May 18th, 2006

World, anyone?

I was thinking recently about how much everyone liked it when I suggested that symbolically being your gun was, well, phallic.  And that got me thinking about how the whole act of playing a video game is phallic, in a way.  (Okay, that’s not originally my idea, just the work of one of our brilliant posters.)  After all, what are you doing when you play a game but thrusting your consciousness out into a world?

So if playing a video game is a symbollically masculine way to interact with a play space, what would be the feminine equivalent?  Following the same line of symbolism, you would have to be able to take a world into yourself, to consume it.  At first the idea does seem a bit bizarre.  And no, don’t go chewing on your old NES cartridges.  But if you think about it, there is one thing that we eat that spawns worlds: drugs.

Another poster recently brought up the similarity between tripping and gaming.  Maybe the connection isn’t that far off.  Drugs (for better or for worse) allow us to explore worlds within our own heads; games allow us to explore worlds outside of them.  The two are, in that sense, two sides of one coin — the masculine and the feminine answers to stepping beyond yourself.

Tags: Blog

4 Responses to “On Consuming Worlds”

  1. Duncan Says:

    I would imagine that social games and social narratives would exhibit a much more feminine aspect. To play well, you have to make the world, and its inhabitants, part of your life. You have to share emotions, which means accepting them into yourself.

    Most games where a persona is projected, it is done to create a character other than yourself within the virtual space. Even if the character is modeled off of you, it will have abilities or social tendencies dictated by the game world. This creation of character then has to forcibly exert change on the world to create a “win” condition. In a social game, the exertions can be much more subtle, and require less pushing and more pulling. You need to draw characters out and create dynamic tensions to stimulate change.

    Not that I’m thinking about any particular game… but there are more designers thinking about social games, social storytelling, and building real characters within virtual spaces. Perhaps Façade would be a first step in this direction.

  2. Patrick Says:

    To echo Duncan’s point, one of my goals with Storytron is to design an interactive trip. I’m really interested in applying surrealism to a storyworld design. Since my drug days are in the wane, it seems, I’m compensating by designing my own drugs.

  3. sotonohito Says:

    Actually, I disagree that all gaming is an act of “thrusting your consciousness out into a world” I think its often more a matter of attitude on the part of the gamer than anything inherent in the game design. You certainly can approach virutally any game from that point of view, but many games can be approached from a more absorbative standpoint. The Sims is an obvious candidate, but I think you could probably approach almost any game from a consumptive angle, I’d argue that I’ve been absorbed (or absorbed) several game worlds. It could definatley be argued that the Kirby games are consumptive by design, and I’m sure there are others I can’t think of off the top of my head.

    Consumptive does not have to equal passive in either gaming or sex.

  4. Bonnie Says:

    Consumptive does not have to equal passive in either gaming or sex.
    Oh no, I don’t mean to imply that at all. I’m the last person in the world who would want to say that :-). Eat away!

    To play well, you have to make the world, and its inhabitants, part of your life.
    What a great point, Duncan, I hadn’t thought of that at all! Of course, I think, from an analytical standpoint at least, you really can approach the idea from either angle – but you’re totally right, you get just as much consumed by the game world as the game world gets penetrated by you.

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