Montageman: A dude who writes

February 5, 2007

Mimicry & videogames

Filed under: caillois, play, videogames — montageman @ 4:18 am

Roger Caillois outlines 4 distinct types of play – agon, alea, mimcry, and ilinx.  I’d like to take a second to look at mimicry.

“Play can consist not only of deploying actions or submitting to one’s fate in imaginary milieu, but of becoming an illusory character oneself, and of so behaving, (19)”.  As mentioned in my previous post on Realsports Football,  mimicry is a fundmental part of videogames.  In that example, it is possible, through the lack of graphical detail, to mimic any player at any time.  The way the game is played is up to the player of the game.  This mimicry is taken to a new level in games like Madden NFL 2007.  The player need not imagine that he’s playing Michael Vick because the artificial intelligence of the game console is functioning like Michael Vick.  The player (controlling a defender) then gains pleasure when he sacks Michael Vick, a pleasure much different than when that same player sacks Jon Kitna.  However, there is a barrier here.  The gamer knows he is not Brian Urlacher – he is only controlling an avatar (or any other defensive player), so through the formal structure of the game – the player’s pleasure is based almost exclusively on his ability to mimic the play of real players.

This is wholly different in MMORPGs.  In games like World of Warcraft or Second Life we create our avatars and impart a personality, partially our own and partially fantasy.   If only for a few hours a night, gamers can be elves, dwarves, warriors, or themselves.


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