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Gaming Academia Gets More Mainstream Press 86

Posted by simoniker
from the they're-so-populaire dept.
jimharris writes "Eventually every area of human activity comes under the scrutiny of scholars. After thirty years, it's time for video games to go to college. The New York Times has an article (free registration required) called 'The Ivy-Covered Console', that talks about several lucky professors who play games for a living. The challenge, they say, is to develop a language of criticism to analyze video games." One particularly unfortunate quote: "Dr. [Barry] Atkins admitted that he didn't finish Half-Life before writing about it in his 2003 book, 'More Than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form,' (Manchester University Press), and only later realized he was two minutes from the shocking plot reversal at the end when he stopped. 'I am very nervous that I got it wrong,' he said."
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Gaming Academia Gets More Mainstream Press

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  • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:16PM (#8400316) Homepage Journal
    that's what happens to lot of players.

    they see only half of the story, since the game is too boring, too easy or too hard to finish. this is something that they should have take into consideration when writing up the critique.

    I remember fondly some games from my childhood that I never got around to finish :)
    • Unfinished Games (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jodiamonds (226053) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:37PM (#8400609)
      Yes, many players end up not seeing the whole story of a game because they don't finish the game. But that's just a sign of a bad game.

      I shouldn't be *forced* to keep playing because the game might get better *later*. The player should be having fun the whole time, right? Obviously, some parts will be better than others, but ten minutes of boredom can kill a gaming experience. Especially if there's ANOTHER game that will be fun RIGHT NOW. =)
      • by Alkaiser (114022) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:03PM (#8400934) Homepage
        Exactly.

        How many games have you played where the gameplay is just horrid 95% of the way through, and then all of a sudden gameplay mechanics change for the last 5% of the game, and it totally rocks?

        None?

        Yeah, me too. Even so...why would you make your game crap half the time? That IS the mark of a bad game. When I play good games...I don't wait for them to get better...they're just good, there's not these huge peaks and valleys in enjoyment. Repetition kicks in at some point...but that's totally different.
        • Re:Unfinished Games (Score:2, Informative)

          by Haeleth (414428)
          How many games have you played where the gameplay is just horrid 95% of the way through, and then all of a sudden gameplay mechanics change for the last 5% of the game, and it totally rocks?
          None?
          Yeah, me too.


          Quite. On the other hand, the opposite is often true - take Final Fantasy VII as the classic example of a game that starts out excellent and ceases to be worth playing a couple of hours into the second disk. Or Xenogears, come to that - the story improves rapidly towards the end, but the gameplay is
          • Yeah, you're right. My response was to the first guy who was saying reviewers miss out key stuff by writing the review too quick. The case with nearly every game I've ever played is that at the halfway point, I pretty much know what I feel about the game. In both situations, mine with the game sucking, and yours with it tapering off, you know the inevitable conclusion at the midway point.

            You don't want the reviewer giving away the end of the game anyway, so why NOT have the reviewer crank out a review b
        • Coincidentally, this is just like Halflife, which sucked the second you entered Super Mario World, but was great (fantastic, even) up until that point.
        • Instead of the game being crap for 95% of the way through and having an amazing gameplay change at the end they reversed it. Solar Jetman during 95% of the game is an amazing game with great levels and fun gameplay... then right at the end when you have all the Golden Warship pieces the game turns into a shitty sidescroller that you cannot possibly finish because it is both incredibly difficult and bugged as well.
      • Re:Unfinished Games (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rallion (711805) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:11PM (#8401040) Journal
        It's not always a sign of a bad game. I've never finished some of the games I LOVE, because, well, I stop for a while. That happens. Then I forget about it, play other games, and then I just don't want to finish the old game because I'm not into it anymore.

        My favorite type of game is RPG -- console-style, D&D-style, any kind is good for me. The only three I've ever beaten are Fallout, Chrono Trigger and KotOR, and both because I almost just played straight through from beginning to end and had no distractions. I helped my girlfriend with the final battle in one of the Avernum games, but that doesn't count. I've never even finished a Final Fantasy, though I came very close in FF7. I stopped in the middle of Planescape: Torment and never came back. Same for both Icewind Dales, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Morrowind. That's all I can remember at the moment, but there are certainly many more. These, though, are not bad games. In fact, I think most of them are fantastic games.

