Video Gaming (EL 250)

11 Jan 2006

Topics TBA.

What issues are coming up as we continue to work through Juul's book?

Leslie said she was surprised that Juul spent so much time examining games as stories. I found that noteworthy, since Juul is strongly identified with the ludological position (games-as-rules), as opposed to the narratological (games-as-stories). It might be worthwhile to visit this brief introduction to gaming scholarship, which I wrote as the preface to my notes for a conference on video game criticism that I attended in 2004.

The eight or ten pages of references in the back of Half Real should be enough to dispel the idea that video game scholarship is still scarce, though I recognize fully that in a compressed course like this, it's crucial to find a thesis that you can actually examine based on the limited information that you can actually get your hands on. Much good games research is available onine, but so are a lot of fan sites and shallow game reviews.

You may have noted that Jesper Juul is writing in a mode that differs greatly from both Brenda Laurel and Ralph Koster. How would you characterize Juul's mode? How do his goals, as an author, differ from the goals of Laurel and Koster?

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Juul believes in ludology...I got the impression that he was discussing that narrative and the fictional world were in all games. In chapter 3 though, Juul changes his tone. He sees rules as "the most consistent source of player enjoyment." Why do we enjoy being trapped though? Maybe its so we can feel clever for escaping or triumphing.

Later he further analyzes what enjoyable rules are. "No single option should be the best" "The options should not be equaly good" "The player must be able to mak an informed choice"

The only argument I have with Juul is when it comes to multiplayer games. He thinks that rules can be created to make players want to avoid one another, and these rules fail. But there is a natural response to want to win whoever that has to be done. If landing on another player's piece causes a player to lose, then maybe strategies can be created so another player will land on your piece. The number of possible strategies as mentioned before can make rules more enjoyable.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 11, 2006 10:04 PM

Perhaps I mis-spoke.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 11, 2006 10:05 PM

Keep reading Juul -- you'll see that coming up is a chapter that synthesizes both rules and stories. So in a way, we're all right about Juul. I think this is part of his careful strategy of covering all the bases and seeing what is noteworthy in both of the positions that are often presented as opposing philosophies.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 11, 2006 11:14 PM
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