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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Time to play a game

Within postmodern cultures all over the globe, games are highly accessible and played worldwide from various media platforms coming in a range of different genres. However, games are not a modern creation or discovery, they stem greatly from a time of struggle documented over three thousand years ago from ‘Herodutus’ story’ of an eighteen year famine. The ancient Greek, documented on how his culture survived starvation through solely playing games and diverting minds from food. Giving them more motivation to overcome the deprived time and occupying their minds and emotions with various activities played as a community.

As Jane McGonigal discusses in her book, ‘Reality is Broken’, “We often think of immersive gameplay as “escapist”, a kind of passive retreat from reality.” (McGonigal, 2011. P6)

This allows us to identify that with games comes a sense of escapism, as reality no longer seems enough for the modern age and more and more people all over world crave more out of life. Although in Herodutus’ time, they depended on games to live, that has now grown and developed into a surreal sense of a ‘meaning to life’ and as McGonigal discusses throughout her book, almost a way of life and a positive reality by stating, “We are starving, and our games are feeding us.” (McGonigal, 2011. P6)

Although games today almost take over the real of the world around us, people still identify their roles within society and within their own personal lives, while the game simply taps into the desires of fulfilling one’s full potential and allows individuals to explore at the very edge of their skill level.

The four traits of games allows us to explore the need for individuals to play relentlessly and while over the years the figures of gamers has increase, so has the demand for new and enhanced gaming experiences, these traits remain the same in order to sustain motivation and excel human emotions when participating as reality just does not appear to satisfy.

“Reality isn’t engineered to maximize our potential. Reality wasn’t designed from bottom up to make up happy… Reality compared to games is broken.” (McGonigal, 2011. P3)

Each of the traits McGonigal discusses relate to real individual needs and identify with reality, these include; the goal, giving gamers a sense of purpose, where if in reality this sense is not fulfilled, simply through standard jobs or not obtaining one’s own family etc. therefore games present themselves as having a key purpose - goal. Rules, these are unnecessary obstacles which allow gamers to show the creative side of their personalities and motivate strategic thinking. A feedback system which then provides a sense of motivation and encouragement and lastly voluntary participation, this establishes common ground and allows participants to feel a sense of comfort and control with a game.
These traits touch on typical human emotional needs for everyday life and although they are present within the lives of individuals, some crave the need for more and find themselves struggling through life without this fulfilment.
Brian Sutton-Smith, a leading psychologist once said “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.” (McGonigal, 2011. P28)

Overall, “A good game is a unique way of structuring experience and provoking positive emotion.” and as humans, individuals require this and turn to games for the ultimate realization of themselves, their capabilities and attributes to life. (McGonigal, 2011. P33)

“Game design isn’t just a technological craft. It’s a twenty-first-century way of thinking and leading.” (McGonigal, 2011. P13)

McGonigal, Jane (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New York, The Penguin Press. (P19-34)

You'd Better Start Playing The Game

‘We’re afraid of losing track of where the game ends and where reality begins’ (McGonigal 2011, p.20)

Jane McGonigal starts her book, Reality is Broken, by giving what she believes is a true definition of what a game is. She defines a game by outlining four traits they must have to be considered as a game. These characteristics are ‘a goal, rules a feedback system, and voluntary participation’. (McGonigal 2011, p.21) McGonigal defines the goal by giving players a sense of purpose which directs the gamer on what to strive towards and what they should do throughout the game. The rules give the user boundaries on how to attain the goal. This means it pushes players to use their knowledge and work out how to do this. The third feature of a game is the feedback system which ‘tells players how close they are to achieving the goal’. (McGonigal 2011, p.21) The feedback system makes it certain that the goal is achievable and keeps the player interested in the game. The final attribute of McGonigal’s definition is voluntary participation. This ‘requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback. Knowingness establishes common ground for multiple people to play together’. (McGonigal 2011, p.21)
Even though many players think that winning a game is the main aim and therefore a trait of one: winning does not apply to every game. Examples such as Tetris were the aim is to fit different shapes together with no gaps. The shapes come faster and faster and your goal is not to lose.
This definition of a game does not just apply to video or computer games, it relates to all sorts of games, from Call of Duty to Monopoly and even physical games such as tennis. Golf is an example which is a particular favourite of Bernard Suit. He believes that it is an ‘elegant explanation of exactly how and why we get so thoroughly engaged when we play’. (McGonigal 2011, p.23)

‘The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression’. (McGonigal 2011, p.28)

McGonigal goes on to talk about how games make us happy. Games are full of thrills and hard work which releases endorphins in the user’s brains, making them ‘addicted’ to playing. The work that is created in games is much different to that of our real lives. It doesn’t stress us out and cause us to feel unsatisfied. ‘We’re much happier enlivening time rather than killing time’. (McGonigal 2011, p.33)

MCGONIGAL, Jane (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New York, The Penguin Press.

Gaming is hard work!

