Games, why we play them, love them, hate them and increasingly incorporate them into our lives

From the simple MUDs of a decade ago to the addictive EverQuest, massively multiplayer online gaming has long held sway over serious gamers. But it was the runaway success of World of Warcraft, released in 2004, that pushed MMOs into the mainstream, attracting not thousands but millions of players to its servers. Now gaming companies are jostling to position their virtual worlds as the next big play space online.

Some are busily copying the Warcraft formula for their own offerings, hoping that their particular spin on the well-established mechanics will amount to a second dose of lightning in a bottle. But a small group of more interesting ventures is aiming to attract a broader audience, hoping to lure players who shun games like Warcraft because of the time commitment and challenging learning curve. If the audience is to increase, their thinking goes, games must be easier to learn, faster-paced and more immediately rewarding.

Read Next-Gen Multiplayer Worlds Are Built to Snare Nongamers from WIRED

Gamers will be able to start a family and watch their child grow over time. Emotional reactions to gaming, such as love, fear and even empathy, remain the holy grail for many developers. “Everybody is talking about emotion, story, engagement and narrative,” Mr Molyneux said. “We have tried to approach it in a different way. We are going to explore love.”

Read Designer hopes for love in games from the BBC

Hybrid reality games (HRGs) employ mobile technologies and GPS devices as tools for transforming physical spaces into interactive game boards. Rather than situating participants in simulated environments, which mimic the physical world, HRGs make use of physical world immersion by merging physical and digital spaces. Online multiuser environments already connect users who do not share contiguous spaces. With mobile devices, players may additionally incorporate interactions with the surrounding physical space. This article is a speculative study about the potential uses of HRGs in education, as activities responsible for taking learning practices outside the closed classroom environment into open, public spaces. Adopting the framework of sociocultural learning theory, the authors analyze design elements of existing HRGs, such as mobility and location awareness, collaboration/sociability, and the configuration of the game space, with the aim of reframing these games into an educational context to foresee how future games might contribute to discovery and learning.

Abstract from Girlie C. Delacruz’ paper Hybrid Reality Games Reframed: Potential Uses in Educational Contexts from the 2007 journal of Games and Culture

Far from being a new danger, the Sternheimer suggests that gaming is simply the latest in a long series of media influences to take the blame. “Over the past century, politicians have complained that cars, radio, movies, rock music, and even comic books caused youth immorality and crime, calling for control and sometimes censorship.” She terms the targets of such efforts “folk devils,” items branded dangerous and immoral that serve to focus blame and fear.

Read The gaming-violence connection: why society finds it comforting from Ars Technica

A new report urges the American Medical Association to, among other things, formally recognize game addiction as a genuine diagnosed disorder. According to Spong, the report in question is “Report Of The Council On Science And Public Health: Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games” chaired by Mohamed K. Khan, MD, Phd. Included in the report is the proposed medical definition of “gamer.”

More from WIRED’s Game|Life blog

Live action role-playing games share a range of characteristics with massively multi-player online games (MMOGs). Because these games have existed for more than 20 years, players of these games have a substantial amount of experience in handling issues pertinent to MMOGs. Survey and review of live action role-playing games, whose participant count can be in the thousands, reveal that features such as size, theme, game master-to-player ratio, and others interact to form complex systems that require several different groups of control tools to manage. The way that these games are managed offers a variety of venues for further research into how these management techniques can be applied to MMOGs.

Abstract from Anders Tychsen, Michael Hitchens, Thea Brolund and Manolya Kavakli’s paper Live Action Role-Playing Games: Control, Communication, Storytelling, and MMORPG Similarities in the 2007 Journal of Games and Culture

Still want more? Ok.

Rewards Systems: Why We Play, GameWad’s Eddie R Inzauto explains the archetype enticements games draw us in with

Why writing in games matters, a three part series from Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera

The Game of Art, WIRED’s Clive Thompson comments on the nexus of performance art and gaming in Capcom’s Okami

Germany considers jail time for violent video game creators from C|Net

Just What is “Episodic Gaming,” Anyway?, GameTap’s Rick Sanchez defines one of the current trends in gaming. Know about episodic gaming already? Help the rest of us by sharing your knowledge via the What’s New Media Wiki.


1 Comment

Filed under Gaming, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

One response to “Games, why we play them, love them, hate them and increasingly incorporate them into our lives

  1. Pingback: Gaming not a recognized addiction (yet) « What’s New Media?

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