Author Archives: sarah


Although I found multiple aspects of Jane McGonigal’s lecture to be discussion worthy, her reference to economist Edward Castronova jumped out at me-mainly because he was briefly mentioned in last Tuesday’s class, but also because I just find the concept of a virtual economist to be interesting.  McGonigal’s mentioning of Castronova also stood out to me, because the quote that she offered made a logical point.  She quoted Castronova’s point that “we’re witnessing what amounts to no less than a mass exodus to virtual worlds and online game environment.”  Basically, Castronova explains that  it makes sense for gamers to spend more time in games, because virtual reality provides an all-around better experience than the real world.  I personally don’t agree with that statement, but I think I can understand how some gamers could come to feel that way…life throws many difficult challenges at us, and I think games help provide a good mental escape.  Anyways, I was intrigued by Castronova, so I tried to find a lecture or something by him.  I found one on youtube, but the quality was bad and it honestly wasn’t too interesting. So instead, here is the link to his webpage..if you’re at all interested.

Final Project

I have yet to choose a game for our final project.  However, I have been thinking about the type of game I would like to do my project on.  Of all the types of games we have discussed in this class, I find interacted fiction and the social statement games (such as Save Darfur) to be the most intriguing.  However, I have yet to find a game that is suitable for my final project.  Anyone have any suggestions for games?…if not, I guess I better start looking.

Games v. Real Life

I, like many other bloggers tonight, found the readings for tomorrow’s class to be thought provoking.  I agree with most of our class, as Catey referenced, that most people can distinguish between games and reality. However, I think that Simon Penny raised some interesting points in his article.  To start with, I really enjoyed his explanation of the common quality to sports training, martial arts, and military training to be “anti-illectuality.”  I think all of us (whether in school or sports) have been told that we were just over thinking and that once we stopped we would be successful.

Penny used this point to illustrate that training is only effective when it becomes automatic.  This occurs through lots and lots of practice.  He then went on to explain how the military uses videogames to begin this practice.  They have started to use games to simulate real life occurrences.  This is seen in games such as Marine Doom. The purpose of this game is to help desensitize soldiers from shooting humans. David Grossman (a retired Lieutenant Colonel) claims that other shooting videogames (in general) have the same effect on players-they start to think that shooting people is no big deal.

Although I agree with Penny that these simulation games serve as an effective medium for soldiers to practice, I don’t think that one can simply state that games impact reality for soldiers and therefore do the same for civilians.  Instead, I think the effect of games on reality all depends on context.  Yes, soldiers shoot targets shaped like people in order to train to ACTUALLY shoot people, but people do not play violent games, such as Call of Duty, for these same reasons.  I think there is a difference in how these two groups of players approach the game which therefore affects the connections with reality.  Soldiers play these games knowing that they are doing so in order to practice real life situations.  In contrast, I think it’s safe to assume that most players of COD do not see their playing as practice for real life.  Consequently, I think that it is true that games can, in fact, have real life consequences, but it is dependent upon how the player views the game.  If the player does not view violent games for practice in real life, it wont be.  Instead, it will be (as Dani explained), simply a way to improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time.

Lara Croft as a role model…seriosuly?

I was very intrigued by the discussions that went on in class last Tuesday.  We covered many topics surrounding gender, especially in relation to Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.  One particular topic I found the most interesting was in response to one of the survey questions- that many female players would view Lara Croft as a positive role model after playing this game.  I was shocked that this was the most popular answer to how female players would view this character.   I most definitely have an opinion on this topic, but decided on the spot that this was what I was going to write my response blog about.  Therefore, instead of voicing my opinions, I simply sat back and listened to the arguments of others.

I understand that many females would like the character of Lara Croft simply because she is a woman and that is something rarely seen in videogames.  Therefore, they probably feel that they can identify with her more so than other videogame characters.  However, I think that viewing her as a role model takes it to an entirely different level.

I, for one, am a female and do not-in any way, shape, or form view Lara Croft as a role model.  I know that I am just one girl, and cannot by any means speak for all women, but I feel as if many women would have a similar view on the topic.  Don’t get me wrong, the character of Croft does, I think, portray some important qualities that are good for girls to be aware of.  The fact that you can be both attractive and powerful, for instance.  She also demonstrates a desirable amount of control-which, I think, is considered an attractive attribute by both genders…however, like someone pointed out it class, how is killing for what you want an attractive attribute?  is that really something you want to strive for? hurting and putting everyone else down to achieve your goals?.. I think we can all agree that selfishness is not a sought after characteristic in a person.  Also, yes, she is the combination of beauty and power…but seriously? Why does her character have to be so, for lack of a better term, “sexy.”  I feel that there is a clear difference of connotation between the word “sexy” and the word “beautiful”…I think girls or women, females of any age for that matter, should be aware that you can be beautiful without having the double-d chest.

Basically, what I’m trying to get at, is that although Croft does display some positive qualities, I do not think that her character as a whole would be perceived by most females as a positive role model.


I was thinking about all of the discussions we had in class last Tuesday…the main point that stuck out to me was that there are a very limited amount of female first person perspectives in movies and in games (except the game we discussed in class).  Naturally, I set out to find such an example.  However, either this perspective doesn’t really exist, or I just have a limited range of movie and game knowledge.

