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University of Wyoming Studies Video Games

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the decontextualizing-fun dept.

Education 81

krou writes "The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting story about how the University of Wyoming's English Department is helping fund a collective called the Learning Games Initiative to study video games. Jason Thompson, an assistant professor at UW who is part of the group, explains that 'it's a group of people [who] do research on games, do development on games, and keep an archive of games printed matter such as manuals, ... systems, all of it. We really look at games as cultural artifacts; things that reveal theology, things that reveal power. Things that should be studied in the academy.' The English Department has been very open-minded with the project, because they understand that gaming can educate people, and that 'we can expand our notion of what text and study is; the idea that it might be fun doesn't necessarily preclude its study.' Thompson believes that it's important for academia to study gaming, because games could be used in the future as a type of textbook: 'if games can teach, then as teachers shouldn't we understand what kind of teaching's going on?'"

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A great excuse... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31453740)

... for those who want to play games and love analyzing the shit out of games.

An academic discipline full of fanboys, I can't wait!

Re:A great excuse... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31453768)

It's better than Bull Dyke... err "Women's" studies...

Re:A great excuse... (-1, Troll)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453922)

Exactly.. What is there to study? Of course the games mold mushy minds of children, especially without the proper counter influence, precisely the same way advertising does to adults, politics being the best example. Jeezus! Every dumbass marketing agent knows how it works.

Re:A great excuse... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31453972)

Shut the fuck up, fagmaster.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456014)

If we could escape the narrow thinking on all sides -- by game programmers, by parents and politicians, and by educators -- we might realize that the interactive gaming experience can teach certain skills and thought processes much better than any traditional learning technique.

Really we have flat out failed to utilize this medium for educational purposes. Failed hard. Games used to have good puzzles. They've just been getting dumber and dumber with more explosions and guts. When they do have puzzles they are trite copies of old puzzles from titles past.

Even Prince Of Persia is more about visual recognition than thinking these days.

And it's not like these things have to be done in separate titles. You could teach someone algebraic rules without ever exposing them to an X or a Y, while they were enjoying themselves, no less.

I say keep the explosions and guts, but hide the god gun behind something you have to think to get through. If the ESRB could get over itself and offer a rating for educational content that is independent of a games puritanism score, that would be one tiny step forward and would give the developers something to shoot for. But for the ESRB I fear that would be a huge step.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457820)

And it's not like these things have to be done in separate titles. You could teach someone algebraic rules without ever exposing them to an X or a Y, while they were enjoying themselves, no less.

What, like making an RTS with races that builds units on either an geometric, logarithmic, or exponential basis? I think somebody may have done that, but I don't think they formalized the concepts as such.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31459052)

They are better at building skills that require rapid recall, organized repetition and combination, etc. It's good to have concepts like what you mention, too, but it's more the real-time application of patterns that set games apart as an educational tool.

These can be side games, or integrated into the main mechanics or maps.

(My own pet theory, that. I'd love to see what a serious cognitive science study would point out as the sweet spots for game-based learning.)

Re:A great excuse... (5, Informative)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454352)

An academic discipline full of fanboys, I can't wait!

I took a game analysis class last fall at MIT/GAMBIT, and went in with a similar attitude.

Yeah...there was a ton more reading and discussing heavy philosophy than I was expecting.

Deconstructing "fun" may seem like wanking, but it's serious business to the folks analyzing whether to gamble $50M on the next title.

Video game buyers are pretty fickle, and their answer to "what is fun" is generally "I know it when I see it". Development budgets have gotten large enough that investors need a little more than warm fuzzies before opening their wallets.

Re:A great excuse... (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31455032)

""Video game buyers are pretty fickle, and their answer to "what is fun" is generally "I know it when I see it"."

You do know that Mass effect 2 director said "listen to fans"? He said the MOST important thing you can do as a developer is listen to your fans critiques, they took a list of all the major complaints of Mass effect 1 and used it to design Mass effect 2. There are whole articles on it @ Gamasutra.

Academically analyzing games is fine, no doubt about it. But you have to remember games are huge projects and gluing those engineered pieces of work together by large teams is the hard part. Anyone with a degree of intelligence can analyze what is wrong with a game. You go to a major review site, pick the "criticism cream" of the crop (i.e. reviewers who know what is wrong with the game).

Games are developed via dialogue with one's customers. If a gamer orders steak, and you give him onions he's going to know "that's not steak".

Not all gamers are equally skilled at understanding what's broken with a game but intelligent gamers are, many gamers are better then many academics at knowing what makes a good game.

I've predicted which games will fail or be successful with a greater then 90% accuracy rate.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31455274)

Listening to the fans works pretty well for single player games. In the MMORPG context, it can, however, lead to the dreaded nerf - forum nerd rage - counternerf cycles from which no game really profits. Some independent analysis may be helpful there.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457582)

And this is why there is a big difference between merely what the fans SAY they want, and understanding WHY, as well as WHAT it is they are complaining about...

But again, we all come back to fully understanding what it is that makes a game, a GAME - which isn't fully understood at this point, (which is why there are so many 'problems').

Re:A great excuse... (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31455420)

list of all the major complaints of Mass effect 1 and used it to design Mass effect 2.

That's fine for developing sequels, but that's not where the money comes from, because a string of lucrative sequels can't exist if you don't get the first game right.

In the class, we studied quite a few of the developer post-mortems from Gamasutra. A common theme in those articles are the gut-wrenching wild-ass-guesses that need to be made when breaking into a new genre. Fan feedback is pretty useless if you are not building on what your fans have experience with.

Since the article is about trying to break into an area littered with epic failures (educational gaming), he's not going to get much input from fans beyond a history lesson of what went wrong. That won't tell him how to do things right. By this point all the low-hanging fruit is gone; all of the obvious ideas have been tried. You aren't going to succeed here on the strength of one cool idea you came up with 5 minutes ago.

This is why some hardcore philosophical analysis of games is actually needed; educational gaming has run out of nifty ideas that can be thrown against the wall to see what sticks.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456070)

" A common theme in those articles are the gut-wrenching wild-ass-guesses that need to be made when breaking into a new genre."

Hahah well I don't buy that shit that "it's soo hard", almost all new IP's are retreads with reskinned lore/graphics.

MASS EFFECT 1 was an FPS with RPG stuff tacked on, ME2 was gears of war in the mass effect universe.
Fable = action rpg, nothing really "new" about it except the universe.
Dead space = another pseudo- thid person FPS from the third person.

All these new properties are little more then action games and same tired old tropes, where's the innovation?

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457602)

Break into a new genre, not invent a new genre.

You can't ask your fans how they like your shooters if you've never made a shooter before and you can't "reskin" previously successful education games if all educational games suck. The best you can do is find out why previous games sucked and say "don't do that", which isn't the logical equivalent to "do something both fun and educational".

If you hadn't quoted GP, I'd have thought you responded to the wrong post.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457018)

“fun” is actually well-defined in the game design business.
Fun is happiness with surprises.
Happiness is when something that does you good happens. (Mindset/biomass expansion/improvement/preservation. Even if only virtual/simulated.)
And surprises are when something happened that you didn’t expect. (The more differing from your mental model’s predictions, the more surprising.) With surprises you learn something new. And that is usually an advantage.

Hence the reason that combination makes us feel exceptionally well.

What you usually do that for, is to solve problems / achieve goals (really the same thing).
Either in reality. Or with a good toy, as training/preparation for your mental model.

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457710)

And, again, we see more symptoms of the problem my paper, (will, hopefully), be there to solve...

Fun, is defined mainly by things we DO, and the consequences of doing them.

