Humane Games are: games for education, games for health, and games for change. They can work either through the play or through the making. This tumblr celebrates Humane Games, and reflective and critical play.
Special Guest Edition: The Hawkeye Initiative IRL!
I recently received an email from an anonymous fan sharing how she pulled a Hawkeye Initiative themed prank on her CEO to illustrate a problem with some artwork.
My personal compliments to her and her accomplice on a mission well done; they perfectly took they perfectly took the concept of The Hawkeye Initiative one step farther, and effected actual change. I hope this gives you as much of a laugh as it did me (the artwork is currently my desktop), and inspires you to be unafraid to stand up and take action in your own awesome way.
Now, excuse me while I go play my new favorite mech game. :)
I work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.
I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.
For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job. This
Our CEO loves this picture. It is to all appearances his favorite piece of comic art for the game. He had it blown up poster-sized, framed, and displayed on the out-facing wall of his office. There, it looms over the front room like a ship’s figurehead. It is the first thing workers and visitors see when they enter the building and the last thing they see when they leave. This little lady’s undermeats have been the open- and close- parens to my work world for the last six months.
I loathe this picture.
Why do I loathe it? How, you ask, can I stay mad at a sweet young belle who has so obviously taken a break from her important welding to offer me a piping hot cup of coffee and/or a vigorous hand job? (And probably, given her apparent safety consciousness, simultaneously?) If you don’t already know the answer, you might want to check out things like #1ReasonWhy, and the Bechdel Test, and also this, and this, and this and this, and all these other things. (And while we’re talking you should check out this other bullshit right here.)
So at our office holiday party, while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards. Until, suddenly, it came to me: a vision.
And so it came to be that I approached Sam Kirk, a wickedly funny co-worker who shared my sentiment. Sam, turns out, is a very talented artist who can be bribed-slash-inspired using a medley of feminist indignation, hysterical giggling, and two $90 bottles of añejo tequila.
A month-and-a-half later, our vision was a reality. I give you:
Bro-sie The Riveter.
I want to make it completely clear that everything in this prank that required actual talent was done by Sam. Find this, and more of Sam’s art, at TheRealSamKirk.com.
We blew (ahem) Brosie up poster sized. We framed him. And then, at 7:30 on Monday, April 1st, we snuck into our CEO’s office and switched them.
I stood in the entryway, dizzy with joy. It was glorious. There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime, the post-apocalyptic breeze gently swaying his banana hammock. Brosie said, loud and proud: “Get ready, world! I am here to lubricate your joints and tighten your socket.”
I basically spend the next few hours having a joy-induced neurological episode.
As the morning progressed, Brosie (ahem) revealed himself to our co-workers. The air resounded with startled, suppressed gargles of mingled joy and horror. Some take pictures. Some instantly turn and flee. Several men blush and grin in vindicated solidarity. Several women ask us for prints. At this point I am in total rapture. This is the moment I have been dreaming about for six months.
Yet somehow everyone in the office manages to keep quiet about it. Until, finally, our CEO arrives.
We hear a loud: “What the hell is this?!” And then all goes quiet. Ten minutes pass. We panic.
We are both suddenly and painfully aware that we have, in fact, just punked the CEO of our company. He is by all accounts an awesome dude. He is also a late-50s ex-army guy who happens to determine our employment futures in an at-will state. Meep.
Twenty more minutes pass. And then our CEO comes up to my desk, taps me on the shoulder, and says this:
“That was a brilliant prank. You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side.”
Ruby Underboob and Brosie the Riveter, together at last
Yeah. That happened.
This wonderful experience has taught me two things that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and in gaming. It taught me this:
Lots of men (like Sam) are already sympathetic to the stupid, constant crap women put up with in gaming/STEM, and they are ready and willing to call that crap onto the carpet.
And, most importantly, many of the guys who are behind that stupid, constant crap are totally decent, open-minded human beings who just don’t realize they’re doing it. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you and your girlfriend are talking about shoes or menstruation until some dude walks into the room? Well sometimes guys don’t realize how much they’re talking about titties.
We just haven’t been around enough for them to notice.
There is only one solution to that, ladies. Bust out your baby-Gap tee and your protective welding goggles, and let’s turn this damn industry into the environment we want it to be. It’s hard work, and yes, there are a couple genuine assholes along the way. But if Ruby Underboob can brave the occasional droplet of molten metal, so can we.