        Maybe it's as much a sign of a horrible gamer as of a bad game.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I'm a game player that came to video games in my early twenties on computers, as opposed to my husband whose parents had an Intellivision when he was young.

          I think there is approximately 3 games that we have at home that I have actually finished. Most console games I get to a point about 3/4 of the way through where I cannot make progress any further.

          The worst one for me was actually Super Mario Sunshine, where I got stuck about 10% of the way in. It's not that I don't know what to do, it's just that I ha
          • Re:Unfinished Games (Score:2, Interesting)

            by TrickFred (231420)
            Hah.

            Perhaps that would be the trick to getting more women into gaming

            My girlfriend just called you a cheater. She's not hardcore [she does play The Sims, Buffy on PS2, and we play Starcraft and Warcraft together, and she tries stuff I recommend], but I pointed this post out to her, and she feels that regardless of gender, cheating's cheating. What's the point in playing the game if you're going to play 'around' the game?
            • Well, what's to like about a game if you just can't do a part of it?What's the point if you never get past the first level? I don't cheat often at all, and I probably do it more to get around bugs than for any other reason. But if a game would be fun, except for one stupid part that I can't get through, I will cheat my way through it and get the most I can from the game.

              In fact, the reason I never beat Torment was because I got totally stuck at one spot. Nothing I could do. Hell, that game even gives you a
              • Maybe it's just me, but I play games for the challenge, and don't feel like I've actually beaten it if I have to cheat. Oh, I'll look up FAQs for missed secrets, and skip levels I don't like AFTER I've finished it at least once on my own, but the first time, I'd just feel like I didn't actually beat it myself, and would ruin any satisfaction gained from it.

                Tomb Raider? Beat it first time through, loved it [still one of my favourites], went back with a FAQ to find the secrets the second time through. Tomb R
    • Did pitfall actually have an end? I played that game forever, and I never felt the sense that I was finishing anything. I guess the same could be said for Pacman, asteriods, and breakout.
  • Quandry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwheeler01 (625017) <matthew.l.wheeler@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:24PM (#8400429)
    As a game enthusiast I find it fascinating. As an academic, I find this is symptomatic of the walmartization of education. I'm sure this may be a nice small subsection of sociology or psychology but to me gaming doesn't seem to warrant a whole new field.
    • Re:Quandry (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Snowspinner (627098) *
      I don't think it should be a new field - I think that media studies people, who tend to either have their own department or to be in the English department - can handle this just fine.

      But even still, there are going to be a few places that are going to just have such a concentration of people who do this that it makes sense to make a department. I'd be distressed if every university had a gaming department, but I'm glad a few do - especially while the field is small enough that distributing them over a lot
    • At least that's what I suspect. In fact a prof I know back at UBC has already written a paper on a collection of games. Then again English is known for studying movies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, WWE, Chatelaine Magazine, and soup can labels, so this is really nothing new.
      • by Alkaiser (114022) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @05:52PM (#8402581) Homepage
        Exactly.

        When they were trying to get the Video Game Studies minor approved at UC Irvine, the mucky-mucks there balked, and someone pointed out that they had a Film Studies major there, and that people back in the 70s had made the same claims against that major.

        How can you NOT realize that critiquing video games and the procedures for creating them are at LEAST as complex as the ones needed for movies? To allow for one and scoff at the other is stupidity with Flavor Crystals(TM).
    • I'm interested: what discipline (and level of education) do you find yourself in? The above posts are right; ludology (study of gaming) would fall quite squarely under an English department, but more specifically under the burgeoning cultural studies. I'm a historian, and what you call the "walmartization" of education, we call "social" or "cultural" history. We reviewed several canidates for positions in our department just recently, and most of them identified themselves as social historians. One, wh
    • I study videogames, and I couldn't see myself in a sociology department and certianly not a psychology department. I found this article to be very distorted view, or at least a very narrow view of what at least I consider to be videogame studies.

      Most of the stuff they talked about in this article I find very depressing and quite frankly pretty lame. While some of the people mentioned are doing good stuff, the projects they described jsut seem to be reproducing traditional dichodomies and seem fairly poin
  • Reg free link (Score:4, Informative)

    by FesterDaFelcher (651853) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:24PM (#8400430)
    Reg Free [nytimes.com]
  • Video games for academics... that sounds too good to be true.