GAMES, are about things we DO. None of what was said above about fun is tied to things we do, and therefore isn't precise enough:

I could just stand there and have people throw money at me - I'd certainly be happy and surprised, but if I don't have to DO anything, is it really 'fun'?

I have a MUCH better way of explaining all this, but it's too closely linked with my paper, and so wouldn't mean anything apart from it :-/

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462816)

I've been thinking about this, and I've come to the conclusion that neither of us are right - the truth is actually somewhere in the middle...

Although I was talking about fun in the post above purely as related to games, I've been trying to think of it in a more general sense...

Fun is about us being fully active or reactive in an activity we enjoy doing - (makes us happy). Anything which is totally passive, therefore doesn't really count as being 'fun', merely 'enjoyable' - (i.e. passively watching films, listening to music etc.).

When an activity is passive, i.e. something that happens TO us, the only way for it to be 'fun', is for it to have a physical 'reactive' element to it, and it's here that surprises become necessary, in order to force us to to physically react. The main types of activity I'm thinking about here, are of course fairground/theme-park rides etc. - although they're still things that really happen TO us, it affects us in such a way, that forces us to physically react, and it's this that makes it 'fun'.

When it comes to activities that are purely active, however, i.e. things we DO, such as dancing, games etc., then because we can have some, even full control over the activity, surprises are not fully necessary in order for it to be 'fun'.

But yes, I still have a better way of explaining it...

Re:A great excuse... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457506)

Unfortunately, we still have a very big problem at this time, lying at the centre of ALL of this, but I'm trying to write a paper about it, and so can't really discuss it fully (:-/).

Suffice to say, that at this moment in time, GAMES, (as a whole), are NOT fully understood/recognised for what they are... Things such as game theory etc. cover the psychological aspects underpinning the mechanics of games, (i.e. how and why they work), but don't fully explain what they actually ARE, and how they fit in and are related to everything else we do. (Which is exactly what my paper is about).

So yes, even though we can discuss games from a psychological, (and from there, biological), and philosophical perspective, it's still NOT enough, and so I REALLY need to get this paper written (and published) - but I'm finding it really hard.. (I need help - I have NO academic background at all, and it shows :-/ ).

Re:A great excuse... (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31481930)

Wondering if you've read Rules of Play, by Salen and Zimmerman. Really opened up my thinking about what games and fun are and how to create them within a game.

I've been reading up on a few things... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31504080)

(though not that one), but to be honest, (although this may seem like I'm blind with arrogance ;) ), I don't think I really need to.

The reason why, is simple:

I have found two extremely simple and basic fundamental problems within the English Language.

One of these problems has lasted for over 800 years, since it isn't recognised to even exist. (Until now ;) ). The other problem has ALWAYS existed, and from what I can tell, is NOT just limited to the English Language, and again, has never been recognised for what it is, (again, until now ;) ).

In fact, given the nature of the problem, if ANY common language had solved the problem by now, then why haven't we just borrowed the solution from them, (such is the nature of the English Language)?

The problem with so many books dealing with such matters as this, is that they CAN'T HAVE a proper foundation upon which to build ANY simple theory and definition of games, simply because the (English) language as it currently exists DOES NOT SUPPORT IT, (the way we need it to).

(And if you think games are the only area with such problems, think again).

Again, the paper I need to write and publish will explain all of this, and provide the solid foundation upon which almost EVERYTHING can be built/re-built, but...

Re:I've been reading up on a few things... (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506738)

You're heading into mad scientist territory, although in your case it's more like mad social scientist. Best of luck.

Re:I've been reading up on a few things... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31509548)

mad scientist? No-where near, lol.

What I have is something SO basic and simple it's ridiculous. Here's an analogy:

Imagine a world where people only knew about birds when they were flying overhead, and so, because of that, they defined birds not just for what they are, but also by the ACT of flying.

Imagine that this then caused problems when it came to fully understanding other animals and objects that can also fly.

