[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 112, Issue 26

Mark Chen markdangerchen at gmail.com
Mon Mar 31 00:50:12 EST 2014


Last week we saw two huge announcements related to VR. First Sony announced
at GDC that they were going all-in with Project Morpheus, a VR headset for
the PS4. Then Facebook bought Oculus for $2b!

I was sitting in the audience during the Sony announcement, and it was
pretty freaky to me how much of their pitch rhetoric was about The
Futuuuurrre and how all developers need to drop everything and support VR
games and how VR will penetrate everything, not just games. One of their
use cases they presented was the act of booking a hotel room using some
Futuuure 3D immersive world interface. They (and the majority of the
audience) apparently don't remember how VRML of the 90s showed us how
horrible and inefficient it is to navigate information systems in a 3D
environment.

I'm guessing that their bet on VR is spurred by this idea in the industry
that full immersion, total engagement, flow, or whatever you call it is the
gold standard to chase after---a god to worship. We can see this in the
games for learning space, too. A bunch of new research is on measuring
engagement and maximizing engagement, and most of it includes some measure
of immersion.

I'm guilty of this, too. My first presentation at a conference was at DiGRA
2005 on modeling and measuring engagement in games. But our study had a
really weird finding: the games that were measured as engaging were not the
same games that scored high on gamerankings.com (same kind of place as
metacritic), which we were using to validate our model. We shelved our
research and never published a paper. Only now do I understand that games
are more than engagement.

While the medium may be the message, the medium is NOT the meaning.

Meaning is deeply wrapped up in people's personal histories and cultural
backgrounds and in-the-moment situated contexts. The games that are
meaningful often are because they've created memorable moments or lasting
impressions. For things to be memorable, often they have to be jarring,
which is basically the opposite of flow. Immersion/engagement is this false
god that the industry worships. I feel like experimental games tend to
create these moments of meaning pretty regularly--an alternative to
engagement (and a whole branch of industry focused on user experience).

mark


On Sat, Mar 29, 2014 at 7:52 PM, Kara Stone <kara.littlestone at gmail.com>wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>
> Obviously using a certain medium affects the work of art -the medium
> ~is~ the message, of course. Again, I don't think I or anyone has to
> know the hard code to be able to understand the influence of that
> specific tool. Yet, just because the medium affects the content, the
> message, the final product, does not mean that every work created in a
>

-- 
Mark Chen, PhD | @mcdanger | markdangerchen.net
Indie Game Designer, Ed Tech Researcher, Consultant, Adjunct Prof at
Pepperdine, UW Bothell, and UOIT, Accidental Hero and Layabout
This was sent from a PC with a full-size keyboard; misspellings and brevity
are entirely my fault.
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