Friday, 2 March 2007

Week Four

Rewards are seen a stimulation for humans, we strive to reach them, and this is a technique which game designers use to keep you playing their games. They put small short-term rewards around most corners of a game to ensure you do not lose interest in them, and have bigger long-term rewards for when you complete large section of the game or even the whole thing. This is backed up by Robertson (2006) who remarked that “games continually reward players during the game as they overcome challenges”. A good example of this would be on Goldeneye, where the short term rewards were power-ups and gun upgrades, and the long term rewards were cheats that could be used in the multiplayer arena once you had completed the game with certain characters. Hallford and Hallford (2002) believed there were four main types of reward. The first, the reward of glory, would be well illustrated in a game like Tetris, where a player seeks reward for having a large score. The second is the reward of sustenance, which would help develop your character. For example, in Doom you get given armour as you progress, which increases your life in the game. The third reward is the reward of access, where the reward is the opening of a new arena. A good example of this would be Mario on the Gameboy, because as you complete parts of the game new areas are unlocked so that the story can continue. The final reward type is the rewards of facility, which is very apparent in the game Age of Empires. The reward of facility in this game is technology. At the beginning you are very primitive in what you can make (eg. a gatherer), however as you are rewarded throughout the game with technology, you are able to create and fight with very advanced men and boats.

I will now attempt to analyse one specific game in relation to the pleasure of satisfying rewards using Hallford and Hallford’s (2002) theories as games often contain all four elements. The game in question is Runescape. It can reward a player through glory, as your score in each skill (like woodcutting) is added to an overall leader board everytime you log out, meaning you go up ranks for your increased level of experience. The reward of sustenance is present as start off the game with bronze armour, and as you get better you can pick up better items like rune armour to increase the performance of your character. The glory of access is also incorporated into the game, as you pick up keys to get into locked and secret buildings, and finally, the reward of facility is also present because as you increase in your skills (like strength) you learn new technology enabling you to use better equipment (like at level 40 you can wield a rune sword).


Robertson, S. (2006) Game Design Theory, Part I . [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Week Three

Johan Huizinga (1950) believed “playing” involves a person entering a specific frame or context created uniquely by the game the person wishes to play. He called this the “The Magic Circle” which can be both physical and/or psychological. In this circle there are special rules where you can live out fantasies in relative safety. An example would be that you could hijack a car using a firearm in a game without guilt or punishment (Grand Theft Auto), whereas if you were to do it in real life you would more than likely go to prison. A gaming researcher, Markus Montola (2005) defines The Magic Circle of play more precisely as “a voluntary, contractual structure that is limited in time and space”. To fully understand this definition you need to apply it to a game. Saints Row, on the Xbox 360, is a game that simulates you, the player, as a street thug who eventually becomes a gang lord as you go through the game. The “magic circle” of this game allows the player to mug, shoot firearms, bully prostitutes and deal in drugs, all of which are very illegal in real life.

Another prominent theory relating to the issue of play is the “lusory attitude”. Gwendoln Bradford (2003) defines the lusory attitude as “the attitude taken by the game players towards the playing of a game”. To relate this to a game I have played, Gran Turismo on the Playstation 2, has specific races where contestants can only use cars that are a particular make or speed. In order to advance in the game you have to adopt these rules and regulations to gain the victories and unlock more areas to the game. The lusory attitude is allowing yourself to go by the restricted rules even though in real life, you could use a different, quicker car and win the race easily.


Montola, M. (2005) Exploring The Edge Of The Magic Circle: Defining Pervasive Games [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Bradford, G. (2003) NOESIS Kudos for Ludus [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Friday, 16 February 2007

Week Two

One lecturer, Dr Bogost (2007) argued that games were commonly thought of as entertainment, however they are better understood through the medium of expression. Bogost believed that games are a “lens of rhetoric, the study of persuasive expression”.
In the lecture we focused on one particular game, Manhunt. It was hugely controversial because it is a very explicit and gory game, stirring up many debates. Rhetoic can be applied to this game using two main categories – the rhetoric of the representations of the game, and the rhetoric within the games itself. The rhetoric for the representations of Manhunt are often very negative. Mellisa Hodges (2004) commented that it was “excessively sadistic” - such a strong phrase conjures up very negative connotations.
The rhetoric within Manhunt is equally as negative, making out that it is acceptable to kill without sincerity or guilt, and that even the most trivial of items can be used as a murderous weapon. Aside from this, the game also shows how twisted and corrupt the government and the criminal system is as the lead character Cash, is sold to the highest bidder when he has been sanctioned by law to die for his previous convictions.

However, Rhetoric is not only a negative persuasive device, it can have quite the opposite effect. The game RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 has been represented as a fun and light hearted game, where the player attempts to keep customers happy through the design and running of a theme park.
The rhetoric within the game is also positive; it shows that if you keep people happy good things will happen to you. If you are not doing something right, you are helped through constructive criticism to help you reach your goals. There is no use of violence/aggression and it indicates that helping a neighbour will intern bring you prosperity.


Bogost, I. (2007) The MittPress The Expressive Power of Videogames. [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Hodges, M. (2004) The Northerner 'Manhunt' video game filled with rampant violence. [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Week One

A recent survey in the UK highlighted that “82% of nine to 19-year-olds have at least one games console and 70% play computer games online”(BBC Survey, 2006), so it is no surprise that many theorists have contested over a concrete definition for the term “game”. Salen & Zimmerman (2004, 96) (cited from the website below) argued that a “game” is “a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome” However, this theory does have some potential flaws. It defines a game as needing some form of artificial conflict, but it cannot be applied to a game like Pinball as it is a singular game with no crisis or mystery to solve, you merely rack up points.
Another famous theorist, a philosopher called Ludwig Wittgenstein, believed that the word “game” couldn’t be defined by one singular description or definition (like what Salen & Zimmerman had done). His main line of argument was that games don’t share all the same features, but instead overlap on recurring characteristics. One such example could be found between Poker and Fifa 2007. Fifa 2007 doesn’t involve luck, it is competitive, and there is a winner/loser. In contrast, Poker is competitive, there is an outcome and the players are heavily reliant upon luck.
Another example could be that some people would say that games predominantly need more than one player, whether that is a human or a computer as opposition - Madden 2007 or Need For Speed. However, Solitaire does not need opposition and is still classed as a game.
One counter argument to all the examples above would be that the game genres are very different, so have different gaming qualities. However, if you take “outside activities” as a game genre, throwing a Frisbee involves accuracy, various players, and there is no winner/loser but the game Stuck in the Mud, has different qualities as it doesn’t take accuracy and there is a definite winner/loser.
Wittgenstein goes further to suggest that the term “game” is much like a rope, that it is not one fixed piece of thread, instead, it being a combination of smaller string entwined together to give us a broader definition. Another way of describing it would be that the definition of “game” would be much like a family, which has resemblances of one another and is not a singular clone.


BBC Survey (2006) How gaming is all work and no play [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from:

Juul, J. (2007) "Game" From Half-Real: A Dictionary of Video Game Theory. [Online]. Retrieved on 2nd March 2007 from: