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Ask Gaming [Designer, Professor, Gadfly] Ian Bogost

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-about-a-nice-tax-system-game dept.

Social Networks 57

Ian Bogost is a professor of game theory at Georgia Tech, a game designer, a prolific writer, an entrepreneur, and a bit of a prankster. These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga. Wired has a fresh article up about Bogost (which cleverly embeds a sort of micro version of Cow Clicker). It also mentions another game — my favorite of his projects — that should be on the mind of every TSA employee, the 2009 release Jetset. Ask Ian about clicking cows, being an academic provocateur as well as a participant in the world of gaming, and breaking into the world of social gaming. (Please break unrelated questions into multiple comments.)

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Yo Bogo... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451472)

Do you get more hot-bitch action than Zynga executives?

Part of the problem (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451498)

How does it feel to be part of the downfall of good games for the sake of shitty flash junk that people call "games" today?

Re:Part of the problem (3, Insightful)

spektre1 (901164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452644)

I just want to point out that Cow Clicker was made as a response to the shitty flash games that you're talking about. And amazingly, sadly, and happily became rather successful, despite it being a simple, transparent version of everything that's "wrong" with shitty flash games. That should tell you something about how we judge game design.

Clicking on real cows is far more satisfying. (3, Funny)

Baeowulf (1872730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38451504)

And offers much more feedback.

Re:Clicking on real cows is far more satisfying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38469170)

You’re darn right it does! But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.--From Moncler Jackets [monclerjacketshere.com]

game theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451546)

You mean "videogame theory". Game theory is something else.

Is Facebook A +4, H5N1-Infected (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451586)

covert operation for the C.I.A [youtube.com] ?

Thanks in advance.

Yours In Minsk,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

Start with a 'facebook' game or a regular website? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451594)

I lead an enthusiastic clan of RuneScape players, and they tend to have a pretty broad interest in gaming and game development. As the lead programmer/IT guy for the clan, I'm frequently asked about programming and how to go about doing it.

I'm considering setting up a fairly basic "mafia wars" type of game for them to expand and update, coded in python/html5 and running on google app engine for simplicity's sake. Python has a huge amount of self learning resources out there, and putting a python project on GAE is my go-to method for getting a project up and running quickly.

Should I encourage them to move into building a facebook app, or should I encourage them to keep it a standalone website?

On the one hand facebook gives better potential for expanding their user base, but on the other there's the 30% fee for using facebook credits and their horrible API documentation. While I want to keep things as straightforward as possible for them, I would like to see their game accumulate a decent number of players so they can show it off.

Re:Start with a 'facebook' game or a regular websi (1)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453112)

Having halfway developed a Facebook app, I have to say that it was a most painful experience with terrible documentation and at least two, possibly three APIs that would sometimes be used interchangeably, in concert or conflicting. A lot of the documentation contained outdated information using deprecated functions and features. Halfway through development, I found an important feature that would have been very useful to my app had been discontinued and that another feature which would be essential to my app was potentially on the chopping block with no adequate replacement.

I'd have to say that it's not a good place to start for novice coders.

Re:Start with a 'facebook' game or a regular websi (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453840)

I'd suggest setting the game up standalone with your own engine APIs, programmed in whatever, and the rest of the game coded on top of those. That way if you ever want to move to facebook all you have to do is change the engine APIs to use Facebook API calls rather then whatever they were using before. It won't be easy but it'll smooth the transition.

Re:Start with a 'facebook' game or a regular websi (1)

ieatcookies (1490517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455556)

If your game is meant to be social I'd put it on Facebook.

Fun. (1)

RubberChainsaw (669667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38451696)

What is fun?

Re:Fun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452152)

Well, fun is like collecting huge wads of data on people, then correlating it and using it against them later on, for your own gain. Fun!

Re:Fun. (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452428)

what is "using it against them"?

Re:Fun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453998)

Oh, you seem like the kind of person that will find out first hand soon enough LOL.

Zinga just came public. (0)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38451760)

Did you buy any shares?

Object-Oriented Philosophy (2)

void*p (899835) | more than 2 years ago | (#38451796)

Can you explain the connection between Object-Oriented Philosophy and videogame theory? From what I understand Object-Oriented philosophy is an attempt to move away from Continental, "correlationist" metaphysics -- and yet language used to explain and talk about it is very much steeped in speculative Continental philosophy. Does videogame theory require a metaphysical framework? Do you see a place for "analytical" traditions, which are leaning more heavily on cognitive and neuro-scientific findings?

Re:Object-Oriented Philosophy (3, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457772)

Could someone please tell me whether or not this is meant to be a piss-take?

Re:Object-Oriented Philosophy (1)

void*p (899835) | more than 2 years ago | (#38463168)

No, it's just a regular question.

Ian who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451822)

I've got one question: Who are you?

Re:Ian who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452188)

A guy trying to use Slashdot as a jumping board to get attention.

Re:Ian who? (1)

risom (1400035) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457814)

If you would have read the least bit about game design or video game theory you would have recognized that name.

What do you think of James Franco? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451840)

I understand you may be working on some sort of joint project with him in the academic world. Is he the rockstar that he appears to be?

When will the cows come home? (1)

johnny boy (129702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452010)

What did you do with all the cows your players created?

Did you have a secret bovine factory?

Did you have a favorite cow?

Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name games (4, Interesting)

siphonophore (158996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452106)

What do you think of AAA studios exploring more moral grey areas (e.g. hostage shooting airport level in COD:MW2) as a form of procedural rhetoric? Do you think players' natural tendencies of (in this case) non-violence toward innocents is solidified or shaken by simulating such acts?

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453656)

In video games, when given the choice of killing innocents or not, you usually take the choice of doing the one that involves the most gameplay, and which is usually also the most rewarding in terms of points/achievements/items/whatever.

It has absolutely nothing to do with morality. It's a virtual world centered around the player and it is clearly apparent that you are the only person of any importance.

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454250)

It's ... centered around the player and it is clearly apparent that you are the only person of any importance.

So pretty much like reality.

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454270)

Maybe, assuming you're a god.

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (1)

siphonophore (158996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455254)

Bogost's book argues that simulation is a form of persuasion, e.g. read it hear it virtually see someone do it virtually do it yourself do it yourself. the axiom is that doing something is the best way to persuade your opinion of it.

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (1)

siphonophore (158996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455460)

should read Bogost's book argues that simulation is a form of persuasion, e.g. read it (is less than) hear it (is less than) virtually see someone do it (is less than) virtually do it yourself (is less than) do it yourself. the axiom is that doing something is the best way to persuade your opinion of it.

Re:Procedural Rhetoric in morally-gray big name ga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457902)

Speak for yourself, I pick the "good guy" option except in special circumstances (such as going for an achievement/trophy).

Spam promote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452124)

Sounds like you are trying to spam promote someone totally insignificant that nobody has heard of into the spotlight.

Simple, yet... complex. (1)

RPGillespie (2478442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452208)

I want to develop a board game with a rule set that is simple but allows for unique gameplay and complex strategies to be developed (think chess). In your opinion, at what point does a game become too complex for casual play and start to be for dedicated gamers only (i.e at what point does chess become starcraft)?

Correction (1)

KerrickStaley (2423808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452368)

"videogame theory" is not game theory Just sayin'

Yo, Ian! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452514)

How does it make you feel to know that over an hour and a half after the article's release you still don't have a solid 10 questions? Welcome to the new and improved Slashdot.

Re:Yo, Ian! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452556)

Everyone's too busy calling him a forgettable nobody!

Re:Yo, Ian! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453636)

Everyone's too busy calling him a forgettable nobody!

It's because we all wish we could be employed at a respectable research institution as a video games expert.

Re:Yo, Ian! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453582)

I know who he is. I actually read his book Racing the Beam. Fantastic book. The only thing I really want to know is when we can expect the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis to get the same treatment.

So I really liked his work as a video game historian. As a video game theorist, I'm not so sure. Take his book/game "a slow year". Supposedly a blending of video gaming and poetry, in an attempt to make an artistic video game. But honestly, video games need poetry about as much as a fish needs a bicycle. It's like he took all the fun out of video gaming and replaced it with pretentious posturing from the art world, and then he slapped a $500 price tag on it. This isn't progress. My view is that Yar's Revenge is a more beautiful and more profound work of art by far. The best examples of video game art will be those that excel at doing what video games do best.

So yeah, I know who the guy is. And I have things to say about his work, but they don't fit nicely into the "Ask Slashdot" formula. Feel free to edit this appropriately if it gets submitted to Ian.

Interesting Mechanics? (2)

spektre1 (901164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452692)

Hi Ian! Can you comment about game mechanics that you wish designers explored in more depth?

Skinner Boxes (2)

Catiline (186878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452990)

I have long described both MMO gaming and Facebook social games as being a "well-padded Skinner box" for their staggered/random reward system. Do you see any possibility for anything else to eventually replace this model?

Summary wrong (3, Interesting)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453162)

The summary needs to be fixed, game theory is not the study of video games. (Bogost doesn't describe himself as a "professor of game theory", whoever wrote the summary does)

Re:Summary wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38460318)

Game theory is definitely tied to economics.

Parallel Programming (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453268)

Have you run into any issues involving parallel programming in game design, and how did you over come them?

If you could change.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453550)

one thing about the development of the first video games, what would you change and why?

Procedurality and Digital Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453592)

Is procedurality the one, true, core affordance of Digital Media? (ie as opposed to Murray's 3 others?)

Bullshit and Representational Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453594)

Is it possible that the concept of Bullshit, as laid out by Harry Frankfurt, takes on a peculiar meaning when applied to systems? Frankfurt's concept of having no concern with truth or reality applies readily enough to gamification's advocates and their promises, but what about the system itself? Can a system bullshit a person into believing something?

Frankfurt's discourse on 'bull sessions' is relevant in that he says the participants are trying out various thoughts and attitudes in order to see how it feels. That there are no beliefs being communicated, tasks are disconnected from legitimate motives, or that it is empty of meaning. In light of your arguments in 'Newsgames' about the validity of using systems to communicate other systems, what is the effect of a bullshit system?

And if such a thing does exist, given the properties of bullshit, how do you distinguish when something like simulation gap isn't bullshit itself?

Game play (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453778)

1. Is playing a "hard coded" interaction/action in humans?
1.1 Following from, that; is it human not to play at all?
1.2 If it is, is that necessarily abnormal?

2. Do you see any merit in the popular conjecture that playing "social games" leads teens/humans to less violence whilst playing "non-social" games towards more violence? (Arbitrary example; WoW players vs Manhunt players)

3. Are MMORPGs exploit/encourage a tendency towards "gaming addiction" as a means to achieve more profit and if so, what are the popular ways to do so?

Thank you for your time.

Relevance... (2)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453920)

So, he's written one FB game and we get to ask him questions to make him feel important?

I've talked to, worked with, and met mod developers with more experience in the video game industry. Not to poopoo, but this really feels lackluster. I understand it takes a lot to get experience in the video game industry and it must be really hard finding developers that actually want to teach after being through the gauntlet, but this makes me weep a bit. It's like talking to a professor that hasn't really spent any time working on a dissertation or who has no real in depth work. It really makes me question how meaningful any of his responses will actually be outside of personal opinion anyone can have simply by watching the video game industry from the outside and reading about it.

Re:Relevance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457736)

This guy is one of a handful of guys who pretends to be relevant but have done nothing of note. Their main (and probably only) talent is self-promotion. So yeah, you're basically right.

Persuasive game elements (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454224)

Dr. Bogost,

My question revolves around trends in the "gamification" of tasks as used by government, corporations and others. I am curious what you feel about the persuasive elements that may or may not be used in these endeavors. I've noticed this holiday season to some sites seem to have attempted to use some gaming elements in very persuasive ways. I haven't really looked to closely into government sites lately, but I'm sure governments around the world are already starting to adopt them. Understanding the power of this is kind of disturbing, particularly when you see how governments, etc. can abuse this. So my question is what, if any recommendations would you give to social activists looking to develop counter-gaming or ways to identify and inform others about these elements? Given the subtle nature of some of these elements, how difficult a task is it to identify these elements in games?

Sorry for the long strange question but thanks in advance!

are you on the DARPA domestic surveillance project (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454318)

, namely, the ADAMS and PRODIGAL projects? what were the ethical debates inside the CS department about accepting this money for doing this work?

do you think the world is better off knowing about the corruption and incompetence uncovered by Wikileaks?

do you think Bradley Manning was guilty of Aiding the Enemy?

why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456656)

These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga.

This was almost a sentence.

yak (1)

smccullough (447186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457054)

I would like to click a yak... how does that make you feel?

- Stewart McCullough

god clicker (1)

smccullough (447186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457100)

what is the most spiritual experience you have ever heard of someone having while playing a video game?

-Stewart McCullough

Places where 'gamification' is good? (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459808)

At the closing plenary for the 2011 IA Summit, Cennydd Bowles called out the whole 'UX' (User Experience) community as a whole, in that the role that most of them play is in trying to get people to spend more time on websites and buy more stuff, rather than doing stuff that really improves the world. You've taken a similar stance on 'gamification', but there's at least two groups (Zooniverse [zooniverse.org] and FoldIt [fold.it] ) using it for good as they're helping to advance science. Can you think of any other situations where we could use video games to improve the world at a grand scale, and not just simple 'edutainment'?

Tabletop Gaming (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38468844)

Is there a bridge between tabletop gaming and video gaming?

I design tabletop games and RPGs, and sometimes when I'm designing something I realize it would all work better as a video game. Do you feel the same way sometimes when you're designing real time games to want to make them turn based or tabletop games? Is there a link between the two industries in a professional way? Can workers from either industry cross over?

Is it all just absurd? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38548658)

You satirize the meaninglessness of compulsive-click based games, but what would you say is your larger point in doing so? Do you think that "big" video games (for instance, ones with complex plots and characters, cooperation among players, etc) are all that much better, or would much of the same critique apply?

(Sure, they're not quite as mindless, but they still mean that people are spending time and money to withdraw from reality to some extent, and substituting made-up, arbitrary goals for interacting with other people. Is it purely happenstance and convenience that means you've made a certain point with social games, rather than, say, remade Catch-22 as a FPS?)

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