The Rhetoric of Video Games


  • Video games can be persuasive form of rhetoric (procedural rhetoric = processes that send persuasive messages)
  • Since games are interactive, great medium for engaging meaning
  • Simulating the real world:
    • Good for activism/education
    • Use procedural models of real world mechanical systems, conceptual systems, social dynamics, capitalism, etc
    • Deliberate: Make a claim about the world: how it should/shouldn’t be, let players come to their own conclusion or challenge the claim through play and interpretation.
  • Play = not just leisure but learning! Exploring possibility space through interactivity can explore real-world processes.
  • Moral dilemmas and game ideology can be used to challenge cultural norms and beliefs, especially if interactive.
  • Persuasion = mechanics + art + rhetoric


Personal Reflection:

I think the connection to other forms of rhetoric is really interesting, especially since I’m trying to push the limits of the text-based format and introduce multimedia components to the game. Right now I just have images, but I think providing more interactivity and life to the system might benefit the idea of emotional engagement and meaning, perhaps through adding video/gifs or a sound environment to the game. I think I also need to work on being more deliberate with my game, it’s quite abstract right now but by adding more of a skeleton I can make more of a deliberate claim through the mechanics of the bird, challenging reliance on labels to categorize the world around us. I want to make sure players have a sense in agency, allowing them to choose how deeply they want to surrender to the “gray space” I’m exploring and not forcing them to necessarily abandon all personal identity labels. I’m hoping more agency will engage that kind of persuasive rhetoric that Bogost introduces.

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