Wednesday, 7 March 2007


A game is supposed to be fun, right? Wrong. Often we play games that are not actually fun to play. For example if you were to play an adventure game, you may have to do a section of the game loads of times attempting to get to the next save point and to the next section of the game. The first few attempts at the task may be fun and entertaining, however by the time you get to your tenth try, it is probably just frustrating and you may ask why you are even playing such a game. More often than not, a person will want to get the reward at the end of the particular task at hand. There is a natural instinct in each person to do so, even if the reward is not great.

An interesting theory is that “people perform better when offered rewards” ( There is a natural instinct in each person to perform, even if the reward is not that great.

For example it maybe that you are playing a game like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and you have a particularly good gun. You might be doing a task that will get you a gun that is not as good as the one you already have. Even though you might know this, you will still want to complete the task at hand. This particular situation illustrates the human instinct for getting rewards.

Another example of this theory in my own gaming experience is when playing The Incredibles. I remember trying to complete a particular part of the game what seemed like hundreds of times. For some reason I just couldn’t complete it. I got increasingly frustrated and angry with each attempt. I always thought to myself why am I playing this? I think what drove me to put so much energy in the game is the thought and curiosity of reaching a new level. This was the reward I was striving for. Also I wanted the satisfaction of completing the part of the game that given me so much trouble. When I did eventually complete the part of the game, I was relieved and then instantly wanted to get further and get my next reward. From this you can see that there is a natural instinct in a person to get the reward just around the next corner.


Reward and Punishment (Date Unknown). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 6th March 2007:

Magic circles and the Lusory Attitude

When playing a game, the player or players get into a sort of zone. This zone can be physical, it can be to do with time or it may just be psychological. If you were to take the example of a football match, the match would be played on a football pitch with 2 halves of 45 minutes each with the objective to score more goals than the other team. The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga calls this zone, “A Magic Circle”. This “Magic Circle” as particular boundaries and by playing a particular game, you cross the boundaries and enter the magic circle.

Closely linked to this theory of the “Magic Circle” is the theory of a “Lusory attitude”. If a player wants to play a particular game, he or she adopts a “Lusory attitude” choosing to enter the magic circle of the game accepting the rules of the game and crossing the boundaries voluntarily to enter the zone of whichever game he or she is going to play. The “Lusory attitude” also claims that games are meaningless and a waste of time and energy because there is no obvious benefit apart from to have some fun. As Huizinga puts it as “the acceptance of constitutive rules just so the activity made possible by such an acceptance can occur” (

If I think about when I play snooker online, even by going to the particular site on the internet, I am adopting the “Lusory attitude”. I immerse myself into the state of mind that I need to complete the particular task at hand, which in the case of online snooker, is to pot the particular balls into the pockets in the order that it tells you to. The boundaries of this particular game are the digital snooker table where the game is played, the time limit which varies from around 90 seconds to 300 seconds and also the mental state of wanting to complete the task. There is no obvious reward if I do win the game. However, contrary to the theory of the “Lusory attitude”, I believe that there is at least a sense of satisfaction when you do win, provided that the level of the task is appropriate. You feel good about your abilities and this will boost your self confidence.


Kudos for Ludus (2003). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 25th February 2007:


Rhetoric can be defined as “the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral or written language” ( or it is an “ancient art of argumentation and discourse” ( In other words it is a persuasive medium, which can be through anything from language, films or games. It can persuade people to believe in a certain theory or way of life. It can be very subtle, for example, “anyone with sense, believes that violence is wrong”. This is effectively saying that if you believe that violence is acceptable, then you have no sense. Rhetoric can come in a very simple and obvious manner, for example “violence is wrong”. This simply gives a statement and is aiming to convince the reader or audience that it is wrong without putting any peripherals around the edge of the statement.

If we look at this theory in the context of digital games, it could be a very destructive thing. If a young boy played a game like any of the Grand Theft Auto games for example San Andreas, he would become used to hearing bad language, stealing cars and even killing people for fun. If this particular child wasn’t educated enough he could believe that this is an acceptable way of life and by the time he is older, he may start becoming more and more violent and eventually could become very similar to the lead character, CJ, stealing without any worries of the moral consequences for either him or the victims. This of course would a more extreme example but if this is a possibility, should these games be banned.

I think it is very hard to say that all games that contain any violence must be banned. However I do think that there must some more censorship than there already is. Some games do have age censorship on them; however these ratings are rarely ever followed. It is very easy for a 15 year old to get hold of a copy of a game like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, even though it is rated as an 18. I think that if shops are stricter about ratings and ask for ID when selling the game, it could help the situation.


Rhetoric (Date Unknown). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 18th February 2007:

Rhetoric (Date Unknown). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 18th February 2007:

What is a game?

Ludwig Wittgenstein was “an Austrian philosopher” ( from the early twentieth century who claimed that there is not single definition for the term game, however instead, several characteristics each shared by some but not all. There is no single characteristic shared by every game. Wittgenstein gives the example of a piece of rope, which is made of many different fibres that are twisted into place but there is no single fibre that runs through out the piece of rope. He also gives the example of family resemblance. Often, it can be fairly simple to see the resemblance between different family members however if you were to try to define the specific characteristic that is commonly shared in a family of five, it would become clear that no single feature is shared through out. However three out of five of this family may have similar shaped noses and a different three members may share eye colour. He suggests that if someone asks for a definition of what a game is, it is far easier to list examples of games in order to give a general idea of what one is.

If you were to look at two digital games on the PS2 for example Fifa 2005 and The Incredibles, you would see that they are very different games. Fifa 2005 is a football game where the player controls the footballers in matches. You can play in tournaments or even be the manager of a club and work your way through the football seasons. In the Incredibles, you control each of the different family members for a level at a time. The aim of the game is to complete each level overcoming different challenges to get to the next one until you finally reach the end of the levels and the story line is completed. If you were to compare these games to say Pacman or Pong, you would see that they are even more different still and have very different characteristics however there are some similarities between some in certain ways and not others. For example Pacman and the Incredibles are both science-fictional where as Fifa 2005 and Pong is based on real life games (football and tennis/table tennis). In the Incredibles and Fifa 2005, the player controls a human or human like figure. These are examples of similar characteristics shared by some and not others which follow Wittgenstein’s theory.


Ludwig Wittgenstein (Date Unknown). Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 3rd February 2007: