The Rhetoric of Video Games

How to apply to my game:

What I’m taking away from this reading is that games deliver values and allow players to explore systems by interacting with them. In my P2 game, I’m exploring the housing crisis, and will use my interactive fiction to give players an understanding of the direct and indirect effects of this crisis. While a news article might warn readers that the housing crisis is worsening and present potential implications, my game will show this to a player through the characters they interact with and the rule-based logic encoded in my game. For example, as the player makes progress towards owning a home in a highly competitive market, they will notice that service workers and teachers (who can no longer afford to live in their city) become scarce.

Here are my typed notes:

The Rhetoric of Video Games
Ian Bogost

Case Study: Animal Crossing
Models debt, commerce, and wealth
Tom Nook is the bank, the bourgeoisie
NPCs are community oriented rather than consumers
Video games express perspectives and make claims about the world

Play
Play and learning are taught as separate
– Video games, recess are seen as unproductive leisure
– Games are a possibility space
– Play emerges from rules and constraints

Procedurality
Computers execute rule-based logic

Rhetoric
Historically referred to persuasive language
Further, rhetoric can facilitate action
Visual and digital rhetoric

Procedural Rhetoric –¬†key term!
Using process persuasively
Make claims about how things work – think debt/wealth/capitalism in Animal Crossing
This allows us to interrogate ideology and embody certain values
Video games make arguments, which we can interpret in our own lives

Future Directions
We need to learn to play games critically and carefully consider their claims and values
We should consider pedagogical value of games
Thoughtful game design as an entry point to CS

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