Kevin | Reading Response 1

1 |

Before attending this class, I had no idea as to what the true definition of what gaming truly meant. However, after reading Salen & Zimmerman’s taxonomy of game definitions, I was revealed to nine definitions including Salen and Zimmerman’s own definition as to what gaming truly means and stands for. Of the eight definitions, the one definition that stuck out to me was the third definition defined by Johann Huizinga. The Dutch Anthropologist published a study on the play element of gaming and he provides a very thorough definition of what play should mean. He insisted that play should be “outside of ordinary life; not serious; utterly absorbing; not to be associated with material interest or profit; proceeds according to rules” and I believe he did a very good job hitting most of the main points of what game should be defined as. This definition applied to me the most because coming from a background of computer gaming; all these definitions were spot on as to what their attributes were. Games like Warcraft, Starcraft, Heroes of Newerth and Diablo are all outside of the ordinary life and it can be devastatingly absorbing to the point where the second definition almost becomes false of actually being serious. As mentioned in the reading, Huizinga does a very good job defining the word in an elusive and abstract way. The other definitions, in my opinion, do not give a detailed of a description as Huizinga; rather they describe gaming with adjectives. I just believed Huizinga’s definition did the complete task of defining what play means.

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As for my definition and take on the word gaming, I would like to describe it as something along the lines of Huizinga’s definition but with the addition of couple other features. I believe that my “perfect” definition of gaming would be a hybrid between Huizinga’s definition and the eight definition defined by Elliot Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith. Couple of things that weren’t covered deeply in the Huizinga’s definition was the “exercise of control systems” and the “contest between powers.” Whether it’s video games or board games, games always involve some type or form of physical or intellectual activity. The person, or player, who demonstrates the highest level of both physical and intellectual prowess, will end up as the victor. With such pressure and tension between the players, the “contest between powers” is added onto the long list of definitions defining gaming. Whether it is a 1-player game or a massive multiplayer game, there will always be a contest between two opposing factions or groups. This contest between the two factions makes gaming what gaming is today. Humans have and will always have a competitive nature and enjoys the feeling and excitement of winning.

3 |

According to Costikyan’s definition of games defined in the 1994 “Interactive Fantasy #2,” Costikyan displays his narrow interpretation of gaming. When I first read through the sub-titles of the article, I noticed how Costikyan lays out what gaming isn’t and gives just one attribute that makes gaming what it truly is.  He starts of the article by saying how puzzles are not games but says that “some puzzles are obviously so” and that “no one would call a crossword a “game.” He displays that puzzles are solely there to entertain people by making them find objects and use them in particular ways do change the dynamics of the game. He concludes by saying that “puzzles are static” and “games are interactive” meaning that second life is definitely a game. It is very interactive and every move can be crucial as to where you might be headed next.

I believe that to have a game that is very successful, there has to be a narrative. If you look at most of the major console and computer games that attained “The Greatest Hits” tag or the “Best Game” award, they all have a narrative. The player must engage his/herself into the game to be attached to it and actually feel what the producer wanted the players to feel. With a good narrative, must come with good color and competition as mentioned by Costikyan. These two components or attributes are what packages the whole delivery of the gaming experience to the player. Vibrant colors and fierce competition amongst the players will deliver a very powerful experience to its users. So, when Costikyan mentions that games should be considered “art,” I strongly agree with his statement. Games are not just a formula in which players can receive excitement and pleasure from, the aesthetics must all come together to deliver a powerful experience.



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