Friday, 9 March 2007


Salen. K and Zimmerman, E (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
Schroeder S. .(2006). Wittgenstein. They Way Out of the Fly-Bottle. Polity Press: Cambridge.
Sluga H. and Stern D.G. (1996). The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Stephenson, W. (1988). The Play Theory of Mass Communication. USA: The University of Chicago Press.

Pepsi Website, (no date). Pepsi Games. Retrieved on the 26th of February from the World Wide Web:

Further Reading
Poole, Steven (2000). Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution. New York: Arcade.
Man Kong Lum, C. (2006). Perpectives on Culture, Technology and Communication. USA: Hampton Press, Inc.

Thursday, 8 March 2007


Rewarding ourselves is often the way many people get through different aspects of life. I may think, when I complete this work I will have a chocolate bar. This is a short term reward but a longer term reward may be if the work is completed well, I will receive a good degree. We reward ourselves as that is what is needed. Freud as cited in Stephenson states that “We strive fundamentally, for pleasure and to avoid pain” (page 52).
Within gaming, rewards are often used to keep the gamer playing. “Rewards shape a player’s sense of pleasure and overall play experience”, “on balance a play experience needs to be pleasurable” (Salen and Zimmerman. Pages 345-347). However when playing games you don’t always find them fun, for example when playing Solitaire on the computer, often I get stuck when there are no cards left for example, but I keep on restarting and playing again for the final reward of actually winning.

Hallford and Hallford as cited by Salen and Zimmerman believe that players need to be rewarded, they need to finish tasks and feel satisfactions whilst playing. They list four general types of reward.
Rewards of glory
Rewards of sustenance
Rewards of access and
Rewards of facility.
If you take for example the game Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azikban for Playstation 2. When playing you get rewards of glory, these have no impact on the game, for example a reward of glory would be completing the game. It also has rewards of sustenance; you collect Jelly Beans to gain extra health. Rewards of access are also used; these are rewards that help you to enter a certain level for example a key. Within the game you are required to find certain spells to complete aspects of the game, for example the flying spell so you can fly on the dragon. The game also uses rewards of facility, for example another advantage of collecting Jelly beans, is that you can buy certain spells which allow you to advance within the game. These rewards within the game keep the player going. The option to revisit past levels means that you can collect more Jelly beans that may have been missed to help buy a reward which may then in turn help with a level later on within the game. I believe that without these mini-rewards I would find the game dull and uninteresting, part of the motivation for playing is to finish levels, which itself is a reward of glory. By motivating players with rewards it means that they are more likely to play for a reason. Rewards teach the gamer what actions are best to take. They craft larger structures of pleasure. By having rewards within the game, it keeps players interested and should be something that game designers look at as one of the main tasks when creating games, as without rewards games would be dull and in some cases unplayable.

Word count: 487

Salen. K and Zimmerman, E (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
Stephenson, W. (1988). The Play Theory of Mass Communication. USA: The University of Chicago Press.

The Magic Circle and Lursory Attitude

Gaming is an important part of everyday life. “Play is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately defined, always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for man to teach them their playing.” Huizinga (page. 19). He believes that play is integral to culture. Play is essential to civilised society; people are able to act out certain pleasurable activities within the boundaries and context of digital games. Huizinga calls this concept the magic circle. This describes the act of participating within the boundaries of a game. The magic circle has fixed boundaries of time, space and rules. The idea of a circle is important, Salen and Zimmerman describe it “As a closed circle, the space it circumscribes is enclosed and separate from the real world”.
In order to play a game it should mean entering the magic circle. It is a ‘safe area’. You can potentially do many things that would not be possible outside this area. For example in playing Grand Theft Auto, stealing cars and killing to achieve goals is acceptable where as outside the magic circle of gaming this would be illegal and undesirable to do. Depending on the objection of playing a game, different games can be selected. For example I myself would select a game like ‘Tetris’ as either a time killer or relaxation method. There are no rigid boundaries with ‘Tetris’ that force me to adhere to many rules, so therefore it allows me to relax.

According to Salem and Zimmerman the lusory attitude is “the state of mind required to enter into the play of a game”. The group of players accept the limitations of the rules because of the pleasure a game can have. For example in playing a game such as Fifa 2006 you adapt a lursory attitude, you enter the magic circle but rules limit the game. For example play is in two halves and players must stay on the pitch, otherwise the game is ‘out of bounds’. Players agree to accept these rules to gain a certain objective.