    If it's hardcore programming it should be categorized with computer science. If it's everything else not code related, it should fit into this new curriculum.
  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:38PM (#8400623) Homepage Journal
    Being a former developer, half the article pissed me off watching academics talking out of their ass about something they know nothing about. The first intelligent thing I read was this:

    "So far, the academic and the industry worlds, they're very far away," said Mr. Frasca, who intends to play a role of a bridge. "Developers do not read academic articles, and that's not going to happen any time soon." Academics generated animosity early on by judging games as violent. "They were also not gamers," he said, "which made it weird to listen to their analyses."

    Which is why I'm taking whatever an academic currently says with a grain of salt. For the past thirty years, academics have totally discounted our industry and getting it just plain wrong. In my book, they are currently 30 years behind the curve.

    There are plenty of journalists and historians like Leonard Hermann and Johnny Wilson that are getting it. Next week these "ivy-league" academics are holding a conference consisting of "a lawyer, a journalist, a composer, two professors, two lecturers and six graduate students will present papers with titles like 'Musical Byproducts of Atari 2600 Games' and 'But Our Princess Is in Another Castle: Towards a 'Close-Playing' of Super Mario Brothers.'" Too bad that they seemed to have forgotten to invite a few developers. Perhaps the academics would be better served by going to the Game Developers Conference two weeks later and learn a thing or to.

    • Why would we invite developers here?

      It's not as though we invite authors to talk about books, or filmmakers to talk about film.

      Academics are not interested in documenting the process of production. We figure that the developers are plenty good at explaining their own process.

      What we're interested in doing is trying to give an accounting of the medium as it functions - in this case, to create a vocabulary of terms for video games, much like the vocabulary Aristotle created for narrative. We're interested
      • by *weasel (174362) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @04:05PM (#8401650)
        To discount the way game developers feel about academics the way you do is naive, and flat-out wrong.

        Developers (designers in particular) are trying to do largely the same things as academics. Perhaps only because academics have so long ignored our field, someone had to step up and do it - so we could better understand the field.

        Year after year the big round-table discussions at conferences revolve around creating a vocabulary, response analysis and intentionally evoking responses, implications of camera angle, avatar choice, etc.

        The technical production of games may not be relevant to what interests academics - but the design of games and gameplay certainly is, and vice-versa.

        Game Designers want to understand the feelings they evoke with function the same way a good cinematographer understands the feelings they evoke with color, composition, and angle - all while not caring particularly much about the technical details of how the camera works, or how the computers work that let him composite digitally.

        Sure, there is animosity between the academics that discount(ed) gaming and game designers/developers. And your entire post neatly sums up the very attitude of academia that causes the problem.

        Despite the attitude of academia - game designers and developers are very carefully studying the academic analyses of other arts: painting, music, film, and fiction to better understand the artform.
        • by OminousOrange (690041) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @04:26PM (#8401856)
          Why does there need to be such a hard-and-fast division between developers and academics?

          I'm a member of a rare breed: I'm writing my thesis on games, so I'm familiar with all the academic literature on them. but I also code my own games. Without my coding background, I would never be able to analyze games in the same depth.

          Most of the literature out there would be vastly improved if these researchers had even a cursory knowledge of programming. Instead, most of the academics are still clinging to what they're familiar with, like literary and film theory, instead of apporaching games on their own grounds. Procedural logic, artificial intelligence issues, and emergent behavior are all ingored by most academics in favor of more comfortable facets like narrative or visuals. Honestly, how many academic articles do we need on Lara Croft's breasts?

          The Georgia Tech program [gatech.edu] mentioned in the article has exactly the right idea. For most of the classes, assignments are split between theory *and* production.

          • Though technical aspects are an important part of games they remain an indication of just how much games are popular culture.

            Critics entering the world of gaming will start to add value to the concept of games as art rather than simply games as entertainment.

            Though games claim to have stories they are often so completely banal and stupid that even an action movie would be hard pressed to justify their plotlines.

            I don't think academics should get involved yet because Gaming simply isn't at the same leve
          • The tension between the two approaches - academic distance from the object of study vs. academic involvement with it - is very healthy, I think. "A blessing on both your houses."

