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Games as Social Activities


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Title: Games as Social Activities

Games as Social Activities

But first some practical stuff
  • Exercise 3 later today
  • Same procedure as last time
  • Use supervision time
  • Find me in my office
  • Remember low fidelity testing next week
  • 10.00-15.00 Tuesday
  • Contact me if you need specific materials
  • Meet at Torg 3 (here)

Todays lecture
  • How Can Games Affect Us?
  • Ethics and Games
  • Serious Games
  • Todays lecture focuses on the aspects of playing
    games where it is important that humans are
    playing it

But first a game or three
  • By Edward Castronova

Game 1
  • N coins in the middle
  • 3 Players
  • Object Get coins
  • Each round, each player may remove coins from the
  • A player cannot take more than N/3 coins
  • Start
  • Moves are written on a piece of paper
  • The papers are shown at the same time
  • The coins left in the middle are doubled
  • If N lt 3, the game ends, see who wins
  • Otherwise play again, go to Start

Game 2
  • As game 1 but
  • A extra player
  • Player 4 taxes each player 1 coin per round
  • Player 4 commands the other players before moves
    are recorded
  • Players who disobey are killed and replaced
    with new players

Game 3
  • As Game 1 but
  • All players may suggest 1 rule per round in
    clockwise order
  • All players vote on the proposed rules, first
    rule with a majority vote goes through (and no
    more suggestions that round)
  • Any player may accuse another player of breaking
    the rule after coins have been distributed
  • Trial by jury of the other players
  • Condemned players are killed and replaced

Which game do you prefer?
  • Why?

What is the most efficient regime for banning
players who break (implicitsocial) rules?
Response A I do not care that players break
the rules
Response B I should be free to do whatever I
Response C The group must not decide.
What if these games are models for anarchy,
dictatorship and democracy?
  • Do you want to change your opinions or arguments?

Games can model reality
  • Players can bring opinions to the game, and
    depending on the rules approve or disapprove with
    what happens
  • Is this true?
  • The experiences within the game can affect the
    players outside the game if they are aware of the
  • Is this true?

Games can model reality, cont.
  • Game mechanics
  • Common resources
  • Tragedy of the commons
  • Voting
  • Banning
  • Castronova uses these games to make points about
    real-world laws
  • And blurry lines, e.g. property in MMORPGs

Some game-like cases
Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Students volunteers
  • ½ guards
  • ½ prisoners
  • Random selection
  • Rules
  • No physical violence
  • Paid 15/day
  • Dehumanization
  • Given a number
  • Physical exercise
  • Stripped naked
  • Sleep deprivation
  • The Lucifer Effect (2007), Zimbardo. P

Milgrams Obedience Experiment
  • Paid to be technician
  • Help in a study of memory and learning
  • Apply shocks to trial people when told to by
  • Range from 15 to 450 volts
  • 150 strong shock
  • 315 extremely intense shock
  • 450 XXX
  • Trial people actors
  • The Lucifer Effect (2007), Zimbardo. P

Milgrams Obedience Experiment, cont.
  • 2/3 of the test people went to 330 volts
  • where no sounds came from the actors
  • Nearly all continued to 450 volts
  • Pre-experiment poll
  • few (average 1.2) were prepared to inflict the
    maximum voltage
  • Colleagues believed very few subjects would
    progress beyond a very strong shock

How Can Games Affect Us?
  • or Can Games Affect Us?

Two views from Media Studies
  • Active media theory
  • The media affects the user
  • Through its content
  • Typically studied through empirical experiments
  • Active user theory
  • The user interprets the media
  • Based upon previous experience
  • Typically studied through studying/interviewing
    the users

Raph Koster
  • A Theory of Fun
  • Games are about cognition, and learning to
    analyze patterns
  • Fun is the bodys way of rewarding the brain for
    learning something

Jonas Linderoth creating meaning
  • Study of children playing games
  • Focus on how they create meaning while playing
  • Using the concept of frames (from Goffman)
  • Five patterns of interaction
  • Frame oriented towards Rules
  • Frame oriented towards Theme
  • Frame oriented towards Aesthetics
  • Frame oriented towards Internal Dynamics (between
    the other Frames)
  • Frame oriented towards External Dynamics
    (primarily how other activities relate to the
    Theme frame)

James Paul Gee learning principles
  • Looks at games as specialized activities
  • All specialized activities develop own set of
    meaning becomes a semiotic domain (similar to
    the concept of frames)

James Paul Gee learning principles
  • Active Critical Learning Principle
  • Agency
  • Design Principle
  • Semiotic Principle
  • Semiotic Domains Principle
  • Metalevel Thinking about Semiotic Domains
  • Psychosocial Moratorium Principle
  • Crawfords and others points about safety
  • Committed Learning Principle
  • Identity Principle
  • Self-Knowledge Principle
  • Amplification of Input Principle
  • Special Effects
  • Achievement Principle
  • Closures
  • Practice Principle

What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning
and Literacy
James Paul Gee learning principles, cont.
  • Ongoing Learning Principle
  • Regime of Competence Principle
  • Flow
  • Probing Principle
  • Reflection in Action
  • Multiple Route Principle
  • Interesting Choices
  • Situated Meaning Principle
  • Text Principle
  • Intertextual Principle
  • Multimodal Principle
  • Material Intelligence Principle
  • Tool use
  • Intuitive Knowledge Principle
  • E.g. Muscle memory
  • Subset Principle
  • Incremental Principle
  • Flow

James Paul Gee learning principles, cont.
  1. Concentrated Sample Principle
  2. Bottom-up Basic Skills Principle
  3. Explicit Information On-Demand and Just-In-Time
  4. Discovery Principle
  5. Transfer Principle
  6. Cultural Models about the World Principle
  1. Cultural Models about Learning Principle
  2. Cultural Models about Semiotic Domains Principle
  3. Distributed Principle
  4. Dispersed Principle
  5. Affinity Group Principle
  6. Insider Principle

Different types of learning?
  • Tacit knowledge
  • Craft skills
  • Explicit knowledge
  • Can be readily transmitted to others
  • Typically tested in educations
  • For experiences to become explicit knowledge one
    must become aware of them
  • After-action reports

Ethics and Games
What possible ethical problems exist with games?
Questionable content
  • Sexist
  • Racist
  • Homophobic
  • Bigotry
  • Inappropriate for the target audience

Questionable purpose
  • Advergaming
  • Product placement
  • Militainment
  • Americas Army?
  • Spreading the attitudes shown in the content
  • Making Money?
  • Wasting Time?

  • Types
  • physical dependence
  • psychological dependence
  • Typically refers to
  • Substance misuse, but sometimes to activities
  • Negatively affects social and professional
  • Requires negative effects
  • if there is no harm being suffered by, or damage
    done to, the patient or another party, then
    clinically it may be considered compulsive, but
    to the definition of some it is not categorized
    as addiction
  • Activity done to get endorphins dopamines
  • Released by the brain when activity is done
  • Ways to classify addiction
  • Salience
  • Importance of experience in life
  • Mood modification
  • Activity affects mood
  • Tolerance
  • Increased doses required
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Unpleasant emotions when separated from
  • Conflict
  • User enters conflicts with surroundings, other
    activities, and self due to experience
  • Relapse
  • User quickly reenters habits even after
    substantial breaks

Video Game addiction (Wikipedia) a form of
psychological addiction related to a compulsive
use of computer and video games, most notably
Historical perspective on the critic of games
  • Most new media have been seen as problematic in
    some way
  • Video games
  • Social networking sites (e.g. My Space)
  • Rap music
  • Role-playing games
  • Videos
  • Heavy Metal
  • Arcade Halls
  • Comic Books
  • RocknRoll
  • Swing
  • Jazz
  • Goethe
  • Literacy (re Phaedrus by Plato)
  • Moral Panic
  • Can be described as not understanding the
    semiotic domain of the new medium

Ways of looking at Ethics
  • Utilitarianism
  • What good does an act do
  • Different forms
  • Act-utilitarianism
  • Rule-utilitarianism
  • Deontology
  • Some duties requires one to always act in a
    certain way
  • Contemporary Ethics
  • Rights
  • Negative Rights
  • Positive Rights
  • Absolute Rights
  • Prima Facie Rights
  • 400 rules
  • Principalism
  • Several Prima Facie Rights
  • May lead to different outcomes due to
  • Communitarianism
  • Emphasize community over individual

Ethics in relation to design
  • Changes in society can put ethical values into
    focus as they are challenged
  • Jones definition of design
  • initiate change in man-made things
  • Introduction of new designs affect individuals
    and society
  • Examples of Values
  • Privacy
  • Physical
  • Informational
  • Decisional
  • Accountability (culpability)
  • Of Actions
  • Of Effects on Others
  • (freedom of) Bias
  • In Gameplay
  • In Theme
  • Autonomy
  • Power Structures
  • Choice of When to Play or to Not Play
  • Addiction
  • Universal Access

Ethical Challenge 1
  • What ethical challenges can The Sims cause?
  • Values
  • Privacy
  • Accountability
  • (freedom of) bias
  • Autonomy
  • Universal Access
  • What principles lie behind these objections?

Ethical Challenge 2
  • What ethical challenges can World of Warcraft
  • Values
  • Privacy
  • Accountability
  • (freedom of) bias
  • Autonomy
  • Universal Access
  • What principles lie behind these objections?

