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Ask Gaming [Designer, Professor, Gadfly] Ian Bogost 57

Ian Bogost is a professor of game theory at Georgia Tech, a game designer, a prolific writer, an entrepreneur, and a bit of a prankster. These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga. Wired has a fresh article up about Bogost (which cleverly embeds a sort of micro version of Cow Clicker). It also mentions another game — my favorite of his projects — that should be on the mind of every TSA employee, the 2009 release Jetset. Ask Ian about clicking cows, being an academic provocateur as well as a participant in the world of gaming, and breaking into the world of social gaming. (Please break unrelated questions into multiple comments.)
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Ask Gaming [Designer, Professor, Gadfly] Ian Bogost

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  • by Baeowulf ( 1872730 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:55PM (#38451504)
    And offers much more feedback.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    covert operation for the C.I.A []?

    Thanks in advance.

    Yours In Minsk,
    Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @03:04PM (#38451594)

    I lead an enthusiastic clan of RuneScape players, and they tend to have a pretty broad interest in gaming and game development. As the lead programmer/IT guy for the clan, I'm frequently asked about programming and how to go about doing it.

    I'm considering setting up a fairly basic "mafia wars" type of game for them to expand and update, coded in python/html5 and running on google app engine for simplicity's sake. Python has a huge amount of self learning resources out there, and putting a python project on GAE is my go-to method for getting a project up and running quickly.

    Should I encourage them to move into building a facebook app, or should I encourage them to keep it a standalone website?

    On the one hand facebook gives better potential for expanding their user base, but on the other there's the 30% fee for using facebook credits and their horrible API documentation. While I want to keep things as straightforward as possible for them, I would like to see their game accumulate a decent number of players so they can show it off.

    • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

      Having halfway developed a Facebook app, I have to say that it was a most painful experience with terrible documentation and at least two, possibly three APIs that would sometimes be used interchangeably, in concert or conflicting. A lot of the documentation contained outdated information using deprecated functions and features. Halfway through development, I found an important feature that would have been very useful to my app had been discontinued and that another feature which would be essential to my ap

    • I'd suggest setting the game up standalone with your own engine APIs, programmed in whatever, and the rest of the game coded on top of those. That way if you ever want to move to facebook all you have to do is change the engine APIs to use Facebook API calls rather then whatever they were using before. It won't be easy but it'll smooth the transition.
    • If your game is meant to be social I'd put it on Facebook.
  • What is fun?
  • Can you explain the connection between Object-Oriented Philosophy and videogame theory? From what I understand Object-Oriented philosophy is an attempt to move away from Continental, "correlationist" metaphysics -- and yet language used to explain and talk about it is very much steeped in speculative Continental philosophy. Does videogame theory require a metaphysical framework? Do you see a place for "analytical" traditions, which are leaning more heavily on cognitive and neuro-scientific findings?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I understand you may be working on some sort of joint project with him in the academic world. Is he the rockstar that he appears to be?

  • What did you do with all the cows your players created?

    Did you have a secret bovine factory?

    Did you have a favorite cow?

  • by siphonophore ( 158996 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @03:47PM (#38452106)

    What do you think of AAA studios exploring more moral grey areas (e.g. hostage shooting airport level in COD:MW2) as a form of procedural rhetoric? Do you think players' natural tendencies of (in this case) non-violence toward innocents is solidified or shaken by simulating such acts?

    • In video games, when given the choice of killing innocents or not, you usually take the choice of doing the one that involves the most gameplay, and which is usually also the most rewarding in terms of points/achievements/items/whatever.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with morality. It's a virtual world centered around the player and it is clearly apparent that you are the only person of any importance.

      • It's ... centered around the player and it is clearly apparent that you are the only person of any importance.

        So pretty much like reality.

        • Maybe, assuming you're a god.

        • Bogost's book argues that simulation is a form of persuasion, e.g. read it hear it virtually see someone do it virtually do it yourself do it yourself. the axiom is that doing something is the best way to persuade your opinion of it.