            But I think (Ga Tech MA program grad) Chaim Gingold's essay on academia and gaming [igda.org] for an overview of the benefits that would accrue to the gaming industry for a vigorous, independent and serious academic interest in gaming. The framing of a media - whether it's perceived as "mere" entertainment, as a speech form, as an art form,

          • I've had the opportunity to visit both conferences in 2002. There's no denying that the papers and sessions at SIG are less practical than those on the GDC, but the level is usually just as high. Game tech IS academic by nature, because it pushes limits and tries out new things. Maybe games were scorned in the past because they were the product of some lonely freaks hammering away in dorm room chambers, but these days are over. Even the academic world will have a tough hand at trying to keep up with the
        • You're still not grasping the fundamental difference between the two.

          We have no interest in designing better video games, by and large. Academic study took a turn away from those kinds of concerns in the 60s, and hasn't ever really gone back.

          Put another way, there are two kinds of English Masters degrees - the MA and the MFA. The MFA is concerned with the productive aspects - with how to create a good poem, play, story, whatever.

          The MA has no concern whatsoever with that. The MA does not want to write a
      • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @04:42PM (#8402021) Homepage Journal
        You're right. While the researcher conference is presenting the topics "Musical Byproducts of Atari 2600 Games" and "But Our Princess Is in Another Castle: Towards a 'Close-Playing' of Super Mario Brothers", the GDC is going a different route.

        Topics like "Multiplayer Play: Designing Social Interaction in Games", "How to Write an Unforgettable Story", and "10 Tricks from Psychology for Making Better Characters" wouldn't interest the academics. "Creating the Right Mix of Static Versus Dynamic Content in a Massively Multiplayer Game" and "Entering the World: Cognitive Dissonance and Immersion in Electronic Games" is off-track. "The Philosophical Roots of Computer Game Design" is just speaking a totally different language from what universities are teaching.

        Oh wait, my sarcasm is overtaking me. You see, these are questions that developers think about. We're selling a product and we damn sure know how things things work. To say that developers don't think about how a game can evoke emotional responses or how the social aspects of a game design can impact a game like Everquest is just ignorant. You think that these things just randomly happen during development? Developers don't just throw things in a compiler and see what sells. For that matter, Richard Evans used Heidegger as a major influence in creating the social AI routines for Black&White.

        If this isn't proof of continuing ignorance then I don't know what is. Do me a favor and attend Toru Iwatani's "The Secret of Pac-Man's Success: Making Fun First" seminar. Perhaps you can learn a thing or two about what we already knew 25 years ago.

        Consider yourself 0wn3d.

        • You were right the first time. We don't care about how to write, design, or create a game.

          Why? Because we're not trying to make a game.

          We don't want to determine how a game evokes an emotional response, or the sociology of EverQuest. We certainly don't want to employ Heidegger to create social AI routines.

          We are not developers. We are theorists. Our major interest is in dealing with the relationship between games and humanity at large - as a whole (as opposed to an individual human with a particular cont
          • Can I assume that's the royal "we"? Careful with those pronouns there, Sparky. Speak for yourself, not all academia.

            Wait.. Oh my...declarative sentences claiming to speak to a whole community...devisive statements...an Academic Troll? What an oxymoron!

            Listen: no one is saying you have to write a game yourself. But then writing a paper about video games and then claiming you never want it read in the soiled hands of developers is pretty self-defeating, isn't it?

            • I'm pretty much willing to talk about the attitudes of the humanities with authority.

              As for developers... it's not that they shouldn't read it. It's that they're not the intended audience, so if it's of no interest to them, it's not really a big deal.
    • As someone who has worked briefly with an academic studying Video Games I thought his choice of games didn't allow for much interpretation of art (DOOM was one game he looked at, for instance, analyzing the main character) and it doesn't look like these scholars are doing much better. On the other hand, you will have a tough time convincing me that, oh, say Tony Hawk 4 or Bond Shooting game 17 is artistic either. Developers are focused more on what sells, or at least that's the impression I get from the i
      • Academics from narrative-heavy disciplines need to resist the temptation to gravitate towards games which resemble what they already know, I think, in order to avoid HNS (Hammer/Nail Syndrome). For a while, this was misread as a "battle" between narratology and ludology, but in fact ludology has been developed to be able to address the game-specific elements which other types of interpretation aren't able to do, and then complement those other types of analysis (narratological, film, etc.)

