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Author Topic: THE first moral decision in gaming  (Read 2749 times)

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James Edward Smith

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2010, 03:12:18 PM »

SOME ONE SPLIT ALL THIS SHIT OFF INTO AN OTHER TOPIC.

THEN BURN IT.

PLEASE.

Also, I present the following you tube as the official youtube of "thread instantly derailed into old forum argument".

Funny RC Airplane Crash
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jsnlxndrlv

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2010, 03:59:13 PM »

I don't think Zaratustra was intending to present some sort of absolute exclusive be-all-and-end-all dichotomy of DEATH||PIE as the only valid activities for videogame depiction; the impression I got was that he was making the simplest statements necessary to imply something sort of like what Lee-Ham was saying here, which is in critical danger of being overlooked by the fact that we're all terrible at deescalation:

 
Games are competitive or at the very least represent competition. That's their nature. The most fundamental and visceral way to win in a competition is to destroy your opponent. When wolf cubs play, they play at killing each other. It has nothing to do with ego or power-tripping or moral choice, it's simply the way our mammal brains are wired to learn survival skills.

For reference, two other concepts that are just as common in games as killing are:
Gather the food, or the money/gems which are symbolic of food.
Rescue (fuck) the princess (ideal sexual partner)

Without sounding too much like an evolutionary psychology asshole, it's not a huge stretch of the imagination to see why that might be.
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Pacobird

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2010, 04:31:07 PM »



This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification.  Seen so, war is the truest form of divination.  It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence.  War is god.

Brown studied the Judge.  You’re crazy Holden.  Crazy at last.

The judge smiled.

Might does not make right, said Irving.  The man that wins in some combat is not vindicated morally.

Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak.  Historical law subverts it at every turn.  A moral view can never be proven right or wrong by any ultimate test. A man falling dead in a duel is not thought thereby to be proven in error as to his views.  His very involvement in such a trial gives evidence of a new and broader view.  The willingness of the principals to forgo further argument as the triviality which it in fact is and to petition directly the chambers of the historical absolute clearly indicates of how little moment are the opinions and of what great moment the divergences thereof.  For the argument is indeed trivial, but not so the separate wills thereby made manifest.  Man’s vanity may well approach the infinite in capacity but his knowledge remains imperfect and howevermuch he comes to value his judgements ultimately he must submit them before a higher court. Here there can be no special pleading.  Here are considerations of equity and rectitude and moral right rendered void and without warrant and here are the views of the litigants despised.  Decisions of life and death, of what shall be and what shall not, beggar all question of right.  In elections of these magnitudes are all lesser ones subsumed, moral, spiritual, natural.

The judge searched out the circle for disputants.  But what says the priest? he said.

Tobin looked up.  The priest does not say.
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Brentai

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2010, 05:45:14 PM »

Get a sense of humor or stop posting!
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JDigital

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2010, 06:28:11 PM »

I don't see it in terms of genetics, but in terms of what people learn to do early in life in order to succeed. Interacting, exploring, acquiring possessions, learning, overcoming conflict with one's environment and other people, acquiring status among peers, following or disobeying a set of rules or an authority figure, and wielding authority oneself are all satisfying.

Most videogames appeal in one or more of those ways, I'd say. I'd also say that Dungeons & Dragons' popularity in 1983 was because it appealed in all of those ways, and that gave it broad appeal.
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LaserBeing

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #45 on: August 12, 2010, 06:50:45 PM »

That really doesn't address the specific impulse toward slaughter though, unless your school was considerably rougher than mine was.
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teg

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #46 on: August 12, 2010, 07:06:20 PM »

It's a natural extension of games' tendency to be abstracted and amp things up to eleven, just like everything else on the list.

I'm mostly staying out of this conversation except for the occasional non-contributive image macro, but I get what JDigital's saying.
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Smiler

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #47 on: August 12, 2010, 07:32:49 PM »

The Sims isn't about killing, but people still like trapping people inside of small rooms to starve them anyways.
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Brentai

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #48 on: August 12, 2010, 08:00:50 PM »

That really doesn't address the specific impulse toward slaughter though, unless your school was considerably rougher than mine was.

Well no, but human instinct isn't an absolute.  What we're talking about is a specific subset of the human populace - the action gamer, which still isn't that huge comparatively.  I mean... okay, follow this.

So you've got this village, right?  And in that village you've got the hunters and warriors, you've got the priests and chieftains and teachers, you've got the doctors and nurses and scholars, and you've got the homemakers and carpenters and artists.  Now the warriors mostly descended from other warriors, priests from priests, etc... there's always going to be some caste migration but that's fine.  The point is, most people "know" early on what their instincts are like, and it shapes their interests.  Those of the combat caste tend to prefer hunting and competitive sports, because that's pretty much their bag.  But the more constructive types will generally go off and do something else, take up some crafts, play house, that sort of thing.

So here's the thing: consider a ball.  BALL!  You give a ball to to one of the warrior-jock type kids, and they'll do a million fucking things with it.  Pass it, punt it, hit it with a stick, throw it at a hoop, bean each other with it... so many things you can do with a ball.  It's the quintessential sports thing, it's the perfect sports thing, because it just happens to have a number of qualities that work well for sports: it's cheap, it's simple, it's durable by design, it's portable, and it's mobile - you can chase it around like a running animal.  Sports kids love their balls!

Now, give the same ball to a craftsperson.  Is it useless?  Hell no!  It's got dozens of interesting qualities.  It's a basic shape with many special properties, and can be incorporated into a number of designs, like say, bead necklaces.  Okay.  But is it the quintessential crafts thing by virtue of its specific nature?  Well, no.  It's just a ball.  There's nothing bad about balls, but there's just as much charm to, say, cubes.  Meh.

Okay, so let's flip the switch and try paint.  When you think of art, you think of painting.  And why not?  With a little paint and some training, you can create anything on canvas.  Literally, anything.  And it's not just an easel, you can paint a house, a sculpture, dye fabrics, faces... okay, even balls.  A true artist would find joy in painting your balls.

But for sports, is paint that useful?  Sure, paint plays a role.  You paint fields.  You paint faces.  You paint equipment.  Sometimes you play with those painted balls.  Paint is a tool used in sports, but is it the tool used in sports?  Nah.

So you're probably getting where I'm meandering with this, which is two* things:
Video games as a tool are most - not only, but most - most useful to those with combative leanings.  For a variety of reasons which have already been covered.  The challenge aspect is built right into the evolution of the medium, and the murder aspect appeals to a particular instinct present in some people which is otherwise impossible to satisfy.  And this leads directly to point B:
The earliest and still largest population of gamers are the hunter-warrior types.  Or in short, video games are violent because they sell easily to violent people.  Does this vindicate Jack Thompson?  Well, no, unless you want to sue the NFL for doing the same sort of thing.  It's not hard to wander outside the medium and still find shockingly casual depictions of war and combat.  Did you ever play Chess?  Are you ready to defend your overactive conscience by trying to convince yourself that you don't know what taking the enemy's pawn represents?  Gamers have been doing this shit long before Space War ever convinced nerds to subject their friends to fiery deaths in space.  Which again segues nicely to the last point:
Focusing too much on the 'violence' in video games or the violence in 'video' games is a little myopic.  Hey guys, what are the best selling console games of all time that weren't forced on you with the purchase of a system?

   1. Wii Play (Wii – 27.38 million, Wii remote bundled with all copies)[69]
   2. Nintendogs (DS – 23.26 million, all five versions combined)[69]
   3. Wii Fit (Wii – 22.61 million)[69]
   4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii – 22.55 million)[69]
   5. New Super Mario Bros. (DS – 22.49 million)[69]
   6. Pokémon Red and Blue (Game Boy – 20.68 million approximately: 10.23 million in Japan,[48] 9.85 million in US)[19]
   7. Wii Sports Resort (Wii – 19.16 million)[68]
   8. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (DS – 18.72 million)[69]
   9. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES – 18 million)[98]
  10. Mario Kart DS (DS – 17.90 million)[69]
  11. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS – 17.39 million)[79]
  12. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2 - 17.33 million)[105]
  13. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii – 15.81 million)[68]
  14. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2 – 14.89 million shipped)[94]
  15. Wii Fit Plus (Wii – 14.52 million)[68]
  16. Pokémon Gold and Silver (Game Boy Color – 14.51 million approximately: 7.6 million in US,[19] 6.91 million in Japan)[48]
  17. Super Mario Land (Game Boy – 14 million)[98]
  18. Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (DS – 13.71 million)[70]
  19. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (GBA – 13 million)[78]
  20. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (GBA – 11.82 million)[79]

Ignoring #1 which was basically a consolation prize for having to pay out your ass for a second controller: #1 has zero violence whatsoever, #2 has a boxing minigame (against a punching bag), #3 has firing turtle shells at karts.  #4 is the first game with any actual "killing" (that killing being limited to goomba stomping), and there is only one game on the entire list in which you ever directly harm human beings.  (Unless you really do blast Team Rocket repeatedly into outer space in the Pokemon games.  I dunno.)

On the PC side, it goes to hell a lot quicker with omnicidal WoW taking up spot #3, but #1 and #2 are both versions of The Sims in which you... wait, nevermind.  PC gamers are basically dicks.

Still, my point is that it's not incorrect to say that a lot of video games are inherently violent - because a fucking lot of video games are inherently violent - but it's no more fair to say there's something specifically primal about them that makes people want to kill than it is to say there's anything specifically primal about a ball! that makes people want to kill.  People will want to kill no matter what you do.  And then some people just want to watch you drown in a pool because you're too damned fat to climb out without a ladder.

Video games don't kill people.  Irrecoverable cerebral failure kills people.


* I caught this six hours later and left it in to illustrate how much forethought I actually put into this rambling mess.
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teg

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #49 on: August 12, 2010, 08:17:16 PM »

wii play has that tank minigame


wii sports resort has 1:1 hittin dudes with swords
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Bal

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #50 on: August 12, 2010, 08:27:57 PM »

Killing is fun because victory is fun, and each kill is a small, discreet victory. The best games that prominently feature violence (I'm not talking about goomba stomping) tend to make every completed violent encounter rewarding in some way. For example, one of the things that made Devil May Cry so revolutionary is that every enemy could kill you, but it also gave you the tools to make every enemy your bitch, if you learned how. So now when you clear that room it feels like a victory, and you get that little "fuck yeah" endorphin rush. Other games accomplish approximately the same thing by making you stupendously powerful compared to the hordes of enemies you wade through, so you just feel like king shit all the time.

At any rate, my point is that violence and killing accomplish what I'll term here as the "victory simulator" very readily, whereas other game concepts that don't involve overt violence tend to either have more abstract views on what constitutes a victory, or has something equally obvious to a kill, like scoring in sports.
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Frocto

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #51 on: August 12, 2010, 08:30:21 PM »

The last time this happened it was Frocto and Mongrel, but the cause is pretty much the same: people who don't like each other will make sniping comments until someone takes it personally.  Not assigning blame, just noting a pattern.

yeah eat a dick you hairy bloated semenpumper

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teg

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #52 on: August 12, 2010, 08:37:24 PM »

Also worth considering is that violence can be a huge element of a game without being the most enjoyable.

Everyone likes the Spider-Man games for the webslinging and hates them for the combat, for example.
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JDigital

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #53 on: August 13, 2010, 07:26:04 PM »

I like Bal's thinking about games as a "victory simulator". The other thing that comes to mind is the degree of interactivity offered by killing a dood. It's not just that you achieve a victory, but that you're right there in person. It's very tangible and direct. There's a high correlation between your actions and your result, and the first person shooter world is really similar to the real world.

Bejeweled offers that sort of "frequent, small victories" gameplay, but I think violence has an appeal. It's about power, control, survival, and avoiding pain. Those are all big things.

At risk of touching on the Edition War, interactivity could be a reason why some people prefer older editions of D&D to the newer editions. Monsters in 4E and high-level 3E tend to take a lot of hits to kill. Your individual attacks have relatively little effect, and your immediate success is largely random. Compare that to a satisfying weapon like the Doom shotgun, where your individual attacks have a lot of power, and your immediate success depends on aim, timing and position, all player skill based.
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Bal

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #54 on: August 14, 2010, 04:13:49 AM »

Multiplayer FPS games are all about what you said about the immediacy of the encounter, and your role in it. When you come face to face with a guy in TF2 and you win you get the victory rush amplified by the risk involved. I think that aspect is what makes multiplayer FPS such an enduring phenomenon wherever you find it. Fear amplifying the feeling of success, which potentially achieves the ultimate release of tension in a team win. Obviously these values vary from player to player. Some people play no team oriented games/modes whatsoever, but the ascendance of team based multiplayer over FFA deathmatch seems to indicate that people prefer to have allies to share the victory, and the blame.

Every compelling game I think uses these victories to drive the player forward. Take Civilization for example. The violence is so abstracted you can barely call it that, even in the modern titles, but more important is the implementation of constant, small victories. Every World Wonder you build that you simultaneously deny your opponent, every tech discovered, every epoch reached. They're all in service of the greater goal, that of one of the win conditions, but you'd never make it there at all if that was the only "win" the game ever gave you.

Another great example is World of Warcraft. Whatever you think of that game personally, it is enormously successful, and I think it is due to the way they mete out their vast story of small and large victories. At first it's very obvious. You level up, you gain rewards from quests, you improve appreciably with practically every action you take. Then once you hit max level that ends, but instead of that reducing the number of wins available to your character, it vastly expands them. Now every item in your inventory is a potential win. You are presented with not one bar to fill (EXP), but a dozen or more in the form of factions, which provide concrete (as anything else in the game) rewards. Not to mention the powerful intermittent reinforcement of endgame raiding that keeps you coming back week after week.

I guess that brings us back around to FPS again, because with games like Modern Warfare and Bad Company 2, not only do you kill an opponent in at least a test of your skill, if not necessarily his, you are also immediately rewarded visually with exactly what that gives you. A thousand carrots on a thousand sticks, making each of those small victories part of the meta victory that in turn allows for great success in the future.
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JDigital

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #55 on: August 14, 2010, 06:35:32 AM »

I agree, and risk making a game more exciting is definitely a thing. It's half the appeal of Nethack, and old D&D. The more powerful your character gets, the greater the fear of losing your progress. I remember being genuinely frightened of losing my 20th level fighter in a particularly dangerous D&D combat. DMs are advised not to pull their punches, because without the risk of failure, D&D isn't as interesting and players can become bored.

That doesn't explain why World of Warcraft is popular, though. When you're killed in WoW you keep your character and items. Perhaps "hardcore mode" difficulty is too much for a lot of gamers, and the danger of a reset to the last save point is all the risk they need to keep things interesting.
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Bal

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #56 on: August 14, 2010, 09:29:39 AM »

I pretty much laid out why WoW is popular. Clear, achievable goals combined with the intermittent reinforcement of random item drops.
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James Edward Smith

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #57 on: August 14, 2010, 01:03:15 PM »

Well, an other big reason that WoW and games like it are so "not hardcore" is because a big part of their system is rewarding "loyalty" to the game.

The concept is that if you have a game that requires a large community to form to make it fun for anyone given person playing it, it's a good idea to reward loyal playing of the game as much as you reward skill at the game. Otherwise only the best of the best enjoy playing your game or see themselves becoming more powerful in the game. This would lose you a lot of players that you need to fill out the community.
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JDigital

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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #58 on: August 14, 2010, 06:12:11 PM »

I mean that my point on risk equating to excitement wouldn't explain WoW's popularity. Bal makes good points.

Perhaps some people like risk more than others. Past a certain threshold, risk is just stressful. It could also be that the longer you play, the more likely that the odds will catch up to you. The fun of Nethack's massive danger level may be in the skill level required to mitigate risk.
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Re: THE first moral decision in gaming
« Reply #59 on: August 22, 2010, 05:38:32 PM »

Quote
Games help me understand serial killers better: I want to interact with people I meet, but I don't have the tools, so I shoot them.

(Tim Schafer, via Sexy Videogameland )
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