How Videogames Express Ideas

Weise Matthew
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

What are the exact aspects of the videogame medium, the precise features or combinations of features that lend themselves to expressing ideas and meaning? To chart this out, I begin with an American legal case that serves as a foundation for the basic issues involved and then move on to show how this relates to some of the broader attitudes the world of videogame discourse. Based on this, I break down the expressive strategies of videogames into three aspects—non-playable sequences, rule-based systems, and the relationship between the two—which I then illustrate with examples proving that videogames can indeed be an expressive medium.


Bad Games Panel [Abstracts]

Juul Jesper Weise Matthew Begy Jason
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

A video game can be such an utter failure, in terms of basic craft and artistic value, that it is not possible to gain any enjoyment from playing it. Or is it? This panel discusses the possibility of appreciating video games that are otherwise considered "flawed" or "bad". The concepts of paracinema (Sconce) and camp (Sontag) describe ways of appreciating cinema and culture that is otherwise derided as low quality by dominant standard of taste. Using these as starting points, we can begin to understand how also games can be enjoyed or valued precisely because they fail to meet established quality criteria. Paragaming can be seen as the practice of valuing games because they fail to meet game-specific quality criteria like usability, stability, flow, etc. This panel will explore three different aspects of paragaming, touching on the relationship between difficulty and user experience, the way paracinematic language and culture is often appropriated into not only the practice of paragaming, but into game development, and the role of group dynamics in enjoying "bad games". The question of bad games is important to the mission of game studies. By better understanding counter-readings and/or counter-playings of games - the deliberate appropriation of games in ways that are presumed to go against the intentions of the developers - we can better understand the taste cultures that we are already (and perhaps not consciously) immersed in.


Subversive Game Design for Recursive Learning

Mitgutsch Konstantin Weise Matthew
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

How are players' expectations challenged through subverting common design patterns in digital games? The following paper outlines a game design experiment that combines state of the art learning research with game design. The goal of the game project is to explore how subversive design patterns can be created that force the players to rethink their expectations and interpretations. In the developed game Afterland various paradigm shifts subvert common gameplay patterns in order to encourage players to modify their anticipations. This is designed to provoke a corresponding paradigm shift in the players, forcing them to reassess certain expectations and to adopt new mental models, strategies, and goals other than those commonly found in games of this genre. The paper introduces recursive learning as a theoretical foundation for the game design process and offers constructive insight derived from this particular research-based game design project conducted at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.