Imagine then, that someone came along later - (800 years later!), and pointed out that within the language itself, (i.e. how it is used), a bird, (or any other object), and the act of flying are treated completely SEPARATELY from each other, and therefore defining a thing, (a noun), by it's application, is simply inconsistent with the rules of the language, and therefore wrong.

Because of this, that person then wondered if such a thing, a bird, could actually EXIST independently of such an act, and then, after some exploration, found that they DID. (He found them simply sitting there on the ground or in their nests, and even walking around - they were not flying, yet they still (obviously) exist).

Because of this, people then were fully able to recognise and understand how all the things that can fly, are now fully related to each other within the language, and so can now fully understand and define them for what they are.

And it was all because of the way they defined one thing in a manner that was inconsistent with its use within the language.

Such is the nature of the problems I've found, (and am trying to write a paper about).

Heh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453788)

I wonder if having a name so similar to Jack Thompson caused any problems for this guy...probably not, but who knows?

Re:Heh (1)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453890)

Omg I just skimmed the summary and thought I read "Professor Jack Thompson". I almost fell out of my chair.

Re:Heh (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453994)

Same problem, I got partway through his quote when my brain just locked up the gears and said "Wait a minute, there's no way JACK thompson said this." and went into reverse.

I'm still wondering whats up with his defense of Mass Effect though, he goes after The Sims for child pornography and then says he's got no beef with ME and the whole issue is ridiculous and blown out of proportion. Has to have been an april fools joke or something.

Re:Heh (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454570)

Jason Thompson...Jack Thompson's smarter brother.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

Re:Heh (1)

jthomp32 (1766286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31460582)

Maybe smarter nephew? The guy's almost 60--the Rosenbergs where on trial when he was born.

Re:Heh (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456282)

I wonder if having a name so similar to Jack Thompson caused any problems for this guy...probably not, but who knows?

His first study was entitled "Why do people keep punching me?" Unfortunately, he concluded that gamers _are_prone to violence.

Re:Heh (1)

Perrell (1766226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31459938)

It's come up around the water cooler once or twice ;)

Re:Heh (1)

jthomp32 (1766286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31460536)

Nope, never did. Besides, that other Thompson--I could take him.

English Departments (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31453792)

with nothing better to do.

Take a good look down the tracks. Your department will be
deleted. At least you'll be able to play video games if you can't work as drone in their production.

Yours In Ufa,
Kilgore Trout

Fuck you, kdawson,:you suck cock, you suck cunt (0, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453814)

Your son's a faggot and you're daughter's an Iranian. /obscure?

Re:Fuck you, kdawson,:you suck cock, you suck cunt (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453834)

::Ace Ventura voice:: Obsess much?

And what's wrong with sucking cunt?

Re:Fuck you, kdawson,:you suck cock, you suck cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31454026)

And what's wrong with sucking cunt?

What's wrong is that the article doesn't appear to say anything about porn games.

Wonderfully insightful (4, Insightful)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453850)

Challenging status-quo thinking has always met with resistance. It is refreshing that the university is embracing a non-traditional approach to thinking about education, and the opportunities for education that exist in the current media children and students are actively embracing.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (4, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453964)

I have found, overall, that the majority of resistance to change comes from older people. The younger you are, the easier it is to adapt your thinking because you haven't been conditioned to "how things should be" yet. A perfect example is this onion I wear on my belt.

Now, get off my patch of yellowed, mostly dead vegetation, you damned kids...and take your stoner dog with you.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453990)

Universities tend to be the place where this kind of "out of box" thinking takes place.

However, just because an approach is tried doesn't mean it filters down to the rest of the education process.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (-1, Flamebait)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454474)

Universities tend to be the place where this kind of "out of box" thinking takes place.

Really? Because Fox News and the Teaparty loonies seem to be convinced that Universities are where they indoctrinate the next generation of socialists.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (-1, Flamebait)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454714)

I always laugh when I hear them complaining that there are so many liberals amongst college professors, as well as among journalists.

