CP470 VGT SU14 Week3M1

After reading chapter 3 and combined with your knowledge of video games, how would you define games and game play?

What would a formalist analysis of your favorite game look like?

27 thoughts on “CP470 VGT SU14 Week3M1

  1. Videogamerz

    “Game” refers to a structure that is common to many social phenomena including the most popular childhood “game” types such as board games, play-time pretend activities, and most recently, video games. A game must include more than one players, and the behavior of players must have consequences either good, bad, or neutral, that is somehow quantified. Games can either be about winning, not losing, or about attempting to have the best outcome possible (payoffs). In a zombie game, winning may amount to not losing. I think it’s important to understand that everyone is playing for something differently usually (in real-life games). That is, what is of value and has a high pay off for one player is not necessarily the case for others. This is true to understanding literature and the motivations of characters. Some characters value honor and respect, other characters use these as a currency to achieve what they want: money, or perhaps beyond money, power.

    I don’t think clearly defined rules is essential to a game, and I question whether a game really needs rules at all. In games of asymmetric knowledge it seems the rules aren’t fully known to anyone, in the game of “life” it seems that some rules are known to some people, but Life involves asymmetric meta knowledge of the game as no one is ever sure whether for not all the “rules” of the game have been discovered (perhaps most notably in the form of human technological advancements, biology, and chemistry).

    1. Videogamerz

      As for a formal analysis of my favorite game, Super Mario Bros., it would describe not only the structure of the Mario narrative (hero on quest to rescue kidnapped/hostage princess) but also the structure of the game, and how these two relate. To demonstrate how form matches to the games content and functions as a narrative, I would point to the fact that it is a plumber rather than a knight or some American action hero that is the “hero.” The use of a plumber as a hero inverts the cliched story line of a handsome knight in shining armor as plumbers are highly associated with toilets which is associated with human excrement. As such, the story works to subvert traditional stories that favor “non-geeks.” This resistance to the athletic and traditional male hero stereotypes is notable as the medium of the game is a video game, one whose principal users were largely “nerds” or “geeks” and therefore, stereotypically non-athletic.

      The use of the plumber as the characters occupational background further explains the use of plumbing as a primary way of linking and traveling between each world, making sense of why a plumber would be needed to navigate such a world.

      Moreover, the list of characters including mutated looking turtle “Koopa” and his minions can be explained by pointing not only to underground sewers, but also the use of the pipes as metaphors for worm holes or warp zones in space. My formal analysis would proceed along similar lines and account for the rest of the games design (you re-begin as soon as you win, for example), the use of royalty, color, the scroll-screen, et cetera.

      1. Clayton Goodman

        Nice commentary on the link between Mario and being against the norm of fairytale narratives. This makes him a “common folk” which was very easy for people to connect with. Probably why he is still so popular today.

      2. Ryan Freels

        Interesting analysis! I would also add that Mario being a plumber, aside from subverting the notions of the hero, provides commentary on class. It is not a royal night but a blue collar working class man that saves the princess. While it is not marxist (value for royalty) it still hold value for the working class, which some would argue is a marxist ideal.

  2. Jennifer Machura

    I would define “games” as interactions between people (or people and objects) that have a set of rules and yield different outcomes for different individuals. A game can either have one player and an object (such as a video game or a deck of cards) or more than one player. The players can score points in the game, like a soccer goal or a touchdown. They can also reach a main objective through a series of smaller goals that they must complete (such as passing through many different levels in a video game and beating small bosses in order to beat the big boss and win the game). Rules are more important in some games than they are in others. In sports (which I consider games), there are written rules players must follow and boundary lines they must not cross. In video games, the rules are more unwritten and players figure them out as they go along. In Legend of Zelda, a player will learn early in the game that Link can “shoot” his sword at enemies until his health takes a hit. In Super Mario Bros., players learn that Mario and Luigi must stomp on enemies to kill them (unless they get the fireball power-up, of course).

