Video Games & Culture
- Syllabus & Goals
- Canvas Posts–you don’t have to wait for class…
- Return to the discussion from last week
Let’s jump back to last week’s page and finish up the cult of ignorance discussion. Any thing we need to focus on?
Asimov’s “A Cult of Ignorance.” Newsweek. January 21, 1980: p. 19.
- Zac Brown Band celebrates ignorance
- Alan Jackson really celebrating ignorance
- Why bring Asimov into our conversation?
Video Games from a Cultural Perspective
- Analyzing a culture–Tech Writing ads
- Previous presentation on video games
- What is media’s impact on culture?
- In fact, does media influence culture, or does culture influence media?
- What do the Red Hot Chili Peppers have to say about media?
Ubiquity of Rhetoric
You’d think that with such a rich history, rhetoric would be introduced to students long before college. Well, it is, but not necessarily as a pillar of Western Civilization. The term comes up when politicians or their critics denounce an opponent’s speech as empty; therefore, “rhetoric” is often associated popularly with “empty speech,” non-contributing verbiage, or fluff.
But the study of rhetoric is much more complicated. Just as each discipline has its own epistemology–the study of knowledge, its foundations and validity– each discipline’s communication has a rhetoric. And rhetoric isn’t limited simply to disciplines: Movements, Social Norms, Technology, Science, Religion, etc. have a rhetoric. I often define such analyses into “rhetorics of…” as common factors surrounding the power or belief in a particular area. In other words, beliefs, attitudes, values, and practices are rhetorics of prevailing social ideology: One’s acceptance of cultural “truth” is based largely on one’s immersion into the culture’s myths and beliefs. Therefore, this definition of rhetoric requires us to recognize the relationship among sender-receiver-mediator. Of course, for our discussion, the “mediator” is culture. There is no concrete, definitive transmission of rhetorically pure communication. Sender and receiver filter the message(s) based on their experiences. Lucky for us, we can locate prevailing patterns in messages because culture mediates them. When doing a rhetorical analysis, you have to ask what are common ways particular ideas are conveyed in a culture. There are plenty of examples in new media.
For instance, what’s the rhetoric behind Hollywood movies that end in marriage and/or babies? Well, getting married and having children is a major cultural practice, so that gets “played out” in films. Additionally, women are often consider babymakers in search of a man to donate the necessary ingredient, so female characters in Hollywood films have traditionally not been *complete* until they marry and have children or somehow fulfill a woman’s socially constructed “proper” role according to prevailing attitudes. Because our culture (remember, this is a generalization) favors families as opposed to singles, the rhetoric of our entertainment–the power behind acceptance or enjoyments of a film–conforms to the cultural value of privileging families.
A brief Introduction of Rhetoric–From another class Web site.
Locating American Values
Because this course is a theoretical exploration of how we can locate a society’s values by “reading” its technologies, we ought to think about what those values are. This page asks you to think about American values–it’s from a different class, so don’t get too attached. The goal of this next exercise is to identify values that we might be able to “read” in technologies from American society.
History of Video Games and The Industry
I’m not sure how much we want to go into the history of video games, but we’ll start down that path and either stay or change course depending on our mood.
- Video Game Invasion (2004) (up to 45:40…time permitting)
Understanding Video Games, Ch. 1 and 2
- p. 2: Passive vs. (inter)Active Entertainment
- p. 5: The root of all games? Did we evolve play to “simulate real-life situations”?
- p. 6: Competition and humans…organisms
- p. 11:Table 1.1: The culture–“understand how games and gaming interact with wider cultural patterns.”
- p. 17: “[G]ame industry…revenues still lag well behind filmed entertainment: game sales reached $64.9 billion globally in 2014, compared to just above $90 billion for filmed entertainment.”
- p. 18: “[T]hree major markets: the US, Japan, and Europe.”
- p. 19: Table 2.1: Why might the Wii U not be selling as much as the original Wii?
- p. 20: “Grand Theft Auto V…[had] a production budget of $265 million, and over 500 people in the credits.”
- What’s the significance of that?
- p. 24: “A design document consists of text, illustrations, mockups, concept drawings, and other details, such as lists of objects in the game.”
- That sounds like a job for…
- p. 28: Notice the binary future the authors suggest at the end of the chapter.
- Any parallels to television shows?
- P. 28: Beta testing
The Video Game Debate, Ch. 1: History of Video Games
The author of the chapter, James D. Ivory, makes the point that there’s no single point in time from where video games begin. His analogy of “convergent evolution” makes sense, but we could also say video games were a polygenesis–the had multiple beginnings. Consider his reference to Alexander Graham Bell and Samuel Morse.
- The first video games simulated what? pp. 6-7
- p. 7: Fantasy inspiration!
- Text-based games from the late-1970s. Check out Zork
- Here’s a screen shot of the beginning of the game (thanks Rob Lammle)
- p. 17: “[E]stimates of the total revenue of the worldwide video game market are in the neighborhood of $81.5 billion to $93 billion USD [check source]….As much as a quarter of this is generated by the industry in the United States.”
- Gender breakdown p. 15
“action and sport titles are most popular among males and puzzle and quiz games more popular among females.”
“the MMORPG genre…is much more male dominated, with males comprising as much as 80-85 percent.”
- p. 16: “[V]ideo games can best be understood as a combination of different media with different conceptual traditions, cultural contributions, and social impact.”
Keep up with the reading on the syllabus: Ch. 3 in Understanding Video Games and pages 1-55 in Introducing Critical Theory. We’ll start getting more postmodern next week. I know I don’t have to say it, but have your books with you (print or electronic). Also, if you don’t take notes on the reading, that’s a problem. I’ll have a Canvas Prompt up early next week. Remember, you respond to that prompt (250 words) and reply to a classmate’s prompt from this week (100 words). You don’t have to wait until class to respond.