I always want to ask if they ever think it might mean something that all of the best educated and best informed people have such a strong tendency to disagree with them...

Re:Wonderfully insightful (-1, Flamebait)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454772)

I always want to ask if they ever think it might mean something that all of the best educated and best informed people have such a strong tendency to disagree with them...

I find it funny that being intelligent is now looked down upon, at least in the Republican/Conservative part of the political spectrum. "What? You have multiple degrees? You elitest!"

Sigh.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457166)

Exactly. And actually, scientifically, games ARE education. They are the original natural form of education. How we are meant to learn.

School has taken out the fun (and hence the natural drive that made us learn all by ourselves) and replaced with drill (blind following/belief and repetitive execution). Which is obvious for a system that has its origins in being military drill, but for children. (Bismarck invented it for just that purpose.)
Seen in the long term, school is the non-traditional form. Games are there since before humanity exists. Just look at young animals, like dogs and cats, playing.

Which is why I really hope, we will get back to that. There is no better deal than games. Every child wants to play them. Now all we have to do is make them about things that are useful for humans. Hunting is not so much useful anymore. But social skills are extremely useful. Leadership skills are. Interestingly, MMOs are very close to that already. I think they are for that very reason.
But math, physics, language, and all the old stuff, should be just as fun.
A good game about those topics is one, that kids play because they WANT. Not because they have to.

Re:Wonderfully insightful (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457352)

Actually, humanity always learns in BOTH directions - including things we do - (which of course covers games) - as well as things that happen TO us...

This is all related to paper I'm (trying) to write, that helps to explain how and why everything fits together. (I need help :-/ (I've never tried to write anything like this before)). If you read some of my past postings on slashdot - you'll see some of the process I went through to figure things out). (And what I have is IMPORTANT).

White Noise (1)

warriorpostman (648010) | more than 4 years ago | (#31453914)

"I understand the music, I understand the movies, I even see how comic books can tell us things. But there are full professors in this place who read nothing but cereal boxes."

Delillo, White Noise

So, class, what have you learned? (3, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454020)

they understand that gaming can educate people So... what lessons have we all learned from playing World of Warcraft, etc.?

Actually, I believe if you play as a team, you do learn valuable lessons about how to organize a team of diverse individuals over the internet to achieve a common goal, and that does help prepare you for connected knowledge work in the future. Unfortunately, I almost always play solo, in which case it is little more than mental masturbation.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454492)

If you are able to achieve the same goal solo in a game where others have to band together as a team, that also trains you in a different manner. You would be more than likely to think "outside of the box" when presented with a problem and explore all none-intended options.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454558)

You know, as damaging as WoW can be, it does actually require a good deal of skills that children could benefit from. When you look at lower-class students in middle and high school especially you can see some benefits.

I mean, to play WoW you need to be able to:

  • Read
  • Do mathematics
  • Solve complex reasoning problems (building a character

These really are pretty good things to teach children, to speak nothing of the teamwork aspects. WoW is a lot of things, but it is not a mindless diversion.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31455310)

Give them Anarchy Online instead of WoW, if you want them to do maths and solve complex reasoning problems. That game had the maddest skill/equipment system ever. I fondly remember scribbling 3 pages of calculations to find out in what way to insert one implant...

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456022)

Yeah, there are things I'd far rather do than play WoW, and are far harder. But the point is that playing WoW requires basic skills in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, and that we have an unfortunate number of students that lack these skills. Even something as questionable as WoW could have a purpose in spurring them to basic proficiency.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31459708)

Excellent points all- we actually have two machines set up for WoW at the lab so that we might look at exactly these things. Of course, the social aspect is interesting too, but the reading and writing are key game elements often overlooked.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (1)

MaximvsG (611212) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454590)

So... what lessons have we all learned from playing World of Warcraft, etc.?

The finer points of ninja looting.

Re:So, class, what have you learned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457036)

VBS (Virtual Battlespace), VBS2 and the like are excellent examples of what a fun game can become. Serious Games aren't just some half ass second life environment. There are real and valuable reasons why virtual training and learning is so vital. The mindset of the knowledge centers in various disciplines needs to change as they still think it is mental masturbation, however it is rather well documented that this can be a very important and even life saving method of training.

Check out Paul Roman's talk: http://ctsds.psav.com/itsec/mpeg/roman/
Here is a site that seems to gather this sort of information as well: http://battlegroundsims.com/

I say if you can increase situational awareness and survivability in soldiers going into combat with a video game, it is worth looking into.

No Respect (0, Offtopic)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454188)

This is why I have no respect for "higher education".

Re:No Respect (0, Flamebait)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454810)

You have no respect for it because you don't understand its goals?

Because you don't think there will be a difference between reading a brief summary on Slashdot and taking a full semester course in which one learns about anthropology, literature, philosophy, religion, history, and everything else they're going to have to use in such a class?

Re:No Respect (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31485512)

I do understand it's(higher education) goals. I've been through it, in fact I attended the top ranked engineering school in the country, and made the deans list. All of the subjects you mentioned are not education. They are interpretations. Most of the professors, I'll admit there were a select few who were brilliant, didn't come prepared to lectures. They just rambled meaningless drivel. The ones that were brilliant were vilified by the rest of the underachievers.

The goal of higher education is for a bunch of lazy professors to mooch off of the taxpayers.

Not the best job ever. (3, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454192)

no job can be the 'best job ever'. remember this : once you start doing something as job, it starts to be less 'fun' every day on and on, until at one point becoming a mere job itself.

no exceptions. it goes that way because people tend to dislike things that they are doing mandatorily and regularly, instead of doing them whenever they want to do them and desire to do them.

for any job to not go down the same way, the person needs to have a passion, an obsession with that particular job/activity. however, this is the reality for only a tiny percentage of global population. and we generally end up seeing them as prominent members of their fields, if they work in a field that has any media coverage or peer recognition.

Re:Not the best job ever. (3, Insightful)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454844)

no job can be the 'best job ever'. remember this : once you start doing something as job, it starts to be less 'fun' every day on and on, until at one point becoming a mere job itself.

no exceptions.

I pity you.

Re:Not the best job ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31455106)

Speak for yourself. What data do you have to support any of your conclusions? Also, what's with this?

no exceptions

this is the reality for only a tiny percentage of global population

So which one is it in your disturbed world view?

This is hilarious (3, Interesting)

Klatoo55 (726789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454202)

I was actually a classmate of one of the two guys doing this (Aaron Perell) and I distinctly recall being incredulous when he described a project he was working on as "playing a lot of video games." It's funny to see this get thrown on to the CSM, since I got the impression that it was a minor exercise to keep bored college IT folk occupied. Hopefully this ends up producing some interesting research so we can justify further studies of this nature - to the delight of grad students everywhere.

Re:This is hilarious (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454784)

Hopefully this study would actually increase the quality of story lines in RPGs today. There are plenty of games that have incredible graphics, but the stories behind all those graphics are so horrendous that we just throw our hands in the air and rage quit.

Script writing for games are very different from writing books, that is obvious. However, those scripts are also very different from movie scripts, and game developers do not get that. I see plenty of games with cheesy third rate action flick movie scripts that they bring down the over all experience of games.

Presentation is also important. I see plenty of games use self-coined terms out of nowhere, then throw you a gigantic codex so you can dig through walls of text just to figure out what the hell they are talking about. That's like failing composition 101 where the professor requires you to write introductions. You don't just throw key details into the bibliography and call it a day.

So yes, hopefully this study can improve these points.

Re:This is hilarious (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457738)

Note - GAMES are NOT about TELLING stories, so I don't know why learning how to make a better game would involve telling a better story?

