Bogost talks about the relaxation aspect of video games in chapter 13 of his book. He names a few games that were made for relaxation such as Wild Devine, Cloud and flow. From his descriptions it seems that Wild Devine is the only game that achieves its desired effect.  Since video games require physical interface there is a fine line between causing relaxation or frustration. This brings us back to a topic that we encountered earlier in the course, casual gaming. Casual games seem like they are made to produce the sensation of relaxation in their players. With the easy interface, interruptibility, and bright mood of causal games, they let the user play at any time without time commitment or stressfulness of more hardcore games. Bogost describes them as games where the player can just zone out and relax, similar to something such as doodling on paper. I completely agree with this statement. Whether I decide to relax by playing angry birds, listening to music, or even leisurely reading a book I can block out the outside world and completely zone out of reality. I think this is the appeal of the casual gaming market to its players. A casual game, even if it is hands on, can acquire the same desired effect as any form of relaxation depending on a person’s preferences. This cannot be confused with the concept of meditation. To successfully meditate “we must reject the principle of engagement” something that video games will never be capable of doing.

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One Response to Relax!

  1. I think you’re onto something about the difficulty of using a medium that requires action (as Galloway made clear in his first chapter) to promote relaxation or even meditation. I guess there are two responses to this critique: (1) is there a way games can foster stillness over motion? And (2) can repetitive actions ever be relaxing? I think of something like knitting, which I know a lot of people find relaxing, almost meditative, even though it requires skill and physical activity.

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