Taking Fun Seriously

It seemed that, as a class, we generally believed that in order for videogames to be successful, they need to have some sort of “fun” component in them. Of course, there are many different ways to define “successful” but in this context I’m using 1) How wide of an audience does the game capture and 2) How impactful is the game on players to measure the level of success. Typically, these factors grow when there are more stereotypical “fun” elements included within a game. We seemed to really struggle with the idea that a successful videogame, aka a game with a lot of “fun”, could also be serious. But it seems less strange to assume a game can be both “fun” and serious when we consider how sports have become an incredible vehicle to address social, racial and political issues. Simplified, the only difference between sports and videogames is the physical vs the virtual but as time goes on and technology continues to advance, I believe the boundaries between these two will continue to blur, much like the premise behind the sci-fi novel, Ready, Player One (but probably to a lesser extent).

The major aspect holding videogames back from being greater impacts on “serious” issues is the generational gap that exists; one of the article options for class supported this notion, stating, “The generation that grew up with Super Mario is entering the workplace, entering politics, so they see games as just another good tool to use to communicate,” he added. “If games are going to be a mature medium, they’re going to serve a variety of functions. It’s like with film. We think first of using it for entertainment, but then also for education and advertising and politics and all that stuff.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/arts/23thom.html?ex=1185076800&en=2365cab8f8972ab8&ei=5070) Games will be more and more influential as time goes on. Eventually, I believe the cultural moments and lessons captured in sports, such as when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the Olympic podiums as a human rights salute, will be able to be captured in game play without the medium being the source of controversy.

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4 thoughts on “Taking Fun Seriously

  1. I find it very interesting the way you compare sports to video games and your commentary on how both are seen as “fun”, yet sports are recognized for their social commentary while video games are not. Thinking about what you said about the line separating video games and sports, I wonder if demographics also play a part? For example, both the NFL and NBA are largely made up of black players, while the demographic most representing video games (I say represent because I am not sure of the racial demographics of video game players) are white males. Regardless, I do agree that both the physical aspect of sports and the generational gap play major roles in social commentary in video games not being taken as seriously as in sports.

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    • Your point about the demographics is a great thought that I hadn’t considered. I would certainly agree that a demographic comprised of those more privileged would yield less social commentary that would be progressive. Here is a link with the exact demographics of video game players in 2015 in the United States: https://www.statista.com/statistics/494870/distribution-of-gamers-by-ethnicity-usa/
      One interesting thing to ponder is why there is such a majority of players who are Caucasian when the majority of video games that are produced are in Asia.

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  2. I really appreciate this post! This course introduced me to thinking about video games as a media form in the same way books and films are. I wonder what distinct experiences video games offer that these other forms don’t, and how these experiences may shape video games in the future. In class, there’s a big focus on the the interactivity of video games and the ability to choose/shape their narratives. I’m not sure if these factors necessarily mean more immersion for me, since I become really engrossed in films and books. I become these characters and see through their eyes, but can video games heighten these experiences?

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  3. My interpretation of what you said was that you don’t know if video games with social commentary allow for greater immersion than books or movies could offer since you literally adopt the viewpoint of the character in video games. For movies, I believe that video games can outdo them in immersion because of the point of view that movies are typically shot in. For instance, the camera is almost always on the person speaking which therefore never gives us a chance to truly adopt his/her view point like we do in video games or books.

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