The Rhetoric of Video Games

  • Video game as a “community of practice”: a common social situation around which people collaborate to develop ideas. 
  • Video games can make deliberate expressions about the world (cultural, social, or material aspects of human experience) using procedural rhetoric
    • procedurality craft representations through rules -> play is the “possibility space” created by constraints of all kinds
    • depict real and imagined systems by creating procedural models of those systems
      • i.e. Animal Crossing; Mcdonalds game
    • allows specific aspects of experience to be interrogated
    • Make arguments about how things work OR don’t work
    • expose/explain ideology; shed light on biases
      • i.e. Army ideology
    • give players new perspectives on the world they inhabit
  • Offer technology literacy

I’m very interested in the idea of procedural rhetoric – inviting interrogation and making arguments through depicting a system that is based in current reality, and constructing that system through game mechanics and dynamics. For interactive fiction, I think the idea that you can make an argument not just through the depiction/exposition but through the choices/actions that are available to players and how those choices in turn impact the game world is really important. One thing I’ve been struggling with is how to deal with branching – I think I’ve been approaching my story more as fiction than as a game. I think I’m now more inspired to create more branching related to player attitude towards assisted suicide/suicide in general, but also show that the world my characters inhabit have propelled that choice in some senses through procedural rhetoric.

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