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Op Ed

TechCrunch - The Fun Boson Does Not Exist. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.
Rather than continuing to innovate through measurement, the social sector as a whole rationalised itself into a corner. It knew of a couple of formats of game that seemed to work with measurements (but not really why they worked), knew how to build those, and then continued to repeat the same format again and again. So, just like the gambling industry, social gaming became about who had the best commercial processes in place to push their identikit product around as fast as possible. Farmville really wasnít about Zyngaís genius at replicating Harvest Moon. It was about their genius at getting that game in front of everyone on Facebook faster than anyone else.

But, again just like the casino business, that kind of thinking can only get you so far.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Dishonored Designer Joe Houston On Violence In Games.
In light of the recent gun violence in the U.S. and the resultant anti-game talk that has stemmed from it, itís important as gamers not to simply retreat to the easy reaction, that games arenít a part of the problem. While I think that might be true (after personal examination), I think itís a pity to stop there. Too often we think about what we might lose as players and developers if forced to engage in that conversation, becoming blinded by the fear of censorship. As a result we miss out on more creative and effective ways to be a part of the solution. As players we can stand to expand our emotional palette by seeking out games that challenge us. And developers have a responsibility to answer that demand with games that engage the player with meaningful choices, additional freedom, and ultimately greater personal responsibility.

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9. Re: Op Ed Jan 15, 2013, 02:26 sdgundamx
I think this quote from the article is just brilliant:

I donít believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it (emphasis added). And games with meaningful (and potentially distasteful) choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what theyíre doing on screen.

I agree for the most part with him and I don't think there's any direct causal link between violence and video games (i.e. because someone played a game they then go out and decide to physically hurt someone).

However, I do think that games do reflect and sometimes reinforce our societal attitudes--one of those attitudes being that violence is an acceptable and even preferable method of solving problems in certain cases (for example, "self-defense" in all of its interpretations).

I would love to see games that get us to question these cultural values and providing more choice is one way to do that. Like he says in the article, you're still going to get people who kill in the game just for the humor's sake (because you can and because it doesn't have an RL consequences) but you might also get people thinking more about violence not just in games but in RL as well.

It would be cool if more games could be fun AND get people to think about real-world issues too. I never played Ultima 6, but I hear lots of older games talk with reverence about the impact that game had on them when they discovered (hidden text: spoiler alert) that the gargoyles they have been tasked with exterminating are in fact intelligent creatures merely trying to defend themselves from the human genocide being inflicted on them. This twist got gamers to think about how we "demonize" our enemies in order to rationalize the violence we inflict on them. More games like that would be awesome indeed.
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