    One of my all-time favorite games is Spyro the Dragon. It’s a fun adventure game that features cute characters and very tame cartoon violence, and there doesn’t seem to be that much depth in it. A formalist analysis of this game would begin with a description of the main plot (Spyro must rescue all of the elder dragons before Gnasty Gnorc takes over Dragon Kingdom) and the hero as well as the villain. The analysis would also examine one of the underlying themes of the game, which is that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Of all the dragons in Dragon Kingdom, Spyro is the only one who avoids Gnasty Gnorc’s spell, turning them into crystal. As Spyro goes on his journey, he proves to each dragon he rescues that, although he is much smaller than them, he can still save the land. It’s also interesting that Spyro’s attitude changes throughout the various series he is featured in. In this game (as well as the rest of the original series), Spyro is cocky and a bit of a brat, sometimes mouthing back a little to the elder dragons that he rescued. In the reboot series, Spyro is seen as a more mature, helpful dragon. Although these are different series, the evolution of the character throughout his quests provides an interesting sense of time and I believe this helps the players feel like they are growing with the character.

    One aspect that would definitely be included in this analysis would be the lack of female characters in this first game. In subsequent games there are high-profile female characters who are Spyro’s sidekicks, helping him complete levels by using their special moves and powers. In this game, however, there seem to be no female characters except the fairies that help Spyro save his game (as well as give him extra life when he needs it). I find this curious, as I am a woman and enjoy playing this game immensely, and I know other women who love playing it as well.

  3. Stefan Grimsley

    “Games” are building blocks to our fundamental upbringing. While we are young we learn by playing games. Even as adults we use games as a sense to exercise and stimulate our minds in ways outside of our general “productive time”.
    Games can be anything from a small simple set of rules set between two people to help pass the time, such as “Rock-Paper-Scissors” or the “Name Game”, to board games and video games, to large cultural phenomena such as Soccer. I would define game play as time spent playfully exercising the mind between more than one person (computer simulated human behavior included) based on a set of rules, cause and effect, chance, and emotional attachment to the outcome of the game.

    My Formalist analysis would probably look very similar to Roger Caillois’s. I would voluntarily turn on Battlefield, I would then tune into the separate time and space this game takes place, this would take place during an unproductive time of my day (some times productive), I play multiplayer as the extreme uncertainty is what keeps me interested, and the idea of fully becoming this character in this make believe war.

    1. Ashley Cradeur

      I agree with what you said about when growing up “playing games” were considered to be a good use of time. I think games are often created to teach us. They instill the importance of being goal oriented. It is interesting however, to look at how many popular board games also promote stereotypes. The game Life is a great example of this because many objectives of the game promote the nuclear family concept.

  4. Natalie Masucci

    A game can be defined as leisure or play that has a common goal. Through out history , games can be as simple as tag or as complex as the video game world of today. The basis of a game is for freedom and to be creative, all while having fun. Gaming does or does not need to have set rules to be fun, as long as the player is enjoying it.

    For a formal analysis, I would like to analyze The Legend of Zelda : the Wind Waker. I chose this game to analyze because of its story line and artistic style. When first released, everyone thought that this Zelda game was the most beautiful one to date, and with that I agree. Unlike other Zelda games, this one gives the story a more cartoon like style. This cartoon like style plays along with the story line , making it seem more light and happier. Even when bad things happen to Link, he does not even seem that depressed about it. Going deeper into analyzing these two relating does bring up some questions though. The character that is Link does not even seem depressed that he does not live with his parents and only with his sister and his grandmother. The game does not even bring it up in any of the dialogue. Instead, the game moreso focuses upon the vast sea and the vivid details amongst the islands to make you forget about that whole situation, but this unknowingness of his parents also might have struck Link’s fascination with adventure and travel.

    1. Aaron Miller

      I would disagree that a game does not need to have a set of rules. The rules is what differentiates a game from just an activity that someone enjoys. People enjoy watching a television show, but nobody really would call that a game. However, if you are watching a game show and playing along at home (i.e. Jeopardy), that would be a game because of the fact that there are rules and a scoring system involved. I think that the rules are what separates games from the rest of the activities we enjoy as people.

  5. Clayton Goodman

    A game is something that occurs usually between two or more people and has a strict set of rules as well as a final goal (in a video game the opponent is the computer). Gameplay can be defined as the actions that occur within these rules and is actively working towards the set goal. For example, in basketball the players are confined to what is called the court and can’t travel outside the lines lest they surrender the ball to the other team. There is one ball involved and the goal is to shoot the ball into a basket defended by the opponent while trying to keep the opponent from scoring on your net. Each team is restricted to 5 players on the court at a time and those 5 players work together by passing the ball to each other and keeping it away from the opponents.
    Final Fantasy VI has a very complex story that is hard to sum up in a few words, but that is what makes the game so good. The traditional JRPG style of gameplay is very tedious at time, even to those that love it. In order to compensate for this side effect of gameplay, the developers, had to create a complex and intriguing story to keep the players moving toward their final goal (to defeat the final boss). However, like Chrono Trigger, once the game is beaten the rules change and the player can end the game at different times to change the story by bypassing gameplay and skipping to the final boos. It is these literally game-changing decisions that make the game world renowned. The marrying of gameplay and story can’t get much more complete, save Mass Effect which spans three games.

  6. Ryan Freels

    I would define a game as a constructed frame work of rules in which an individual or group is challenged. This can be done manually with a board, digital on a monitor, in verbal exchange, etc. I would define game play as how the individual and or group acts within the framework of the game. Such as the method one plays with, playing by the rules, cheating, etc.

    Mario Kart Wii is a digital game in which players control the images on a screen by controls or within the digital games framework (if the player is A.I.) and compete against one another through racing and other devices (Lightning Bolt, Star, Blue Shell, etc.). If human, the player can choose to play by the rules, or hack the game to fit their strategy or lack of (some hackers just want to watch the Mario world burn).

    1. Ryan Freels

      Another more theory heavy and less tech heavy formal analysis would be Super Mario Galaxy is a game that is is meant to innovate on the players physical explorative abilities but hinders here ability to explore gender beyond constructed convention. In the game, the controls allow us to walk round various planets and other objects in orbit contained within a implied infinite whimsical space environment, being the 2001: a space odyssey of the Mario games in its splendor. Like 2001: a space odyssey reminded us films ability to mesmerize as the silent films did (having silent parts where we are meant to absorb the visuals, not unlike the silent film of the train), Super Mario Galaxy finds its own way to revive exploration the sense of exploration we had in The Legend of Zelda, granted this is more strictly in the sense of movement within the digital space, being Super Mario Galaxy is comparatively linear. The reliance on Mario’s man power also calls technology into question, which is a theme that can be traced back into not just 2001: a space odyssey, but D.W. Griffith’s The Lonely Villa However, even with Rosalina’s new presence, which adds some narrative, the game continues the gender dynamic of the damsel-in-distress is continued, allowing are digital manifested bodies to explore, but maintaing a limited gender construct on the mind.

  7. Austin Bennett

    Oh yeah. This is sweet.

    The word “game” is derived from the old English Gamen, which means amusement, and fun, and also the Germanic word Gamenian, which means play, and amuse oneself.

    It expands what people above said where it just refers to some construct that a kid plays, and delves a little more into the core of what gaming really is. It’s self entertainment at it’s core, and while the book argues that some forms of it could be a form of communication between two people, I’d say at it’s basest is a single-player program mean to amuse. Well, maybe. What was one of the first digital games? Pong, right? That was against a computer i believe, but also had multiplayer capabilities. And before the age of digital games, they could’ve been in private between a little girl and her stuffed animals, but also something like chess, go, backgammon, or shogi, where people play against each other.

