Computer Gaming & Virtual Worlds Public Policy Workshop

Ren Reynolds is organising a think tank on public policy formation for computer gaming & virtual worlds in London on the 24th of May. This seems to be ‘the issue’ of the year, doesn’t it? As Ludium is “Video Games and Public Policy” and I’m sure more are being organised.
I really enjoy the wording in this description:

“The danger that faces society is that policies are formed based on a lack
of understanding and popularized framing of computer games as simply
‘addictive’, ‘dangerous’ or the one secret to the future of education. Such
characterizations do not lead to sound policy formation.”

We should really start considering doing something like this in Norway as well – it’s time. Maybe the IGDA chapter could organise something? Or Medietilsynet? It’s definitely high time for a public discussion about this issue. We’re such a public policy nation – it’s weird that gaming politics is mainly about slot machines – but then again – maybe I’m just not getting it.

The Crying Game

“You can’t put emotion into games. Games are just code, they just sit there – the emotion is in the player”

Huh…well this is interesting! The words were uttered by Margaret Robertson, Editor of Edge Magazine at the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival.

She had an interesting observation on the Final Fantasy issue (you know…the ‘games that make you cry’ issue). In Ren Reynolds‘ Gamasutra write up of her talk:

“The popular theory about why Final Fantasy is emotionally engaging, Robertson explained, is that it’s because of the story, but she added: “No one can ever remember what the story was”. What people do remember are individual characters and the impact their stories have on us as players. An example of this is the character of Vivi, who experiences an emotional rollercoaster near the end of the game.
With Vivi, “…you always had the sense that something tragic was about to happen” Robertson said, but it is important to understand the events in the context of played experience. When we are hit with the revelations about the character the player has probably been with the game for 20 hours or so, usually spread over weeks. In this case, Robertson said ‘it’s not emotional sophistication, it’s attrition’.”

She provides some fabulous examples of emotions and games, even where they seem unlikely, such as Ouendan – and does a fairly convincing argument that “One thing that is often overlooked is that making someone cry can be a mechanical process”.