Player vs. user

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!”.

Sigh! I persisted through the whole course, but no one would take my bait! And we ended up discussing game design on a more a to b level, like this is how many pieces, this is the goal, these are the obsticles a.s.o. One time I tried defending a fellow student’s presentation when she listed blood in Grand Theft Auto among the Semantic Resources (we were working with Klabbers’ Gaming Landscape, 2003 – sorry, can’t find link). I remember arguing quite passionately that ofcourse blood was a resource! It was an aesthetic resource! Seeing blood in Grand Theft Auto ment that you were or had hurt someone or killed them! I still feel guilty about overriding the poor girls argument – but yet again I was banging my head against an unmoveable wall! Don’t get me wrong! I adored this class and I still rank most of the students from it among ‘people I deeply respect and love’ list.
So anyways…I’m just thinking about that right now, while I’m trying to figure out where it is I’m going with the arguments I’ve just written! OMG MMORPGs are hard to look at! I’ve just reached the conclusion that in the case of dearest Madelaine, she shifts her ontological (yeah….not sure if this is the word I’m looking for, so bare with me) state! When adhering to the rules of the game fiction she is a player. For example, when she clicks on a book and chooses the option ‘learn mechanics’ she is complying with the aesthetic rules of the game – the connotation that a book has text which Madelaine can learn from is part of the imaginary world and the act itself creates fiction, which in turn is also a game mechanic. She is accepting the rules and playing along with them – accepting that the book will give her knowledge (which will in turn give her skill points).Am I right? But then, when she is actually creating a house, building it with the tools provided in TSO, it is now my contention that she becomes a ‘user’ of TSO – not a player. Just as you use Microsoft’s Word to create text she is using TSO to create something that she has visualised, changing the virtual gaming world in the process. The game therefore becomes more of a tool – but what type of tool? Now all this is supposed to lead me on to the role of communication in TSO as gameplay. So I need to get my head around this. I have stated earlier that she becomes an author, which I’ve now laid down to rest and I’m feeling very comfortable with the word user.
But who knows what will change in the course of the next hour, he he! Allnighters are fun!!

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