According to McGonigal the concept of a game can be defined by four core elements; The goal, the rules, the feeback system and finally the voluntary participation. The gaming industry is set to grow to a total valuation of $83 billion by 2016
, making it one of the most lucrative industries in the world. So why is it such a popular industry when, as Bernard Suits states, a game is fundamentally “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”. (Bernard Suits, p55, 2005) 

McGonigal further questions our romance with games; “Why do unnecessary obstacles make us happy?” (McGonigal, p27). The short answer is humans love hard work, especially hard work chose for ourselves. Immersing ourselves into a game creates all types of positive emotional response. The journey towards the “goal” is an exhilarating rush of interactivity, focusing our energy that we are working hard at to succeed whilst getting both better and positive reinforcement, we actively shift towards the positive side of the emotional spectrum. As McGonigal states “gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.” (McGonigal, p28). The most successful games evoke a strong engagement of optimism, we are activating all the neurological and physiological factors that make us happy, “We are actively conditioning our minds and bodies to be happier.” (McGonigal, p28)

You may consider not many like hard work in reality, but this is often work we have to do. It usually has negative emotional responses, and does not evoke the “fiero” that voluntary hard work does, or as McGonigal puts it “the craving for challenges that we can overcome, the battles we can win and dangers we can vanquish.” (McGonigal, p33) 

Games have the ability to inspire numerous amounts of people. Humans would rather work hard than relax or chill-out, as Tal Ben-Shahr put it, “We’re much happier enlivening time rather than killing time.” (McGonigal, p33) In short games can inspire people to work harder. “If we actively surround ourselves with people playing the same game that we are, then we can stop being so wary of “players” playing their own game.” (McGonigal, p34)


McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

Game of Life?

It is undeniable that games take up a large amount of peoples's free time, whether it be video gaming or a simple game of cards. Using the four traits of games that Jane McGonigal discusses in Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World we can see the appeal of it all. Using factors like a goal, rules, feedback system and voluntary participation only increases this appeal as "playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles" (Suits in McGonigal, p22, 2011) meaning that gaming has become more important and appealing than life itself.

McGonigal's idea is that games fulfill "our need for better hard work" (McGonigal, p29,2011) presenting the idea that everyday hard work simply isn't enough. Works like high stakes, physical and mental are some of the ways in which McGonigal describes different emotions we feel while playing certain types of games. One type of work, discovery, "help us feel confident, powerful and motivated" (McGonigal, p30, 2011) because we take pleasure in interacting with unfamiliar objects and spaces. This can be seen in games such as Professor Layton and the Curious Village "a glorified brain trainer" (IGN, date accessed 13th November 2013) which focuses on puzzle solving in various environments, gradually getting more difficult as the story develops. Another work may be that of teamwork, were satisfaction is taken in having a specific role within a team, like in the game Castle Crashers. Different games portray different sense of accomplishment, which, according to McGonigal, may be missing from our everyday lives, stressing the need to find them elsewhere.

If this kind of ideology is to continue, soon any emotional reaction will be based on gaming alone, as life seems to have been replaced by that of a more digital kind. Life is becoming a game, were we relay on them for any emotional reaction or we simply have the need to keep playing "the game" as "compared with games, reality is too easy" (McGonigal, p22, 2011)

McGonigal, J (2011) Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World, Penguin Press HC, (p19-34)
IGN (, date accessed 13th November 2013)

All work and All Play-McGonigal

The majority of people that were brought up in the 1970's/80's/90's and perhaps even the 2000's have played, or know someone who has played a video game. They are part of everyday life, and are a massive part of the entertainment sector, with $65 billion spent on video games in 2012. However, they are still a source of entertainment with many negative connotations-for example there is a post on which has the question "Are video games bad for children?".  However, McGonigal explains that this bias is ingrained into our culture- 

"We frequently use the term “player” to describe someone who manipulates others to get what they want. We don’t really trust players. We have to be on our guard around people who play games..." (McGonigal, 2011, p19)

McGonigal goes on to talk about the definitions of a game, what makes a game, a game. She raises a valid point when quoting Bernard Suits-

"Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles."
(McGonigal, 2011, p.22)

This does sum up everything about games, no matter what game is mentioned. Certain video games such as Super Meat Boy seem to be made with the intention of being nigh impossible to play through without quitting. Metacritic describe it as "a tough as nails platformer" and one of the critic's review starts with "Super Meat Boy's difficulty will likely turn off some gamers..." Why do people play it? What is the attraction? As McGonigal said it is the "goal" that the gamer works towards (in this case, saving Meat Boy's girlfriend). On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Minecraft. It is a sandbox game, where there isn't an obvious goal as there is not any narrative. However, there are many little achievements that the user gets-for example, building a house, surviving the first night, finding diamond etc. This coupled with the "rules" of not being able to fly (unless in creative) and the voluntary participation with the game to create a world that comes straight out of the users imagination means that it's no wonder the game has 33 million users.

The four concepts are present in the majority of the biggest selling games and although they seem simplistic, they work and perhaps help us understand games more, by being able to relate them to "real life" ideas. 


McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC,

Statistics- (date accessed; 13.11.13)

Meta Critic Super Meat Boy Review- (date accessed; 13.11.13)

Coherence in games: "Is this real life"

Convergence within our social relationships emanates our cultural development. As we manufacture the awareness of public space, the possibility of events becoming permanently captured on camera increase. (Jenkins, 2008, p.3) Videos of profanities become viral through user generated content, the production and consumption of which become modes that are unpredictable in outcome. Whilst manifests of indemnification surface our culture; we re-educate cultural understandings of what defines the 'real'. Drawing from this concept, how has the employment of games transpired as a predominant factor in the mass consumption of media? Whereas previous discussion dictates a shift in behavioural conduct; due to the mass distribution of New Media, how has New Media, such as the development of the gaming industry, altered our former understanding of the world around us? What are the “Defining features” (McGonigal, 2001, p.21) of games?

In relation to what is frequently misinterpreted as stereotypical “hard work”, (McGonigal, 2001, p.28) games are usually coherent with the notion of being an active procrastinator; source of diversion. A contradiction from this would be that 'games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.28) Although enjoyable as a medium, games are by no means a lethargic leisure. “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.” (McGonigal, 2001, p.28) Players strive to improve their ability, and although this may not involve movements which are as vigorous or demanding as authentic scenarios, participants are diligent to advance or maintain usability in that particular virtual space. 'When we don’t choose hard work for ourselves, it’s usually not the right work.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.29)

“Compared with games, reality is too easy. Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.” (McGonigal, 2001, p.22) This “voluntary” inhabitation being key in what makes virtual “hard work” (McGonigal, 2001, p.28) an enjoyable platform in contrast to conventional understandings. 'Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.22) The inability to engage the audience as a passive consumer is 'why gamers spend less time watching television than anyone else on the planet.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.33) Presented with thorough entertainment, we are en-captured within a virtual dimension. We are furthermore open to opportunity; capabilities that are extended from what our biological identity can compete with. 'We aren’t experiencing [the] fear or pessimism.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.32) associated with the use of out biological identity. 'We’ve generated the stressful situation on purpose, so we’re confident and optimistic.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.32) 'within the limits of our own endurance, we would rather work hard than be entertained.' (McGonigal, 2001, p.33) By doing so, our brain is 'trained through tremendous repetition', (Highland, 2010, 16:13) bleeding into the 'real', creating an authentic “panic response” (Highland, 2010, 16:20) to real life distinguishable attributes from the game. “Real life... is starting to look more and more like a video game.” (Highland, 2010, 14:33)


Highland, M. (2010) 'As Real as Your Life'

Jenkins, Henry (2008) 'Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide', New York University Press

McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

Time to play the game

‘Gaming’ isn’t just the physical motion of playing on a console or hardware, nor is it being able to communicate online or with a gaming community. Jane McGonigal talks about how it is not just the physicality of gaming but the ideological meaning behind ‘gaming’ that works its way into every single gamer. Gaming is a huge influence on new media audiences and could arguably hold more ideologies than any other media as it can completely consume a person’s mind, “This bias is part of our culture, part of our language, and it’s even woven into the way we use the words game or player” (McGonigal, 2011. P19)
Because of this everyone is a gamer in this culture not just in a digital culture perspective but as an attitude toward advancement. “you’d better start playing the game. What we mean is, just do whatever it takes to get ahead.” (McGonigal, 2011. P19)

McGonigal uses expressions and phrases to explain how these ideology’s better.
“We use the term ‘player’ to describe someone who manipulates others to get what they want. We don’t really trust players.” (McGonigal, 2011. P19)
Every game has certain rules which give its players the ability to play within these boundaries. These rules don’t need to necessarily have to follow any protocol and so can manipulate players into abandoning their own rules and morals to follow an already lead out path. McGonigal sees how we tell the difference between reality and imagination through the language we use. “This isn’t a game!, What we mean is that someone is behaving recklessly or not taking a situation seriously.” However it is not the game itself that bring across these ideologies but the fact that it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference between games and reality. The escape that games once offered and the ideology to ‘winning’ at a game is on the verge of spilling over to reality as people are now players and as Jane McGonigal said…”we don’t really trust players.” (McGonigal, 2011. P19)


McGonigal, J. 2011. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Penguin Press HC. p19-34.

This isn’t a game.

‘We’re afraid of losing track of where the game ends and where reality begins’. (McGonigal, 2011, p19)

Games can lead us to somewhat abandon our own morals and ethics in favour of someone or something else’s rules, whether it is games you play on a personal computer, game console, mobile phones or board games. People play games became they want to accomplish a winning, but they never want the game to end.

There is something essentially unique about the way in which games are structured and the experience it creates for the user. Take Tetris for example. When playing Tetris you are guaranteed to lose because the game has to end at some point. It only gets harder when you’re playing well, creating a perfect balance between hard challenge and achievability.

James P. Carse once wrote that there are two different kinds of games: finite games that we play solely to win, and infinite games that we play in order to keep playing as long as possible. Tetris is a prime example of an infinite game because we play Tetris for the only purpose of continuing to play a good game.

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." (McGonigal, 2011, p29)

We can forget the impacts that our efforts have on anything so we generally feel unsatisfied with our efforts of work. But when we are in virtual world of video gaming or any game we are rewarded by winning at the end even if there is no external reward.

There is an emotional attachment that comes with the playing or addiction of games. As society is so evolved into gaming designers know to try to create games that will create emotional highs and not lows.


McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

Fun Work

The fact that we use games to relax form the hard works of life is fantastic even though games are work as well, as they set obstacles for us and give a way to over come them. “Compared with games, reality is too easy Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.”(McGonigal, J.,(2012) p.g.32) Games create different forms of work weather that is busywork, mental work, physical work, discovery work, teamwork, and creative work each giving us different senses of enjoyment. 

The reason we love this type of work so much it that this form of work is work that we have choose for ourselves. The ability to choose your own work is amazing; we can finally pick work for ourselves that play to each of our individual strengths, however this form of work is usually none productive and is an escape of life’s reality.  We find enjoyment form this type of work because it is good hard work that has been done based on your ability’s and strengths. 

Ok now lets break down a game and look at how someone can find enjoyment from completing work. For example if we take a look at Star Trek online. Star Trek Online is a massively multiplayer online game producing different forms of mental and team working work as your player progresses through the Star Trek universe. Mental work revs up our cognitive faculties for example in Star Trek online there are a number of different puzzles to be carried out with in the given time scale. This rush is the feeling of accomplishment when we put our brains to good use. Teamwork emphasizes collaboration, cooperation, and contributions to a large group. For example in the twenty people team assaults in Star Trek online, we take great satisfaction in knowing we have a unique and important role to play in a much bigger effort.

JANE McGONIGAL (2012). Reality Is Broken. New York: THE PENGUIN PRESS. 32.

Flow and Fiero

 Fiero is "a craving for challenges that we can overcome, battles we can win, and dangers we can vanquish." (McGonigal, p33). Ultimately the importance of which is crucial to the concept of a game as McGonigal defines it. Fiero is what gives us the gratification we need to participate in games, and is the answer to the question asked, "Why are we collectively spending 3 billion hours a week working at the very limits of our ability, for no obvious external reward?" However in doing so, another question is raised. What determines the level of return we get from 'fiero' by participating in a game?

The answer to that question is flow, "(...) the clearest sign of flow is the merging of action and awareness. A person in flow has no dualistic perspective; [they are] aware of [their] actions but not of the awareness itself." (Csikszentmihalyi, p38). The better the flow a game has the better experience of fiero you gain. This can be said to be true even with the external influence of a reward. For example, taking a coin toss as an example, if one was to toss a coin for a reward of £1 how much would they pay attention to the coin itself? Not very much. However if one was to toss a coin for £1 million the coin would become the single focus of the participants while in air. Through this example we can see that even external rewards that are 'outside' of the game only serve to enhance the experience of flow, and ultimately heighten the experience of fiero.

Fiero is demonstrably not a core element of a game however, the four core elements of a game as McGonigal defines are, "goals, rules, feedback, and voluntary participation." (p27). Fiero is only experienced upon success, it is strictly a reward for winning or completing an objective. It cannot be said that a man who has gambled his life earnings away experiences fiero. To conclude, McGonigal's definition of a game in terms of the four core elements is logically sound and cannot be intruded upon even by a core experience such as fiero.



McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2000. Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play. 25th Anniversary Edition. Jossey-Bass.

Games at the core

Mc Gonigal says " When you strip away the genre differences and the technological complexities, all games share four defining traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system and voluntary participation" (McGonigal, J., (2011) p.g.2)

Every one plays a game in some way or form. it could be a very phsyical game like football or basketball, these games require great physical fitness and skill. You could play a board or computer game, these games are often more mentail and require alot more stratage and can be very simaler in there baseick rules and structure. An example of this is chess, this games goal is ti get from one end of the board to the other there and take out the opponents king, the rules are simple each peace can onlt move in a certion way i.e. a pawn can only move two spaces forward its first go but any go after that it can onlt move one. Assasins Creed is a game for new gen consuls such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, the goal of the game is to get threw a fort and army to the objective and take him out, the rules are that you have to try and be stealthy, plus you have a setion number of weapons some bosses can also only be killed certion ways. this shows that these games have the same four traits, but dont forget about the more physical sports. When you take football apart it has a very simaler set of traits. The goal is to get the football in to the other team goal, there are many rules but the main one is tht you can only use your feet to gide the ball and that you can not hurt the other players physicaly, the feed back system are the points and the recognaition from fans and team mates along with wining. the main point is that all of these games may have a diffent fan base and are all on diffrent platfroms but they all are the same when tripped down to the traits. ths shows that most if not all games are boarn from these traits and that they are all the same.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

3 billion hours gaming for no external reward

When we talk about playing ‘the game’ we are abandoning our on morals and following someone else’s rules. The designer gives you freedom to work and discover new things but the player is still following the characteristics and rules of the game. The player is someone who follows others to complete a goal and will do what ever it takes to achieve it. The game matters in the player’s eyes, and we become this player when we interact with any game. 

 Bernard Suits writes, “ Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.”

“Any well-designed game is an invitation to tackle an unnecessary obstacle.” What define games are the structures behind it. The goal, the rules, the feedback system, and voluntary participation are the fundamentals that hold it together. Things like animated graphics; competition, interactivity, narrative or the idea of winning and getting rewards is all to boost the player’s attention.

Addictive is a word that best describes games. We know that finite games are played to win. Infinite games are games that keep the user playing for as long as possible. High feedback games show how much the user engages with a game and this is found pleasurable and reassuring. 