          • should read Bogost's book argues that simulation is a form of persuasion, e.g. read it (is less than) hear it (is less than) virtually see someone do it (is less than) virtually do it yourself (is less than) do it yourself. the axiom is that doing something is the best way to persuade your opinion of it.

  • "videogame theory" is not game theory Just sayin'
  • Hi Ian! Can you comment about game mechanics that you wish designers explored in more depth?
  • I have long described both MMO gaming and Facebook social games as being a "well-padded Skinner box" for their staggered/random reward system. Do you see any possibility for anything else to eventually replace this model?
  • Summary wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kryptKnight ( 698857 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @05:13PM (#38453162)

    The summary needs to be fixed, game theory is not the study of video games. (Bogost doesn't describe himself as a "professor of game theory", whoever wrote the summary does)

  • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @05:23PM (#38453268)
    Have you run into any issues involving parallel programming in game design, and how did you over come them?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. Is playing a "hard coded" interaction/action in humans?
    1.1 Following from, that; is it human not to play at all?
    1.2 If it is, is that necessarily abnormal?

    2. Do you see any merit in the popular conjecture that playing "social games" leads teens/humans to less violence whilst playing "non-social" games towards more violence? (Arbitrary example; WoW players vs Manhunt players)

    3. Are MMORPGs exploit/encourage a tendency towards "gaming addiction" as a means to achieve more profit and if so, what are the pop

  • So, he's written one FB game and we get to ask him questions to make him feel important?

    I've talked to, worked with, and met mod developers with more experience in the video game industry. Not to poopoo, but this really feels lackluster. I understand it takes a lot to get experience in the video game industry and it must be really hard finding developers that actually want to teach after being through the gauntlet, but this makes me weep a bit. It's like talking to a professor that hasn't really spent any t
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dr. Bogost,

    My question revolves around trends in the "gamification" of tasks as used by government, corporations and others. I am curious what you feel about the persuasive elements that may or may not be used in these endeavors. I've noticed this holiday season to some sites seem to have attempted to use some gaming elements in very persuasive ways. I haven't really looked to closely into government sites lately, but I'm sure governments around the world are already starting to adopt them. Understandi

  • , namely, the ADAMS and PRODIGAL projects? what were the ethical debates inside the CS department about accepting this money for doing this work?

    do you think the world is better off knowing about the corruption and incompetence uncovered by Wikileaks?

    do you think Bradley Manning was guilty of Aiding the Enemy?

  • I would like to click a yak... how does that make you feel?

    - Stewart McCullough

  • what is the most spiritual experience you have ever heard of someone having while playing a video game?

    -Stewart McCullough

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:35AM (#38459808) Homepage

    At the closing plenary for the 2011 IA Summit, Cennydd Bowles called out the whole 'UX' (User Experience) community as a whole, in that the role that most of them play is in trying to get people to spend more time on websites and buy more stuff, rather than doing stuff that really improves the world. You've taken a similar stance on 'gamification', but there's at least two groups (Zooniverse [] and FoldIt []) using it for good as they're helping to advance science. Can you think of any other situations where we could use video games to improve the world at a grand scale, and not just simple 'edutainment'?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is there a bridge between tabletop gaming and video gaming?

    I design tabletop games and RPGs, and sometimes when I'm designing something I realize it would all work better as a video game. Do you feel the same way sometimes when you're designing real time games to want to make them turn based or tabletop games? Is there a link between the two industries in a professional way? Can workers from either industry cross over?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You satirize the meaninglessness of compulsive-click based games, but what would you say is your larger point in doing so? Do you think that "big" video games (for instance, ones with complex plots and characters, cooperation among players, etc) are all that much better, or would much of the same critique apply?

    (Sure, they're not quite as mindless, but they still mean that people are spending time and money to withdraw from reality to some extent, and substituting made-up, arbitrary goals for interacting wi

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor