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In game design the designer and player/s are in a special kind of relationship, the game designer is the player advocate. An abusive games would be a game that “...recast the nature of play as a dialogic interplay between player and designer.” What is a dialogic interplay? The term dialogic is from a the work of a Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin and originally meant that the reader and author would be in a continuous dialog. In the case of a game this would mean that the players and programmers would have a process of communications. The authors define this type of game as “Abusive Games”.
In the paper on the ACM Digital Library, titled: “Now It’s Personal: On Abusive Game Design”, you can find it in the ACM Digital Library at a college which if you are an alumni of most schools, student or professor you might want to take a look at. With one warning: If you are sensitive to mentions of sex and related subjects, then this could be a difficult read and you might want to skip reading the actual paper and just read my blog.
But since it is a reviewed paper, I feel free to discuss some of the issues, I will skip over much of the paper examples. The main point is that there is a certain conservatism in the way games are currently designed. This is one of the only papers that I have read that references Penn and Teller.
I am not sure why the authors chose to use so many sexual metaphors and examples, the paper could have worked quite well without these references. It isn’t that I am some sort of puritan, but the paper makes a good case for the game designers to be more involved with the players, and could have done so without the many discussions about sexual themes.
Let’s get started with the main ideas:
What is an lusory attitude?
In this case, if games are about challenges, then according to the philosopher Foucault the game is also a power play. In a basic or monologic game, then players are rewarded for staying in the game boundaries and playing though challenges. Rewards are used to keep the player loop active. In this case the monologic game leads to a final conclusion.
In the abusive game design, the game becomes a form of dialogue and an interpersonal relationship between the player and designer. For the designer this is good if the designer can monetize the relationship, otherwise over time the interpersonal relationship can become abusive in another way.
The paper is a good read, and one I would assign as a reading for students, and can lead to good discussions around design and philosophy. Also, if you are a student the reference part show you the correct way to reference youtube videos.
If you are a working designer or programmer it is worth the read, but I wouldn’t go out of your way. If you want to read an academic paper that actually references Penn and Teller then this the one for you.
Proceeding: Futureplay '10 Proceedings of the International Academic Conference on the Future of Game Design and Technology
Now It’s Personal: On Abusive Game Design Authors:
Douglas Wilson Center for Computer Games Research IT University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miguel Sicart Center for Computer Games Research IT University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark email: email@example.com