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  • Writer's pictureAVIROOP ROY

I took all the different texts provided and went down my own path of exploration and understanding. Here are the things that I have learnt from each topic.

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Ian Bogost, 2007, Available on MIT Press, Persuasive Games | The MIT Press

Video games are not just about distraction and empty entertainment they can actually give us valuable insights into how the world works. And they often do this in a rather unique way. consider overcooked 2 at first glance the game's whimsical appearance its focus on social multiplayer and over-the-top gameplay suggests mainstream appeal. And a strong focus on entertainment I mean in the game we need to save the onion kingdom from the ravenous fun bread by cooking dishes and serving customers fast enough to meet arbitrary time limits. Clearly overcooked 2 doesn't have anything to say about the real world right? well but it does, it actually does present a strong and coherent argument about the real world and repeatedly so. The argument is as compelling as it is straightforward if you want to succeed you must communicate efficiently with one another. This sentiment is reflected in every gameplay moment in order to beat a level let alone get a three star rating efficient communication is paramount it could easily have been otherwise but overcooked 2 goes to great lengths to create and emphasize opportunities for proper communication and it does.

There's mostly on the systemic rule driven level rather than through verbal or visual prompts for example kitchens are usually set up extremely and efficiently which usually means the players have no choice but to coordinate their actions tightly with their team members kitchens are also ever transforming which is a clever trick to hinder players from establishing fixed routines or taking on fixed roles too easily and the limited number of kitchen utensils need to be carefully managed and shared across all team members. The existence of these and other system level factors hammer down the same message, if you want to succeed you must communicate efficiently with one another and it should be easy to see how the implications of this argument extend far beyond the boundaries of the game itself. This isn't just good advice for the game its sound advice in genera. Games are perhaps uniquely suited to making claims about the world using procedural rhetoric, that is a term and concept coined by academic and video game designer Ian Bogostlet's "examine it more closely" the procedural rhetoric does not refer to the procedural generation of game content or the procedural programming paradigm or any kind of bureaucratic procedures. Instead for our purposes we can think of a procedure or really a process as something that simply defines certain rules and constraints to allow and deny specific play experiences. For example in overcooked two you can move your character around but you cannot jump over obstacles you can throw raw food but not fried food which needs to go on a plate you can put food on clean plates but not on dirty ones or on a more general level the game's rules afford you to cook and serve some specific dishes in some specific ways but not in other ways and you certainly cannot like participating go-kart races or shoot people or something like that you could say that an overcooked - the procedures or processes in place lend themselves well to chaotic and cooperative kitchen action but not so much to other kinds of gameplay experiences.

Here's another way to think about procedures and processes when painters create a new painting or writers come up with a new story they are directly involved in the authoring process of the final product game developers on the other hand only indirectly author the final play experiences they use code to define the rules and constraints of the game its procedures which are then executed by the computer to produce the final play experience which of course will be made up of a unique set of variables forever playthrough now the term rhetoric comes with a fair share of baggage -when we hear rhetoric we may think of double-talk of his language or expressions like empty rhetoric but this does the discipline of rhetoric injustice at a fundamental level rhetoric is a specific form of communication rhetoric is all about effective persuasion or the effective expression of an idea. So successful rhetoric causes a change in opinion or in action or it focuses on communicating an idea as elegantly clearly creatively and vividly as possible when we have a conversation with someone or give a presentation or speech we may use spoken rhetoric to persuade them of something or express an idea you know. There's a book I read a long time ago "Just Don’t Think About It" every day helps me understand life out here the book talks about meant by what motivates them simple really a living being seeks above all else to discharge a strengths life itself as well to power. Nothing else matters we can use written rhetoric and text-based conversations or literature to do the same thing or we can make use of visual rhetoric and skip natural language altogether I think it's rather obvious that video games can and often do contain all of these types of rhetoric in some form or another but it’s another kind of rhetoric the procedural kind that comes to videogames most naturally. Ian bogus even goes as far as to say that when games make arguments about the world they do so through processes exclusively. So we speak of procedural rhetoric when processes are used for persuasive or expressive purposes overcooked to our example from earlier does exactly that it uses its processes so it's rules and constraints to persuade you of the value of effective communication.

Far Cry 2 is another game that I think mounts a very persuasive procedural rhetoric doing an in-depth analysis would take too much time but I think a few examples will get the point across one example is how soldiers in Far Cry 2 are easily replaceable it doesn't matter how often we clear out some outpost or roadblock we will be greeted by the bullets of a fresh batch of soldiers again when we return later no matter how often we clear a camp or how many soldiers we kill there will always be more there is an endless supply of soldiers out there people's lives don’t count for much in the war-torn world of Far Cry 2 they can be killed and swiftly replaced we can also notice that no matter what we do the fighting never stops you complete missions you progress through the game you cause immense destruction and kill a frankly ridiculous number of people but to what end no matter how much violence you enact and how strongly you dominate your enemies the war and the fighting just won’t stop your actions actually make things even worse hyper violence and dominance fail the player the game frames these behaviours as invalid solutions there is much more that can be said about Far Cry twos procedural rhetoric about war like how the unrealistically fast weapon decay the malaria gameplay mechanic and respawning soldiers are meant to frustrate the player or how the game treats both factions as completely interchangeable on this story and gameplay level but I think the point gets across far cry 2makes it very clear what it thinks of war it establishes many rules and constraints that ultimately reinforce gruelling and highly pessimistic view of war and hyper violent behaviour both in game and by extension in real life Far Cry 2 is a very persuasive game it would be interesting to examine the procedural rhetoric’s of other Far Cry games and see how they compare to Far Cry twos but this is a task I'll leave up to you now almost all games employ a procedural rhetoric of some kind this makes sense if you think of games as bundles of procedures or processes that are interconnected and layered on top of each other. But there are of course games that use procedural rhetoric much more effectively than others here are some points to consider when examining the quality of a games procedural rhetoric number one procedural rhetoric is specifically concerned with how games make claims about the real world through processes acclaim may address material aspects of our world like war or conceptual ones like teamwork games contain lots of processes that don't necessarily have any persuasive content. Not all games are persuasive consider some procedural elements in Mario Kart 8's deluxe consider how at the start of a race if you press and hold the a button when the timer hits - you will get a short boost or how each additional coin you hold increases your Kart speed by a little bit or how if you shoot green shells they just go in a straight line while red shells seek out the nearest cart driver and blue shells always go for the card in the top position none of these rules make any coherent or convincing claims about the real world they just reference the logic of the game world they are entirely self-referential and hence per definition they are not part of a procedural rhetoric in fact as far as I can tell the totality of Mario Kart 8 deluxe has an almost non-existent procedural rhetoric but games don't just make up fantasy rules of course they can also procedurally represent things from the material world.

