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Tony Coles
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I find it quite hard to work out what your definitions are really about here, Tagdh. In terms of radicalism, it’s hard for me not to think of the No Russian furore, which spilled into tabloid sensationalism but nonetheless sparked some serious debate. Personally, I thought it was edgy content for the sake of being edgy, but nonetheless, No Russian stepped out of gaming culture and touched the mainstream. Likewise, other tabloid scandals bring game content out of its culture into the popular one – Mass Effect’s sex scenes, as awful and nonsensical as they are, sparked debate about sexuality in games. GTA is a constant victim of this – but you threw away Hot Coffee as being ‘just’ tabloid furore, without considering that a media-fed moral panic is perhaps the modern equivalent of rioting in the streets to express rage at some cultural artefact. Take this part of your intro: Can we foresee a day when the ideas within a game cause discussion and debate much as a controversial play might? I’d say No Russian did exactly this as a storm in a teacup. I don’t think for a second that in the modern landscape, a controversial play would create anywhere near the same popular culture impact as a violent game that plays irresponsibly with politics, ethics or morality. Precisely because tabloids will jump on them as a societal danger – I’d struggle to think of something as gentrified as a play having anywhere near the same lure. The other point I want to make is that in general, popular culture has a problem of ignorance about how radical games can be, rather than games not being radical. If you want society-changing debate, it’s about those with the influence to start such a debate simply *taking notice* of what already exists, rather than game designers actively seeking to bring it to their attention.
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2011 on Can Games Be Radical? [Art] at What Games Are
Mmmm, well the examples I give aren't really exploits as such - they're moments of fun within the game's formal constraints and don't have any real significance to the formal, end-state win conditions for the game, yet are still fun. It's not cheating either - it's a more the player creating their own metagames and setting their own objectives, for which the game offers little or no tangible reward. It's hard to consider these as 'wins' by any definition! My point being that I think the framework you outline may work academically, but in the context of actual play across a population of individuals, such rules have no real meaning. I really don't think you can boil down to some over-arching principle of fun in games with generalised rules, as their systems are too complex, and allow too much player freedom, to allow a generalised principle to apply in all cases. In fact, I think the more interesting aspects of modern games come from that freedom and the ability that lends players to find fun activities outside the formal win/lose=fun/not-fun rules of the game.
I'd say the 'pragmatic' definition of fun is way too specific, but then Tagdh, your defintion of 'winning' is way to generalised. Fun is this: "enjoyment gained from an activity". This is as true as it gets - even in games. Players can despise the formal structure of the 'win opportunities' and 'mastery opportunities' and completely subvert the formal game design, yet still be having tons of fun. EG: messing about with guards in DX:HR, or working out ways to kill innocent NPCs in Fallout/NV without triggering faction status changes. Does subverting and avoiding the formal rules of a game count as a 'win' too?
Have to agree that the terms as stated in the main peice are confusing neolgisms that need their contexts stated explicitly to have any use, when there are, as Sorrell mentions, perfectly fine definitions for these types of game/pattern of play relationships. Sorry Tagdh, but these words are pretty redundant to me.
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Aug 8, 2011