Q1. Do you think that video games are the first indigenous form of digital media? Are all video games fundamentally different from past games and types of play?
I think that digital media is simply imitating life, which in turn lends itself to life imitating digital media. In the case of games, I agree that the offline counterparts have been around for thousand of years. I like the example of India’s Chataranga in 500 BC which evolved into modern day chess. Digital games have derived from training and tactical games, notably military games. Ancient warriors would use sand to illustrate their strategies to allies, later utilising stones to move across maps to demonstrate action plans.
Smith (2010) discusses in his paper how video games such as Asteroids & Battlezone released by Atari or William’s Defender in the early 1980s have foundation in military training. Online games such as these are very familiar with their own offline counterparts. These however, are games that can only be played in a digital environment, because not everyone has access to military training and staff. Smartphones, for example offer interfaces where with a slide of a finger, gamers can shoot, reload and alternate weapons to defeat enemies. Games can be played anywhere and any time, provided they have internet access.
Q2. What do you think makes a game ‘social’ – is it the type of game, who you play it with, or something else? (Is there a line between playing and being social, or are they part of the same sort of experience? Do you think that playing some games actually promotes more developed social links with others, for example when a game involves collaborating and trusting others to complete joint tasks?)
I’m a big fan of social games on Facebook; I’ve experimented with a lot of the ones offered. However, I do think that some are more social than others. There are some games such as Texas Hold ‘em that have a chat feature so that you may actually socialise while playing, but for the most part games such as my favourite Mystery Manor and Candy Crush, having more friends play the game with me simply means I can advance through the game quicker. But the only interaction between players is simply the giving of lives, gifts or passes through to the next level. Rossi (2009) explains that essentially, there are two characteristics to online social games: “skills/knowledge and truly social games” and further discusses that while some games may promote relationships between players, other games may weaken these relationships because gamers may de-friend other gamers if they do not carry their weight in the game, particularly if the “friends” are complete strangers, added only to expand their play.
Q3. Do you think that, as Jane McGonigal suggests, that videogames and game players can change the (real) world?
Even if you have reservations about the idea as a whole, can you think of some aspects of gaming and game play that do have the potential to prepare people to do things in the real world? Are there any examples where game skills are already being used to carry out real-world tasks?
I actually really like this idea. I use play as learning with my children and most of the games I have for them are educational (apart of course from Mortal Kombat!). I understand that gamifying education may be seen in a negative light due to the external rewards system. Juul (2010) explains that bribery only works for a while, then children associate learning with rewards and this can lead to negative behaviour. However, Jane McGonigal (2010) explains that games do not need to be about points. Games are more than that. They can teach gamers good values by simply having a good game design. McGonigal’s webpage lists a number of games that can prepare gamers to go on epic adventures, all the while being environmentally friendly!
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE1DuBesGYM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Juul, J. (2010, February 25). Demotivation by External Rewards. The Ludologist. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from http://www.jesperjuul.net/ludologist/demotivated-by-external-rewards
Rossi, L. (2009). Playing your network: gaming in social network sites. Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory. Proceedings of DIGRA 2009, (2009). Retrieved from http://www.digra.org/dl/db/09287.20599.pdf
Smith, R. (2010). The Long History of Gaming in Military Training. Simulation & Gaming, 41(1), 6–19. doi:10.1177/1046878109334330