    So let’s redefine; Games can be entertainment for oneself, and also for a multitude of people.

    1. Austin Bennett

      AND now for a formalistic description of my favorite game! WHY MUST WE PICK A FAVORITE GAME. These by nature have the potential to be very weird and funny, so I’m going to take a crack at this:

      A young boy embarks on a journey across a land to ambush, capture, and engage in ring fights with other persons doing the same thing.

      No wonder PETA made such a game about them (Pokemon Black and Blue, if you want to try it. You may hate PETA more afterwards).

      1. Austin Bennett

        That wasn’t explored very well, I had the understanding formalism was it’s bare bones description without any outside references. That works with the plot of it, but I’d also expand saying that Pokemon is a game that promotes growth in unique, player controlled characters (i was gonna say NPC’s, but I guess they’re really not!) over the course of a journey that explores every inch of a continent, and gives players an immersive, immensely complex experience where they can pave their own adventure. Or at least control what they (and their pokemon) become during it.

    2. Parrish Colbert

      What you found is pretty interesting and makes sense because that’s all a game is when it boils down to it. I totally agree in that last sentence and said pretty much the same thing

  8. Garretkay Willis Bonner

    As far as a definition for game and game play goes I think I would have to agree with both Costikyan and Caillois. I would agree that a game is an activity that is voluntary, make believe, governed by rules, and separate from reality. Also that it can be an interactive structure of internal meaning that requires players to struggle towards a goal. Costikyan’s definition I think can fit with game play as well because whether playing a game with people or alone it can be interactive because it can involve interacting either with other people, digital characters or the imagination, and there should be a goal of some kind to determine how to win a game.
    For an analysis I would probably do the game “Spider-Man 2” the reason for doing this game is that as far as narrative goes it followed a certain plot that somewhat deviated from the content that it was based off of but included additional characters from its franchise that was able to give it a accurate feeling of being immersed in that reality. Also that it was one of the first successful games to establish the concept of free roaming because it allowed the player to either follow the narrative or to enjoy other aspects of the environment and game play. What was included in free roam is a various assortment of side quests that were unrelated to the main story that each had there own goals. One other factor that it had was mainly through its web swinging mechanic or combat that it was able to become an avatar for a player and embrace the definitions of what games are that were previously mentioned, and that another goal that it could provide is to simply enjoy being the character.

  9. Aaron Miller

    I would define games as being any activity that has a set of rules, has either a favorable or unfavorable outcome for the participant, and the person participating get’s some sort of personal satisfaction out of the activity. I feel as though this sums up game play because from the simplest games to the most complicated they all have some sort of guidelines by which to play. There also is an outcome at the end of every game (whether the player wins or loses). Lastly, the player, whether or not they win the game, should get some sort of enjoyment from the game they are playing. I think that the set of rules is what is essential to what differentiates something from a game and from just a hobby or random activity. Somebody can be really interested in gardening and get a lot of enjoyment out of it but it is not a game because there is not one set way to garden. On the other hand, Monopoly is a game (even though it’s rules vary from person to person) because it has a written set of rules.

    For the formal analysis portion I would analyze League of Legends. The story of the game is simple, all of the various areas of this mythical world are sending their strongest champions to the Summoner’s Rift arena to fight head to head as two teams of 5 champions work together to destroy turrets, and ultimately destroy the opposing team’s Nexus. The game is ultimately a game of warfare between the various areas of this world. The game is set in a forest setting which pairs well with the mythical and magical characters that can be played. There are over 100 different champions, so analyzing character is a bit rough. There are Marksman, Support, Mage, Tank, Fighter, and Assassin characters who all serve their own purpose in working to win the game. The look of the game is not dark, as the storyline may suggest. This lightens the mood of the game and makes it less about the violence and more about the competition. Also, even though you are fighting other people, there is not much blood or gore and the violence is all very cartoonish and done in a nongraphic way. This also helps to create a feel that is less disturbing and easier to stomach and play. These are just a few things I would look at by doing a formal analysis. I would also probably go in depth with a few of the most common champions in the game and talk about their look.

