Finally, After Much Searching

This is our copy of Koster’s 10th Anniversary Edition of his book, A Theory of Fun.  There are some small differences between it and the first edition that I want to discuss next week.  (I’ve got a dozen copies of slightly different versions of the first edition, but could not find this copy anywhere at home.  Eventually, I discovered that it was on a USB drive plugged into our XBox360 — which seems like an odd place to keep books, but there you go.)

Meanwhile, I ask that you carefully read (and, where useful, take notes on) at least 4 chapters from the book.  You may select any four chapters (from Chapter 1 to Chapter 12, inclusive).  I will expect that you will be able to speak about what Koster says in those chapters with familiarity.

Theory of Fun for Game Design

Reading for 20 October

First, please make sure that you send me, via email, your notes and/or presentation regarding how you would “ludify” or “gamify” the car barn. I want to be able to address each of those in the specific on Tuesday, and then we’ll mod some of them.

Additionally, for Tuesday, I’ve posted a book (JP Wolf, Building Imaginary Worlds) containing some material I’d like you to read. The book is generally very good, but here are the only parts you *must* read (if you choose to read more, so much the better).

Wolf, Mark JP. Building Imaginary Worlds pdf-icon

Read the whole Introduction (i.e., through page 24);

Read the whole of Chapter 1 (i.e., through page 59);

Finally, please take a few minutes and create a list of FIVE of your favorite imaginary worlds / the most interesting imaginary worlds you know well. (It is much more interesting if you pick ones about which you are passionate; don’t bother choosing ones that don’t matter to you).

Bring the (physical) list to class with you. Please BE PREPARED to make use of the ideas in JP Wolf’s first chapter in order TO SAY SOMETHING about some of those worlds. For example: How does one of your examples demonstrate its “consistency” as a world to fans, readers / audience members? Would you say the world is “complete”? What makes you think that it is / is not? Does immersion play a role in fans’ appreciation of that world? Would you characterize it as a true “secondary world”? If so, what links it to the “primary world”? Etc. You’ll come up with better questions, I’m sure: I just want you to see where we’re headed.

NB: Again, I am adjusting our syllabus to better reflect the route that we are slowly carving out, rather than merely sticking to the one I had planned. I feel as though there is too frequently a lack of shared points of reference among us, and so my hope is that these adjustments will better develop a mutual and sustainable perspective on our subject.

Reading for the 1st Week of October

For the first week of October, I ask that you read — carefully, completely — the following few texts. Their focus is on the idea of Architecture without determinism. In the same way that we have been trying to conceive of media as an ecology, as a network of meaning, the idea in these pages of “psychogeography” represents one way that some people sought to push back against the logic and vocabularies that are “required” of anyone living in a modern Western urban environment.

Hart, J. “A New Way of Walking.”

Debord, Guy. “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography”

Smith, Jeremy. “The Situationist City.”

Wil Wheaton on SAG-AFTRA

The frameworks with which I engage games and entertainment technologies are generally removed from the day-to-day concerns of, say, running a games studio, or earning income as an actor.  There are some who do:  MacKenzie Wark’s excellent Hacker’s Manifesto manages to be a philosophical treatise, a critique of the digital economy, and a call for creatives to recognize their shared interests in producing and distributing their output.

But nothing happens in a vacuum, of course:  There are urgent issues in the game industry, for example, that will have very practical, visible effects on the directions that output from this industry takes in the near future.  Understanding these matters may be useful to you later.

Here, Wil Wheaton (who appeared regularly in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and who is, by all accounts, a pretty good guy) shares his thoughts on what is at stake in the SAG-AFTRA negotiations.

Read Wheaton on SAG-AFTRA

Reading and reminder

For next week’s first game design workshop, please read the first four chapters of Fullerton’s text, roughly pp. 1 – 109.  The text is linked below.  It may sound like a lot of reading, but it is not:  There are copious photographs and illustrations, lots of sidebars, and extraneous material that does not matter (skip the “Designers You Should Know”,  and so forth).

This material is not for distribution beyond this course.

Bonus: Extended Theme!

Friend of the Show and CCT student Ramon says that the surveillance and gamification essay prompted him to think of this 2012 film short, “Sight.”  It’s a very slick, sexy 8 minute film that surely got some of those filmmakers hired by Microsoft Research.  (Most of the Microsoft Research films, created by a team within the Office group at Microsoft, focus on productivity and are, well, not much fun).

The film is clearly engaged in mounting an argument, but it is ambiguous enough that I have trouble sussing out how I’m supposed to feel by the time the short is over.  I’d be interested in hearing your take on it on Tuesday.  My first question would be this:  To what — or whom — does the film’s title refer?

Readings (Week Three)

Updated again: 20 Sept 6:30AM

I’ve revised these readings to reflect better the shift of our course to make “user experience” (UX) a more signal part of our project.  The list below includes videos, academic articles, and blog posts.  The material is very accessible and won’t take long to consume.  Don’t hesitate to take notes as you go along and bring questions to class!

Be sure to pay attention to what is required from the two categories below.

Required (Choose 3 of 3)

Bogost, Ian. 2011. “Gamification is Bullshit.” pdf-icon

Deterding, Sebastian. 2011. “Video Lecture: Meaningful Play: Getting Gamification Right.” youtube

Zicherman, Gabe.  2014.  “Neil deGrasse Tyson Interviewed by Gamification Expert Gabe Zicherman.” (Includes bonus tie-in to my “flat starship ontology” comments!youtube

Optional (Choose 2 of 4)

Bogost, Ian. 2011. “Persuasive Games: Exploitationware.” pdf-icon

Schell, Jesse. 2010. “Video Lecture: Making Sense of Facebook (Jesse Schell at DICE2010).” (Please watch all three parts!) youtube

Whitson, Jennifer. 2013. “Gaming the Quantified Self.” pdf-icon

Zicherman, Gabe. 2010. “Video Lecture: Fun is the Future: Mastering Gamification.” youtube