Ethical Challenge 3
  • What ethical challenges can Mind's Eye Theatre
    (Vampire LARP) cause?
  • Values
  • Privacy
  • Accountability
  • (freedom of) bias
  • Autonomy
  • Universal Access
  • What principles lie behind these objections?

Possible causes for conflicts regarding games
  • Misunderstanding
  • Different Semiotic Domains (re Gee)
  • This time Ill kill you!
  • He killed me. No, I cant say that. If he killed
    me I could not have said He killed me as I
    would have been dead. laugher (re Linderoth)
  • Actually Different Ethnical Principles
  • Is this then a problem of medium or content?
  • Do games have some inherent ethical principles?
  • Sensationalism
  • Making money or gaining attention to pointing
    something out to be a problem

Positive (or neutral) voices on video games
  • From

Some views on the effect of video games
    OF THE LITERATURE" -- Washington State Department
    of Health Office of Epidemiology
  • "At present, it may be concluded that the
    research evidence is not supportive of a major
    public concern that violent video games lead to
    real-life violence."
  • "taken together, findings suggest that media
    violence has a relatively small impact on
    violence." Specifically with regard to the
    research on video games, the report stated that,
    "The overall effect size for both randomized and
    correlational studies was small for physical
    aggression and moderate for aggressive
    thinking....The impact of video games on violent
    behavior has yet to be determined."

Some views on the effect of video games
  • Many of the games with violent content sold in
    the United States and some with far more
    violence are sold in foreign markets. But the
    incidence of violent crime in these markets is
    considerably lower than in the United States.
    This suggests that the cause of violent crime
    lies elsewhere.
  • Violent crime, particularly among the young, has
    decreased dramatically during the 1990s while
    video games have steadily increased in popularity
    and use. From Killing Monsters (2002)
  • Certainly video games havent had any significant
    impact on real-world crime. The research on
    video games and crime is compelling to read,
    said Helen Smith, forensic psychologist, youth
    violence specialist, and author of The Scarred
    Heart. But it just doesnt hold up. Kids have
    been getting less violent since those games came
    out. That includes gun violence and every other
    sort of violence that might be inspired by a
    video game. (p167)

Some views on the effect of video games
  • Durkin, K., Barber, B. (2002). Not so doomed
    computer game play and positive adolescent
    development. Applied Developmental Psychology,
    23, 373-392.
  • On several measures including family
    closeness, activity involvement, positive school
    engagement, positive mental health, substance
    abuse, self-concept, friendship network, and
    disobedience to parents game players scored
    more favorably than did peers who never played
    computer games. It is concluded that computer
    games can be a positive feature of a healthy
    adolescence. (p.376)
  • Durkin, K. (1999). Computer Games and
    Australians Today. Australian Government Office
    of Film and Literature Classification.
  • Despite several attempts to find effects of
    aggressive content in either experimental studies
    or field studies, at best only weak and ambiguous
    evidence has emerged. the accumulating evidence
    provided largely by researchers keen to
    demonstrate the games undesirable effects does
    indicate that it is very hard to find such
    effects and that they are unlikely to be
    substantial. (p.36)

Negative views on video games
  • Mainly referenced by other side (the esa) or

Some views on the effect of video games
  • The present research demonstrated that in both a
    correlational investigation using self-reports of
    real-world aggressive behaviors and an
    experimental investigation using a standard,
    objective laboratory measure of aggression,
    violent video game play was positively related to
    increases in aggressive behavior. In the
    laboratory, college students who played a violent
    video game behaved more aggressively toward an
    opponent than did students who had played a
    nonviolent video game. Outside the laboratory,
    students who reported playing more violent video
    games over a period of years also engaged in more
    aggressive behavior in their own lives. Both
    types of studiescorrelationalreal delinquent
    behaviors and experimentallaboratory aggressive
    behaviors have their strengths and weaknesses.
    The convergence of findings across such disparate
    methods lends considerable strength to the main
    hypothesis that exposure to violent video games
    can increase aggressive behavior. (Anderson
    Dill, 2000)

Some views on the effect of video games
  • Jack Thompson, US Attorney
  • Violent video games have repeatedly been used by
    teenagers as murder simulators to rehearse
    violent plans
  • In every school shooting, we find that kids who
    pull the trigger are video gamers
  • Points to scientific studies that show teenagers
    process the game environment differently from
    adults, leading to increased violence and copycat
  • Part of the impetus for violent games comes from
    the military for a way to disconnect in the
    soldiers mind the physical act of pulling the
    trigger from the awful reality that a life may

Serious Games
Serious Games
  • Origins
  • Serious Games, Clark C. Abt. (1970)
  • ...a game is an activity among two or more
    independent decision-makers seeking to achieve
    their objectives in some limiting context.
  • Claims
  • games can simulate simplified versions of reality
  • play these can let people understand variables,
    causes, and effects
  • Current meaning
  • Games that are created for other purposed than
    entertainment alone

What can Serious Games be used for?
  • Brain Age
  • IQ test made into a game
  • Built upon model for how to train brain
  • Common Sense DS Adult Training
  • Learn etiquette
  • Learn vocabulary regarding economy and IT

Training, cont.
  • Guess my Robot
  • Program sequences
  • Create challenges
  • Test challenges by sending robot to creator of
  • Rabbit Numberline
  • Limited set of actions
  • Collect all carrots in minimum numbers of move

Training, cont.
  • Americas Army
  • teach values
  • recruitment tool
  • propaganda device
  • Class-based Team play
  • Always play US army
  • Strict penalties for team killing

Training, cont.
  • Foreign Ground
  • Teach cultural conditions
  • Teach environment conditions
  • Allow dialogue and action
  • Single side played
  • Fuzzy results
  • Intended for use with after-action review
  • No reward system
  • Make a point that
  • Simulations are about what is happening
  • Games are about players experience of what is

Games for Change
  • September 12th
  • Statement about war on terrorism
  • Gameplay
  • Can destroy terrorism with weapons
  • Innocent bystanders likely to be killed
  • Each innocent bystander killed generates more

Games for Change, cont.
  • A Force More Powerful
  • Teach non-violent methods to overthrow
    dictatorships, colonizers, etc.
  • Secure political and human rights for minorities
  • Can also be seen as a training game

Games for Change, cont.
  • Food Force
  • UN games about food distribution
  • Several different types of missions
  • Scouting
  • Delivering 1
  • Delivering 2
  • Resource Management

Games for Change, cont.
  • Global Conflicts Palestine
  • Reporter in Palestine from neutral country
  • Gameplay
  • Explore environment
  • Talk to members of both sides
  • Create stories
  • Maintain journalistic neutrality?

Games for Change, cont.
  • UnderAsh
  • To turn Arab children away from American video
    games featuring US soldiers killing Iraqis and
    Afghans, a Syrian publishing house has designed a
    video game on the Palestinian uprising, or
  • The new game is called Underash, and its hero is
    a young Palestinian stone- thrower, Ahmed,
    fighting Israeli soldiers and settlers.
  • UnderSiege
  • UnderSiege is about the modern history of
    Palestine and it focuses on the lives of
    Palestinian family between 1999-2002 during the
    second Intifada. All levels are based on true
    stories and we look forward to publish it all
    over the world on PC/windows platform.
  • Can also be seen as a training game?

Games for Change, cont.
  • Darfur is Dying
  • Play family member in refugee camp
  • Described not as a game but as a "narrative
    based simulation."
  • Two modes
  • Fetching water while avoiding militia
  • Handle crops build huts

Games for Healthcare
  • School Food Trust
  • UK-based organization
  • Sonic-style gameplay
  • Junk food makes you slower
  • Healthy food faster

Games for Healthcare, cont.
  • Rehabilitation of stroke patients
  • Diagnosis
  • Personalized training
  • Gameplay extremely easy
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Memory
  • Neglect

Games for Healthcare, cont.
  • Therapy
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
  • Controlled environment to face siutations
  • Examples
  • High Anxiety
  • Experiences of bus bombs
  • 9/11

Games for Healthcare, cont.
  • Emergency 112 (911)
  • Mobile phone game
  • Teaches first aid techniques
  • Gameplay
  • keep vital functions in emergency situations
  • prevent cardiac and respiratory arrest
  • know how to access to the medical emergency
    services system

  • Sudoku
  • With a theme
  • Monopoly - star wars saga edition

Advergaming, cont.
  • Burger King games
  • Sneak King
  • Pocket Bike Racer
  • Big Bumpin
  • Costs 4 each
  • One review
  • I really expected them to be more "Ad-like" in
    that BK crap would become annoying quickly.
    Instead they happen to simply have BK crap in

Advergaming, cont.
  • In game advertising
  • Simply inserting ads into games in fitting places
  • Example company
  • Massive, Inc.

Where more examples can be found
  • Wikipedia under serious games
  • What has not been covered
  • Games for political campaigns
  • E.g. used in American elections and by Centern in
    the latest Swedish election
  • Persuasive games
  • Games that try to change players opinions or

More reading
  • An overview
  • Datorspel och skadlighet en forskningsöversikt
  • Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen Jonas Heide Smith
  • Exists translated from Danish to Swedish
  • "Att leva i World of Warcraft" av Jonas Linderoth
    och Ulrika, Mediarådet (2007)
  • Personal account
  • Dear, William C. The Dungeon Master The
    Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, 1984.