Montageman: A dude who writes

January 31, 2007

Fun & Games

Filed under: affect, games, play, videogames — montageman @ 4:58 am

In Homo Ludens, Huizinga stakes the claim children and animals play because they enjoy playing, and therein lies their freedom (8). Children become bored with videogames quickly because of the rules of the game. Videogames cannot offer the illusion of freedom because their very nature is hinged upon the rules set in place by its creator/designer. Jesper Juul sees rules as specifying limitations and affordances. They prohibit players from performing actions such as making jewelry out of dice, but they also add meaning to the allowed actions and this affords players meaningful actions that were not otherwise available; rules give games structure (58). In order for a game to function as a game, the ludic foundations must be in place, but the game must be played by willing participants. Huizinga: play is never imposed by physical necessity or moral duty (8).

In order to play a videogame then, there must be some interest. This brings us back to Tomkins. As one of the primary affects, interest needs to be activated but not become overly aroused and be capable of sustaining until the activity ends. For videogames, interest begins at this point:

We play the games because they look fun. There is some preconceived notion of what fun is and how a videogame will help in having fun. Juul’s book does not ever explain why people want to be subjected to the relatively closed system of videogames. The rules are restrictive, even in the most open-ended of games. D.B. Weiss imagines a videogame world where players are wandering, picking up items, but never having any true objective. Once Stage III is reached, the player can stay as long as he would like but with no purpose beyond being there (Lucky Wander Boy, 204). The idea of reaching a stage in a game with no real purpose is absurd because the game needs to be a finite system, at least until the sequel is released. And herein lies the quandry, if play is freedom, but games necessitate rules – how are games fun?

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