Unless things have changed... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454348)

TFA:

Perrell explains that he sees great potential for video games to be used in the same capacity as today's college textbooks.

Seldomly?

Re:Unless things have changed... (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454652)

Graduation requirement: StudentScore of 4500+ and a minimum of 20 achievements from each class in your major.

Re:Unless things have changed... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31456480)

To get into the graduate program, you have to grind your faction reputation with the Faculty Clan.

Re:Unless things have changed... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454678)

... as overpriced, required purchases that the teacher never ends up using in class?

... as ways for the teacher to push up the sales of things they wrote?

see also (1)

Jodka (520060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454386)

Video gaming is already the subject of academic study elsewhere, for example see this summary of work by Daphne Bavelier, "Action Video Games Sharpen Vision 20 Percent" [rochester.edu]

Maybe (2, Informative)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454422)

This project might produce interesting results, depending on how they run things. Theology? Well, some Japanese games had references to Christian theology removed when brought to Western countries, including early Castlevania games and more recent games like Grandia 2 and Maken X. Politics? Poly Play, developed in Communist East Germany was awful (yet popular, since there wasn't much else to play there), but Tetris, developed in... wait for it... Soviet Russia became a cultural phenomenon. Then there's the supposed North Korean arcade: http://www.ukresistance.co.uk/2008/09/inside-north-korean-arcade.html [ukresistance.co.uk] Culturally, there's the usual topics of sex and violence in games. And increasingly, ethnicity and gender. Big whoop.

I just hope it doesn't turn out to be just like other university subdepartments dedicated to "specialty" studies, home to a bunch of self-righteous blowhards who don't really know what they're talking about.

Re:Maybe (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454878)

I just hope it doesn't turn out to be just like other university subdepartments dedicated to "specialty" studies, home to a bunch of self-righteous blowhards who don't really know what they're talking about.

*sigh*.....yeah..... but it will.

There's a lot about video games that's interesting, but I seriously doubt these people will focus on those things. Really, games are formal mathematical systems. It could be interesting to study them as such.

Re:Maybe (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457780)

Well, I've been studying games all by myself, never been to university, and can definitely claim I probably understand them for what they are as well as anyone else. If only I could get this damn paper out of the door, it would certainly help... :-/

That's nothing... (0, Troll)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454624)

I've lived through the video game era.. (Yes, I'm that old!) No need to study what I experienced first hand.

Re:That's nothing... (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31481286)

Dunno why this is modded troll, but I love your arcade restoration site page.

test (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454864)

post

Life Cycle ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31454920)

TFS: "... because games could be used in the future as a type of textbook..."

In ancient times: "Life is the best teacher"

Technological progress enables mankind to virtualize life into a perfect game.

...

CC.

Re:Life Cycle ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457704)

Heh, I've got a factory layout simulator(identifying choke points for product flow and people movement) that is actually quite fun, if you try to break it like people do with The Sims. Port-a-potties on the roof, fire escapes for primary entrances, infinite loops in the conveyor belts, etc.

Unfortunate name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31455202)

Heh. I saw "Jason Thompson" and at first I read "Jack Thompson."

I hope... (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31455340)

I hope he is no relation to Jack

Re:I hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31459546)

I hope he is no relation to Jack

He's not ;)

You insensi7iave clod! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31455362)

juggernaut either The wind aapeared

this treatment of games needs to be encouraged (1)

debrisslider (442639) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457238)

This kind of systematized academic attention to games is long overdue, specifically in the soft sciences and humanities. Video games have now become the most profitable means of entertainment, and it is kind of amazing that so little attention is paid to them in terms of serious academic study. As a literature grad, I can tell you that many of the books I've devoted serious academic effort to have print runs that would make shovelware developers for the DS laugh. Although that's kind of an apples-to-oranges comparison (for the purpose of building analytical skills, there's nothing wrong with examining a minor work, it actually is valuable to be unable to find any prior critical work to build off of), it could help raise the esteem and perceptions of relevance for the discipline outside the Academy.