Players want the satisfaction of the game ending but also don’t want their enjoyment to end. People spend 3 billion hours gaming for no obvious external reward what’s the point? 

Busywork is a phrase used to talk about focused activity in games. It falls under four different categories, mental, physical, team and creative. We would rather work hard than be entertained. This is why gamers spend less time watching television than anyone else. 

Fiero is the Italian word for pride and it is linked with hard work. It best describes the feeling that the player gets when achieving something. It makes the player happy by completing the hard work that we choose for ourselves provoking positive emotion. Games say you don’t have to do anything but if you want you can upgrade and get better if you try. 


McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

A Game by Definition

Almost everyone, in some way, plays games in their life. Be it physical games like Football or Rugby, strategy games like Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds, story orientated games like Bioshock or The Last of us, or multiplayer games like the Call of Duty or Halo Franchises.  There are many different examples of what a game can be, but all can be identified by four main traits that McGonigal outlines.

“The goal is the specific outcome that players will work to achieve.” (McGonigal, 2011, P21) In some games the goal is clear, in Angry Birds for example, the goal is to complete all the levels.  In other games the goal could be driven by the story, an incentive to find out more about the virtual world you are playing in.  The goal can also be set by the player, for example reaching a maximum rank, or completing an individual challenge in the popular Call of Duty Franchise.

“The rules place limitations on how players can achieve the goal.” (McGonigal, 2011, P21) The rules are in place to remove the obvious and tedious ways of reaching a goal.  Rules are more obvious to players in physical games such as Football, because the players have to enforce them.  Whereas in computer games the rules are defined by the game code.

“The feedback system tells players how close they are to achieving the goal.” (McGonigal, 2011, P21) This can be in many forms, a score, a rank, a progress bar, or simply the player’s knowledge of a goal. The Feedback system ultimately makes reaching the goal more satisfying.

“Voluntary Participation requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback.” (McGonigal, 2011, P21) Voluntary participation at a basic level ensures the game will be carried out in a fair and fun environment.  These four outlining definitions are simply the base criteria for games.  New techniques are allowing for games to become more competitive, more immersive and ultimately, more rewarding.


McGonigal, J., (2011). Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Penguin Press HC, (P.19-34)

Monday, 11 November 2013


Gaming has become increasing popular within society. "Games today come in more forms, platforms, and genres than at any other time in human history." (McGonigal. 2011. p20) There is such a wide range of games, such as digital games played on computers and consoles and non digital games, such as board games or cards. A game invites a gamer to tackle unnecessary obstacles which involves hard work and optimistic engagement. Jane McGonigal (2011) believes there are four defining traits of games. They are the goal, the rules, feedback system and voluntary participation.

McGonigal states that winning and competition are features which enhance the gaming experience but they are not seen as defining traits. The defining traits of games are as followed: The goal is the purpose and the outcome that the gamers is trying to achieve. The rules are the limitations that the gamer must follow in order to achieve their goal. Feedback system is the process of the gamers performance which include levels and scores. A gamer must be willing to follow these traits in order to play the game correctly, this is known as voluntary participation. Every game, whethers its a digital or non digital, all of these four traits are relative. 

Gamers feel a sense of achievement, happiness and hard work when they play games. They enjoy how games give them the opportunities to explore learn and improve their skills. Gamers care about their games and the outcome matters to them. James P Carse explains how their are two types of games, finite and infinite. Infinite games are played to win, for example, Mario Kart. The goal is to finish the kart race whereas, a game such as Temple Run, is an infinite game. Infinite games means gamers strive to play the game long as possible. Infinite games are also known as unwinnable games. There is no chance that an individual will win Temple Run, it is a constant game to stay alive and not get caught by the demons. It is about beating the highest score. Some gamers would rather keep playing a game instead of winning because "..the state of being intensely engaged may ultimately be more pleasurable than even the satisfaction of winning" (McGonigal, 2011. p25)

Games are so popular today because of the emotions they are producing. 'Fiero' is a Italian term meaning pride. This term has been adopted into the gaming world describing gamers emotions towards the sense of success they feel when they overcome a challenge. Scientists believe that "fiero is one of the most powerful neurochemical highs we can experience."(McGoniga, 2011. p33) 


McGonigal, J. 2011. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Penguin Press HC. p19-34.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Immediacy and Hypermediacy

"New digital media oscillate between immediacy and hypermediacy, between transparency and opacity."(Bolter, 2000. p20)

Bolter and Gursin coined the terms immediacy and hypermediacy, which are present in different digital technologies. Immediacy describes a medium has transparent and focuses on the quality of the content. Designers try to make digital technologies more transparent as they want users to interact more naturally without electronic tools and forget that they are using a medium. "What designers often say they want is an "interfaceless" interface, in which there will be no recognisable electronic tools- no buttons, windows, scroll bars, or even icons as such." (Bolter, 2002. pg23). 