Every game exists within a frame, the magic circle is the space within which a game takes place. Within the circle the games rules create a set of meanings for the players and these guide the play. For example when playing ‘Diner Dash’ to leave in the middle of a level would ruin the game, but to play the game and gain enjoyment I need to follow the rules by adopting a lursory attitude. For example the rule of seating the customers then collecting their order. Without these rules the game makes no logical sense and therefore cannot be played.

Word count: 430

Salen. K and Zimmerman, E (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT.


Rhetoric can be expressed in many forms, including verbal, visual and writing. It can be described as “being a persuasive discourse, or an implicit narrative, wittingly or unwittingly adopted by members of a particular affiliation to persuade others of the veracity or worth-whileness of their beliefs.” Salen and Zimmerman (page. 517)

Each digital game expresses its rhetoric through visuals and instructions in the game. When playing Tomb Raider the visuals are third party so the image of the ‘attractive’ Lara Croft is on view. She must kill dangerous animals and creatures in her quest. The rhetoric within the game is quite violent, when playing you must kill to reach your goal. It does not condone violence, although there is limited violent action towards humans. The game, especially the sequel Tomb Raider 2 was marketed as being a violent game, yet still has the ‘sassy’ and ‘sexiness’ of the leading lady. Jenkins as cited in Salen and Zimmerman talks about how cultural rhetoric’s has an impact on game design. It is unlikely that the game would have been so popular if not the attractive female. Jenkins states “imaginary spaces to which boys find themselves in are not just neutral places of play: they are specifically gendered spaces that invite boys in and keep girls out”. If you look at the rhetoric of the clothes the character wears, it is combat clothes, and this again highlights the violent nature of the game. Although being a girl myself, I have played this game, I didn’t really enjoy the way it seemed aimed at men rather than women. The rhetoric of violence is normally one associated with male gamers; it seems likely that designers would aim at them. However there was great potential to market the game towards females as it has a female lead character but this did not happen.

Rhetoric is applied when marketing new games. It can be seen in many forms, from more subtle forms such as the clothes of characters within the game to obvious rhetoric such as ‘The best game you will ever play’. Marketing uses rhetoric as a good way to sell their products. Many games on the internet are used to market a product. For example the Pepsi website has games in which you can play, but the image and logo is covering the screen. For example one game ‘Pepsi Pinball’ has the word Pepsi splashed in the background and then a mini aim within the game is to knock all the cowboys over which then lets you into the Pepsi saloon. This is seen as a good way of introducing the rhetoric of their drink being exquisite, as opposed to be beaten over the head with messages such as ‘the best drink ever’ the message is implied within in the game.

Word count: 436

Salen. K and Zimmerman, E (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

Pepsi Website, (no date). Pepsi Games. Retrieved on the 26th of February from the World Wide Web:

What are games?

When sat down and asked to think about what is a game, it is hard to define. When asked, many people will have a clear idea about what a game is, for example when I think of a game I immediately think of a sporting activity such as tennis. This however may be different for many people. For example others may think of a game such as chess. Recently however the first type of game that springs to mind in many people would have been the answer digital games. However although these are types of games, none of them share all the same characteristics. Wittgenstein claims as cited by Schroeder page 140 “there is no set of defining features of a game; rather, the concept is held together by a network of ‘family resemblances”. Wittgenstein also states that no definition has been set for the word game, the only way possible to describe game is to describe some games and states that this and similar things are called games. If definitions are given they are too inclusive. He continues his argument by comparing games to a rope. He states that a rope is made of twisted fibres but no single thread. Another analogy Wittgenstein uses is one of family. All members of the same family share similar features such as hair or eye colour, but they are not all exactly the same. For example the game Doom is a fighting game where the aim is to seek and kill enemies to reach a goal, this however is not the case in a game such as The Sims, in which you have to create families and keep them alive and happy. Although both are classed as games they share little characteristics. When playing both games, I know and comprehend that I am playing a game, but I would not play them for the same thrill or reason.

Word count: 316

S. Schroeder. Wittgenstein. (2006). They Way Out of the Fly-Bottle. Polity Press: Cambridge.
H. Sluga and D.G. Stern. (1996). The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007


Just checking that I can publish a post.