  10. Ashley Cradeur

    Much like movies, I feel games were created largely to entertain people because they pull their audience away from reality. I would define “Games” as interactive experiences built with a certain goal in mind that can be as nebulous or specific as it pleases. I feel that “game play” would best be defined as however the player interacts with the game to get to said goal of the challenge. One of my favorite games of all time is Solitaire. I am the oldest of four kids and growing up my Mother ran a daycare service, so on the rare occasion when I had alone time that was what I played and still do to this day. I primarily played with cards as a child but I now play on my phone and its has kind of turned into a nervous habit. I have always enjoyed playing this game because the premise is simple yet the path taken to achieve the goal is always different. Yes, Solitaire is very classic, and many would consider boring but analytically speaking, there are many aspects of this game that are used in popular, video games today. Solitaire is simple and fast paced but different every time much like Call of Duty, one of the biggest franchises in video game history (which I played for the first time this week.) Solitaire also requires you to develop pattern recognition witch is prevalent in countless games such as, Zelda, Mario, Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft.

  11. Parrish Colbert

    After reading Chapter 3 I have realized that ultimately games are directly rooted from our own history. The games that we play shape us but we are the ones who create them. I define game play and video-gaming a reflection of our reality in a sense. This pre-history of games concept in Chapter 3 is an example of how through simply objects like dice can be traced back to 1907 through branches of ideas. I feel game play is something that lets us allow ourselves to be a part of and understand. The interaction between people and games is the entertainment, as well as playing with other people.

    Formal analyisis of my favorite game right now is of Skyrim. The game has a very vast landscape and countless amount of tasks and quests to do as well as caves to loot. You are Dragonborn which means you can speak the language of dragons and bare the words of Dova (dragons). You choose what happens to you and the world around you through the decisions you make from interactions with the people you meet. Of course there are dragons and plenty of other creatures that have names and history. The story is rich in content and you can tell the time and effort that went into making the game. I don’t currently own a next gen console but my best friend does and I know even if I had a ps4 I would still play Skyrim.

  12. Jaylin Johnson

    It’s difficult for me to define exactly what classifies as “game play” exactly. Throughout the past several chapter discussion I have asked multiple times as to what exactly classifies as a video game that distinguishes it from other mediums or other games. It’s a question worth posturing and speculating about, because as gamers we have the potential to learn a lot from the different arguments given by everyone in regards to this question.

    The best I could define a game as an activity or program involving at least one participant involved who has the ability and the purpose to perceive the concepts and actions of a simplistic system of work of sorts, and therefore receive the same experience and receptors by engaging in this activity. What I mean by that is that the player has to experience a sort of separate structure and hierarchy similar to an actual society which leads into what I consider game play. Game play would be the rules and structures that make up the game. If the game is the world, then the game play is more like the structure created by the inhabitants within that world that determine what you do, how you do it, when you do it, why you do it, who does what, and where you are supposed to do it. Taking a simple example would be hide and seek. The game would involve the players and their own little set up environment and world. In this case hide and seek typically involves an enclosed space of an already existing environment say at a park, in a house, or in a neighborhood. The game play would be the rules and structures that dictate what each player is supposed to do and what they can and can not do. For instance the one who seeks can not peek(rhyme).

    As for how I would give an analysis of one of my favorite games Sonic the hedgehog, I would probably mention how the game was simple but considered amazing for the time due to the characters primary trademark, that being his speed. Since the sega genesis had “blast processing” which is really just to simplify it to the viewers and consumers, they created a character or mascot that could maximize on that overall potential. In comparison to current or game sonic or otherwise it’s not that fast at all, but back then the way everything was designed gave the feeling of momentum and flow. The main character himself was slightly different from the archetypal hero. He was a good guy and had morals yes, but it was clear that he had a lot more attitude and was more rough around the edges so to speak. The commercial for the game itself interestingly enough, had an old lady complaining about the character and by the end of it she says “Why can’t he be more like that nice boy mario” which shows the competition going on between the two companies at the time.

