I found the week 7 lecture on systems quite provocative and thought it would be helpful to collect some thoughts in the form of a blog post. It seems like a worthwhile process to respond to weekly lectures with a blog post summarizing my thoughts and response to the material, for later evaluation.
In no particular order:
I am interested in the concept of synthesis – that games and indeed any digital product can synthesize a virtual artifact and through multiple iterations of machine learning, overcome the uncanny valley effect.
The inclusion of taxonomy trees was interesting. I’m particularly interested in the lexicon of game development vocabulary, given that the field is relatively young in comparison to other more established disciplines, such as law, medicine, history and philosophy.
The lecture asserted that systems are structures to define and organize multiplicities and this rings true with me, but I do wonder what the antithesis of a system might be – an aesthetic? It also asserts that games offer a liminal space between real systems and a fantastic version. But not all digital products have to be fantastical to be virtual. In fact, simulations are a valid tool for projecting both real and virtual problems.
Real world systems often provide a good reference for a virtual system and I am curious to explore how such systems might be subverted. Systems can also be visual – akin to a particular art style in a game or other digital product.
Delueze was a helpful point of entry to the discussion, but he was a product of his time – it would be a mistake to classify philosophical insights of the industrial age as up to date thinking in the digital 21st century – for e.g. he saw human beings as machines. Machines have a prescriptive purpose. The human experience is in many ways distinct from the automated or machine world.
Ways in which the human experience differs can be looked at in terms of decision making. Dan Gilbert offers an insightful talk about how bad humans are at remembering and estimating Here:
One maxim commonly encountered in game design is that fundamentally, by engaging with a game the designer has created, the player submits to the will of the designer. But design is much more prosaic and indeed, it is completely valid for designers to create systems which can be subverted via emergent gameplay. Many sandbox games such as Minecraft, Factorio, Satisfactory et al. allow the player to create fantastic artifacts in a virtual space, which far extend beyond the scope of the likely design extent. Here is an example of a calculator created within Minecraft game and here is a visual rendering of a popular music video within Factorio.
This leads me on to my challenge for the week:
Prepare material for a Cultural or Societal system as a theme.
I’m interested in the notion of player motivation. Nick Yee has outlined a helpful taxonomy of player typology here and has recently been exploring player motivation with player segmentation here , and I will likely explore this subject in future academic research. Although clearly very good, there are a number of flaws in his thinking, principally it doesn’t take into account decision making as outlined above and also tries to fit players into one category. Human experience is much more fluid and changeable with a huge number of factors swaying our thinking on even a moment by moment basis.
Prepare material for a Technical or Aesthetic system of production.
I’m quite interested in the idea of synthesis and machine learning, particularly in trying to understand whether machines can synthesize human decision making, to the point where human and AI decision making can become indistinguishable.