Discussion 9/21

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September 20, 2012 by eclare138

Hey Guys! Here’s some discussion topics for class tomorrow! 🙂

First, play this game, don’t worry it’s pretty short.

Alright, so we want you to think about how you experienced the game. How did you interact with it? Did you think that it was effective in conveying a meaning? What did you think that meaning was?

Now, watch this video!

Discussion Questions:

1) The Penny Arcade video helps itself to a number of assumptions about narrative content which are not made explicit by the game itself (i.e. that the dots represent people, that your journey represents a ‘story’). Are these legitimate assumptions to make about the game? Why or why not?

2) Thinking about the game in the context of the video, do you think it is possible for a game to generate meaning through mechanics alone? It seems difficult to identify the mechanics of Loneliness as meaningful without making assumptions or relying on other (non-gameplay) information such as the game’s title, which seems to do a lot of work in telling us what the game is supposed to be about. Compare Loneliness to a game like Tetris for instance: would you think of the game differently if it were called “Wallbuilder” instead?

3) Loneliness probably falls into the genre of games known as “serious games.” Serious games is a term often invoked against or as opposed to games made for entertainment. Do or should consumers expect game mechanics to be meaningful and congruent with narrative concerns (as Hocking does)?

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4)Considering the example of ludonarrative dissonance that Hocking provides in the reading, do you think the removal of the ideological slant would remove the issues that Hocking brings up? Consider, for example, System Shock 2. SS2 and BS have nearly identical plots, however SS2 does not force the player into the dissonance Hocking describes. Would this improve the overall experience?

5) SS2 and BS also perform quite similarly in terms of mechanics. However SS2 adds a few additional limitations, how do you think these limits affect the narrative?

6) Hocking makes a big deal about ludonarrative dissonance in Bioshock, but can we think of other games in which this kind of dissonance exists? For instance, RPGs like Mass Effect often present narrative deadlines (i.e. the world will be imminently destroyed if you do not do X immediately!), while simultaneously incentivizing time-consuming exploration through experience and items. Should this be a big concern for commercial games, and should we single Bioshock out for its presumed offense?

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