Bolter and Gursin use virtual reality as an example of immediacy. Virtual reality is an artificial world created by computers. It consisting of graphics and three dimensional images and users can explore the world through personal interaction. Its aim is to give users a sense of presence and experiences similar to their own daily visual experiences in real life. Three dimensional images create a greater immediacy for the computer experience and digital graphics are increasing popular as they are more realistic, lively and exciting compared to texts and instructions on a computer. Designers of computer graphics do not want ruptures in their virtual worlds and they want to achieve 'photorealism'. They want to produce graphics which have a realistic appearance to photographs. "To achieve photorealism, the synthetic digital image adopts the criteria of the photograph." (Bolter. 2000. pg28).  

The opposite of immediacy is hypermediacy. Users of hypermedia 'window style' technologies are made aware of the interface. Multiple representations and layers are included in the windows, such as graphics, image, text, menus and scroll bars. Users are active when pressing these buttons and this makes them constantly aware that they are using a medium. Hypermediacy focuses on the users attention and interactivity whereas immediacy focuses on the content being produced.

Overall, immediacy refers to looking through media and hypermediacy focuses on looking at media. Interactivity with digital technologies creates realism for the users. Being absorbed into different virtual realities helps them to escape from their own reality. As Erkki Huhtamo (1995) says, technologies is becoming more like second nature to us.


Bolter, J.D, (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. New Ed. MIT Press. (p20-50)


There is a real effective presence of media in our culture. It has a claim to reality as more of a cultural artifact such as photographs, films and computer applications being as real as building and aeroplanes.  There are two logics of remediation which both have a history for their interplay which defines a genealogy that dates way back to the Renaissance and the invention of linear perspective.

Within our digital media culture today hypermedia plays upon our desire for immediacy and transparent immediacy which makes us hyper-conscious of our act of seeing. The term immediacy refers to the idea of closeness like people would be with their families and friends. It is an expression of our fascination with the medium itself. It has been described as ‘an entirely new kind of media experience born from the marriage of TV and computer technologies’. (Bolter, 2000, p.31)

Remediation puts us one step from reality when it involves the media. In early to mid-1990s, Hollywood produced numerous filmed versions of classic novels. ‘They do not contain any overt reference to the novels on which they are based; they certainly do not acknowledge that they are adaptations.’  (Bolter, 2000, p.44) Consumers going to watch these movies would have expected direct referencing to the novels they had previously read. The content or the storyline had been borrowed but had no direct reference or quote to the medium that had been created. As most other things remediation sets off a number of arguments, we can argue that remediation is a defining characteristic of the new digital age that we live in. It comes with both pro’s and con’s.  What we can’t argue is that remediation is a key factor in what industry uses to entertain us.

Bolter, J.D. (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media New Ed. (MIT Press. P.20-50)

Remediation within new media

 “Media technologies constitute networks or hybrids that can be expressed in physical, social aesthetic and economic terms. Introducing a new media technology does not mean simply inventing new hardware and software, but rather fashioning (refashioning) such a network.” (Bolter, 2000, p20)

Drawing upon the works of Jay David Bolter we can look at the how the process of remediation is used within new media technologies and their effect on other technologies. Focusing on the media as more than just the software and hardware that makes the technology but rather the uses and traits it takes on after its creation.  This is the key to how media technologies progress within a new media culture by reforming from older more contemporary media. World Wide Web for example isn’t just a search engine it is defined by the things it can be used for. For example Marketing, advertising, personal expression, data sharing and communication are all traits that the World Wide Web is known for, not the singles of code that physically make it.  “Media have the same claim to reality as more tangible cultural artifacts; photographs, films, and computer applications are as real as airplanes and buildings.” (Bolter, 2000, p20)

Because of the new media culture that we live in these components have allowed this software (www) to continue to be refashioned to meet even more needs of its users. Therefore expanding its uses and adapting to cultural needs.  These cultural needs can depend on the use of other technologies. Social networking sites such as Facebook have gone through a number ‘reformations’. The technology itself is just a platform to which allows the user to fill with content, it doesn’t therefore count as new media as a platform until it starts to use remediation methods of ‘refashioning’  certain aspects such as organised content, and their own reused techniques. Overall Facebook is ‘unique’ because of its control of networking content through different mediums, yet sites like tumblr, myspace and twitter have all used the same controlling methods before and so they have ‘refashioned’ themselves around the already established new medias. They have used remediation to read the cultural social and economic concerns of the new media culture. Remediation makes us aware that every medium is; at the core level, a “play of signs” (Bolter, 2000, p20)


Bolter,J.D. (2000). Remediation: understanding new media. New Ed. MIT Press. (p20 -50)

By: Jonathan Milliken

Is Remediation Wrong?

Bolter discusses the term remediation as media companies using different content across different media platforms and reusing them to create something new. We can see signs of this happening as some novels are made into films. An example of this would be the on the novel Treasure Island. This story has been re-created, re-platforms and sold on different mediums.

Remediation can be used in all most all of popular culture. If we take the latest episode of Dr Who. In this episode the Doctor is forced to jump into his own timeline as of which the few senses are flashbacks of his past which is being represented by video content from early episode from years before. As we can see in Dr Who old media content is being reused to create something new.      

This term could be established to most medium content. We can even see remediation in our technologies in which we view new media digital content. For example if wee look at all websites and how the information is presented to us. Every website is different but they all have some key style within them. In a website the information is broke into columns for easy interactive. We can see some basic similarities in printed new papers and the way in which it presents its information of course without the interactive as this is an old media form but of course on how the information is presented.

