GLS day 1, late morning

fireside chat with thomas dan and doug.jpg

I’m now in the Fireside chat with Dan Hunter, Thomas Malaby, and Doug Thomas about what they advocate as a new direction in games research. They want to talk about people and the socio-cultural emergent things around games rather than the game mechanics themselves. This is like what I tried to do when I started looking at game mechanics to affect player behavior vs. the actual practice of players.

The short of it is that what should be valued is the process involved with game playing and participating in game culture, rather than the product/value of the games themselves. In other words, narratology vs. ludology is sort of a moot question since what happens around games is so much bigger.

“The play of imagination is the goal of education.” -Dewey


  • Malaby doesn’t think we should make a huge distinction between simulation and games, but I totally disagree… at least, initially. Lemme write this out to help my thinking. I disagree mostly because I think that games promote inquiry through contextual based problems. A simulation becomes a game very easily once goals are applied to the play, but without those goals they are not the same thing. Furthermore, since commercial games have hard-coded goals, the sort of processes and values that players embody are pre-set.
  • Malaby also argues that a game is a contrived space for unpredictable outcomes. The lottery is a game. Again, I am not sure I agree. Or maybe my definition applies to engaging games…
  • Leading in a guild helps leading outside of game? Heh, right. Might have a little correlation, I think, but specific people or contexts would have to be described… Malaby said that generalizability is hard, and in this I completely agree… we need deeper pockets of understanding of situated contexts… lots of them.
  • Cartesian duality between mind/body? Not really. Games require embodiment.
  • A question was asked about games as 3rd spaces. Malaby: 3rd space falls into the trap of considering work vs. play… but the problem is that playing these games is blurry and falls between the two. The WoW guild is NOT a place with no contigencies. Play vs. work as activities VS. play as a mindset or way of being… where the former is not useful analytically since that distinction doesn’t really exist and the latter is useful in understanding why people quit games–they start to view it as work, not that their actual activity has changed.