        The entire point
    • Inviting a developer to speak at one of these academic conferences would be like inviting a printsetter to speak at a science fiction convention.
    • "Too bad that they seemed to have forgotten to invite a few developers."

      While I don't know anything about the papers that weren't accepted, I'm sure that if developers had submitted paper proposals that fit the goals of the conference organizers, those developers would have been invited to present their papers at the conference.

      "Perhaps the academics would be better served by going to the Game Developers Conference two weeks later and learn a thing or to."

      1) If a scientist who studies the mating habits h
      • "Perhaps the academics would be better served by going to the Game Developers Conference two weeks later and learn a thing or to." [And I agree with the points made by Dennis above -- I am busy lighting candles at this very moment.] Ah, but the bitter truth is that I doubt that I can convince my department to send me to GDC or E3, but (as the fact that this got into the NYTimes shows) an academic conference at Princeton is the kind of thing other academics understand. These are early days and interesting
      • 1) If a scientist who studies the mating habits has never actually mated with a rhinoceros, does that discount all of his or her research?
        No, but the one who has at least has an interesting story to tell...
    • >Perhaps the academics would be better served by going to the Game Developers Conference two weeks later and learn a thing or to. Perhaps some of us game academics do go GDC and follow what is going on in the game development community?
  • Half-Life (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @02:42PM (#8400692) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, well, he was right to give up as soon as he got to that Zen planet or whatever. Man, I hated that shit.

    The very ending was cute, though.
  • by leadfoot2004 (751188) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:04PM (#8400960)
    As with any kind of evaluation, it is very difficult to come up with a 'formula' in analyzing video games. There is some element of subjectivism when critiquing video games -- just look at thousands of game reviews sites. I think scholars have given up trying to analyze movies and press a long time ago. It would be interesting to see how long would the novelty of video games in academics stay before it wears off.
    • by Snowspinner (627098) * <philsand@@@ufl...edu> on Thursday February 26, 2004 @03:46PM (#8401453) Homepage
      I can assure you, scholars have not given up trying to analyze movies and press.

      We have largely given up the notion of "review," I'll admit - but popular culture studies remains big.

      And, believe me, we're well aware of subjectivism - it's there for most things.

      I doubt this is a novelty thing - we'll be around to study video games as long as they remain popular. And if they die off, some people will focus on them in 150 years when they do 20th and 21st century studies.
      • And, believe me, we're well aware of subjectivism - it's there for most things.

        In fact, my understanding is that subjectivity is rather central to postmodernism. As far as I'm concerned the idea in social sciences is to be subjective, just to be subjective from as many angles of subjectivity as possible (thus completeness increases over multiple academics).

        • That is basically the social sciences approach, yeah.

          In the humanities, it's even more extreme - we stopped thinking that completeness and objectivity were even goals to strive for.
          • One interesting way I've heard postmodernism described is through Godel's Incompleteness Theorem. For those that don't know, any system of theories cannot be complete (have a true/false for any statement) or if it is then it will be inconsistent (have statements that are both true and false). Math (and science by extension) strives for consistency, and will add axioms whenever they find a hole in completeness.

            Postmodernism, on the other hand, tosses consistency out the window in an attempt to be complet

  • Two of my all time favorite games mentioned in a positive light in the "paper of record". Wow!

    Also, I'm a Library and Information Sciences graduate student and I'm working on a few projects related to video games. It's really exciting and challenging to present information and analysis of gaming in an academic context. I'm hoping to attend the conference at Princeton mentioned in this NY Times article.

    .
  • by MMaestro (585010) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @04:29PM (#8401877)
    Why do I say this? Simple.

    Researchers shouldn't use cheat codes, she said.

    Yeah, lets see you get all 150/250/whatever they're up to now Pokemon without cheating while maintaining your job as a professor. I spent over 50 hours in the original Pokemon and didn't even get 100 of them. Good luck trying to get double that number while writing an analyze of it up. Admittedly not exactly a fair statement considering the game, but how about RPGs? On average they now tend to average about 30-70 hours. Each.

    Others say that games need a Shakespeare, someone who can catapult the digital medium forward.