The vast majority of games have a pretty shallow narrative structure, but there are still themes, relationships, ideologies, moralities, and philosophies encoded into the choices and actions we are presented with (or instructed to make) over the course of the game. And that's not even considering the larger context of cultural markers and meanings games are embedded in. As games grow in both popularity and narrative/cultural sophistication (were we presented with choices like 'kill innocents to maintain your cover with the terrorists' before this decade? Is that a function of a maturing playerbase demanding 'realism', more awareness of the importance of moral choices by developers, shifting cultural beliefs about terrorism/warfare/entertainment in the face of omnipresent concerns this decade?), there is a lot of fertile ground to be mined in artistic and cultural criticism, and a much wider scope for psychological, sociological, and educational research. Games are not innocent or 'harmless' and have the same capacity for meaning as any fairy tale, comic book, film, or nightly news report. Actions in a video game can be seen as 'natural' consequences, rather than as constrained choices in a constructed system, much like books and films and Fox News (or any other news network, though Fox are the true masters of narrative-building) reports; what happens is justified by the internal logic and prevailing ideology of the narrative - and if you think you can see through them easily and they have no impact on your ways of thinking, just look at how many people here quote Ayn Rand or Heinlein in their sigs*. When the generation that grew up with video games from birth reaches 40, I wouldn't be surprised to see ideological quotes from games there; though games are much more indirect and admittedly don't have nearly as many choice soundbites, I wonder if the fact that a player is performing the actions himself is more psychologically effective than simply being exposed to a narrative (although the narrative depth and sophistication of even the best games pales in comparison to even merely decent writers of fiction).

We give toddlers toys to build reflexes and train physical functions, but also to help build mental pathways for things such as seeing differences in colors and shapes, cause and effect, and rudimentary knowledge of currency and careers; we can see video games as toys as well in this sense, built to entertain, but also to develop and test critical thinking and reasoning skills (well, decent games do) and to allow players to take on various roles in the world (be it mayor or covert operative). In order to build more educational games, we need to NOT look at them as textbooks but more like a laboratory. Games are for doing, not reading; hypertextual footnotes to a textbook are okay. Like conventional textbooks, however, there are implicit and unstated assumptions built into the structure of games; in order to be successful as educational tools, you need to examine the entire superstructure to try and build what you want to teach into the very playing of the game. This must be how we see games as education, not merely computerized flash cards posing math questions or multiple-choice answers providing a small playtime reward. There is a game the army is developing to teach officers how to manage villages in Afghanistan; there is a village full of people you can talk to, each with a bunch of multiple-choice questions and consequences for each one (not just in the Bioware friendly/neutral/hostile tripartite fashion). The game teaches you what to ask and how to ask it; the lesson is developing diplomacy skills through a simulated interaction, not language skills by learning rote translations.

*Okay, it's a chicken-and-egg thing here, did the person's beliefs come before or after they read the book, and of course one book doesn't (hopefully) determine the course of a person's beliefs, but we've all known that kid who got into libertarianism because he read some Heinlein at a formative age, and cumulative exposure to an ideology helps cement that way of thinking into a person.

Beats the other wyoming past times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31457524)

This means our university now has a 3rd major! what an excellent addition to meth and alcohol

At the other UW (University of Washington)... (1)

Merc248 (1026032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31457586)

... there's a game studies collective called the "Critical Gaming Project" (http://depts.washington.edu/critgame), which is ran by a few English graduate students. I've taken a class from them once, and it was interesting to see what sort of ways we can actually read into games. We've read stuff from Henry Jenkins from USC (he used to be at MIT's Media Lab for a decade I believe), Espen Aarseth, etc. Games studies is still an emerging field, and there seems to be a lot of interesting things coming out of that field of work.

Video Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31458112)

Studies University of Wyoming in Soviet Russia!

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