276: Philosophy of Game Design - Part Four

Philosophy of Game Design - Part Four

Our overview of the philosophy of videogame design ends by examining whether or not all games - traditional, experimental, or otherwise - are all forced to adhere to the same set of rules.

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One small nitpick: Bogost's "Proceduralism" is actually a very specific artgames movement that includes games like Passage and Braid. Think of it like the videogame version of Cubism or Impressionism. What you describe in the article is actually what he calls "procedural rhetoric".

I don't blame you for mixing them up though. As much as I enjoy reading Bogost's work, he has a tendency to create some very "ivory tower" sounding terminology for the ideas he's trying to describe.

Now, in regards to the article:

Robert Yang:
There's a "bad" out there that's not even on our radar. A "bad" that is difficult to articulate or even fully conceive of.

Are you referring to something like the idea of art as propaganda (like what was prevalient during WW2), or racist art like Birth of a Nation? If so, video games are also certainly capable of this, and even participate in it to a certain degree right now.

And for better or worse, games have certainly influenced our generation as much as movies have changed previous generations.

An interesting read. The idea of the role and relationship of the player to the game (i.e. are you a slave?) is something I found really interesting when they dealt with it in Bioshock. And then, of course, they had to go a fuck the whole thing up by killing Andrew Ryan in a cutscene and negating their entire point...but hey, you can't win them all. :)

Chris Crawford used the term process intensive rather than procedural. One is about the game processing the action of the player and the other is about the player mostly processing the content and doing what the content tells them to do. (Or doing the opposite of what the content tells them to do, surprise, the designer is a philosopher!)

Content intensive vs process intensive is a clearer comparison in my opinion as procedural isn't really the right term unless it is only used to refer to the generation of art assets and not the game rules or design. I suppose that distinctions like this is where the language of computer science collides head on with art language and the forensic philosophers have to be called in to identify the cause and time of death.

I think we should rather try to anoid emptiness or negative effect when designing game, unless the game is about being bad, of course. But what I'd really like to see is more randomisation of missions, nowadays the NPC spawn pints are always exact same on every playthrough of a mission. It has been irritating me since I fond out there is no randomity and they just wait there to be triggered. that's not gaming, that's field of tripwires!

This article would be better if it emphasized more on how and why the philosophy doesn't really have a practical use. It can, and some of these points can be useful if applied to a practical game design or project, but here it's like the author is asking questions he doesn't really have answers to. I know that may kind of be the point, but in that case, I've read many articles just like this.

Proceduralism is the future, but only when computers become powerful enough to create art assets. Creating plots and stories procedurally will hardly ever be better for a gaming experience than what a few script writers can do, and there will never be a need for it. Creating procedural battlefields that allow a user to drive a tank accross an entire planet is feasable, and if Google Earth can do it right now (with a static planet), why wouldn't cloud computing do it in the future (with a procedural planet)? Being able to fly through a huge universe in a space ship and then zoom into a procedurally created city and ability to see all of the people/vehicles, that's what gamers dream about. Perhaps one day, all or most game genres will be unified in some such online universe, but that will probably have to wait for CPU time server-side to become cheaper. I've done research on this and could go on forever, but, basically I agree that a mixture of all of these ideas in the article will probably start to drip into the real world and practical usage.

Let's do this as painlessly as possible:

This, I think, is the hardest question facing book writing today, that no one wants to bring up: What damage is being done by books, and what is the writer's responsibility to mitigate that damage? How are today's books shaping thought?

To believe that there are only "good books" is horribly naive; this entire series of articles has been focused on debunking this collective idea of "good" and how we do not have a central idea of "good" as it pertains to book writing. Alternatively, where is our sense of a "bad book"?

Yeah, pretty much. I better go get my tinfoil hat, since I'm supposed to be worried about something but we don't know what it is!

In fact it's not even on the radar!! It's difficult to articulate or even fully conceive of!

I better go get my brown pants too, while I'm at it.

A good read. I'm not much of a philosopher, though this'll give me something to think about for the next.. say.. 3 months?

Also, I downloaded the trial version of The Graveyard, and it really shows how horribly ingrained the standard game mechanics are in me. I thought I could explore the graveyard, and maybe have a kind of heartwrenching scene when I found the grave of one of her relatives, though the song that plays when the old lady sits down is somewhat harrowing.

Also, to my surprise: the singer sung in Flemmish! Didn't expect that!

*Goes and plays pOnd*
Eh, what?
*finishes reading*
Well that was very nice.

Knight Templar:
*Goes and plays pOnd*
Eh, what?


In photojournalism missions during times of war, to what degree is the journalist embedded in the conflict?

A photojournalism game set in a modern war would be FANTASTIC. Like a Call of Duty or Modern Warfare -style game, but which strips you of your guns and tasks you with taking pictures of the conflict.

"If one were to have a Philosophy seminar using only game examples this woukd be it". I really like it becuace it in my mind present a qiock overwiev pf various schools of thought. Nothing more or less than getting the point across.
If you want a more complete odessey into one filosophy- I suggest searching for it. My main point is that you can argue that these Philosophys are shoehorned in , but, I beleive they more serve as a primer on different perspektives than a argumentative paper.

So you're the one that made that mod about me being inside my brain.

That hurt my brain thinking about a brain.

In photojournalism missions during times of war, to what degree is the journalist embedded in the conflict?

A photojournalism game set in a modern war would be FANTASTIC. Like a Call of Duty or Modern Warfare -style game, but which strips you of your guns and tasks you with taking pictures of the conflict.

That's one of the best ideas I've heard in a while. Maybe something like COD can be modded to work this way??

"How are today's videogames shaping thought?" I wonder about this all the time. I have conflicting emotions about the immersive nature of a lot of modern games. By "immersive" I mean time-consuming. A lot of people spend many hours of their lives playing videogames. Are they recieving the same kind of intellectual stimulation as someone sitting down and spending an equal amount of time reading a book? When I read a book, I create the pictures of the world with my own imagination. It's true that the stories are written from the mind of another person, but I get to take a lot more control of how the author's imagination manifests itself in my own mind than in a game where appearance and design are more strictly controlled. Is someone interacting with a videogame getting the same kind of intellectual stimulation as another that goes outside and interacts with the tangible world? I'm not trying to ask loaded questions here. I really do wonder if games can ever be as immersive and challenging as a book. I have certainly played games that demanded my imagination's full attention, (Little Big Planet, I'm looking at you...), but those games are few and far between when I consider how many books I have read that demand the involvement of my imagination by the very nature of the medium.

a very interesting article imho....


Knight Templar:
*Goes and plays pOnd*
Eh, what?


Thirded. I... really don't know how to describe it.

Just thought I'd let you know, your link to "The Graveyard", the Tale of Tales game, is broken. You just need to change ttp:// to http://. Other than that, this was a very thought provoking and interesting read. Makes me think of games in a way that I had never thought of before. Thank you.


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