[MUD-Dev] DGN: Reasons for play [was: Emergent Behaviorsspawnedfrom...]

Sean Kelly sean at f4.ca
Sun Nov 13 10:22:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

Sean Howard wrote:
> "Sean Kelly" <sean at f4.ca> wrote:

>> Then let's hope there are a lot of philosophers as they may be
>> the only ones buying these games :-)

> That won't be true, but if we are lucky, they'll be the only ones
> making games. The movie industry went through a major renaissance
> due to the emergence of film schools - I can think of two
> directors that came to film with that philosopher viewpoint and
> ended up changing the movie industry forever. Maybe you remember
> movies like The Godfather or Star Wars? These movies are rather
> well known and respected both by and outside elitist movie buffs.

Yup.  The Godfather was quite good and Star Wars... well, I liked it
when I was five years old, and since that was Lucas' target audience
I suppose he succeeded--completely unoriginal pulp, but with good
special effects and a compellingly traditional story.  I now very
much prefer the Kurosawa film it copied (to return to an earlier
portion of this thread).

>> That said, I don't believe these hypothetical philosophers would
>> be able to agree on a unviersal criteria for game quality.

> They don't have to agree - and shouldn't want to. But they should
> have the debate every day. You seem to be under the impression
> that the reason to ask questions is to find a single
> answer. Sometimes, you just have to ask because there's not one.

Not at all.  But from what you've been saying I was under the
impression that this is what you were suggesting.

> (I know, a little abstract one hand clapping philosophy there, but
> think about it for a bit).

I'll forgive the patronizing tone of this comment as not intended

>> The discussion of whether "good" has any objective merit has been
>> disputed for millenia.

> And if we're lucky, it will be debated for another millenia. My
> problem is that, right now, the people who should be questioning
> the value in videogame aren't, and the ones that are, shouldn't
> be. I was so happy to hear Warren Spector get up and criticize
> Grand Theft Auto while Jack Thompson excused himself from the GTA
> lawsuit.

I agree to a point, as I think the idea of games as art is a bit of
a slippery slope.  While I think there might be a place for
recursively self-referential games that are utterly impenetrable to
the casual player, this isn't what I'd like to see as the goal of
interactive entertainment.  That said, building entertainment purely
based on market factors is obviously not desirable... nor it is a
sure source of income, as Hollywood has discovered.

>> And so far as I'm aware, arguments that support such universal
>> qualifiers typically rely on God as their basis--the existence of
>> whom has long since been accepted as unprovable in philosophic
>> circles.

> I find that accusation amusing for reasons that I'm not going to
> go into on this list, but rest assured, there is no divinity in my
> basis. Things that are good are measurably better than things that
> are not, therefore, we can figure out that measure
> and... well... measure it.

It wasn't an accusation so much as my experience with these
arguments in philosophic circles.  If you can suggest an alternate
argument that supports objective value, please do so.

>> A utilitarian argument may suggest criteria which are sufficient
>> in most cases, but this is a far cry from what you're suggesting.

> A utilitarian argument is good when you have a particular
> utilitarian purpose. I want to sell a game to 18 year old girls -
> what other games have sold to 18 year old girls? But when you want
> to make something "good" or "deep" or "memorable", then you've got
> an abstract goal and the different end points become less
> important than the invisible lines connecting them.

Utilitarianism can be extended further than that.  Objective good
can be correlated to a sort of ultimate utility, for example.

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