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4-13 Video Games

Page history last edited by Matt King 14 years ago

Today, I would like us to look at two video games and to practice analyzing their procedural rhetorics.  As you play these two games, you should have these questions in mind:


- What are the rules of the system?

- What is the significance of these rules (over other rules)?

- What claims about the world do these rules make?  [Using the language we have been using, you can also ask what attitudes and orientations are embodied in these rules.]

- How do I respond to those claims?


After you have looked at both games, you should record your answers to all of these questions as a comment below.  The first game you will play is September 12th (it says that it is not a game, but it does contain particular procedures and makes an argument about how the world works).  You can find it here.  The second game is called Lose/Lose.  I do not want you to play it - doing so has serious consequences.  Instead, I want you to read a description of the game and to watch a short video of someone else playing it.  You can find it here.  Again, after you have played/looked at both games, record your answers to the questions above as a comment on this page.

Comments (16)

davey151@aol.com said

at 10:27 am on Apr 13, 2010

The first games rules are 1.) You can shoot or not. When you begin to play, it is difficult to discern who is a terrorist and whose not and if you do choose to fire, the shot is inaccurate in is most likely going to take civilians lives in the process. This game is trying to make the player feel like Americas approach on the war on terror is sloppy and inaccurate. My response to this is one that feels sympathy for innocent lives being taken at the expense of others but I feel this game is making a point that is too general.

The second game brings up alot of questions in my mind. I would never play this game because I dont want to lose any data. I really just dont understand the point that is trying to be made, I have an idea but just dont understand fully.

Andrea Meyer said

at 10:28 am on Apr 13, 2010

For "September 12th," the rules are. well there really isn't any. The point of this "game" is to illustrate daily life in, an apparent, muslim village. It's September 12th, the day after a tragic day in America, and nothing has changed. What happened on U.S. soil that one early Tuesday morning was something completely normal somewhere else. September 12th was just another day. In "Lose/Lose," a very important argument is introduced by the author; as technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes. Has this very growth changed the way we value our virtual possessions such that they too possess a rather physical importance?

Christy said

at 10:30 am on Apr 13, 2010

In September 12th the player is simply given the choice of firing a missile or not. Firing a missile results in buildings exploding and possible terrorist/civilian casualties. One thing to note is that it is extremely difficult to lock on to a terrorist target without also destroying buildings and hitting civilians or dogs. As the creator stated this game allows us to explore some "aspects of the war on terror," implying that the real-life effort to target terrorists can do more damage than good (especially for the civilians involved).

In the game lose/lose the player (a spaceship) destroys their own files in the form of aliens. If the player does not destroy a file and it touches the ship then it does damage to the ship. If the ship is destroyed then the application itself is deleted. As the title implies whether the player "wins" in terms of usual-gaming circumstances or "loses" the player always loses data. This is supposed to demonstrate how computer data has become of importance to us even though it is not a physical, tangible substance.

Brittany Weaver said

at 10:31 am on Apr 13, 2010

Basically the rules of both games are you must decide to shoot or not to shoot. This rule leaves the outcome of the game entirely up to the player of the game this is significant because the user has completely control over what happens in these situations. In the first game if you do decide to shoot and accidentally hit civilians, then more civilians come over to mourn their death and they turn in to terrorists. So the more you attempt to get rid of the terrorists the more terrorists there become. In the second game you can shoot the aliens which are actual real files or you could simply navigate through them, but if you do shoot them, the files that they represent are deleted forever from your computer. I think these two games are saying that violence only goes more problems, like creating more terrorists and deleting files permanently. I think this is mostly true about the real world, the September 12th game, I believe is a basically accurate account of can happen. People get angry when other innocent people are killed.

Jessica Lane said

at 10:32 am on Apr 13, 2010

The second game is based off of the classic space invaders game where you have to avoid alien attack/kill aliens. The difference is that in this game you can choose to kill the aliens or let them pass. If you succeed in killing all of them without dying then you have won the game. The catch is that each alien is a file on your computer and thus when you kill it you are essentially deleting that file off of your computer. There is the option to simply avoid attack, but most people are probably inclined to use their weapon. If you die, the application is deleted. The choice to actually play this game isn't one that should be taken lightly because of the consequences of participating. The people who are willing to delete files off of their computer must not value those files, because I for one would never voluntarily delete the files that I may or may not need on my computer. There also isnt any way to know which file you are deleting because they come at you unlabeled. The different file types are shown as different aliens, but otherwise there aren't any specific names. As a metaphor (the one he has written underneath the video) this game makes sense, but this 'game' isn't a fun one or one I would ever want to actually play.

sami daoud said

at 10:32 am on Apr 13, 2010

September 12th rules are simple, you can kill anyone. Every time you call someone, a group of women start to weep next to the corpse. These weeping women then turn into terrorists. This could be interpreted as follows: The war om terror causes the death of many innocent people, therefore, it increases people's need to turn to terrorism in order to get a revenge.
Lose/lose faces us with a choice: Do we consciously decide to "harm' or not? The rules of the game cross a line between RL and Virtual life and force us to feel a sense of responsibility. The game also raises the question of how we act towards killing in a video game and how anonymity changes our attitudes.
Both games push the player to face the consequences of killing and give him/her the choice to do it or not. Therefore, in a way, making the choice to kill reveals something about the player's virtual identity.

