Gameplay Rhetoric: A Study of the Construction of Satirical and Associational Meaning in Short Computer Games for the WWW

Madsen Helene Johansson Troels Degn
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

This paper maps out the construction of non-narrative rhetorical meaning in short computer games. Setting off from the recent emergence of short satirical computer games on the World Wide Web, it observes that at least some computer games do have potentials as a medium of artistic expression; that regardless of the possible narrative powers of computer games. Drawing on Leonard Feinberg's categories of satire and George Lakoff's theory of metaphor, the article describes the basic rhetorical mechanisms of satire and association in computer games and suggests that satire and especially allegorical association in this context appear as two sides of a common theme: the call for immortality and the mastery of computer games.


Vertigo and verticality in Super Monkey Ball

Johansson Troels Degn
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The vertical dimension is crucial to Super Monkey Ball on all levels1, and invites us to meditate on vertigo and verticality, falling and failing in the construction of space and game-play in this game and in computer- games as such. In Super Monkey Ball, the vertical dimension should be mastered (landing on tiny islands with the ball glider), avoided (off golf courses, off race tracks, or off fight arenas elevated almost astronomically above the ground), although it may also invite to dangerous downslide acceleration or short-cuts that will give your baby monkey ball a lead in the race (descending tilting planes, falling from one level to another while staying on the course). But most notably, verticality is emphasized by falling and failing. Slipping off the race-track or shooting oneself off the golf course by mistake always means dropping into a spectacular free fall; losing the poor baby monkey in dark swamps, sparkling oceans, or void, endless desertlike spaces. Meditating on this aesthetization of falling and failing in Super Monkey Ball, this brief study outlines the peculiar allegorical, albeit funny and social character of this game, which seems just as important as the playing of the game as such.