Archive for the ‘ethics in games’ Tag

Reflections on Miguel Sicart’s The Ethics of Computer Games – 01

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

So, I’m reading Miguel Sicart’s The Ethics of Computer Games and loving every bit of it. Well, almost every bit of it. Most of the bits. Anyway, while reading the chapter “Players as Moral Beings” I was struck by this passage:

“Becoming a player is the act of creating balance between fidelity to the game situation and the fact that the player as subject is only a subset of a cultural and moral being who voluntarily plays, bringing to the game a presence of culture and values that also affect the experience.” (63)

I had to read that a couple of times. Even after I continued to navigate the rest of that chapter, the “subset of a cultural and moral being” kept echoing in my head and becoming a point of departure for other understandings and considerations.

Sicart uses Michel Foucault’s ideas about power to frame the experience of playing a computer game. The player doesn’t exist until they engage with the game on its terms, and the game’s potentiality becomes actualized only when the player engages with it. The agent and the object exist separately, but the object creates the “player” and the player actualizes the object into experience.

I’ve started to to form some ideas about how this system of understanding could relate to teaching (which I think of in gaming terms anyway). The students are my players, each of my classes is a game or maybe a level inside of a larger game. I communicate with my students in real time, but the system that I have designed communicates simultaneously. I have been incorporating ideas that I have learned from game design into my teaching (shifting modes of engagement to maintain a steady flow state, introducing and integrating implicit and explicit goals, etc) and now I am starting to see parallels in the ethics of gaming and pedagogy (willing submission to particular power dynamic, those relationships having potential to create and inform). The information feels obvious but understanding how to articulate the exchange gives my participation in it a greater sense of agency (real, imagined, or otherwise, I don’t know). I want my students to see how they are participating and for them to consider why and to what end they submit willingly. I wonder how games and contact can present and challenge the mechanics of power.

That’s all for now.

Oculus Gaze Maze

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

**best viewed in full screen on a stereoscopic display. (i.e. Oculus Rift VR head-mounted display)**

Short demo of a prototype I’m working on. The player uses the direction of their gaze to guide a sphere through a maze. A gallery of back-lit creatures watches as the player navigates the maze. They cheer when the player finds themselves in dangerous situations.

I’m interested in developing a game that responds to and provides consequences for different sets of player actions. Will the player seek out danger to appease their bloodthirsty audience? Will they navigate towards treasures to accumulate wealth? What might happen if they look away from the action entirely, allowing their curiosity to get the better of them? The player gets to decide how to “win” the game, which differs from the game imposing an arbitrary value system (time is valuable, race against time; possessions are valuable, collect things; curiosity is valuable, discover things; persistence is valuable, replay the game; etc).