For example the day and night cycle in Far Cry 2 is a simplified model a procedural representation of the day and night cycle of the material world just like the fantasy rules in Mario Kart 8 deluxe the rules that make up the day and night cycle in Far Cry 2 don't make any persuasive claims about the world so they are not part of a procedural rhetoric either that being said games can have a strong procedural rhetoric even when this may not have been directly intended by the game developers certain cultural social political or other kinds of values may have influenced the development of the game in such a way that it unwittingly or inevitably makes a persuasive claim above the world bogus background is an advertising education and politics which can help us understand where his definition of procedural rhetoric comes from and where he wants to go with it number three just because a game makes acclaim about the world doesn't mean it’s right or wrong it's an opinion an argument put forward it can be embraced partially accepted criticized or rejected among other things number four and five these are not necessarily requirements but a strong link between the visual appearance of a game and its procedural arguments and meaningful sophisticated interaction both help increase the quality of the procedural rhetoric of a game usually number six not all parts of a game must support a specific procedural rhetoric in order for the overall arguments to be effective the unread of overcooked - and the day and night cycle in Far Cry to say procedural rhetoric is not unique to video games you can find it another technology. In board games bureaucratic processes in the law and in many other places but because of games fundamental procedural makeup and the fact that games are an expressive medium at heart they are perhaps uniquely suited to making persuasive claims or expressing ideas through processes with that out of the way here are some more examples of games that make persuasive procedural arguments plague Inc evolved by endemic creations neatly visualizes the hidden processes of how germs spread democracy 3 by positing games presents a particularly effective if extremely simplified procedural model of policy making the McDonald's videogame by Molly industria is an effective critique of McDonald’s business practices nanoworld trading company by mohawk games lays bare the procedural logics of the capitalist free-market games can also make claims about the world on a smaller scale for example Counter Strike global Offensive punishes players who shoot at hostages or team members in certain instances the value of teamwork is also emphasized although to a lesser extent than in overcooked two and primarily only in the competitive mode and at least in theory it is possible to complete a round without shedding a single drop of blood while I don't think that these smaller claims about the value of allies and hostages about teamwork and goal-oriented gameplay add up to a larger coherent argument about the world there are still some of these smaller scale claims present in the game the concept of procedural rhetoric offers us a way to examine and appreciate videogames more thoroughly and to better understand how they work on a deeper level and video games that mount an effective procedural rhetoric can also help us understand our globalized and interconnected world better we are surrounded by complex systems and complex challenges like war globalization or capitalism games are really good at modelling such systems and they can help us comprehend them in more nuanced and authentic ways than perhaps other media can.

Learning to Play or Playing to Learn - A Critical Account of the Models of Communication Informing Educational Research on Computer Gameplay, Hans Christian Arnseth, Institute for Educational Research, University of Oslo

Taking this Idea I have done my own reflection and come to my own conclusions, I've delved into them below.

What are educational computer games? when you hear the term you might picture something like kids playing COD in the classroom. But an actual definition is the use of a computer games-based approach to deliver, support and enhance teaching, learning assessment and valuation. Currently four to five households in the us own a gaming system and mobile gaming on smartphones particularly is increasing quickly in popularity. And we're seeing the same thing in the classroom that computer-based gaming is increasing and for good reason. It is a research fact that digital games engage and motivate people of all ages, Prensky argued that the value of digital games are the effective delivery of content achieving at least the same or better results than traditional methods. Chen and Wang focused on the increased student motivation in regards to digital gaming. Whether it's online or software based called edutainment or computer-based instruction as teachers. There is a need to evaluate if digital gaming is an effective means of learning in our classroom but how do we navigate the labyrinth of a million games and evaluate which ones will be effective in the classroom? Here's a list of research-based questions to ask regarding a potential educational computer game. Does it tend towards a simple stimulus response or does it build higher order thinking in the learner. Is it consistent with the curriculum and learning outcomes, does the software provide positive formative feedback and achievement measures. Is the software appropriately challenging, does the software provide opportunities for practice and review, does the software present material in an enjoyable interesting manner, will the software allow for social interaction, will the software foster learning in an authentic relevant context, will the software be accessible to students. No software can replace teachers who thoughtfully plan objectives and authentically challenge and guide learners to greater heights but educational computer games can be used to enhance learning like any other tool effectively used from the teachers technology toolbox .

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