Reading Notes # 1

1.Personally, I prefer Clark C. Abt’s definition on games the best.  I think that he brought up multiple important concepts on how games or being played. Especially, I agree with his emphasis on games as a decision-making activity that has limited context. Although the gamers do not have to be independent, like Abt mentioned in the same volume, I think the idea that the process of decision-making should be isolated in which gamers should not seek for outside resources or helps is applicable. Therefore, the game can be fair and equal among different gamers/teams. Moreover, he also talks about limiting context. The game itself should provide restrictions, or rules, so that as games proceed, it would have less chaos.

2. To me, games are an entertainment that is an outlet for people to take off from the real life. In the game, they can become different kinds of characters, and let the imagination flow. Games provide the environment that is similar to theater. Yet games have more exaggerated effects or possibilities. In the games, gamers are given tasks and rules which they have to follow throughout the games. With limited context and resources, they have to achieve objectives and seek to complete the tasks

3.I agree with Costikyan’s definition on the game is based on decision-making process. The choices one has in the game is what determines the failure of success of the objectives. Also, decision-making also involves in the strategy that one applies. Because there is a goal, there are different methods to achieve the goal. In order to achieve the goal, decision-making is an inevitable element that one would encounter when playing the game. However, I disagree with Costikyan’s point on games cannot be stories. In my opinion, instead of telling participants what they need to achieve in a game, collaborating stories into the game is a more efficient and better way to give the objective. Moreover, Costikyan indicated that “Stories are linear, games are not,” which I do not agree with him. I think game does not have to be linear. Given the same beginning and the same ending, there are infinite ways to tell the story with different twists. And the story would start the same, and end the same. Instead, I think games turn participants into the protagonists of the stories. Depending on different decisions they make, the storyline alters. Yet it would still come to the same ending. It is a feed-and-respond process. It is like a maze. Therefore, I disagree with Costikyan’s point on the relation between stories and games. I think both puzzles and second life are game. Although they are not the typical “RPG” type of game, they involve decision-making process and with limited choices.

I think the narrative depends on the type of the game.  Like Costikyan mentioned in narrative tension, the tension can be controlled if the computer has certain level control of the tension of the game.  Yet in the board game when a large portion relies on randomness, it is harder to control the same level of randomness throughout the whole process.

The notion of color Costikyan brought up in the article is simply a way of representation for me. I account the color as a visual element for collaborating the story into the game. It makes reference to certain background while serve as a representation of restrictions in the game. For instance, the land marked with different backgrounds in the monopoly represents a different location which might be more expensive, or cheaper.

Nowadays, while the boundary of art gets ambiguous, I would instead consider the word “aesthetics.” While programmers try to make advancements in game design, the precision and the visual presentation become more and more important. As a result, forming aesthetics merges into everything, including game design. And weather a game depends a lot on its aesthetics and the aesthetics in the how the aesthetics is translated into its textual and visual presentation. Therefore, I agree that we are currently on the stage of the democrative transformation, yet it is too early to determine if it would end up with a devoid of intellectual merit.