Chapter 1 2 games and society
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Chapter 1.2 Games and Society. Why Do People Play Video Games?. Audience and Demographics. What good are demographics? Are they always accurate? Recent survey: what stands out?. Audience and Demographics: ESRB. EC(Early Childhood) E(Everyone) E10+(Everyone 10+) T(Teen)

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Chapter 1.2 Games and Society

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Chapter 1.2Games and Society


Why Do People Play Video Games?

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Audience and Demographics

  • What good are demographics?

  • Are they always accurate?

  • Recent survey: what stands out?

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Audience and Demographics: ESRB

  • EC(Early Childhood)

  • E(Everyone)

  • E10+(Everyone 10+)

  • T(Teen)

  • M(Mature)

  • AO(Adults Only)

  • 32 different “Content Descriptors”

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Audience and Demographics: ESRB 2003 Statistics

  • 57% of games received an E rating

  • 32% of games received a T rating

  • 10% of games received an M rating

  • 1% received an EC rating

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Audience and Demographics: ESRB 2003 Statistics (2)

  • 70% of best-selling console games were E or T rated

  • 90% of best-selling PC games were E or T rated

  • Buying habits or development habits?

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Societal Reaction to Games

  • Misleading perception of games as being child’s play

  • Violence in video games drawing parental attention

  • Legal Issues (1992)

    • Night Trap

    • Mortal Kombat

  • Led to Senate Hearings (1993)

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Societal Reaction to Games

  • Legal Issues: Doom (1994) and the 1999 Columbine Massacre

    • Shooters were known to play Doom

    • Lawsuits were initiated against the industry, but eventually dropped

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Societal Reaction to Games

  • Legal Issues: Grand Theft Auto

    • GTA: Vice City

      • Haitian-American Rights Groups

    • GTA: San Andreas

      • “Hot Coffee” mod

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Societal Reaction to Games

  • Games and Youth Violence

    • Root of All Evil, or Good, Old-Fashioned Fun?

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Cultural Issues

  • Abuse of stereotypes (Shadow Warrior)

  • Foreign Diplomacy

    • Germany (The Index – List of banned games)

    • China, Japan (controversial elements)

  • Cultural Acceptance

    • Changing standards and thresholds

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Society Within Games:Online Behavior

  • The Good

    • Everquest Weddings

  • The Bad

    • Addictive properties

    • Online rivalries becoming offline rivalries

    • Can games contribute to erratic offline behaviors?

  • The Ugly

    • Disinhibition and deindividuation occur because of perceived anonymity.

    • Hate crimes

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Society Within Games

  • Tools

    • Moderators

    • Communication tools

    • Fan sites to discuss gameplay and community outside of the game

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The Upshot

  • Games are an immature medium

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Chapter 2.1Understanding Fun


What is Fun?

  • Dictionary:

    • Enjoyment, a source of amusement

  • Important to consider underlying reasons

  • “Funativity” – thinking about fun in terms of measurable cause and effect

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Getting a handle on fun/play …

  • Evolutionary roots popular

    • Johann Huizinga, Homo Ludens

  • But different ways to proceed

    • Play as basic desire?

    • Play as “evolutionary advantage”?

    • Crawford, Salen/Zimmerman, Koster, ….

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Evolutionary Roots

  • We must look to our distant past

    • Young mammals play to learn basic survival skills

    • Games are organized play

    • Human entertainment is also at its heart about learning how to survive

    • Mating and social rules also critical to us

  • Education == Entertainment

    • Fun is about practicing or learning new survival skills in a relatively safe setting

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Natural Funativity Theory

  • Basic concept is that all fun derives from practicing survival and social skills

  • Key skills relate to early human context, but often in modern guise

  • Three overlapping categories

    • Physical, Social, and Mental

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Definition of a Great Game

  • A great game is a series of interesting and meaningful choices made by the player in pursuit of a clear and compelling goal

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A Series of … Choices in Pursuit of a … Goal

  • Interactivity

  • Games = goals and rules?

    • Toys vs. games?

  • Interesting and Meaningful Choices

    • Meaningful choices are perceived by the player as having significant consequences

  • S/Z: meaningful play

    • Actions to outcomes are “descriptive and integrated”

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A Series of Choices

  • No choice

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A Series of Choices

  • Meaningless choices

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A Series of Choices

  • Infinite choices

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A Series of Choices

  • Choose wisely

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Classic Game Structure

  • Convexities

    • Other terms (e.g., Narrative spine)

  • Fractal nature

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A Series of Convexities

  • Popular structure

  • Some freedom, implementable

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The Concept of Flow

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    • “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”

  • Flow is a state of exhilaration, deep sense of enjoyment

  • Usually when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile

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The Flow Channel

  • Start with relatively low level of challenge to match starting skill levels

  • Gradually increase challenge

  • Fast enough to prevent boredom

  • Not so fast as to induce frustration

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The Flow Channel

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Difficulty Increase Varies

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Story and Character

  • Emotional association, strengthen reaction

  • Interactive story different than linear stories

    • Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck

  • “Do, don’t show”

    • Don’t make choices for the player

    • Bring out character through action

  • Gameplay Trumps Story!

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