Topic 1.2: Games: At Work, No One Knows I am a Wizard
“Playing games is something many have done as children and, increasingly, some may continue to do as adults. Playing games and sports are important ways to unwind, to connect and interact with other people in a relaxed setting. Learning and playing games are also a way of establishing social relationships and values.”
Q: What role do games play in people’s daily lives and what has happened since the advent of the Internet to what and how people play games today?
When I think of ‘gaming’ I automatically think of World of Warcraft or similar hard end synchronous online games, however, when looking at it in more depth, there are various types and levels of gaming available and with different social impacts. Nabeel Hyatt has attempted to define social gaming in his article ‘What makes gaming social’?. Hyatt claims that synchronous gaming has more capacity to build new relationships and deepen interactions with people who are already friends. He claims that asynchronous gaming is more dynamic in its maintenance of current friends or acquaintances.
Game playing, in any form, has become an escape, much like TV, music, reading or social media. Game playing is not a new thing but in everyday life, we now play anytime when we need a mental break, whether it is a break from something tedious, boredom, to stimulate our minds or just to have fun with others.
The internet has certainly brought new meaning to role play, cheating, creative game development and excitement in game play. Arguments which may have erupted over Scrabble in the traditional way, are now unarguably solved by the rules of the game. THAT is not an acceptable word… end of story.
Q: What role and meanings do people exchange in game play in their daily lives and how have the developments in gaming facilitated by the Internet affected this?
Games don’t usually train us to do what it appears to be designed for. For example, does Monopoly train us to be business savvy? Mostly, games teach us about encouraging others, fairness, living with losing and how to win in a way which won’t lose friends (with humility). They teach us that persevering and practice will improve our skills. Even a bad game will cause us to reflect and improve if we allow it to.
As well as the ‘lessons in life’ game play creates an environment where people can do something together which creates unity and interaction. The addition of the internet has heightened this to a point where all ages, abilities, geographical situations, and discrimination can be flattened to create an even space for everyone. The internet has enabled a ‘anytime any place and anyone’ capacity, providing (of course) there is access and a will.
Q: What are the different levels people may engage in games? How do games shape people, and what do the games individuals choose, and how they play them, reveal about themselves?
Sherry Turkle writes an interesting article about identity in the age of the internet. According to Turkle, (Turkle, 1995) when using internet gaming and simulation, people can devote themselves to indulging their fantasies without guilt or discomfort, since what they do via simulation has the same status as what they do in the rest of life. Turkle believes that just as people recognize that the computer screen is merely a play of surface simulations to be explored, so they come to see reality the same way. This would indicate to me that many people using gaming simulation, they are re-enacting a part of themselves which they have no control or capacity to simulate in real life. It takes them to a place where the control is in their own skill at manipulating the game.
Of course not all games are simulations. People choose games for all different reasons, sometimes it’s about being efficient, effective, the enjoyment of problem solving. For children, games are away of to gain control of their thoughts and help them to gain confidence and deepen relationships. Could it be the same for adults? Adults still need and desire mental stimulation and to sharpen their wits.
Dorian Wiszniewski and Richard Coyne in their contribution to the book Mask and Identity: The Hermeneutics of Self Construction in the Information Age. Building Virtual Communities explore online identity, with emphasis on the concept of “masking” identity.. They indicate that whenever a person communicates using social media or gaming, they depict a mask of their character. (Wiszneiwski and Coyne, 2002)
Q: Drawing on your own experience, discuss the role of games in general in teaching children and adults about functioning in society and creating, modifying and maintaining relationships with each other, are there differences in online and face to face gaming, in this respect? What games do you play and what part do they play in your life? What type of game player would you classify yourself, an enthusiast, casual or occasional gamer? If you don’t play games nowadays, discuss your personal experience of games in general; the games you played as a child on the street, in your home. Include all sorts of games, e.g. board games, tic tac toe, hopscotch, sport.
It’s interesting how different stages of life have a different perspective. Although I’m a ‘baby boomer’, I love technology and social media. I play games online with my adult children, sometimes when they are sitting next to me! I introduced my offspring (when they were teenagers) to Facebook and Second Life and often instigate or introduce online games with them. Although I don’t often use ‘hard core’ online gaming, as the reflex requirements limit me somewhat, I really enjoy strategic games. Although there was no internet at that stage, my first computer was an old 286 IBM which I loved playing ‘Mice men’ on using a 5″ floppy disc on DOS.
One online game I enjoy in particular is ‘Draw something’, which is like Pictionary. It has myself and my 3 ‘kids’ and their partners enthralled, as does the Scrabble like game ‘Words with friends’. I also play many games with friends who are housebound, overseas etc and this has a real unifying effect. I’ve had times in the past where I have played more hard end games but nowadays I stick to the apps on my smart phone.
What are the implications of the rise of casual and social games on the internet for online gaming and everyday life?
In a previous blog, I discussed the use of one particular old favourite game in Farmtown on Facebook, where I described it’s use as a tool for teaching students about farming and running a business: Farm Town for online education. Other than the reasons I’ve outlined on this blog post, I think the implications of social gaming has created another dimension in developing relationships and discovering ourselves. I’ll leave the negatives to those who are feeling nostalgic about face to face relationships and board games!
Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the screen : identity in the age of the internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Wiszniewski, D and Coyne, R. (2002). Mask and Identity: The Hermeneutics of Self Construction in the Information Age Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 191-214.
Geoffrey Brooks On Jul 8th 2008 10:46am. (2012) Counting Rupees: Korea bangs | Joystiq. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from http://www.joystiq.com/2008/07/08/counting-rupees-korea-bangs/
Txt. (2012) What Makes Gaming Social? — Tech News and Analysis. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from gigaom.com/2008/05/23/what-makes-gaming-social/