Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Gaming Journal #4

There are many pleasures and believe it or not there are also many pains of play when it comes to games. I played the racing game Gran Turismo 3 (GT3) on the PlayStation 2 and the Half Life series on the PC (Opposing force, Blue Shift). Using examples from these games I will relate my experience of gaming to the theory of reward.

Games are pleasurable and fun because they make people happy, allow us to escape from the normalities in everyday life and challenge ourselves. We enjoy playing games as they excite us and gets our senses going with an emotional experience whether it is on a personal or social level. Games are only enjoyable if they meet your specific demands and keep you at the correct level of skill that best suits you. With this in mind, games can also be a massive pain. When facing a repetitive, tedious and difficult section, you can easily become frustrated and anger stricken. Therefore games are frequently annoying and painful.

Games are unique when compared to other media
. Digital games do not often require much focus and you are drawn into a game and fight through the psychological pain knowing you seek reward and will ultimately gain pleasure at the end. I personally found it rewarding in Half Life when completing the game after defeating the final boss and seeing the credits. It is also rewarding in GT3 when beating someone in a race to unlock new cars, tracks and obtain other prizes. Poole stated that, "You need to be given rewards in a short enough timespan in order to encourage you to carry on and improve yourself" (pg174:2000).

According to Hallford and Hallford (2002), there are 4 types of rewards.
Firstly there are rewards of glory that have no impact on play but are pleasurable and an example of this could include faster lap times, video/cut scenes after races in GT3.
Secondly is rewards of sustenance relating to character maintenance that in Half Life involves getting health packs, armour and ammo.
Thirdly is rewards of access that in GT3 is seen when you unlock new track locations and new car resources.
Then finally rewards of facility that allows enhancement such as the Rocket propelled grenade launcher and High Tec Sci-fi Gauss gun used in Half Life

Overall games can be painful and little fun when things get too difficult or repetitive. Some people keep playing games because they want the rewards but it has no matter and is irrelevant to what the reward actually is. Regardless of the subject matter, to receive rewards shows success and accomplishment, this makes digital games a distinctive media form like no other.


Hallford, N and Hallford, J. (2002).

Poole, S. (2000). Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution. New York: Arcade.

Gaming Journal #3

What is the theory behind Johann Huizinga 'Homo Ludens' and 'the magic circle'?

Huizinga created the book Homo Luden, which is a play on the words Homo sapiens and translates as ‘Man The Player’. Salen and Zimmerman state that, “According to Huizinga, play and games, which have been maligned in recent history as trivial and frivolous, are in fact at the very center of what makes us human” (pg32:2004).
Games include play and play includes games as the two concepts overlap. There are four main characteristics of play and these elements are all important. Play is voluntary, outside ordinary life, promotes social groups and has fixed boundaries as you choose when to take part, who plays, outside normal life and you do so in leisure time, I have options when I wish to play Brian Lara International Cricket 2006 (BLC 2006) on the PlayStation 2.

Johann Huizinga’s understanding of play is ‘the magic circle’. When deciding to play a game I enter the magic circle and get involved into the games content. It can be physical like a real game of cricket on a pitch or playing a game of BLC 2006 on screen, it can be psychological for example mentally preparing yourself for the challenge and getting into the game rules.

The magic circle is an enchanted zone special rules apply e.g. Chess inside and outside magic circle. Inside the magic circle is a safe environment as you can ‘fight’ and ‘kill’ people here without consequences. For example with The Legends of Zelda on the Nintendo 64, you are able to go around killing people and not get hurt or into any real trouble.

From the player’s perspective deciding to play a game means you are choosing to enter the magic circle and this requires a certain attitude or state of mind. This is the Lusory attitude. You need to accept that games are a waste of energy, inefficient and as Huizinga said there are no material benefits. Accepting this means game play possible. The players adopt a ‘lusory attitude’ and automatically abide by the rules of the game, becoming absorbed and drawn in. Like when playing BLC 2006, everything around you is none is unimportant as winning the all important cricket match in the last over. Once in the ‘magic circle’, you must have a lusory attitude to play the game.


Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Gaming Journal #2

BAN THESE EVIL GAMES! What is wrong with these 'evil games'? I aim to look at how the media portray certain computer games with reference to specific examples of rhetoric that have been produced to get audiences to try and avoid them.
The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series on the PlayStation and especially PlayStation 2 has stirred up a lot of controversy within the media and is commonly referred to when looking at games that should, according to some people, be banned. Owning the game myself and playing many of the games in the series I can see why some people think it should be banned. You go around causing all sorts of crime such as stealing cars, taking drugs, killing the police and innocent members of the public along with many politically incorrect things. The most recent example of controversy involved a downloadable modification that allowed a sexually explicit minigame in GTA: San Andreas ( But what is rhetoric?
Beck, A et al stated that, "The most commonly used term to describe the use of eloquent language to persuade people to do or think something is 'rhetoric'" (pg166:2004). Rhetoric is used to convince people into believing something through the use of verbal, visual, written and behavioural elements, it is a common tool used in many forms media. There are different forms of rhetoric and by linking them specifically to games I will give some examples. There is subtle rhetoric and this could be seen in GTA: San Andreas as the character's clothing and suggesting that they are part of gangs and subculture. There is also crude rhetoric that in this case has been used a lot by the press urging parents to not buy this game.
I found an online article from the BBC (2005) that clearly shows some strong crude rhetoric and it stated by
Des Clark, Office of Film and Literature Classification, "Parents are strongly advised to exercise caution in allowing children continued access to the game ". This is obviously against promoting the game and with the use of persuasive language for example, 'strongly advised' and caution'. The sex scandal AKA the 'Hot Coffee' incident (metaphor for having something go painfully wrong, hot coffee on lap), although problematic at first due to bad press helped the game gain more reputation. This is because people wished to discover what it is that makes the game so controversial and therefore this persuasive language both helped and hindered sales. The 'Easter Egg' (hidden secret) was a marketing ploy for Take-Two Interactive - Rockstar to help sales even if the negative rhetoric was used.


Beck, A., Bennett, P. and Wall, P. (2004). Communication Studies: The Essential Resource. London: Routledge.

Kiley, D. (2005). Grand Theft Auto Marketers May Have Gone A Buzz Too Far. But We'll See... Retrieved on 26th February 2007 from the World Wide Web:

No Author. BBC. (2005). GTA sex scandal hits Australia . Retrieved on 20th February 2007 from the World Wide Web:

Friday, 2 February 2007

Gaming Journal #1

Firstly playing the three module games was fantastic. All different styles i.e. Doom II - F.P.S. (First Person Shooter), Civilization II - turn based strategy and Samorost 2 - Point and Click web browser. Great way to start a module!

What are games? According to Wolf and Perron, "One of the reasons why video games are called games is precisely because the repetitive training of coping skills is an important element in many of those activities covered by the term "games" (pg139:2003).

Ludwig. J. Wittgenstein was a philosopher who had a theory towards 'games' as a whole but this also can relate to 'computer games'. To him games had no common feature and no real defined margins. Wittgenstein believed that games are defined by not one particular concept but by 'family resemblances'. Games of a similar style or genre may seem the same but don't share the exact same features, they have 'family resemblances' which are elements that are shared.

My main focus with this entry is on First Person Shooters. I played Doom II : Hell on Earth on the PC and also Black on the PlayStation 2. Doom II was the first game that I played, released in 1994 and seen as a new revolution in the gaming industry. Myers stated, "Doom (1993) and Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994) represented a peak in the development of the 3d shooter" (pg 104:2003). This game was different to all previous of this genre because it had new technology, a graphics engine with enhanced capabilities to create more exciting environments and increased the opportunities for ideas with relation to levels, characters, weapons and so on. It was also one of the first online multiplayer games developed.In January 2006 Black was released and this game too looked like a step up and advance in technology with its mind blowing graphics and fully interactive environment (much like in the TV advert; LINK BELOW), its seems as if you are actually in the game and that for us now has similar impact as Doom did at its time. This game Published by EA (Electronic Arts) and developed by Criterion Games according to IGN has a "highly-evolved graphics engine" (, providing excellent visual effects and environments of game play.

Although these games are different for example Doom is about killing aliens and monsters in a fantasy world and Black is modern day without aliens, they have similarities. These overlapping 'family resemblances' like the fact that there both F.P.S's and the aim is to survive by killing all in your path means they have share features like 'families' do. Thus you cannot really define a game, only describe it.



Wolf, M. J. P. and Perron, B. (2003).
The Video Game Theory Reader. London: Routledge

Myers, D. (2003).
The Nature Of Computer Games Play As Semiosis. New York: Peter Lang Publishing