1. Being in the Game

    When people describe themselves as being “in the game” this is often thought to mean they have a sense of presence, i.e. they feel like they are in the virtual environment (Brown & Cairns, 2004). Presence is currently being emphasised in modern gaming technologies (e.g. Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii) and it is thought that games which engender presence will be more enjoyable (Ravaja et al. 2006). However such views may be misguided. Presence research traditionally focuses on user experiences in virtual reality systems (e.g. head mounted displays, CAVE-like systems). In contrast, the experience of gaming is very different. Gamers willingly submit to the rules of the game, learn arbitrary relationships between the controls and the screen output, and take on the persona of their game character. Also whereas presence in VR systems is immediate, presence in gaming is gradual. Due to these differences, one can question the extent to which people feel present during gaming. A qualitative study was conducted to explore what gamers actually mean when they describe themselves as being “in the game”. Thirteen gamers were interviewed and the resulting grounded theory suggests being “in the game” does not necessarily mean presence (i.e. feeling like you are the character). Some people use this phrase just to emphasise their high involvement in the game. These findings differ with Brown and Cairns (2004) as they suggest at the highest state of immersion not everybody experiences presence. Future research should investigate why some people experience presence and others do not. Possible explanations include: use of language, perception of presence, personality traits, types of immersion.

    Charlene I Jennett is a post graduate student with an interest in the cognitive psychology of immersion in computer games; she is currently carrying out her PhD research at the UCL Interaction Centre of University College London.

    # vimeo.com/5200216 Uploaded 68 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Jesper Juul

    Who Made the Magic Circle? Seeking the Solvable Part of the Game-Player Problem

    If the early days of game studies concerned the issue of games and stories, recent discussions appear to be focused on the issue of games and players. This is a discussion of methods and of the object of study: Should we discuss players or should we discuss games? There are two possible perspectives on this: The common “segregationist” perspective implies that games are structures separate from players, structures that players can subsequently subvert. In this talk, I will make the case for an alternative “integrationist” perspective wherein games are chosen and upheld by players, and where players will happily create formal rule systems and boundaries around the playing activity.
    I will argue that the question of games and players must therefore be decomposed into a set of smaller problems, each of which must be answered with different methods.

    Jesper Juul is a video game researcher at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT game lab in Cambridge. Originally trained in literature, his work has included early discussions of games as non-narrative, game structure, game definitions, the interplay of rules and fiction, player perceptions of failure in games, and video game history. Prior to working at MIT, he worked at the Centre for Computer Game Research Copenhagen. A collection of his writings can be found at http://www.jesperjuul.net/text. His blog, The Ludologist, can be found at http://www.jesperjuul.net/ludologist

    # vimeo.com/5200754 Uploaded 117 Plays 0 Comments
  3. Olli Leino

    A Sketch for a Model of Four Epistemological Positions Toward Computer Game Play

    The paper attempts to sketch out four distinct epistemological positions toward the player, who is understood as derived from play and game. To map out the problem field, two equally challenged positions toward computer game play are observed, emerging from inadequate treatment of the differences between play and game. The analysis starts out by postulating two parallel but fundamentally different views regarding play; the subjectivist viewpoint, from which the essence of playing a game depends on the mental state of the playing subject, and, the non-subjectivist viewpoint, from which the essence of playing a game is seen as independent of what goes on in the player’s mind (actually, the player might not even be the true subject of the game). Similar polarities are postulated regarding a game; from an exclusive viewpoint .game. is a signifying shorthand for objects, which, when observed from an external viewpoint, appear as fulfilling a set criteria, while from an inclusive viewpoint, every object which affords being played is counted as a game. These polarities are combined on a two-dimensional plane in order to arrive at a four epistemological positions toward computer game play, which are then discussed in terms of what kind of insights they offer onto the player’s experience.

    Olli Leino is Ph.D. student at the Center for Computer Games Research, ITU Copenhagen, Denmark. He is interested in player’s experience, emotions, existential phenomenology. http://www.itu.dk/~leino/

    # vimeo.com/5200902 Uploaded 66 Plays 0 Comments
  4. Bjarke Liboriussen

    Landscape and Avatar

    read the paper: http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2008/2458/pdf/digarec01_08.pdf

    The paper examines the relevance of landscape aesthetics for the experience of avatar-navigated, 3-D worlds. The examination is structured along the lines of two, diverging views regarding the landscape as image:

    1. We experience landscape as environment or image, according to our mode of experience, and

    2. We always experience landscape simultaneously as environment and image.

    Both views are grounded in psychology: in Vygotsky and Piaget, respectively. The Vygotsky grounding is done by Steven C. Bourassa as a paradigm for landscape aesthetics. The Piaget grounding is performed tentatively by myself. Besides psychology and landscape aesthetics, ludology, philosophy, and geography are drawn into the paper’s multi-disciplinary discussion.

    The first approach (landscape as environment or image; a modal approach) is congruent with current ludology, and reveals two different modes of play. Firstly, the beginner mode, where you use the image as a tool to understand the environment. Secondly, an expert player mode, from where you can develop landscape connoisseurship; a non-mainstream play mode such as the latter is important for obtaining a full picture of how people engage with 3-D, avatar-navigated worlds. Landscape aesthetics can be helpful in this regard.

    As for the second approach (landscape as environment and image), it highlights the pleasure of mapping the avatar-navigated, 3-D world, and the constructive role of the landscape image in that process.

    Bjarke Liboriussen is Ph.D. student, Media Studies, University of Southern Denmark. Used to play the oboe. Then took a master’s degree in Film Studies. Now trying to understand online worlds from an architectural perspective, using a mix of philosophy, psychology, and ethnography.

    # vimeo.com/5303757 Uploaded 87 Plays 0 Comments
  5. Michael Liebe

    There is no Magic Circle: On the Difference Between Computer Games and Traditional Games

    read the paper: http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2008/2459/pdf/digarec01_18.pdf .

    This paper discusses the special relationship of the game space in computer generated environments in contrast to non-computerized playing fields. Doing so, the concept of the so-called magic circle as artificially upheld border between the game space and the space outside the game will be challenged – particularly its adoption to single player computer games. Due to its digital and interactive core, computer games can provide the player with a virtual environment which is free to explore and configure. The rules in computer games moreover, are integrated into the program code and hence only allow exactly as much as is necessary to play the specific game. Without hacking the code, it is impossible to break the rules in a computer game. On the other hand, without the program code no actions at all are possible. So the software and hardware actually enable the player actions rather than constraining them.

    Consequently, computer games are more than an extension of traditional games. They are a medium with unique characteristics and have to be interpreted accordingly. The computer generated environment establishes its own rules and simulated physics and makes the fictional space virtually explorable without having to rely on the awareness of the player upholding the rules of the game. There is no magic circle in computer games.

    Michael Liebe is research assistant at the University of Potsdam, department of European Media Studies (http://www.emw.eu). He is co-founder of the Digital Games Research Network (http://www.digarec.net) and active member of the AG-Games (http://www.ag-games.de). Moreover he founded A MAZE. in 2007 and since then organizes events focussing on the convergence of computer games and art (http://www.amaze-festival.de). More to read and see at http://www.michael-liebe.de.

    # vimeo.com/5303816 Uploaded 97 Plays 0 Comments

DIGAREC Lectures 2008/09 / Philosophy of Computer Games 2008


The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference took place in May 2008 at the University of Potsdam, Germany. International scholars were brought together to discuss the philosophical aspects of computer games from their points of view.

The DIGAREC Lectures…

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The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference took place in May 2008 at the University of Potsdam, Germany. International scholars were brought together to discuss the philosophical aspects of computer games from their points of view.

The DIGAREC Lectures are a new platform for academic discourse on computer games. In this biweekly series of lectures the ongoing projects and research approaches of our members will be presented and discussed in public at the University of Potsdam. The first series was held in the winter semester 2008/09. The next series will follow in the winter semester 2009/10.

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