Once I had considered what games were available, I chose the IF version of  Leisure Suit Larry. After about 200 moves I had ‘scored’ 1 point and was getting quite frustrated with the game. At the same time, it began to achieve some semblance of a space, in my mind’s eye. The recollection of playing the visual version on a tiny black and orange screen attached to a heavy portable HP xt computer gradually dissolved into a dank, sleazy quasi- reality. The repetition seemed to typify the term ‘grind’ despite the fantastical world revealing itself.

In reference to Sutton-Smith’s categories however, my game experience felt playful, at least at times. This is specifically in reference to his category of mind or subjective play(Sutton Smith p.4). Much of the pleasure in the IF game was the creation in my mind’s eye of a fantasy land that was different from the fantasy of games such as Skyrim or Modern Warfare. For one, I could create a fiction closer to my own experience, rather than something very divorced from my own reality.

As a game experience, I played the video game version of Leisure Suit Larry in the mid-eighties, and The Sims for iPhone just this year. I see a line of development from the IF version to The Sims. The Sims creates a greater sense of a world pre -existing with a less obviously forced series pf patterns of behaviour. Yet in someways I found the IF version offered a more compelling experience, if you can commit to the greater imaginative work. The Sims eliminates much of the internal work but the greater in game granularity of the experience– the life-like aspects such as eating– are really just tokens. I can imagine more intense experiences than immediately offered by a screen. Conversely, The Sims offered much room for narrative, as there were no particular narratives, beyond the setting of an idealized suburban setting in a contemporary North American setting. But the character of a sleazy and vaguely inept pick-up artist are there.

This turns back on our discussion last week and the work- play plenum. Kalervo suggested survival as a contrast with work and play. This in turn suggest to me that Sutton-Smith’s discussion of rhetorics can be used to explore the underlying rhetoric of the procedurally and beneath that, the code that allows the game to manifest itself. This suggested a parallel with the notions of authenticity, inauthenticity and indifference presented by Heidegger in his Being and Time. Likewise, Allison’s observation that Pacman, Space Invaders and Asteroids reflect the technoculture and social concerns of the era in which they were developed and disseminated. In that respect, perhaps Missile Command represents an early milestone in the history of video games because of it’s resonance with the cold war, and its technological advances, which seem modest now, but demonstrated a technical plateau at the time.

This relevance of technical affordances to game play is explored in Taylor’s article on networked game practices. She mentions specifically the economic relationship of players to the industry that builds games. I liked this article because it sums up the primary sociological theme of current games research- avatar/identity studies, technoculture and its relationship to building online communities and issues of gender. However,I think this was best viewed as a starting point to more in-depth study. It would make an excellent segment of an encyclopedia article on game studies.

It makes several references to Dibbell, whose article “A Rape in Cyberspace” makes me reflect on issues of affecting experience We create a world when we are immersed, and as such it affects us in certain ways. The debate that Dibbell starts but leaves undeveloped as to “mind crime’ is interesting, because it questions our own ontological experience. The article as a whole raises some question as to where personhood begins and ends. The libertarian mantra “your freedom ends where my skin begins” overly privileges the body and a certain static quality that belies our movement. The reincarnation of Bungle seems only relevant in terms of virtual space, but the limits of RL mortality, and our boundaries as we move through an increasingly virtual life world seems like a strangely familiar space when we consider the breadth of moral play in different communities. It also raises the question; did I cheat on my wife with a virtual, NPC hooker in the process of completing an assignment for this class?

Other notes for this week
in this article:http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7472021/brian-phillips-soccer-boredom

The author notes that “Soccer gives players more chaos to contend with than any other major sport… Following soccer is like being in love with someone who’s (a) gorgeous, (b) fascinating, (c) possibly quite evil, and (d) only occasionally aware of your existence. as irrational as it sounds, you wouldn’t trade this state of being for a life of quiet contentment with someone else. All you could gain would be peace of mind, and you’d lose that moment when the object of your fixation looked at you and you couldn’t feel your face”.By Brian Phillips on January 17, 2012

Ops Cite

Dibbell, Julian, “A Rape in Cyberspace”http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/  Chapter One of Julian Dibbell’s My Tiny Life, 1998. (First published in somewhat different form in The Village Voice, December 1993.) accessed 18 January 2012

Philips, Brian “Soccer’s Heavy Boredom” Grantland .http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7472021/brian-phillips-soccer-boredom#footnote4  2011 accessed 18 January 2012

Sutton-Smith, Brian The Ambiguity of Play. 1997