Sean Green said

at 10:33 am on Apr 13, 2010

The rules of September 12 are fairly simple. You have the choice to shoot or not to shoot at the few roaming "terrorist" type NPCs. When the wide area effect of shooting hits an "innocent" NPC, the "innocents" around them then become "terrorist" NPCs. There is no way to win, and doing anything actually causes a less desirable outcome (if you view your goal as wiping out the "terrorist" NPCs.) A strange game, the only way to win is not to play.The claim made here is that rather than ending violence and terrorism, wanton destruction in pursuit of those terrorists only creates more, thus defeating your own purpose and making it an exercise in futility. I largely agree with this plan. Cooperation and support of development in education, economy and infrastructure to wipe out the causes of radical terrorism is a more efficient solution to this dilemma.

Sean Green said

at 10:33 am on Apr 13, 2010

The second game is a bullet dodger in the traditional vein, but with the twist of having real consequences for killing he enemy. For every enemy destroyed, something on your hard drive is deleted, which makes playing the game itself rather dangerous and adds real weight to the act of killing an enemy. Of course, these repercussions can be avoided by moving everything important onto an external hard drive, but I have to wonder if the game might delete something important like a system file in the Windows folder then. The game uses its process to force the user to make a choice: do you want your game deleted, or your files deleted? Unfortunately while I think it's an interesting dilemma, the game simply isn't worth it. Adding an incentive like deleting a file when YOU die may make the game exciting, but honestly the way this is currently presented is a major turn off for me. While it is true that people may lose perspective when mowing down virtual enemies and forget that they are (virtually) killing people, I don't think the problem is as significant as the game tries to imply. Only a very select group of individuals combines the idea of killing virtually with killing in real life, and when they actually act upon it, it is due as much to real life circumstances as any ideas introduced via gaming.

Rehman Ali said

at 10:34 am on Apr 13, 2010

In the September 12th game you are presented with a lack of rules. This lack of clear procedure is where the game derives its meaning. If you try to shoot the terrorists you are likely to kill innocent bystanders, but if you don't shoot then there are terrorists running around. It presents a real-life situation that as lose-lose unlike the win-or-lose situation it is generally considered to be. Lose/Lose takes a similar concept and adds real world consequences to the game. Although the rhetoric is a little different. When you actually play the game the instructions don't say that the aliens won't shoot but we shoot anyways. This game shows how in video games we are trained to naturally shoot at everything partially because there are no real world consequences. It also shows how games train us to think in win/lose situations. Although my aggressive actions in war based video games are in stark contrast to my actions outside those games. The lose/lose game reminds me of Ender's game where a sort of reverse situation takes place. In the book s video game is thought to be a simulation but is in fact being played out in real life. I think these games allow us to reflect on our motives and tendencies towards critical situations in video games vs. real life. I feel this is an important distinction to understand because it will force you to think more about the motivations for your actions as well as their consequences.

Darien Femal said

at 10:35 am on Apr 13, 2010

The rules of the first and second game are simple you can shoot or you don't. The significance of this rule is that if you do shoot, a consequence will happen; if you do not shoot another consequence will happen. The claims about the world is that whether we choose to do something or not can have serious consequences either way. In lose/lose you can lose files on your computer or lose your computer. In September 12th if you don't shoot there are terrorists running around, but if you do you can kill civilians and create more terrorists. It all depends on what consequence you can live with, but either way an action can have an equal but horrible reaction; and either way you lose to a catch-22. I don't like these claims, but I know they are true. As Americans we feel that we have to do something in a situation even though we don't fully realize what consequences our actions have.

rochelle said

at 10:35 am on Apr 13, 2010

With the claims stating there are no rules and you can not win and you can not lose, gives a certain feeling confusion until you actually play the game. Then rule is simple shoot and try your best to kill the terrorist without killing the civilians. Since the claim is not about winning or losing but it is about separating good from evil and using something like shooting the terrorist helps people to disassociate from right and wrong and frankly I would not play because they are playing the devils advocate.

This game is totally confusing or at least the rules because they state that you are suppose to kill all the aliens without dying and if you lose the application will be deleted and if you win that particular file is deleted. But the directions brought up a fact that the aliens are not shooting at you, so why shoot at the aliens. The claims of the game if the object is to kill an unarmed target that makes us the shooter the bad guy. In some ways we do this in life, which means we makes the aggressive violent game that was completely benign.

