Tuesday, 6 March 2007


All humans strive for rewards in life, be they short or long term. This process of striving for rewards is also found in the area of games. Digital game designers use reward within their games in order to keep the player interested, and to ensure they continue playing. Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You (2005, p.33), suggests that the appeal of video games is not through the possible sexual or violent content, but due to the fact that the structure of video games tap into the brains reward centre.

Hallford and Hallford (2002) believe there are four types of reward, these are rewards of; Glory, Sustenance, Access and Facility. A reward of glory can be seen in a game such as the original Pacman arcade game, where the player strives to 'eat' small dots and fruit in order to gain points. However, the point aspect of the game has no impact of the levels. The reward of sustenance can be seen in the game Doom, throughout the levels, rewards of extra life and armour are given to increase the characters life. The third reward is that of access. This can be seen in the game Pacman World 3. The character of Pacman is sent to try and save the world as it is about to end, and to get through each level, the player must ensure Pacman reaches certain points in the game, that will enable him to open new levels, such as jumping on button to allow access to the next level. The forth and final reward the Halford and Halford believe exists is that of facility. This can be clearly seen in the game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007. Throughout the game the player has to earn points in order to improve Tiger's ability to play.

Overall, reward is a something all humans want and strive for, and digital games are a way that the brain can achieve this need and want for reward.


Johnson, S. (2005) Everything Bad Is Good for You: London: Penguin Books Ltd.


Johan Huizinga is author of the book 'Homo Ludens' (1938). The term 'homo ludens' translates to 'playing human.' (Mornhinweg, date unknown). The term 'Magic Circle' originally derives from Huizinga's Homo Ludens (1938), and refers to the state that a player is in when playing a game, this can be both physical (for example children playing a game of chase) or psychological (Digital gaming). The term 'Magic Circle' tends to capture the boundries of a game, and the rules set within it. Within the 'Magic Circle' there are special rules in which you can live out fantasies that would usually be either impossible to do, or illegal. An example of this can be seen in the game Grand Theft Auto, where the player is able to hijack cars and kill pedestrians, without punishment or any feelings of remorse. Salem and Zimmerman define the 'Magic Circle' as: "inscribing a place that is repeatable, a space both limited and limitless. In short, a finite space with infinate possibility." (95, Rules of Play).

Another important aspect of 'play' is that of 'lusory attitudes.' Bradford (2003) defines the Lusory Attitude as: "the attitude taken by the game players towards the playing of the game." The lusory attitude is the attitude that a player takes when deciding to enter the magic circle of a game, it means they must accept the rules of play, and enter into contract between players that these rules will be adhered to. Within the game Grand Theft Auto, players are unable to gain entry into all areas of the game, as they must complete tasks to unlock certain areas. The lusory attitude within this is the fact that a player must adheer to the rules of the game, to enable themselves to be able to move to different parts of the city, where as in real life, it is unlikely that a person would be locked out of parts of a city.


Mornhinweg, M. (Date Unknown) Retrieved on 6th March 2007 from the World Wide Web:

Whitehead, J. (10th January 2007) Definitions of Games and Play, Retrieved on 6th March 2007 from the World Wide Web:

Bradford, G (2003) Kudos for Ludus, Retrieved on 6th March 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/pcu/noesis/issue_vi/noesis_vi_3.html

Further Reading:

Thursday, 22 February 2007


Rhetoric refers to persuasive language. The word derives from the Greek word 'teacher', and is classically known to be the art of persuasion via oral communication (Wikipedia). Rhetoric and what it stands for has, however changed over the past 2500 years. Rhetoric can not only be verbal, but visual, written and behavioural aswell. Rhetoric can also be applied to many different areas, including the arena of digital games.

With the ever increasing popularity of digital gaming over the past ten years, and the ever expanding array of digital games avaliable, there has become increasing interest in the effect that certain games are having on the players minds. One specific game that caused a huge controversy is that of 'Manhunt.' 'Manhunt' was released by Rockstar Games is 2003, and is an extremely violent third person action game, which requires the player to get the the main character, James Earl Cash, through a series of violent attacks. All the while this is being filmed by a movie director for a snuff movie. After having first hand experience of playing Manhunt, I can confirm that the game is extremely violent, and rather scary at times. Rhetoric can be applied to the game Manhunt, as the message that the game is conveying is that it is ok to kill, and there is nothing one should stop at if they are willing to do so. There was such controversy over the game when it was first released, that it was even blamed for fuelling the murder of a teenager by another teenager. The game is even banned in Australia, New Zealand and Germany.

Not all games however have such a negative rhetoric. The game 'Animal Crossing' is represented and advertised as a relaxed, simple, lighthearted game. The player simply guides the character, a rather cute little creature, through the game, and attempts to find bells to decorate the characters house with, or collecting fish and bugs. The rhetoric within the game itself is also possitive, the pace of the game is slow and laid back, and proves that all you need to do is keep the character happy, and complete simple tasks, and everything else tends to follow. The game is not intended to aggitate or stress the player out, like many games do, but to calm the player and offer them some sort of escape from the rat race of everyday life.

Author Unknown (Date Unknown) Rhetoric, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 22nd February 2007: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetoric

Wednesday, 7 February 2007


One of the leading philosophers of the 20th Century was Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein. Although Wittgenstein was interested in how words and concepts, such as language worked, he had no interest for 'games' as such, but believed that all words work like 'game'. He stated that games do not all share the same features, although most do have overlapping similarities. The easiest way to understand this is to compare the concept to that of a family. Most members of a family will have similar features, such as the same nose or eyes, although they will be different in many ways as they are individual people.

After playing numerous digital games and looking at the games avaliable on the market at the moment, I can conclude that there are many different types of games avaliable, but all seem to have the same ideas. If we look at what a game actually is, a general consensus would include ideas of there being an aim or goal, rules, interaction, a winner and loser, and a challenge, also, games are generally designed to be fun for the player, and can often become addictive. After playing both the games 'Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories' and 'Loco Roco' on the PlayStation Portable, I distinguished that although they are two very different games, there are certain similarities between the two. 'Grand Theft Auto' is a rather violent game, which requires the player to complete tasks in order to unlock new parts of the game. Loco Roco is a more relaxed, slow paced game, which requires the player to use the PSP keys to tilt the figure on the screen to move along the course and collect objects to enable the character to grown and gain weight, and allow it to further its position on the course, and move through the levels. It could be said that GTA would appeal more to a male audience, with its heavy involvement of guns and other weapons. Where as Loco Roco could be seen as more of a female game with its pretty, colourful backgrounds, and cute main character. Although, as mentioned previously, both games are extremely different on the surface, when looking deeper into the purpose of the games, it would appear, as Wittgenstein stated, the games do have similar features. The purpose of both games is to move further onto different levels or parts of the game, by overcoming obsticles such as other characters, or by avoiding certain parts of the course. Both games require tact and skill, and over all require the player to use this to gain further status within the games.

As Wittgenstein stated, the concept of the term 'game' has blurred edges, although it is still useful, and although many games are extremely different at first glance, most have the same basic motives and ideas.

Richter, D. (Date Unknown) Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Retrieved on 7th February 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www.iep.utm.edu/w/wittgens.htm