[In a matrix, a non-linear array of information,] all directions are equal. Viewing becomes exploring a territory, traveling through a data space. Of course, it would not be the obviously literal one like the Aspen project. We are moving into idea space here, into the world of thoughts and images as they exist in the brain, not on some city planner's drawing board. With the integration of images and video into the domain of computer logic, we are beginning the task of mapping the conceptual structures of our brain onto the technology.
Viola, "Will There be Condominiums in Data Space?"
How did you experience "space" in the games we played? Does the point of view (1st person, 3rd person) make a difference?
The entertainment industry has long believed that the highest payoffs would come from offering the public media that combine action and imaginative identification. . . . The polarization between action and imaginative identification breaks down in the presence of the computer: with the computer behind them the video games provide imaginative worlds into which people enter as participants. . .
Video games offer a chance to live in simulated, rule-governed worlds. . . . Children come to the video games from a culture increasingly marked by the logic of simulation. . . . Unlike the real world, the game universe always conforms to the rules. There is violence, murder, and theft, but the rules for what can happen and how to handle it are precise.
If there is a danger here, it is not the danger of mindless play but of infatuation with the challenge of simulated worlds. . . . Like Narcissus and his reflection, people who work with computers can easily fall in love with the worlds they have constructed or with their performances in the worlds created for them by others. Involvement with simulated worlds affects relationships with the real one.
The imperative of total concentration is part of the high. Video games demand this same level of attention. They can give people the feeling of being close to the edge because, as in a dangerous situation, there is no time for rest and the consequences of wandering attention feel dire. . . . The games combine a feeling of omnipotence and possession--they are a place of manipulation and surrender.
Turkle, "Video Games and Computer Holding Power"
Do computer games offer a unique combination of action and identification? Do they set participants up to desire an unrealistically "rule-governed" world? Does gaming necessarily reflect a form of narcissism? How else do they shape their participants' identities and relationships?
It is interesting that the development of this theatrical genre [interactive plays like "mystery weekends"] has been concurrent with the blossoming of computer games as a popular form of entertainment, and I speculate that computer games have in some ways served as a model for it. In fact, it is in the areas that dramatic entertainment and human-computer activity are beginning to converge that pan-sensory representation is being most actively explored. When we examine that convergence, we can see ways in which human-computer activity has evolved, at least in part, as drama's attempts to increase its sensory bandwidth, creating the technological siblings of the kind of participatory theatre described above.
Star Raiders, unlike Zork, is enacted, with computer-generated spectacle and music. As in traditional drama, enactment in Star Raiders entails the illusion of real, continuous time.
Laurel, "The Six Elements . . ." and "Star Raiders"
Comment on the spectacle enacted in the games we played. How captivating are the illusions?
The essential lesson that we have abstracted from our experiences with Habitat is that a cyberspace is defined more by the interactions among the actors within it than by the technology with which it is implemented.
At the core of much of the debate was an unresolved philosophical question: Is an Avatar an extension of a human being (thus entitled to be treated as you would treat a real person) or a Pac-Man-like critter destined to die a thousand deaths or something else entirely? Is Habitat murder a crime? Should all weapons be banned? Or is it all "just a game"?
Cyberspace architects will benefit from study of the principles of sociology and economics as much as from the principles of computer science.
In a real system that is going to be used by real people, it is a mistake to assume that the users will all undertake the sorts of noble and sublime activities that you created the system to enable. Most of them will not. Cyberspace may indeed change humanity, but only if it begins with humanity as it really is.
Morningstar and Farmer, "The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat"
Comment on the ethics of online behavior in games and simulations. (If we get a chance to play together) How did the interactions among us online in a game differ from our usual modes of interaction? Were things about us revealed?
And here are a couple of other questions about gaming/simulation/virtuality:
Where do you come down on the elements of "narrative" or "play" in a game? Which is more important and why?
Regardless of your answer to the last question, here's a related one: if games tell a story, what are the effects on the players of the ideology behind that story? In other words, are violent games (or non-violent ones, for that matter) bad for you?
Compare the different experiences you had playing Syberia (3rd-person, single-player adventure) and the other games I suggested (Claw, Starcraft, Neopets) or whatever other games you have played on your own. How does the genre/mode of the game affect your experience? Are these differences merely a matter of taste (like genres of fiction) or is there more to it?
Finally, take a look at the text/game assigned to you at Bb (in "Course Documents" folder called "Games, Simulations, Virtual Reality"). How do the ideas/experience here reinforce or alter your ideas on games/simulations?