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Juul - Introduction & Chapters 1-2

First Thoughts:
Where do I begin talking about Juul? In my opinion it is the most challenging text that we have read this far in the course and I can understand why Jerz chose it to be our last book. Juul’s thinking on a lot of issues really sums up most of what we were already talking about with Koster and Laurel. Sometimes he agrees with them and sometimes he does not. So far it has been harder for me to get into this book because it is what I would call “hard-science” research and talks about a lot of rules and what not. I’m not giving up on it yet though, because I’m sure I will be able to use some of Juul’s more detailed responses in my term paper or close playing.

Chapter 1:
The first thing you notice when reading this section is that Juul has an enormous emphasis on rules in games. Rules present us with challenges in a game. One quote in the first part of this chapter that I especially thought related to Koster and Laurel’s ideas about games as teaching tools was, “Playing a game is an activity of improving skills in order to overcome these challenges, and playing a game is therefore a learning experience,” (5).When Juul was talking about progression and adventure games I immediately thought of Tomb Raider, because it is the type of game that requires you to complete certain set tasks in order to progress further. This chapter also emphasized that games can be used in an array of other fields and that “to play a game is to improve your repertoire of skills,” (5). Juul also mentioned that “the player’s experience in of the game fiction appears not to require much consistency,” which I am going to reference in my close playing of Tomb Raider. In the playing I address several issues of consistency and realism in the game.

I agreed with Juul in his statement that many children’s games are not meaningful. Some of them really have no point and the rules do not even clearly define their purpose or goal. Then again you could argue that the goal to all games is fun. When Juul addressed working together in games I was also quite intrigued and it reminded me of what Koster had said about games having the ability to build teamwork. In the same regard Laurel said that social relationships could be built through games as well. Juul argues that both of these statements are valid, (19). Juul also agreed with Koster that often times the story behind video games does not really matter all that much. On pg 20, we begin to see what Koster was saying about games not being up to date in the content that they are teaching us. Juul concurs with him and suggests that video games “less commonly address the more complex interactions between humans such as friendships (think of Laurel), love, and deceit.”

Nearing the end of this chapter Juul began to talk about video games as an art form and I immediately thought of what Ebert had originally said about games not being able to ever mature to that level. “There is nothing inherent in video games that prevents them from ultimately becoming and being accepted as high art,” (21). Juul also suggested two more points that I found interesting. He said that fun lies within game play and that games are like films in the sense that they can all be interpreted differently. (Ok, so maybe this book isn’t that bad.)

Chapter 2:
This section deals a lot with the game model and Juul also trys to find a definition for the word game (a feat that both Koster and Laurel both attempted in their texts). Juul combines the previous definitions of several other people in order to come up with a 6 step comprehensive check list for what a game is composed of. I enjoyed that Juul brought up a very important point of discussion when he asked if games like Sim City and The Sims were actually games. This is what Kayla, Puff, and I have been trying to figure out ever since watching The Truman Show and playing "September 12."

Juul concluded that simulations were indeed a borderline case when it came to classifying them as a game or not. "Open-ended simulations like SimCity are not classic games since they have no explicit goals- that is, no explicit values are assigned to the possible outcome of the game, but what happens in the game is still attached to the player, and the player invests effort in playing the game," (43). Kayla, you were on the right track with your response. Another issue with The Sims/SimCity is that are games that do not describe one outcome that is better than the next.

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