Before starting out this subject, I had to translate the course-name that all of the following was discussed in, which lead to the sort of spam-like name “Theory of the Science of Computer Science and Engineering” (leading to the wonderful acronym “TotSoCSaE”. Kudos to Julian for “discussing” the best suiting one with me).
Anyway, to keep to the subject at at hand, I was at a lecture in TotSoCSaE today, where the subject was “Understanding Video Games”, and the culture that followed. Overall a very interesting hour , with lots of debatable stuff, which is exactly what I intend on doing, as some of the key points is a very big part of me, and my everyday life.
Ironically, one of the first slides was a picture of Lara Croft, with a question asking if anyone didn’t know who was on the image. Pretty much everyone knew, that she was the virtual hero of the Tomb Raider-series. So, what was the reason of success for that game-series? The most obvious part is probably that she’s a “decently shaped” young woman, and thus earned the interest of many (primarily male) gamers. The other point, that naturally wasn’t mentioned, as it wasn’t the point of the slide, is that she’s an icon of “female force”, in a mostly male-only world. The only other person I can find to resemble this – in terms of video games – is Mrs. Pacman. If you venture into the movies, there’s lots to choose from, the most obvious one being The Bride, from Tarantino’s Kill Bill-series. From a pure gamer-view, the Tomb Raider-series also were great platform-adventure games, but that’s hardly the point.
The slide after that involved a pretty direct question: “You’re at a party and meet a beautiful and intelligent girl, and she likes you! Do you tell her straight away that you play computer-games?”.
My quick response would rather be: why shouldn’t you? While I can easily see why some people have the need of escaping their real self, it’s hardly a good start to the potential success of a relationship (I won’t go into the one-night-stand line of thought). Leaving out part of the truth is naturally not the same as lying, but doesn’t mean it’s “allowed”. With a slight chance over exaggerating, it would pretty much be the same as not mentioning your religion. The person you’re communicating with should know – and like – the real you, not your handsome exterior and/or cheesy pickup-lines.
There’s also the option that she’s actually a gamer herself, which can (and will, trust me) lead to some funny discussions, that’ll make other people scratch their chins in bewilderment. As a bonus, you can be much more yourself, as there’s no reason in holding back with different terms. As a last comment on the subject – I might be over-analyzing – but there’s a slight problem with the definition of “straight away”. Within what time-frame, 5 minutes or 1 hour? Around the same time you tell her that you already got a girlfriend? Bit too loose for my taste.
Another subject mentioned was culture, and defining it. Obviously, culture is different things, depending on who you ask. A few different meanings were mentioned though, and elaborated on. The first of them, was looking on it in the same way as as music, arts, literature and design. Fitting, but not quite the cultural-definition I was searching for. The famous quote “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” couldn’t possibly be more fitting.
The second meaning of culture was the semiotic way of looking at it. The way of social communication. Is it totally impossible to have any form of social interaction while playing video games? Not at all. Granted, it’s a different way of communicating, as there’s no physical interaction (unless it’s split-screen, or the like) in the form of body-language or gestures. That can, in some games, be compensated for with different emotes. Voice-communicating shouldn’t require much explaining either. Either way, you get to communicate with people you know, one way or the other.
Lastly, there was the meaning that connected the two worlds, so to speak. Do people feel like doing in real-life what they’re doing in-game? We, sadly, sometimes hear of people going berserk in their high-schools, and shooting everyone, where games like Doom would be blamed. An obvious joke comes to mind, saying that if the thing about Doom is correct, then people in the 90’es would’ve been running around small corridors, eating pills and listening to monotone music. I wouldn’t exactly blame Pacman for drug-abuse problems, but it’s hardly a case unique to it’s time, and neither is shoot-outs. On the same subject, some games tries to connect the said two worlds. With that I’m mostly thinking of console-games such as the very popular Guitar Hero and SingStar, where people can attain “fame and fortune”. Fun, original, and great, and gives a good sense of accomplishment, as it’s easy to relate to real life.
All in all, it’s interesting to see how the culture of gaming has evolved lately, in all it’s aspects.