As with anything remediation sets off a number of arguments and what is ok to copy and how it is repurposing. It has both its advantages and its disadvantages. Whether it is a good thing or bad thing we cannot say, but one thing is clear that it is one of the key factors in are entertainment industries.


Technological Evolution: To Infinity and Beyond!

Casual change is a disciple of cybernetics. We are all cyborgs, and this is not a commonly conceptualized fictitious state. A social, cultural and political engagement with technology has emerged; and culturally constructed – we are induced through media. “Technology is gradually becoming second nature, a territory both external and internalized, and an object of desire. There is no need to make it transparent any longer, simply because is it not felt to be in contradiction to the 'authenticity of the experience'” (Bolter, 2000, p.42) We are no longer limited to living in our “God given” state, we exist through technology, but what are our cultural discontents? Furthermore, cyborg is a constant transformative state.“It is a medium that offers 'random access'; it has no physical beginning, middle, or end”. (Bolter, 2000, p.31) A concept which from a vast perspective is difficult to grasp. Just how much is an infinite amount of technological change? 'The Infinite', a noun once associated with 'God', has ironically shifted to terminology currently used to describe potential for growing technological advancement. We can only determine future development through past creation. “This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence.” (Benjamin, 1935, p.3)

Emanating from Darwin's theory of evolution, there is the “highest importance to gain a clear insight into the means of modification and co- adaptation.” (Darwin, 1859, p.12) Due to the arise of technology, a shifting development of self has emerged. Although technology is continuously improving in order to better idealistic conversions, our body has similarly accommodated to technology in order to adapt. We have become an assemblage of self and machine; a development of cyborgification. We are not Androids. Our relationship with technology and thought begins to merge; our thought process becomes automatic while using technology to the extend where technology has become ubiquitous.  

Further expanding on the concept of cyborgification becoming the next evolutionary state, as a culture we are continuously tested to refine our ability to adapt to New Media. “Virtual Reality won't merely replace TV. It will eat it alive”; (Rheingold, 1991) much like the evolution of living organisms. We are presented with the possibility of an active role rather than becoming a mere passive consumer. For example, by merely participating in systems such as video games, a feedback loop in generated between the functionality of man and machine. If human compatibility is not satisfactory, the user will be denied access to any advancements within their alternate reality. “Creators of other electronic remediations seen to want to emphasize the difference rather than erase it. In these cases, the electronic version is offered as an improvement.” (Bolter, 2000, p.46) Although technological evolution is currently taking place, our body is not obsolete. “The logic of hyper mediacy multiplies the signs of mediation and in this way tries to re produce the rich sensorium of human experience.” (Bolter, 2000, p.34) We produce a relationship with interactive media as a function. Interactive media is static until operated by the user. 


Benjamin, Walter (1935) 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' in Durham, Meenakshi Gigi and Douglas M. Kellner (2006) Media and Cultural Studies (Oxford: Blackwell)

Bolter, J.D. (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media New Ed. (MIT Press. P.20-50)

Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species, (Bromley: Kent)

Rheingold, H. (1991) Virtual Reality (New York, Simon and Schuster)


In the twenty first century we can see ‘Remediation’ all around us. Films and advertising would be the best examples. It is a way that company’s can insure success from the success of the product its self. 

The new Dracula series and film is a good example of this. Vampires where first talked about in 1047 then 1897 Bram stoker publishes the novel Dracula. This was a popular base to work off as we still see it in the media in 2014 with hundreds of vampire films in-between.

In the book ‘Remediation’ written by Jay Bolter David and Richard Grusin in 1951 sees remediation as using and taking something from old to new or from one medium to another. They talk a lot about the different types of repurposing within the media, through technology and webpages films and entertainment.  When first studding ‘Remediation’ I thought it was wrong to use another product to your gain. I believe now that ‘Remediation’ is sometimes giving more to the product maybe making it more advanced and giving it more meaning. 

When studding the way ‘Remediation’ was used in art Bolter writes  “This kind of borrowing is fundamental not only to film and painting but also to literature,” (Bolter.2000, P45.) He also writes about the way arts and film directors learn from their predictors, so that sometimes they don’t have to make the same mistakes or improve.  
This raises the argument we will never learn to change or move forward if we keep falling back on the old. “We need to transcend the old to discover completely new worlds of expression.” (Bolter.2000, P45.) 

From researching and reading ‘Remediation’ is linked to a lot of different things in the media. It helps it move people more forward but at the same time they have to break out of the conventional way of doing it. 


BOLTER, Jay David (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. London, MIT Press.

Déjà vu

In general terms, remediation is the act of providing a remedy. Within media however, we view remediation as the incorporation or representation of one medium in another medium.  It is a defining characteristic of new digital media and something that is constantly happening within our culture, "the content' of any medium is always another medium." (McLuhan, 1964, p23-24)

Remediation can be visible or transparent. The Hollywood adaptations of Jane Austen's classic novels is an example of transparent remediation. The films themselves do not contain any acknowledgment or reference to the original mediums, “The content has been borrowed, but the medium has not been appropriated or quoted” (Bolter 2000, p44). This allows for the complete absorption of the original medium into the new medium. “Acknowledging the novel in the film would disrupt the continuity and the illusion of immediacy that Austen’s readers expect” (Bolter 2000, p44). Much like CD-ROM picture galleries on the internet offer the same paintings, not in opposition to the originals, but merely as a new means of attaining the same result. The original is remediated to an electronic digital form.

