Spatial conceptualization, Abstract Reasoning, and Games

It might be that spatial conceptualization and abstract reasoning is connectected. Lakoff and Johnson argues in their book Philosophy in the flesh that basis of our thinking is in our bodies and what kind of relations our bodies have with environment we are living in. Multiple essays in Spatial schemas and abstract thought traces questions on how spatial conceptualization and abstract reasoning are connected.

If there is strong link between spatial conceptualization and abstract reasoning does that meant that games that utilize 3D space and require solving spatial problem (e.g., Prince of Persia: Sand of Time) train abstract reasining in general?

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.

Gattis, M. (ed.) (2001). Spatial schemas and abstract thought. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Email Problems

It seems that UIAH email system is totally dysfunctional and has being so for some time now. Currently I haven’t received any emails outside UIAH after 1800 yesturday (I know that I should have got at least some admin messages). Hopefully they will arrive sometime in the future. Admins and consultants are trying to fix the situation–so far without success.

If you need to contact me reliably, using phone is recommended.

What a Game or Role-Playing Game Means?

In digra list there is discussion on serious games with claims like game is only game if it is played. This view highlights the process nature of the games. On the other hand, the claim make obvious there is confusion what term games refers (Here I do not mean that we need definition composed by nessesary and sufficient conditions): but I think that we need a language that can explicate what kind of stuff we are referring when we say “a game”. Do we mean a process of playing a certain artifact, the artifact, or something else.

Similar vague use of term of role-playing game in recent discussion at Roolipelaaja forum causes missinterpretations. Usually it is not obvious from context if writer with a term role-playing game refers to game system (rulebook), beforehand designed scenario, game event, or already played game event.

Björk & Holopainen (2005) have proposed some terminology to clarify this mess:

A game instance defines the complete collection of all components, actions, and events that take place during the playing of single game. A game session is the whole activity of one player participating in such a game. A play session is the uninterrupted stretch of time when one player is actively playing a game. (p. 9).

I am not sure if these terms solves the problem in general, but their proposal demosntrates some distinctions that might be useful when discussing on games or role-playing games.

Björk & Holopainen (2005). Patterns in Game Design. Hingham: Charles River Media.

Plots and Attractors

There has been discussion on whether table-top RPGs are stories or drama and does they have plot in Roolipelaaja forum. That discussion made me think about some basic concept and views on RPGs.

Johannes Kellomäki argued that from narratologist point of view games are stories; RPGs represents human actions. I took that he meant that acted out events in a game forms a story. Which is perfectly valid view. However, it tells very little about the structures of the game before players have fixed their path with descisions.

Continue reading “Plots and Attractors”

“Music and Emotion” Edited by Juslin & Sloboda

It is a gem. Book contains sections on various percepctives on emotions and music like psychology, biology, athropology, and aesthetics. There is also section Music as source of emotion in film. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, computer games are not covered:( Nonetheless, the book seems really valuable for the paper I am currently working with.

Juslin & Sloboda (2001). Music and emotion: Theory and research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

“Tomb Raiders & Space Invaders” by King & Krzywinska

The book looks games for four different perspective:

  • gameplay
  • gamespace
  • realism, spectacle, and sensation
  • cultural

I find the first chapter Gameplay and its context most elaborated part. Conceps like gameplay, genre, narrative (or representations), and their relations are explored in detail. They argue, e.g., that the role of genre (and representational level) is to guide players in the game (building their argument from paper by Satu and me among others, so I must mention this;).

Continue reading ““Tomb Raiders & Space Invaders” by King & Krzywinska”

Evolutionary Neurobiology and Aesthetics

Smith study on how some evolutionary aspects might relate to aesthetic evaluations.

  • Sensory system is tuned to react unexpected; unexpected inputs leads high arousal state and that might be basis for aesthetics of modern: shock of new
  • Savannah-like landscapes with water, large trees, semi-open space, changes in elevation, and some complexity is preferred across different cultures; environments of hunter-gatherers
  • Also landscapes with mystery (what’s behind that hill) seems to have cross-cultural appeal; they appeal humans inborn thirst for knowledge
  • Bases of beauty and ugliness comes from inborn functions of mate selection
  • Appreciation of symmetry relates to our bodies: they are symmetric. Sense of harmony have also bodily bases — it relates to pulse.
  • Complexity appeals to our thirst of knowledge
  • Aesthetic preferences have plausible evolutionary origins, but that does not exclude that interactions with environment will shape aesthetic preferences

Smith, C. U. M. (2005). Evolutionary Neurobiology and Aesthetics. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 48 (1). http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/perspectives_in_biology_and_medicine/v048/48.1smith.pdf