    You mean someone like John Carmack who is already considered to be the founder of the FPS genre, one of the best programmers in the industry, and the creator of some of the most recognizable video game serieses in history (Doom and Quake)? What about the people at Valve? They got Half-Life right, something great must be there. What about Hideo Kojima? He makes storylines so dense even hardcore gamers get pissed at him.

    • by OminousOrange (690041) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @04:59PM (#8402145)
      Yes, Doom and Quake are *just* like Shakespeare's works.

      Prince Hamlet enters, torn by guilt, grief, jealousy, and vengeance, and soliloquizes with stirring poetry about his problems. Then he proceeds to launch heavy artillery at Queen Gertrude and Claudius. "O that this too too solid flesh would melt 'Neath the heat of a Plasma rifle blast." Wow, even better than the original!

      • by Haeleth (414428) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @05:57PM (#8402644) Journal
        Yes, Doom and Quake are *just* like Shakespeare's works.
        Prince Hamlet enters, torn by guilt, grief, jealousy, and vengeance, and soliloquizes with stirring poetry about his problems. Then he proceeds to launch heavy artillery at Queen Gertrude and Claudius.


        But just imagine the duel with Laertes!

        Trumpets the while

        HAMLET. Come on sir.
        LAERTES. Come my lord.

        They play

        HAM. One.
        LAE. No.
        HAM. Judgement.
        OSRIC. A hit, a very palpable hit.
        LAE. Nay, thou'rt lame; thou campest; I'll not play with thee.
      • Exactly!
        And I think there's direct comparisons between Romeo & Juliet and Lula The Sexy Empire..
    • Yeah, lets see you get all 150/250/whatever they're up to now Pokemon without cheating while maintaining your job as a professor. I spent over 50 hours in the original Pokemon and didn't even get 100 of them. Good luck trying to get double that number while writing an analyze of it up.

      I got as many as possible without trading (129? Something like that). I also recorded about 20 sheets of data trying to reverse engingeer the level up process (only to find that it had been done on the net a year or so ear

    • How are you supposed to learn anything meaningful about a game if you defeat entire point of the game by using a cheat device?

      Researcher's findings:
      After sampling 25 games (using a GameShark for infinite ammo and health and all weapons), it has become apparent that games offer absolutely no challenge, mental or otherwise, whatsoever. The game merely boils down to holding an 'attack' button and running through the levels.

      In-game puzzles are rediculously easy to solve. In all cases, their solution coul
    • Pokemon... (Score:5, Funny)

      by herrvinny (698679) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @07:36PM (#8403472)
      I got all 151 in the original Pokemon Yellow, (yes, including Mew, without cheating, got it at a Nintendo event), all 251 in Pokemon Silver (Yes, Celebi too), and I'm working on Ruby. Just need to trade a few more pokemon, and grab Jirachi from the upcoming Pokemon Colosseum, I don't have any idea how to get Deoxy without cheating, Nintendo is still holding the cards on that one ;-). I'm holding off buying a GameCube until Colosseum comes out.

      Yes, I am a pokemon fanatic. How did you guess? I would have filled up my Ruby's Pokedex months ago, except for the fact that I have to do actual work up here in the University of Wisc @ Madison...

      In case you're wondering, I do have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours logged on my Pokemon games.. Have Yellow (first one), Blue, Red, Silver, Gold (2), Crystal, Sapphire, Ruby, Pokemon Stadiums 1 & 2, and the special release of Pokemon Yellow Gameboy. It does take dedication, and hard work, but you can catch em all.
    • Actually my statement was taken out of context- I said at some times, cheating can ruin the experience of the game, which can include the time invested in gameplay. Actually I'm also interested in how and why players cheat, and have done so myself on different occasions. I also think that game researchers and game developers can learn from each other- I know quite a few researchers going to GDC in a few weeks (including myself, where I also spoke last year on a panel), and many more that would LOVE to go i

  • Mr. Bellin and Dr. Palmer's premise is shared by others who study computer games: games are credible objects of intellectual inquiry

    I supposed the learned doctors have never played counterstrike with a ratpack of 13 year olds. 'Intellectual' is NOT the operative word to describe the experience.

  • by Teppy (105859) * on Thursday February 26, 2004 @05:03PM (#8402168) Homepage
    When I was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon in 1989, I decided it would be fun to make a game (actually a system for making platform games) as my senior project. I was really psyched about this, and figured that any professor would be honored to be my advisor on such an innovative project.