Speaking from experience, it’s worth it.
About our CEO, Mark Long:
Mark has a long and storied history with, among other things, research, games and comic art. He’s a partner in the RoqlaRue gallery in Seattle, representing “chick art.” Mark considers himself a feminist activist. He is proud to have created a graphic novel trilogy with Nick Sagan (Carl’s son) that features a female hero so strong, Hillary Swank is attached to star as her.
Mark and I are now in an open dialogue about gender in comics and gaming.
In relation to that Gorz quote I would say videogames have become one of those “spheres” that was supposed to separated from “real life”, which explains, once again, why “gam3rz” are so virulent in their defense of sexism, separate spheres, border patrolling, racism etc. It’s that “private sphere” that they shared with others which was conceived as their private garden, their summer cottage. Mass produced hobbies, mediated through gatekeepers like trade and enthusiast press is one reason why “games” became a private sphere.
Under monopoly capital we get mass production of private life with private homes and the monarchy of the bourgeois family. The bourgeois class created the private because it had the resources to manufacture a world distinct from the aristocracy and the monarchy while the previous classes, farmers and serfs had no concept of the private. Think about how brands are supposed to be private - they are families you bring into your kingdom because they are lifestyles and ideas and whatnot embodied as subjects - even if those subjects are just commodities. Brands, rather than products, become citizens of sorts and are represented by their various manifestations in your private kingdom.
I think that these things are then, in a sense, under your care as a sovereign and that the gardens, the houses, the collections, the games, are your responsibility to protect from the pressures of capitalism. Remember, this separate sphere is all we have outside of work itself. It’s this private sphere that is supposed to lend true meaning to our lives - not our shitty job that we grudgingly wake up for every day. This is where shit matters and as it happens when things are under your care you give a lot of damns when something appears to attack them.
These responses can often be healthy if they are things like our families and our friends. Our private joys, our pets, our heirlooms, the objects whose use value without a doubt transcends any kind of exchange value. This carries over, however, also to brands and hobbies and things that are just as emblematic of fascist and reactionary imaginaries. In videogame culture that has manifested as a kind of knee-jerk move towards defense at all costs. It’s this kind of Churchillesque war against the aggressors that has lead to the transphobic garbage that has taken place over the past few days, and that which was manifested against Anita Sarkeesian last year.
So what comes out isn’t so much entirely about a hatred of women (though much of it is) but also about the reaction against the drive of a more communal impulse to challenge that hegemony of the private sphere. To move against bourgeois values means to attack, in one sense, that autonomous sphere of production and reproduction of the monarchy of the home. It means to rip that tiny sphere of sovereignty that so many people, robbed of any other space of control in their lives through rampant capital accumulation, have. It also shows how the economic movements of our world come around and viciously react against things they seem so far away from.
Medialab Prado: Solid Interfaces & Urban Games CFP
Solid Interfaces & Urban Games: Digital Games in the Public Space. Call for Projects
Open Call for project proposals to be developed during a production workshop for the creation of video games related to public space and the city as an interface (July 1-7, 2013).
During seven days of intensive work, ideas will be tested and prototypes developed by working with partners and technical assistants.
Deadline: May 31, 2013.
Recess! 11 – Restate My Assumptions
Recess! is a correspondence series with personal ruminations on games.
Dear Alper and Niels,
My apologies, I fell off the Recess! horse there for a minute. But I’m back in the saddle. Let’s see, what were we talking about again?
Alper obsessively played Ultratron for a while, got bored, stopped and felt guilty for spending 11 hours on it.
Niels helped make Toki Tori 2, got all conflicted about his feelings for the game and went on about how elegantly its world conveys his story.
Sigh. I hope you’ll both excuse me while I don my schoolmaster’s cap and proceed to school you.
It’s telling Alper feels Moves offers more meaningful play than Ultratron. He’s stuck in what Sutton-Smith calls ‘the rhetorics of animal progress’. The idea that play is only meaningful when it contributes to ‘individual development and group culture’. Alper, you should lighten up and maybe submit to the rhetoric of frivolity. Put simply, you should allow yourself to play the fool. Because “unlike the rest of us, who are all losers in most of the conventional senses, and most surely in the mortal sense, the fool transcends triviality.”
