[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre: GAMES AND REPRESENTATION

Brenda Laurel blaurel at soe.ucsc.edu
Sat Apr 11 08:09:37 AEST 2015


I'm interested in Aubrey's observation: "It’s easier to avoid the hard questions about violence, for example, if you skip over things like narrative and images to focus instead on platforms and code." I tend to think of games as being much like plays in that, to paraphrase Aristotle, both are imitations of actions that are organically whole, with agents (characters) who make choices and perform actions. Even when a game has no NPCs, a character (agent) is implied by the affordances of the game itself — notions about the player-character. 

I can remember, hoary old woman that I am, the first time I played "Star Raiders" when I started working at Atari in 1979. Among my immediate responses was, "where is the 'negotiate' button"? Because negotiation was not an alternative, all one could do is shoot. With the absence of a negotiate button, the game casts the player-character as a militant space commander in single-minded pursuit of a vaguely defined "enemy." As I have said elsewhere, when a child plays that character, all of that child's character categories are open to receiving and performing information from the game. The "ethics" category is hanging wide open, and if the designer doesn't design what goes into it, the designer is still responsible for what goes in by default: negotiation is not one of the skills one uses in a conflict.

I know that I'm exaggerating the case, but only slightly. Empathy or identification with the notion of the player-character as defined by the affordances and environment of the game is fundamental to the enjoyment of playing. So in my view, representation of identity matters, not only in terms of NPCs but also in terms of the players themselves.


_______________________________________________ 
Brenda Laurel, PhD                                                    www.tauzero.com
Adjunct Professor, Computational Media                office +1 831 429 2417 
Research Associate, Digital Arts & New Media
UC Santa Cruz
home office   +1 408 741 5865                               mobile +1 408 656 6598












On Apr 10, 2015, at 12:00 PM, Soraya Murray <semurray at ucsc.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 
> Dear All,
> 
> We have a wonderful beginning here. Perhaps I can pull out a few issues that are already at play. Maybe we can start by returning to Jen's question:
> Do you perceive the analysis of representation in games (which of course has a history) is a somewhat/sometimes maligned pursuit in Video Game Studies right now? If so, what do we make of this resistance?
> 
> And I would add: in what ways do you perceive this to be constitutively different than the past?
> 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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