    I set out looking for an advisor. I picked one of CMU's best known professors. I called his secretary, made an appointment, and described my idea. His response? "Do you know who I am? There is *no way in hell* that I am attaching my name to a video game."

    Bah, his loss. I set out to find another professor to serve as advisor. I wandered around the halls until I found a professor that I had for a class once. This guy wasn't a big shot. He didn't have a secretary, and didn't have such a big office, but that was ok. I jazzed up my presentation a bit, threw in a few buzzwords of the day: "It's an 'object oriented' system for 'rapid application development' of a class of interactive entertainment, blah blah blah.

    He was intrigued! "Hmm, object oriented, rapid applica... Er, wait a minute - this is a video game? No, I'm not putting my name on that."

    Ok, so no cigar just yet, but I was picking up on a trend. I wandered around some more. I went deep into the lower levels of Wean Hall. I walked down a corridor carved out of solid rock - the offices here were the size of closets, and they didn't even have windows. I found someone who appeared to have just been hired, and gave my pitch, filled with as many ridiculous buzzwords as I could think up. He mulled it over "object oriented, um, rapid stuff, um, 'Oh, you mean a video game! Yeah, cool, I'll be your advisor for that!'"

    So I found my advisor. He didn't get fired for putting his name of a Senior Project video game, and it came out pretty good in the end, and nobody else got embarrassed.

    BUT

    Looks like I was ahead of all of them! Carnegie Mellon now touts it's Entertainment Technology Center [cmu.edu], and proudly proclaims how they're considered the Harvard of Game Development Programs [cmu.edu], and they've even had me back to speak on a few occasions about my latest game [ataleinthedesert.com]. They've come a long way ;)
  • "One particularly unfortunate quote: "Dr. [Barry] Atkins admitted that he didn't finish Half-Life before writing about it in his 2003 book, 'More Than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form,' (Manchester University Press), and only later realized he was two minutes from the shocking plot reversal at the end when he stopped. 'I am very nervous that I got it wrong,' he said."

    Thanks for the partial spoiler doctor-dude!
    I was seriously going to play Half-Life this weekend to destress.
    Be nervous indeed, I
    • If that isn't ironic, then I really do apologise.The original article that the journalist read back to me didn't have 'unfortunate plot twist' in it, just the declaration of my incompetence. And that was after weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of going through Half-Life again and again. One nice thing about studying games is the way that any kind of overwhelming grasp of everything about them always seems to slip out of reach. It was after he was done and I was explaining why it might matter in the case o
  • by stuffduff (681819) on Thursday February 26, 2004 @05:34PM (#8402356) Journal
    Part of the problem is that the Gamers have an intutive knowledge gained by experience which the academics have yet to even begin to quantify. A gamer can tell by a 6th sense when they are in the groove and a good designer can actually tell if the groove is being created properly by the game. Science currently has absolutly no mechanism by which to explain this phenomon. Gamers should be studied so that scientists can actually see not only that gamers can use their brain differently than ordinary people; but they can work to distinguish exactly what those differences are. Fighter pilots experience a situational awareness in an environment that only a very few individuals ever see; which is also relatively unexplored. However I feel certain that experiments will one day show that what an immersed gamer experiences is not that different from the experience of the fighter pilot. Some day when the dust settles and the sicence is there, the academics will, no doubt, have a newfound respect for the gamer and the game developer alike.
    • I need to respond to a couple elements here:

      1. Most of the current crop of academics working on videogames are gamers. This wasn't true, maybe, 6 years ago, but it's pretty true now.

      2. "Flow." It's known. It's talked about. It's theorized about. Academics are aware of it.

      3. There's always one difference between game-flow and real-life-activity flow: in the former, the consequences are negotiable. In the latter, not so much. Which is why people can game recklessly or casually: there's freedom to engage in
      • Glad to hear it. Most of those I deal with are specialists in medical education; where we're still trying to figure out the difference between the printed page and a web page. ;^)

        Hate to beg, but can I get a few references of the work you are reffering to so that I can bootstrap my way back to something more current? As for the pilot data, pilots don't seem to like be insturmented in actual combat; so the research available is simulator based.

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