Niels, on the other hand, should do himself a favor and read Remediation because he seems to think ‘immediacy’ is the holy grail of media. The medium should disappear, it should not get in the way of the audience’s experience of the message. Well Niels, I have news for you: immediacy is only one possible media mode and its drawbacks are considerable. Most importantly, it precludes critical engagement of an audience with a medium’s message. Hypermediacy, on the other hand, foregrounds the workings of media. It foregoes ‘immersion’ and ‘seamlesness’ in favor of bricolage and seamfulness (PDF). In doing so, it allows for active audience engagement. Don’t you wish that for your stories?
In short, let’s restate our assumptions. I’ll go first:
- Play can be meaningful and useless at the same time.
- Games can tell stories without being immersive.
Remember That You Will Die - Games and Finality
Remember That You Will Die
Games and Finality
This all began with a match of Super Smash Bros. My roommate knocked me straight into the air until I flew up so high that I vanished in a pulse of blue energy and a disembodied narrator exclaimed KO! My other friend casually says, “he’s got three kills on you!” but instead of wondering how I’m going to make a comeback I’m wondering why we’ve casually called these knockouts “kills.” They don’t resemble death in the slightest – a giant turtle is hit with a fireball and leaves our field of vision only to return a second later. There is nothing to suggest murder, there’s even an announcement discouraging it, but our unconscious rhetoric consistently reframes the experience. I’ve witnessed it happening with a dozen other games by a dozen other people, and it has led me to wonder: Why?
~ ~ ~
Death in games is weird. Whether it is the cheerful stomping of Goombas or a “Continue?” screen, videogames have had unusual representations of mortality throughout their history. One of the first videogames created, Spacewar!, began the trend with a conflict centered on obliterating your opponent’s spaceship. But as games have expanded into unpredictable shapes and permutations, the language of violence inherited from Spacewar! remains. Today’s blockbuster games almost universally task the player with assassinations, extermination, and all manners of gunplay. Even in fantasy games with processes so fantastically removed from anything in our Earthly existence, we invariably proscribe failure with death. As politicians and concerned parents rally in disgust over videogame violence, we should ask ourselves how we came to this spot. Games are a leisure activity that historically is engineered for fun, so how did they transition into what has been described as mass murder simulators? I suspect that games have intrinsic elements that encourage this rhetoric. It stems from the genesis of game playing, and the necessity of games to provide repetitive challenges which must meet a decisive finale; and often they reach for the most decisive of them: death.
To begin we must take a look back at the earliest games. At its most primal, we recognize dogs nipping and tackling each other as play. At this stage, the act of play is already violent and aggressive, but it is recognized as harmless because it is play. We know the nature of play is ultimately benevolent, no matter how vicious the romp appears. Yet there is a primal fascination with survival, and that extends to a fascination with harm. The games of animals are entirely concerned with survival and mock death, and we have every reason to believe that the early games of humans did as well. In a fashion, it could be understood that games made a shift away from violence as societies developed and the games became more complicated. Certainly by the time Backgammon was invented some 5000 years ago games had far surpassed ideas of life and faux-death and transitioned to the more recognizable concept of ‘winning and losing’. There is still an element of survival in winning and losing, but the ideas are divorced from reality in a way that allows there to be more complicated situations, like several winner or losers, or rankings like 3rd place, or respawns in videogames.
In games there is an inherent ability to retry. Because a game is theoretically inconsequential, the game can be redone with different outcomes. Sparring puppies can rematch as much as they want; a Super Mario Bros. player who falls into a pit can reattempt the level; Mass Effect can be replayed with drastically different narrative choices. A game does not have to have a “continue” screen to have this ability to retry. The power to declare “the winner is best two out of three!” after losing any competitive sport is in the same vein as a player dropping more quarters into an arcade cabinet, both allow re-entry in the play sphere and rejuvenation life. Even for videogames without an explicit lose condition, like Journey, the player may assign themselves micro-challenges, which they may succeed or fail at. For example, if the player wishes to jump onto a particular ledge, they may attempt it and fail without the game responding. The player may retry this self-assigned prompt indefinitely whether or not it is coded into the game. This is part of the nature of interactivity. Games are fairly unique artifacts because they are dynamic; they necessitate obstacles that can be retried. This is why the ability to “respawn” or retry a game exists in many different forms across nearly every type of game.