Ricco Garcia said

at 10:36 am on Apr 13, 2010

The interesting part of both of these games is that they both don't seem to have any explicit rules associated with them which makes them different from typical video games. Its seems that the common theme for both of the games was to induce the user (us) into taking a second look at something that we thought we already knew. In the case of the first game especially which forced us to see an alternate perception on really how the war on terror is progressing potentially even giving us the user an look into why the war terror is going the way it is. The interesting thing called into question by the second video game is "why do we assume that because we are given a weapon and awarded for using it, that doing so is right?" Which is a reasonable question that could be posed for the first game as well, where questions such as just because we have weapons is it right to use them at the cost of civilian lives? When such real life consequences are at stake it definitely makes the decision process much more difficult for both games in fact.

Danny Hayden said

at 10:46 am on Apr 13, 2010

First off, neither of these games really have many "rules" - especially by normal video game standards. In September 12th, you are given a cross-hair and told who is a terrorist and who is a civilian. The game also instructed that you could "shoot or not shoot." This makes a statement about the war on terror. The "terrorists" were walking among civilians and weren't doing any harm to anybody, and attempting to kill them would certainly lead to civilian casualties - so would it really be the right thing to attack them? I don't think so, and I didn't. I did shoot at an empty patch of trees (ok and a building) though to see what kind of weapon I was given (which seems to be some type of missile with a big blast radius) - I figure that if I tried shooting a terrorist then there would undoubtedly be civilian casualties. But at the same time, is it morally right to not shoot when the developer of the game put so much time into creating the consequences of what happens when you do?!?

As for lose/lose, the rules of the game are that you kill aliens to get a point, and every time you kill an alien you get a point but a file from your computer also gets deleted. If you die (or "lose") then the game file itself is destroyed. It seems to be making the claim that just because a game has said you "won" or "lost," did you really? After all, if you "win" the game, your computer is essentially destroyed, but if you "lose" right away, that's actually the best outcome for you. Personally, I feel like there must be some type of failsafe on most computers that would keep a little game from deleting every file, but still just to be safe I wouldn't really play it... I mean the name does kind of discourage you from playing anyways... now maybe a game called "win/win" - that would be more appealing :)

Jessica Lane said

at 10:58 am on Apr 13, 2010

The choice you have in the first game is to shoot or not to shoot. Initially the terrorists you bomb seem to disappear, but after further bombings I realized that the civilians that you killed are shortly mourned by other civilians who then convert into terrorists. Thus, although you may be trying to get rid of the terrorists, their numbers grow as you try to bomb them. Unless you are lucky or have skillfully placed a bomb, civilian casualties are inevitable. This says something about the fight against terrorists which is that the more you try to kill them the stronger their forces become. The other option is to simply sit back and observe the little people wander around the town. It seems that no civilians will convert into terrorists for no apparent reason. This game comes off as being anti-war.

Catherine said

at 11:04 am on Apr 13, 2010

The rules of the games are that the player can choose to fire or not fire. If they choose to fire then that action has serious consequences, especially in September 12th, where innocent civilians will also be killed in addition to the terrorists. As in the game Lose/Lose if a player doesn't fire, then the consequences are not as serious. They just have to make sure that they avoid the aliens from touching them. The significance of these rules are that both games allows the player to be extremely passive. They don't have to do anything because no matter what they do there is no ultimate winning. In September 12 the game just goes on until the player decides when to stop. They don't have to shoot, they don't even have to do anything. The passive nature of Lose/Lose is the just avoiding the aliens.

The claims that these rules are trying make are that life can be passive. It is possible to sit back and never do anything, never initiate anything. Like the game with the game Passage, you just walk through life and get old, you never have to actually do anything. This idea is more prevalent in September 12th because the player does not have to shoot, it is possible for them to just sit back and watch. They probably are not getting the full rhetorical experience that game developers intended, however, that is another issue. Life can be a little bit like that: always going with the flow, never doing anything outside of a comfort zone, and never taking initiative therefore never having consequences.

Andres Quintero said

at 8:26 am on Apr 20, 2010

The first game is simple. There is one rule: shoot or don't shoot. It seems like you can't hit the terrorists without hitting a lot of innocent people at the same time. After you kill anyone, women come around and weep then turn into terrorists. Sends a strong message: The war on terror is not just hitting the people responsible for terrorists acts. Those innocents that are being affected are taking action into their own hands by fighting our terrorism in a way. The second game kind of confused me. I understood the point of the game, but its kind of hard to believe it'll actually mess up your computer. If you kill an alien you get a point, but if your ship dies lose. However, the consequences are opposite, if you destroy an alien, a file on your computer gets deleted. If you destroy your ship, the game file gets deleted. I started to play it, but right before anything happened I closed the window. I guess the message is that technology will eventually overwhelm us and destroy us. We're going to have to make a choice to either kill off technology, or wait until it devours us.

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