Granted, I really don’t have time to focus on blogging at the moment, so excuse me if I’ve misunderstood this completely! I just….I just couldn’t let this pass by without adding some comments. I’m confused, terrified and well…just a tad insulted, to be honest.
Edward Castronova’s latest Terra Nova post examines one of the ‘theories’ introduced at Ludium 1. Uhm…from what I can gather The Koithuo team proposed a way of looking at ‘the evolutionary theory of human gender differences’ and implementing this as a test into games, using Steen’s ‘girl game modes’ which say “that women will be interested in a) games about rating men’s prowess (The Yenta Game”), choosing men to connect with (“The Marriage Game”), and getting men to stay committed to them (“The Newlywed Game”).”
Now…it seems the crew at A Tale in the Desert have implemented a game in their world to test these theories. Which I completely concur with Castronova when he writes that:
“Regardless of whether you agree with Steen’s theories or not, the exciting thing here is that we get to see them tested, at the level of an entire society. It’s not just a theoretical/political debate any more. We’re getting some information.”
Before I design some lethal weapon to kill the bird that’s franticly chirping outside my window telling me that I’m still nowhere and it’s morning – I thought I might vent out a bit in here!
Last year I had an incredibly difficult time discussing narrative with my fellow students in Games and Game Culture! They just refused to discuss with me the meaning behind the aesthetics of the worlds we were playing in. I remember someone, slightly frustrated with me, explaining to me that narrative is something that has happened. You can’t be playing narrative because narrative is story telling and you’re not telling a story. When I then (stubborn as I sometimes can be) emphasised that the whole geography we were in (Prince of Persia at the time) was basically telling us something, they usually sighed and gave me a whole song and dance that it was all code. When I then further persisted in stating that “well the game designer must have had some intention by designing this temple that I just can’t seem to get out of!” – respons: “No, Linn!!! It’s all just obstacle to reach your goal!”.
Oh, I knew this was coming! I just knew it! And darnit for not blogging my predictions to prove to you that I really knew this was coming! Clickable Culture has a story about Korean mothers helping their children powerlevel, because being a part of the game and being good at it means so much within the social circles of these kids! It has everything to do with respect and acceptance so if they’re stuck, affectionate mothers come to their aid! I swear…it’s not long before we’re going to be asked what we play and how good we are at playing in job applications and probably even for schools! I’m not sure if I think it’s a good or bad thing. I don’t want to force people to play games – and I kinda feel like that’s beginning to be the case.
Before Christmas I had a conversation with a very conservative and very important business man who incidently is also a father of a nine-year old (in all honesty I truely respect and admire this man, but he’s the exact opposite of hippie, if you get my drift). So we talked about what kind of games he could buy for his son, I suggested Narnia (because I knew both he and I were hardcore The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fans). But he looked at me sceptically and said “But my boy is smart! He gets things other kids don’t get!”, which kinda threw me off guard because even I was looking forward to playing Narnia! He continued to say something like, “No, I’ve been thinking about getting him World of Warcraft. I think it’s crucial that he develops cyber social skills and he will be quite challenged from a gaming perspective!”. This blew me away! Yes! If I’m explaining this messy, let me say it another way! This guy wanted to buy World of Warcraft for his 9 year old son because he found it crucial that his kid learn and know such cybersocieties! I was just flabbergasted!
Awwww…aren’t those words just vigorating? They’re not my own, ofcourse, it’s Tappan King who’s uttered them to Greg Costikyan. It’s so revolutionary, isn’t it?! Games are setting fiction free to the people!
“the Artist creates, the audience consumes. Games, contrariwise, allow individual players to participate in the creation of their fictional experience. The developers still shape and constrain that experience, to be sure, but there is no experience without the active engagement of the player; the player may well do something with the construct that the developers had not anticipated; and the ultimate experience is a collaboration in which both sides participate, not something handed down from On High by the Great Artiste. It is, in other words, the antithesis of aristocratic; games are a way for everyman to participate in creating his or her own narrative experience. Games are a democratic artform for a democratic age.”
But alas, I’m not ready to say that ‘play’ is fiction or that playing fiction is democratic and nonlinear. It’s just a nice and powerful notion. I suppose I fell for this completely because it is right at the core of my arguments on MMORPGs. There is a sense and a feeling of democracy, but come right down to it, it’s all an illusion. One could maybe compare it to the illusion of democracy in Iraq! Or the freedom to say whatever you want in your e-mails!
But, then again, this is not really what he’s saying either, is it? Democratization of fiction! We’re creating fictions that people can interact with. But we’re not exactly creating a collaborative art form are we? Or are we?
Otherwise my Easter has been spent lying on the couch ignoring social circles because ‘I’ve got so much work to do’ and watching tv and letting my eyes wander warily over to my computer with a passionate hatred!
I’ve kinda gotten myself into a sticky situation, which I’m either overthinking or I just need to drop it all together. Let me share it with you! I’m trying to explain the attachment we feel to our virtual assets in MMORPGs and I thought I’d found the perfect example. Now, let me point out that I want to go on to explain the distrust of the coding authorities (excellent word, Castronova!) to rectify such situations. So let me just vent out here:
Madelaine, a player in The Sims Online (TSO) loves to build houses! One time she had spent a lot of time, love and effort on a house which was fabulous! A friend of hers was constantly hassling her with wishes to buy it. Madelaine was flattered and in the end gave in! A few days later Madelaine came to me quite distraught. She had just found out that her friend had copied the house from Alphaville to Blazing Falls (another virtual city in TSO) and was passing it off as her own design. Madelaine was quite distraught, and rightly so in my opinion. So this is where I get into trouble! I don’t understand Intellectual Property Law! I thought this was a perfect example of that, and the more I think about it, the more I think it has to do with copyright.
So I’ve been rather social the last few days! It was very odd and also extremely weird to talk to people who didn’t know what FPS is or even Wikipedia for that matter (can you imagine?). It’s good to get out every now and then amongst ‘normal’ people, helps me put some things into perspective and also reminds me that there are other things going on in the world that aren’t necessarily ‘connected’!
But there’s one thing that always gets me, though! No matter which generation I’m talking to, when I mention that I’m looking at computer games (yeah…I simplify for the ‘normal’ people) I always seem to get the exact same comment: “The thing that gets me about these games is that they’re so violent! Why do they have to be so violent!” – and well, I’ve tried explaining that violence is fun, but I always get apprehensive looks when I go into detail about how fun it is to blast off your guns and see blood splattered all over! The freedom and the glory of torturing pixelated people in the most violent manner you can think of! Of sitting here frantically banging on your keyboard and screaming “Die you MF! DIE!!” followed by an evil laugh as this task has been accomplished!!! Oh the joy!!!