But the “respawn” immediately confuses any real understanding of death because it undoes any presumptions of mortality. Possibly because of precedent, games often have a fail state associated with death. If games were historically simulations of survival then death or harm needed to be an outcome, and our understanding of losing a game extends from that. In short: we semantically equate losing a game with death because games were once simulacra for life and death. But in the respawn death loses its defining characteristic: finality. A broken arm will heal over time, a lost phone can be replaced with something else, and a scorched piece of parchment is still half there, but in death the subject is gone forever. Death takes many forms, some violent some quiet, some natural and some imposed, but it always involves a permanent and sacred loss of soul. There can never be true death in a game; otherwise it is no longer an artificial conflict. When the two connect, it perverts the definition of a game or of death. A player or her surrogate cannot die forever in a game because it demolishes the safety net of a game. Likewise, the presence of “death” in games corrupts the understanding of death as unsafe because it loses its finality. This is a position taken to its most extreme, however, and death and games frequently overlap in some capacity without totally losing their identities.
Fire Emblem is a tactical-strategy fantasy videogame series well known for its harsh consequences. Players level-up and defend digital soldiers, but if one dies in battle, he or she remains dead for the entirety for the game. Often, players become attached to the quirky and well written characters, and losing them eliminates them from the story. The consequences of messing up in the game can be devastating enough to force the player to restart the game from the beginning, but as harsh as that is the option to restart is always available to the player. Since the player can turn the game system off and revert to an earlier point in time, or even begin anew with a clean slate, Fire Emblem is ostensibly a game. Despite the more realistic penalties of death, the game is still a safe place to play. But to many players, as the game approaches a more literal definition of mortality it loses its game-ness. Personally, I have never managed to finish it because the experience is so stressful. In order for it to be treated like a game, death has to be tokenized; but in order for it to be treated as life, the game ceases to be game-like.
We can understand this paradox better with some research from educator Jesper Juul. In a study conduced in 2009, Juul observed that while players want to win they also prefer games where they lose some.  He concluded that the player does not want to fail, but failure makes the player reassess a system, and that while winning provides gratification it is unsatisfactory without failure. If we apply his conclusion to our correlation between losing and death then we can see how a concept of total finality would upset an ideal game balance. His study found that players who both failed and won at least once each enjoyed the game more than those that never experienced both. Thus, if the player can only fail or only win then they are thrust into the fringes of potential engagement. An ideal game, therefore, can never really kill the player.
This is the cause for inevitable miscommunication. Because of their ancient origins, games are prone to suggesting mortality of the player either explicitly or subconsciously, but the player cannot truly experience such a thing in games. In that semantic rift is the concern that children will become confused by games. If people’s experiences with death in life are overshadowed by their experiences with faux-death in games then perhaps it will change their thinking. Studies will inevitably make cases for and against that reasoning, and they may never reach a decisive conclusion. And there is not much that games can do. The player must be at risk of failure, and failure is only a short step away from mortality. That short step will always exist as a part of games.
But while the player’s paradoxical state of being in a game is cause for miscommunication, the brunt of criticism against games today comes from treatment of non-player characters. The argument is simple: performing the action of shooting facsimiles of people/aliens/other in a game encourages mirroring the action in real-life. Once again, there are innumerable studies validating and disproving that argument. I will not make an attempt to judge this highly political issue, but again I will try to explain the reason why games have formed as they have. The killing of NPCs is different than the death of a player avatar. There is not the same primitive history of violence as there was with player survival, since NPCs could not exist until games grew in complexity. There is, however, another intrinsic element to games that promotes a binary-state model of obstacles that becomes an easy metaphor for life and death.
To begin, non-player characters have convoluted origins in tabletop role-playing games. Before videogames they would be governed by written rules or guided by a game-master. On the screen, NPCs are controlled by the game’s code. What distinguishes an NPC from other game elements like the board in chess or the ball in soccer is that NPCs are characters. Human or not, NPCs are designed to give the illusion of life. This immediately makes them susceptible to the same mortality pitfalls as the player’s avatar. The game can promise life, but it can never deliver on it, so it can never accurately represent death. This would be an issue even if all NPCs in every game couldn’t die, but that they can die by the player’s own hand gives an agency that heightens the discrepancy.
And the NPCs must be killed, not because they are terrorists or alien invaders, but because games must have obstacles to be put to rest. The influential game theorists Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman have defined meaningful play as emerging when “the relationships between actions and outcomes in a game are both discernable and integrated into the larger context of the game.”  Action is an important and inherent part of interactive media, because without action the form could not be described as interactive. The player, as Salen and Zimmerman point out, must be able to immediately and clearly see the result of their action if the game is to successfully generate meaningful play. The repercussions of this are that games must constantly provide opportunities for action with repercussions. A player must face obstacles in a game, and those obstacles have to each reach a meaningful finality. There are four bases in Baseball; blocks in Tetris are either there or they are not; there are dangerous Goombas in Super Mario you must avoid or step on; there are forty aliens in this room and you have to shoot them all. Games could all remain abstract systems like Baseball or Tetris if not for the second half of Salen and Zimmerman’s definition: the actions and outcomes must be integrated into the larger context of the game. One route of integrating action is through the embedded narrative of the game. Games can generate meaning by making their obstacles soldiers and the vectors bullets. In fact, it is beneficial to do so. Many players today would argue that they have more meaningful play in narrative games than abstract ones. Games do not need highly developed embedded narratives, but they allow a game to reach a higher potential for meaningful play. Because NPCs help integrate the actions of the player into a greater context, videogames are drawn to include faux-representations of life. And then games kill them to give the greatest and clearest form of discernable re-action. Videogames couldn’t have developed any other way.
Every game involves loss. Obstacles come and go and the player wins and loses. Death is a metaphor – a conceptual shorthand – for losing something. We quickly attribute it to anything that was once in our lives but has left. Because of this, no matter how we rephrase the lingo – be it a “captured queen” in Chess or a “fainted Pikachu” in Pokémon or a “KO” in Street Fighter II – it is easy to unconsciously refer to such things as death. While those examples are unmistakably physical, even abstract games like Tetris must deal with the inexplicable appearance and disappearing of blocks. “Producing” and “vanishing” are just abstract synonyms for “birth” and “death,” but they are not the same. To produce is to create, and to give birth is to release from the womb. Similarly, to vanish does not carry the heavy connotations of death. But games, no matter how abstract, are concrete instantiations of systems and invite these personified terms.
Humans apply narratives to navigate events and systems, and relatable personifications are a part of that process. So it is useful to think of these abstract interactions as birth and death, even when some technicalities are lost in translation. Life and death are not inherently negative features to have in any medium, but it is complicated by game’s nature as a competition. Games must involve conflict, and most involve competition either between warring players or between the player and the machine. Conflict, finality, life and death fit snuggly together. But the player has agency over it all, and that means finality often takes the form of murder whether abstract or representational.
Another important element of this development is the destined audience of videogames. Videogames are overwhelmingly marketed to adolescent boys, who have a well-noted tendency to favor violent media. But even before games like Call of Duty were specifically targeting that market, games have been in a position to be male dominated. The realm of sports was squarely in the men’s court when videogames gained prominence, and the vast majority of early games resembled electronic versions of sports. Sports are games, and furthermore they are branded, recognizable, and well-understood games that can be easily sold and played, but also easily programmed in comparison to single-player experiences. More importantly, however, was that videogames were a technology emerging in a time when women were rarely seen in engineering fields. The people with the know-how to make games were all men, and the kids expected to tinker with electronics were boys. While boys and girls could watch TV, the computer was for the guys. Thankfully this is beginning to change, and it will hopefully be nothing more than a memory in the future – but at videogame’s crucial time of formation, gender politics had a massive role to play. Videogames, a medium with several intrinsic elements that seem made for violence, were crafted for and by the audience which craves it the most.
All together, it is easy to see why the subject of violence crops up frequently in videogames. But other mediums have faced similar criticisms, and while our tendency to use death as a metaphor for finality reaches across all manners of creation, the intrinsic aspects of games are unique to them alone. The agency of the player that defines games is, of course, not found in literature, plays, cinema, television or comic books. But death in literature is still functional, as it is in games; and movies can show as graphic a body count as many games do. Both were criticized in their time for inspiring violence, and some even consider it a rite of passage for new media. But games are different, and it can be useful to understand the way they operate as no other media does. To dismiss current arguments over videogame violence as part of a social cycle is to ignore a discussion that could potentially help define our understanding of games as a medium.
