." and in this, is a rule in itself.

Actually, personally, in alternate reality games such as The Beast or even D&D, the game is not so much about trying to achieve the actual quantifiable outcome or by reaching the goal, by rather it is governed by an implicit, unspoken rule of ""playing your role to its fullest." In all 2218 fashion, in such games, even though it seems like you might be playing the role based on the choices you make, but at the same time, the role is playing you, by making you choose choices on what that role is perceived as in your mind. And in this sense, the meaningful play actually comes from you wanting to play this role to the fullest.

Probably same case here for the Beast, of whether the players know that there is a quantifiable outcome or not, maybe the meaningful play is factored in when they play the roles assign to them despite knowing it might be a game.. which is the role of the "detectives" trying to solve the case... and when they feel a personal acheivement in fulfilling this assigned role.. then they would have "won" the game.

Well.. guess it is a confusing thing.. especially in cases where the magic circle is so blurred.. i guess in a way.. life could be like a whole big game as well.. and you win when you actually fulfill the role of what you set yourself out to do and be... giving meaning to your life and existence.. and at the same time creating "meaningful play." Something to think about i guess...

So here we are.. at the end of the road.. it was a good one.... and i know i enjoyed it... somehow.... i have a feeling that this is not the last i will be seeing of this blog... i have a bad feeling about the immortalvampire resurrecting itself in Game Design 2... we'll see. For now.. its time to nail the coffin shut... THE GREAT JER... signing off...


Blogger alex said...

Glad you had an enjoyable journey down this long road called NM3216, I know I did... and I have the same uneasy feeling about the possible resurrection of this particular vampire, guess we'll find out... next semester! :)

12:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home