  13. Clark Faust

    The way I view a “game” is an activity that involves some level of competition and skill. The competition doesn’t have to be against another individual, it could be for yourself to reach a goal. A real life example of this would be skateboarding. Yes, there are skateboarding competitions, but in the end, skateboarding is about pulling of a trick so you can say you did it. This is reflected in the video game versions of skateboarding games. Different tricks are valued at different points and then the player that pulls the most difficult tricks gets the high score. Many times those high scores are set simulations for the individual to defeat. It is still very much a competition with the self in that regard.

    My favorite game by far is “MVP Baseball 205,” a baseball video game for Playstation2. It has so much more than just normal gameplay as any regular baseball game. It allows you to create dynasties with the “Franchise” mode. Instead of playing games, one can manage the decision making process of a simulated game in “Manager” mode. There are skill games like “Precision Pitching” to improve your abilities as a player. MVP Baseball 2005 allows the player to not only enjoy the best gameplay of a baseball game, in my opinion, but the player can also do more than just the play baseball.

  14. Sam Lundberg

    Defining the genre or medium on which a field focuses is one of those tasks that seem designed centrally to keep academic papers being produced for some time to come, like, to pick an issue I’m struggling with right now, what adaptation means in adaptation studies. I’d say that ultimately the boundaries of it, like most fields, are defined by the vicissitudes of the industry that generates the object of their study, and attempting to apply any pure theoretical framework to it is going to fail. But, there’s still value in trying, and I’ll give it my best shot.

    I’d say there are the two currents of what games mean going through the field. The obvious one, of course: A set of rules that, when followed, can lead two or more people to either be a winner or a loser. Maybe everyone can win or everyone can lose, but usually it’s designed to divide those involved into two groups. That’s the obvious one, and one I’m not quite as interested in.

    I’m more interested in the single-player games, where the game represents a database or store of content that the players try to access. One could model it by placing the computer in the position of the other player, the second member, whose success or failure can be determined in the same way that the other player of the first category of games can be, but given the way that these games function as narrative art in addition to a pure set of rules, I’d like to keep them separate. (And, again of course, there’s no shortage of the former that are video games, or of the latter that are non-electronic. I’m mostly focusing on electronic examples of the latter.)

    How can we cohesively understand the second category? My tentative definition would be a narrative form where all of those who interact with it claim to have played the same object, even if they haven’t exhausted its content. This is what I mean: For a film or a novel, the claim that I watched it or I read it comes with an implication of exhaustion. For a TV series, saying I watched a show used to imply more that one had seen an episode, but increasingly means, also, exhaustion: complete viewing of every moment. I’d say there’s a much more complicated rhetoric happening here, but it’s not the focus of this comment.

    These second kinds of games, however, people say they have played, even if they haven’t exhausted its narrative content. This, first, relates to those who haven’t finished the game, however the game defines that, although there is a fuzzy boundary there – those who only play a game for ten minutes probably wouldn’t claim they’ve played it without qualification. Probably.

    But more interesting is the way that multiple endings and in-game choices complicate the situation. If one claims to have played Heavy Rain to completion, they have a legitimate claim to consumption, even if they only experience one particular path of the dozens of possibilities.

    While I think this applies to all single-player games – even at the simplest level, whether your Mario went to the Warp Zone or not is a difference in experiences that would not happen in film – it doesn’t have a huge impact except on certain games, and even then I think it’s more a theoretical difference that challenges our ideas about what consumption and exhaustion of narrative art means, especially in relation to Derrida’s ideas of how one never begins to read a book. Still, it’s an interesting difference in definitions.

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