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Defining Digital Games. Assigned readings: Chapter 8 (Rules of Play Book). Presentation by Dustin Dannenhauer Dr . H é ctor Mu ñ oz-Avila. Automated Data Storing+ manipulation. All are formally modeled as Turing machines ( video). PC Tablets Consoles cell phones.

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defining digital games

Defining Digital Games

  • Assigned readings:
    • Chapter 8 (Rules of Play Book)

Presentation by Dustin Dannenhauer

Dr. Héctor Muñoz-Avila

definition of game


Data Storing+ manipulation

All are formally modeled as Turing machines (video)

  • PC
  • Tablets
  • Consoles
  • cell phones
Definition of Game

Reminder: Definition of a game (and elements).

  • A game is a system
  • In which players
  • engaged in an artificial conflict
  • defined by rules
  • That results in a quantifiable outcome
  • Notes:
  • most of the definitions of games studied where made before computers existed
  • The term “digital game”. Covers:
digital games as systems
Digital Games as Systems

Reminder: Definition of System:

  • Parts affect one another within an environment (next slide provides an example)
    • elements: Objects, Attributes (properties), Internal relationships, and the Environment
    • dimensions: formal, experiential, cultural
  • Digital games tend to be confused with the medium they are taking place (e.g., “play Nintendo”)
  • Our definitions of game and system provide the means to make these distinctions (see next slide)
analysis of tetris

Says who?

Analysis of Tetris




(third video)

  • Cultural identity
  • Fan sites
  • Impact on culture
  • Emotions
  • Players
  • Medium where it is played


(second video)



(first video)

  • Buttons to press
  • Graphical Interface


A game designer creates experience not technology

side track john carmack ii

PC Gamer Interview 2006:

  • Points that simplicity doesn’t mean lack of design
  • Previous games created by himself
  • Points that even in his company now he steps back and listen to designers
Side-track: John Carmack II
  • Creator of Doom game series
  • ID Software
  • Famous for creation of graphics engines that “pushed the envelope (video; 2006 game!) from a computer graphics perspective”

If you are left alone in an Island, which game you wish they left with you? (anyone?)

His answer: a compiler!

back to lecture s topic what can we do with digital media
Back to lecture’s topic: What Can We do with digital media?
  • Goal: use technology to create meaningful play
  • What capabilities does digital media have?
  • Trait 1 : immediate but narrow interactivity
  • Trait 2: Information manipulation
  • Trait 3: Automated complex systems
  • Trait 4: Networked communication
trait 1 immediate but narrow interactivity
Trait 1 : immediate but narrow interactivity
  • The game responds to player input
  • Other Examples?
  • Why is it narrow?
  • Despite this gameplay can be engaging:
  • Tactics in an RTS game
  • Alternatives to keyboard
trait 2 information manipulation
Trait 2: Information manipulation
  • Digital (Turing) machines: store/manipulate data



A region belongs to blueteam if

All units in the region belong to blue team



Relations: - soldier belongs to blue team

- soldier is a unit


Simple objects: soldier, mage


trait 2 of digital games information manipulation
Trait 2 of Digital games: Information manipulation

Knowledge-based system

Age of Empires uses a

Rule based system



piece threats


Any digital game: score, locations,…

trait 2 information manipulation1


  • images
  • audio
  • logic
Trait 2: Information manipulation
  • Digital (Turing) machines: store/manipulate data  knowledge
  • Key characteristic: computers can learn while playing
    • User preferences/capabilities (We saw machine learning examples in previous lecture)
  • Plus: Hiding information
    • Example (video)?
    • Although non digital games can also hide information. Example?
trait 3 automated complex systems
Trait 3: Automated complex systems
  • Complex system:
    • Example of a game that would be difficult to play manually
  • But some game theoreticians say this is a problem itself: People want to see the internal workings of the system
trait 4 networked communication
Trait 4: Networked communication
  • Facilitate communication between players
  • Evolution
    • 2-4 players using the same console/computer
    • 2-4 Players over a local network
    • 2-4 Players over the internet
    • 12 players over the internet
    • 1000+ Players over the same instance of game world (video)
  • Direct communication is not restricted to text (video)
open discussion
Open Discussion
  • Can non-digital games can exhibit traits such as “Information manipulation”?
  • Yes; For example if another person plays as the dungeon master as in this video
  • What are the advantage of digital over non-digital games?
  • What are the advantage of non-digital over digital games? See video for a clue
final word
Final Word
  • These traits are not the only ones
  • Even non digital games may exhibit some of these traits
  • But they help our understanding of video game potential
  • Analysis of Unreal Tournament:
    • Trait 1 : immediate but narrow interactivity
    • Trait 2: Information manipulation
    • Trait 3: Automated complex systems
    • Trait 4: Networked communication