Montageman: A dude who writes

January 10, 2007

Half-Real (1st half) – Initial thoughts

Filed under: affect, videogames — montageman @ 3:43 am

Metal SlugThrough the first 3 chapters of Jesper Juul’s Half-Real, there appears to be an almost total lack of contextual gaming.  Juul spends a lot of time explaining nuances of game rules, types, and models – basically, we get definitions for the first 120 pages or so.   This is a relatively new field, sure, but come on – video games are supposed to be fun, right?  Where is the fun here?  For Juul, much of our enjoyment comes from our ability to beat a challenge, find a new challenge, beat that challenge, repeat.  There are two types of games – emergent & progression.  Games of progression (Metal Slug (pictured left), Super Mario Bros, Contra), it is argued, are some how inferior to emergent games because once a game of progression has been completed, there is no need to go back & do it again.   Juul says, “Different games provide challenges in different ways.  This is apparent in the distinction between games of progression that are only completed once, and games of emergence that can be played to their conclusion many times,” (97).

The biggest problem with this thought is that the games that were mentioned above, while they fall into the  progression category, are also termed “classic” games and, therefore, have tremendous replay value.  Because Juul decontextualizes gaming, a moment like this is ignored.  Much of gaming’s fun comes not from the game itself but the context in which it is played.  Pong was addictive both because of its simplicity and because of its role as a public domain.  Anybody could go up & play for a quarter.  As games became more complex, the fundamental notion of communal gaming has never ceased.

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