In contrast to this, remediation can be more aggressive in its refashioning of the medium or media. Movie clips can be torn out of context, and placed in a totally new environment such as music videos. Thus becoming a visible remediation; “The work becomes a mosaic in which we are simultaneously aware of the individual pieces and their new, inappropriate setting.” (Bolter 2000, p47)

Bolter and Grusin also state the case of the vide game, and it’s attempt to re-absorb the older medium “so the discontinuities between the two are minimized” (Bolter 2000, p47). Games such as “Doom” and “Myst” remediate cinema, allowing players to “become characters  in a cinematic narrative” (Bolter 2000, p47). 

The process of remediation is extremely popular in modern day culture, yet it is nothing new. Classical painters drew scenes from the Bible, and Dutch painters incorporated maps, gloves, letters and mirrors. Remediation will dhere to the rules of each new media platform, digesting and absorbing all old mediums and media content that has gone before it.


Bolter, J.D, (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media, New Ed. MIT Press. (p20-50)

McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Obsession With Realism

The term transparent immediacy should be considered as two separate words first to truly understand it. Transparency is the idea that the developers of the virtual reality interface are trying to design it in such a way to disappear the medium. ‘Virtual reality is immersive, which means that it is a medium whose purpose of to disappear’. (Bolter 2000, p.21) The reason for this is to make it so instinctive that it erases itself and becomes an ‘”interfaceless” interface’. (Bolter 2000, p.23) This transparent interface blurs the line between reality and the virtual work by making the medium no longer conscious to the user.

The term immediacy refers to the idea of closeness and being intimate like people would be with their families. ‘Immediacy is our name for a family of beliefs and practices that express themselves differently at various times among various groups’. (Bolter 2000, p.30) Users want an instant connection with the medium, for example, when video calling a friend using a software application such as Skype, the user has a feeling of immediate contact, even though the other individual is only on a screen and not actually face to face. ‘The logic of transparent immediacy does not necessarily commit the viewer to an utterly naïve or magical conviction that the representation is the same as what is represents’. (Bolter 2000, p.30)

An example of early immediacy would be photography or even painting, where the viewer would be unified with the image through a window or automatic reproduction. (Bolter 2000, p.26) It does this by removing the human (so the photographer or painter) as the agent who makes the viewer realise that the image is not actually transparent.

‘The viewer can see that she is immersed, (…) now inside the depicted space’. (Bolter 2000, p.29)

The user is submerged in the virtual world where they have the point of view of the first person and their field of vision should be continuous and filled without breaks. ‘But today’s technology still contains many ruptures: slow frame rates, jagged graphics, bright colors, bland lighting, and system crashes’. (Bolter 2000, p.22) The ‘desire for immediacy is apparent in claims that digital images are more exciting, lively and realistic than mere text on a computer screen’. (Bolter 2000, p.23) In ever more popular films, the idea of how the future will be and the ideas of virtual reality will be increasingly incorporated into society. Even now there has been a greater use of animation and computer generated images in many film such as The Matrix (1999) or S1m0ne (2002), where a producer creates an overnight star who is actually a computer.

BOLTER, Jay David (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. London, MIT Press.


In his book ‘Remediation’, Bolter discusses this term as the entertainment industry borrowing content from other mediums, he states that “The contemporary entertainment industry calls such borrowing “repurposing”: to take a “property” from one medium and reuse it in another.” This can be demonstrated with the making of popular films which originated from novels, however in order for viewers to consume this in a seamless way in which they desire, there is never any direct reference to the novel or the original medium in which the content was ‘borrowed’ from. (Bolter. 2000, P45.)

Repurposing content from other mediums is exceedingly common within today’s popular culture, as due to continuous consumer demands and popularity of ‘remakes’ and ‘sequels’ etc. and the constant demand for new and better media forms, content is constantly being reused and refashioned from older mediums into newer mediums, it almost appears to be no longer acceptable to have media content on solely one platform.

A well-established example of this would be the Harry Potter Saga which swept the world through various media platforms. Firstly originating from a purpose to tell a story within books, then came the blockbuster movies which allowed viewers to bring the story to life, and lastly video games were created allowing viewers to interact and feel a part of the experience within the story. Remediation is present here due to every one of these media platforms keeping the same purpose of telling the same story only reusing the content and adhering to the demands for new media platforms.

“Repurposing as remediation is both what is “unique to digital worlds” and what denies the possibility of that uniqueness.” (Bolter. 2000, P50.)

Below shows an example of repurposed or refashioned old features within Disney animations. Although this is not directly exact scenes being duplicated and reused, it still gives the example of how the entertainment industry recycles old media in order to create new media.

Overall, remediation is present within all aspects of media platforms, depending on the reuse and refashion of content to create new media, giving it a new purpose within our popular culture.


Bolter, J.D, (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media, New Ed. MIT Press. (p20-50)

Recycled movements in Disney's movies -