CP470 VGT SU14 Week7M2

What are your thoughts on Bob Rehak’s application of psychoanalysis to video gaming? How else might psychoanalysis be applied to gaming? If you were going to do a psychoanalytic reading of a video game, what game would you choose? What would your approach/thesis be?

8 thoughts on “CP470 VGT SU14 Week7M2

  1. Jaylin Johnson

    I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a applying some form of psychoanalysis to the mind sets behind our enjoyment of certain activities. As for Rehak’s personal analysis, I found it interesting for the most part and I find myself agreeing with it to an extrent. But psychoanalysis could be applied to gaming in more ways than what I see here, at least in my personal opinion.

    It could be applied to the personal beliefs of human societies and social structures, which could explain certain gaming controversies over the years. For example GTA being one of the most controversial games around could be an interesting look into the psychology behind both the people for and against the game. How real people may feel the game itself is or how it reflects the mindset of the people involved.

    If I were to choose a game to analyze myself though, I’m not particularly sure. My answer changes over time so I might pick a game that’s either popular or highly controversial at the time. My main thesis would depend upon the reason for the game’s popularity or controversy itself and the approach I would take would be one of skepticism while attempting to provide a certain type of clarity to the readers.

  2. Videogamerz

    Given the video game’s emphasis if not reliance upon the player, user, or spectator, Rehak’s application of psychoanalysis is a valuable project as he seeks to understand how a user projects and utilizes their avatars digitally in both a diegetic and non-diegetic narrative. His use of Lacan’s mirror-stage is especially useful in modeling for similarities and differences between the ‘growth’ and ‘maturation’ of players generationally onward. In his attempt to establish the significance of academic exploration of the psychology of the user/spectator, Rehak writes, “The video game avatar, presented as a human spectator’s double, merges spectatorship and participation…transforming both….”

    Moreover, Rehak’s willingness to borrow not only from Lacan but also work being done in cinema is fruitful. Rehak writes insightfully on how “Video games remediate cinema” and are “imitating not life but rather cinema.” Rehak notes that video games are becoming more like cinema and not life and is perhaps partially explained and understood by the American Hollywood culture of fantasy making in film. Perhaps even more important to video games than cinema is work focusing on the first-person point of view and the phenomenology involved in recreating the digital ego by avatar digitally. Rehak notes that early games went from overwhelmingly designed and viewed from a “god’s point of view” to one characterized by increasing subjectivity, most notably in the form of the first-person shooter genre, which is discussed in his history of Wolfenstein.

    I would like to conduct research on the effects of dissimilar user-avatar relationships. For instance, the effects of not having one’s ethnicity or gender to choose from when playing a game. I would like to choose a game that features perhaps an african american hero and write on the effects of African American children and other non-black social groups.

    1. Ryan Freels

      I believe that media is something not just for simulating, but now it is to be simulated. As a friend well worded it (I am paraphrasing actually), it reflects how media such as cinema is such a part of our environment. It could also be an example of our earlier discussing on if video games (or really media) is becoming obscured with real life.

      Combining a couple things you brought up, one could say that the avatar in Wolfenstein 3D exists to reaffirm white masculinity for white male players. It tries to maintain their power by having an Aryan avatar (face shown at the bottom of screen) taking down another white masculine power, and making people of other races the implied damsel-in-distress. Considering the objectifying nature of the damsel, this is like turning enslavement into a trophy for him to win rather than fight against.

  3. Jennifer Machura

    This chapter was very interesting, especially Rehak’s comparison between the God-like perspective in some video games and the first-person POV in others, and how the latter provide more of a sense of vulnerability that the player feels because of the realism (seeing your avatar’s own blood splatter across the screen, hearing labored breathing with each injury). This definitely rings true with me. I’ve always enjoyed those “God’s eye-view” games more than the first-person games because of that feeling of vulnerability. For some reason, I would always get nervous when my avatar was hidden behind a gun. When gaming, I’ve always felt much more secure with seeing my entire avatar on the screen. Perhaps it has something to do with ego or control.

    If I were to do a psychoanalytic reading of a video game, I think I would choose the game Beautiful Katamari, which is visually stunning. I would explore the theme of self-importance. If you haven’t played the game before, your avatar (a prince) has to run around, rolling various items into a “katamari” in order to restore the planets and sun that have been sucked away into a giant black hole. My thesis would be that the game promotes an inflated sense of self because of the fact that the prince is given the task to basically restore the universe and he is the only one who can do so. I would explore what this says about royalty (albeit fictional royalty). I mean, why couldn’t they send an unassuming pauper on the quest to restore order?

  4. Ryan Freels

    I found this article very interesting, and find it revealing that while avatars in games are supposed representatives of control more so than image. I think this echoes that issue of control because we have more control over how a film works than how the world works. Granted, I think there are player modeled in games that contradict this, like people going crazy in the world of Grand Theft Auto. That being said, I think this control is often times a fragmented self, such as the ideal self, a moralistic avatar, the capable self, choosing the more challenging path regardless of right or wrong, the doppelganger, an outlet of aggression. There would also be the isolated and the obscured self. Isolated is one that perhaps plays a game to study it, not actually identifying with the character. The obscured self is someone that mixes the real world desire with their in game desires, which can go multiple direction based on what they value in gaming (the ideal or doppelganger).

    I think I will be utilizing this chapter in my actual paper. So I will try to think of another games I would write about. I think Pokemon acts as a plausible reflection of power for those that can not identify with physical masculinity. The game feature avatars that are not themselves capable of great physical accomplishments, however, the rely on others to do so. This reflects and reinforces power dynamics in which the owners of corporations have control of a working class regardless of there physical capabilities and a the weakening of one form of masculinity, physical power, in favor of another, dominance, while allowing to relish in physical power through the fights. In todays society, this reflects real example of power can be attained and allows people to have that control. The avatar becomes an extension of that capability. While this is problematic for the oppressive implications it can have, it is progressive in later year for extending the possibility of power towards women

  5. Garretkay Willis Bonner

    My thoughts on the subject are that it is an interesting concept of putting this particular style of analysis to video games however it was an interesting way of seeing how the game avatar could have some much more meaning towards a player. How else psychoanalysis may be applied to gaming is rather than just going into either the avatarical or cinema aspect would be to show it is related to the concept of projection and to answer the question of if whether or not people often project there feelings or negative emotions onto some of the opponents they face in the game world that had for some one in real life. If I had to choose doing an approach on a video game I would probably see if a player and a game could match the criteria that have been established by the game Spacewar! or how well it matches Lacen’s theories. The came that I would choose would possibly be Assassin’s Creed II because it could be simpler to identify the various elements that were set for avatarial operations within that game.

  6. Cr0uch_P0tat0e

    I think there are a lot of interesting ideas posed in this article, and along with some others here I also found myself agreeing with a lot of what Rehak was saying. Some of the ideas I agreed with/like (to name only a few) are viewing your avatar as both self and other, playing with identity, presence, subjectivity, how avatars become more “lively” over time, and how we take our bodies with us into the game. These are all things that I believe people who play games realize subconsciously, but it’s not something you really tend to think about. I think it would be interesting to do a study on how gamers physically react to situations in games, especially ones that tend to be more hard, or get the player more emotionally involved in the game. From experience I know that a lot of people act out and do things they don’t necessarily realize they are doing in the game. Examples would be leaning in your chair to “see” around a corner, tensing your body at an eerie part of the game, or actions when the player is victorious over a hard boss fight, ect. A game I would like to see this on would be Dark Souls, as it is one of the most impossible, infuriating games to play. I would suspect that the subject would act out negatively around 85% of the time, and only rejoice when passing through a point they failed to multiple times. It would be pretty easy to set up split cameras on a screen and the subject, and compare them side by side to view the involuntary body reactions with the on screen actions that prompted them.

  7. Parrish Colbert

    This chapter is very reflective of what I did my paper on and the idea of seeing ones self within the avatar almost goes hand in hand with deep play and play immersion. In all games you have to level with your character because for the time being you are seeing through there eyes which is what made games like Wolfenstein 3D so widely accepted because it was real the about the players experience and less about the actual character in the game. Even games in games like Tomb Raider players aren’t looking too deeply into Laura Croft but see her more as a beautiful cursor to get around and solve the puzzles. The time you spend ducking under cover or sprinting ahead all are conscience decisions that are intuitive to you and really has less to do with the character which is why a player can still enjoy the story and be a part of it at the same time.

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