The Best Sentence of the Day

This blog is a cut-up of a dissertation in progress. Each day, I will post my favorite sentence that I have newly scribed. Everything out of context, but suggestive. I hope.

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I'm a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. I make games that give a damn. I study how games change lives. I spend a lot of my time figuring out how the games we play today shape our real-world future. And so I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032. Learn more here in my bio or get my contact information on my contact page.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Best Sentence #87

There is nothing inherently fantastic in receiving a fax.


Blogger Jane said...

Some context for those of you who like that. :)

In “Games, the New Lively Art,” media theorist Henry Jenkins critiques the gaming industry’s obsession with realistic sounds and graphics, suggesting: “The art of games may not come from reproducing the world of the senses” (179). Indeed, in the case of a game like The Beast, reproducing the world of the senses is not a design consideration at all, let alone the primary objective. Jenkins proposes that the true art of digital games lies in the creation of a beautifully responsive system. He writes: “Game play becomes memorable… when the computer seems to be totally responsive” (180). He suggests that future creative innovation in the industry will emerge from its investigation of the “pleasures of intense and immediate feedback”, rather than sensory reproduction (182). The Beast poses a provocative case study of this claim. A year after The Beast ended, players visited the old Cloudmakers message board to celebrate the anniversary and to reflect on the experience. One player’s post beautifully illustrates the idea that a realistic game aesthetic can be based not on sensory immersion, but rather on system responsiveness. He wrote that what he remembered most was the “responsive feel” of the game:

It was like a house that was revealed room by room... and it was especially exciting, because the house was strange and filled with secret doors and levers and basement laboratories that WE had to find before we could venture deeper into the house. And not just in one direction, but in many directions at once though they linked directly to each other…. In other words it was a house from our childhood dreams where when one looked for buried treasure, or a secret passage... IT WAS THERE! How cool (yawngol #47387).

Several things are worth nothing about this account. First, in building the metaphor of game-as-house, the player describes its interactivity in terms of the secret affordances of everyday physical objects. There are “secret doors and levers”, as well as a “secret passages”. Here, we are reminded of Gold’s original vision of enchanted objects. Indeed, whereas Gold described a childhood vision of singing and dancing toys, the player here calls the ubiquitous game like “a house from our childhood dreams”. Meanwhile, the player notes that “WE had to find” the affordances, through a kind of tactile, exploratory play. This is precisely the process of affordance discovery described by Gold’s “This Is Not a Pipe” manifesto. What is so profoundly engaging about this house, according to the player, is how it provides a satisfying response to their explorations. Note how the player effuses that when they looked for something, like a treasure or a passage, “IT WAS THERE!” He recalls his amazement at the game system working exactly in the fantastic ways the players hoped it might. This player expresses the amazement in metaphor, but during the game many Cloudmakers spoke plainly about their astonishment at the intensity and immediacy of game feedback. For instance, during the first two weeks of play, a website for a sexbot catalog appeared. Adrian Hon writes in The Guide: “When you go to the Contact Us page, and click on any of their service representatives, you reach a page which allows you to input your fax number. Unbelievably, if you put your fax number in them you'll actually receive a fax from the company” (“Belladerma”). Why does Hon precede his description of the feedback with the qualifier “unbelievably”? There is nothing inherently fantastic in receiving a fax. What was unbelievable to Hon and his fellow players, instead, was the thoroughness of the game’s responsiveness. Each lever the players pressed really did reveal a secret passage to a hidden room.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Jonny said...

I just found this blog and thought it was brilliant. Its odd in a way, but not really :) I just found it interesting! My blog is

Jonny x

1:55 AM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

I had to laugh, because my first thought was the /pizza command from Everquest 2. I never tired it, but the rumor was it worked.

(for those who may not know it, the rumor was you could establish an account with papa johns (I think), and when you were playing you could '/pizza' and an order would automatically be placed, paid for, delivered and you never had to make a phone call. Again, never tried it myself; there are limits to laziness)

Aside, I really enjoyed that explanation/context. Good deal!
What I am most amazed by, however, is the level of psychology touched on but as yet not blatantly addressed in these writings/theories/statements.

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

complexicity is the analysis of

5:06 AM  
Blogger Somebody's Proncess said...

I really like that sentence. Strangely, it could fit in my own thesis quite nicely.

Your blog is an inspiration. It gets me writing on days during which the thought of turning on my computer is almost unbearable.

Keep up the good work.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Well - in some ways that's true, it's a pretty everyday event - but I don't know how fax machines work - so, making words move from one piece of paper to another piece of paper on the other side of the world IS pretty fantastic.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Ivy said...

Who still uses a fax?

9:02 PM  
Blogger marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Dissertation Topics

12:43 PM  

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