So then I began to think about all of the strange perspectives I have experienced with movies, and I thought of Cloverfield.  I’m not sure which category this perspective falls under because the idea is that the film is shot from a hand held video camera.  Therefore, the characters interact with the camera as if it is another character and sometimes the camera goes back on the person filming.  Personally, although I found this technique to be interesting, I did not particularly enjoy the unsteadiness throughout the film.   If you have not seen the film, I posted a link to the trailer below.  It shows a glimpse of the style of Cloverfield…Enjoy!


…go with the flow

I have got to say, this is by far my favorite article that we have read for this class.  Although I agree with Dani that some parts were a bit confusing, I found myself agreeing with the majority of Whalen’s claims.  As always though, I particularly enjoyed the parts of this article that described aspects of videogames by referencing things that I find easier to relate to and understand.  For example, my favorite part of this article was his description of “flow.”  It is through this “distorted sense of time, or sense of freedom or abstraction” that scholars are able to analyze the communication involved in videogame music.  At first this was difficult for me to wrap my head around, even with his explanation referencing reading.  However, even though I am no star athlete, when he hinted that this concept of flow could be experienced through athletics, I began to understand it.  When I am playing an (what I believe to be) intense volleyball or basketball game, or even during a long run, I get so caught up in it that nothing else matters-my surroundings and physical sensations almost cease to exist.  I think this is why I end up finding scrapes and bruises the day after a basketball game without having any idea as to when they were created.  If Whalen is correct, as I believe him to be, and people get this same sensation when playing videogames, I feel that I owe “intense-gamers” some sort of apology for judging their extreme gaming habits.  For, if the “flow” they experience is anything like what I’m relating it to, I understand lacking the desire to ever stop.  As far as Whalen attributing the “flow” sensation largely to the music of the game, I am embarrassed to say that although I have played all the games we have been required to play, I have done so to the track of my ipod with the game sound on mute.  Perhaps this explains my lack of love of videogames? Who knows?… I promise to play all further games with the sound on and see where that leads me..


In the first chapter of Alexander Galloway’s book, the connection between culture and gaming is discussed over several pages.  Galloway claims that “play is a cultural phenomenon that has meaning” and that “play is a symbolic action for larger cultural issues.”  These statements, along with hinting that games indirectly let the player interact with social realities, are agreeable and understandable.  However, Galloway’s first mention of culture is not as relatable:

“In the essay, ‘Deep Play:  Notes on the Baliese Cockfight, ‘Geerts offers a fantastically evocative phrase:  ‘cultre, this acted document.’  There are three interlocked ideas here:  There is culture, but culture is a document, a text that follows the various logics of a semiotic system, and finally it is an acted document….(…Geertz’s observation, then, is not to say that culture is a text but to say that action is a text…) (14).

After reading (and failing to understand) the above passage, I continued to search out all of Galloway’s cultural references.  I found myself not only understanding these future references, but also agreeing with them.  However, I was unable to find either an explanation or reference back to this passage.  I don’t understand how culture can be defined in a document.  Furthermore, I don’t understand the connection between video games and culture as a document.

Don’t Look Back

I don’t mean to be repetitive, but as you all already know, videogames just aren’t my “thing.”  That being the case, I find myself putting, what I consider to be, way too much time and energy into the videogames we are assigned to play.  You would all laugh if you watched me die over and over and over again, but I continue to play anyway in order to reach a higher level of understanding.  This last game we were assigned to play, Don’t Look Back, I found to be quite interesting.  I could tell there was some sort of story line it was following, but I did not pick up on it right away.  Granted, this could be because after playing for half an hour I only made it through a quarter of the game.  Therefore, I first found a youtube video that took me through the whole game (so if you are like me you can click here

and watch the entire game unfold).  Then, I found an article describing the basis or story line of the game.  So here

is just another game that, according to the article, (although it is not blatantly obvious) contradicts Aarseth.  Personally, I enjoyed this article because it reassured me that this game was more than just a game.

Fun, Life Skills, and Videogames?

Not going to lie, I am still a skeptic when it comes to videogames.  I just can’t help it.  When I think videogames, I think of a bunch of teenage guys wasting their lives away in front of a computer or television screen.  Even though I feel this way, Koster is slowly (and I mean very slowly) changing my opinion.  He was most successful at changing my views with his first three chapters where he presented the idea that playing videogames was connected with the process of learning.  I was convinced.  However, I feel that in this last chapter Koster did not do as well in presenting a solid argument.

Koster claims that “we have fun mostly to improve our life skills.”  In a broad sense, I agree.  Personally, activities I find the most fun are sports and spending time with friends (which Koster explained as a grown-up game or way of fun).  Physical health and sufficient social abilities are unquestionably good life skills to possess.

It might be because I don’t understand videogames as much as the average person, but I found it difficult to apply this idea (that I support) to the fun found in videogames.  Do videogmes really aid in the development of central life skills?  If so, which ones?  Would it be possible to acquire all life skills through videogames?  I raise these questions not necessarily to attack Koster’s argument, but because I am curious about what frequent videogame players think of such ideas.