A hundred years ago, in London and elsewhere, detective novels were being blamed for stimulating “criminal tendencies” in some readers. Despite themes of justice, the presence of vice in the novels was enough to create media attention and even confessions from young criminals that such literature was a source of inspiration. Literature uses death for symbolic and functional reasons, as well as to express personal emotions. Firstly, death can be used to symbolize the passing of something greater. The mean-spirited and wealthy character may be killed to symbolize the death of the bourgeois, for example. Death can be used functionally as well. In the case of a murder mystery, a deceased body may offer clues for the protagonist. Lastly, literature may be used to express sentiments over death, as commonly seen in obituaries and gravestones.
Of all these forms, only the use of death for function may appear ill-mannered, but it is also the form most readily found in games. A symbolic death carries weight and meaning, even when it is divorced from human reality or the respect we would hope of our own deaths. And no matter how awkward or contrived a personal statement is it still carries the gravitas of human experience. Very few games represent death in symbolic or personal ways. Even in a game like Metal Gear Solid 3, where the final action the player must perform is a murder filled with symbolism and gravitas, players often rank up hundreds of functional deaths before then. In the 1900s, detective novels were singled out because their representations of death were functional: detectives would follow the wake of violence like a map leading to a perpetrator, rather than dwell on the symbolic or personal ramifications. If games used death in other forms then it may find a better balance. Literature as a whole could not be blamed because it has proven to be useful in a variety of facets, not the least of which is the expression of death in non-mechanical ways. The same is true for cinema and became true for comics; some deaths are crude, but the whole range of expression demonstrated in the medium proves that deaths can be meaningful and true to human experience, so the medium as a whole cannot be faulted for igniting violence.
Killing in games is distinctly different from other mediums, however. The player performs the action, and they perform it often. The argument against game violence rightly points out that audiences are not complicit in the action in any other mediums. Games cannot escape this. A game that ceases to be interactive is no longer a game. Others find the high body count in games more disturbing. Indeed, there are usually considerably more people killed in a game than in a year’s worth of literature or even the most macho of Hollywood movies. Once again this is part of the nature of the medium, games favor repetition while other mediums favor succinctness. Professor and game designer Ian Bogost argues that film is defined by editing, while games are “extension, addition, prolonging.”  Other narrative forms seek to reduce. Tell only what the audience needs to know, show a quick shot of the protagonist reaching into a closet and pulling out clothes, then cut to them walking to work fully dressed. A hero demonstrates his prowess in one motion by chopping off a ruffian’s arm. Videogames find more success in exploiting long moments and repeating actions. This is because games are play. The actions performed in the game should be pleasurable to perform, and therefore they are repeated. Because the defining element of videogames is their mechanic these representations are troublesome. When a game’s key mechanic is gunplay, then the act of shooting will be repeated and explored in all conceivable ways throughout the entire game. Games are traditionally engineered for fun, unlike other mediums, which developed for communication. If a moment or action is a tool for communication then it will be used as efficiently as possible and then out of the way. Games, on the other hand, are about exploring a system as deeply as possible. This can allow games to explore subjects deeply, for better or for worse.
Games were destined to fall into today’s discussion over violence. Every emerging cultural practice is scrutinized, yes, but more importantly games have intrinsic elements that suggest mortality, even when they cannot represent it. The genesis of games is entangled in the prehistoric battle for survival, and their structure is reminiscent of that battle. Games must have winning and losing, which are only abstractions of life and death. But the player cannot really experience death in games because of the inherent ability to “respawn,” so games are stuck in a paradox of representing death but never capturing it. Further, games must have challenges to overcome that are meaningful and integrated in context – so we build artificial representations of life and kill them over and over. Videoames do not have to always be this way. Games were once violent simulations of survival, but they grew in complexity to become more abstract. Videogames can do the same. We can outgrow our instinctual metaphors of violence, our easy to conceptualize and implement shooters, and we can represent mortality with symbolism and personality. Games are undergoing a natural cycle, but it is not just one of media and social scapegoating. Games are growing, not dying.
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Presented without comment, because I have no words.