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Pervasive Video Games as Art
The form and function of art has evolved and changed quite a bit over the years, decades and millennia. Paintings and sculpture have been artistic mainstays for much to most of the world of the civilized human race. However, with the technological revolution that has roared up over the last fifty years or so, new forms of art have bubbled to the proverbial surface. Digital technology has enhanced prior forms of art e such as photography. Beyond that, completely brand new forms have art have been created and the latter is what this report is assessing in the form of pervasive video games. The depth and breadth of this art and the effects it has on its users and fans when done will are worthy of massive study and analysis both in this report and elsewhere.
Chapter I - Introduction
Video games, at this point in history in the mid-2010's, is not new and has not been for some time. However, the richness of video games has allowed for the creation and propagation of alternative worlds and universes that allow people to become engrossed in things such as gameplay, the world created and the culture that has been created within the same. Such a line of thought would have been deemed to have been sheer madness prior to the technological revolution and expansion of the definition of art over the last 50 years. Even today, such supposition and statements would seem to be over the top and beyond the pale to many people. Some would even snicker at the idea of losing one's self in a video game world and culture. However, this phenomenon and happenstance absolutely happens albeit to varying degrees. Some people ignore this as it happen while the other side of the spectrum either welcomes the escape no matter how silly or far-fetched it may seem. As with most things, most people that have an opinion about the topic fall somewhere in the middle.
This event, to the extent that it does happen, is a natural offshoot of a society that is becoming more digital, automated and communication-based in nature. Social media and internet technology in general has made the world a lot smaller much like airplanes did the same for travelling from point A to point B. While some bemoan the pace and depth of this development into a digital world, it is happening nonetheless and it is impossible to miss when one see's smartphones, PDA's, tablet computers, wireless networks and so forth. The cellular phones of just ten years ago had a fraction of the capability and processing power of today's phones that can send, create and receive pictures and video with great ease to the point that they are quite quickly replacing point and shoot cameras and this includes the digital ones.
The manifestations of technology changing culture, the workplace and society at large certainly has its tentacles in many facets of life and art is no different. America is now a world where playing video games is a dominant part of many people's lives and this includes both young and old, both men and women and through many different avenues such as social media sites like Facebook, multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft and Everquest and so on (Sony, 2014)(Blizzard, 2014). One main focus of this overall realm of research focuses on the IPerG research project. There were a number of games that were looked at and analyzed within that project. They included Day of the Figurines, Epidemic Menace, Wizard's Apprentice and others. The concept of "pervasive games" has a fairly inconsistent definition from person to person even in the scholarly sphere. However, the work of people like Montola and Robb are quite enlightening and engaging and they will be a heavy focus of the literature review done in this report.
The larger focus of this report, however, will focus on the idea that entire cultures, societies and such are created and fostered through pervasive games. These cultures and frameworks are very much based on fiction and are often completely digital in nature at their roots, but one would have a hard time convincing those that see these games for the ostensible alternate universes that they are. While these games are obviously not the first thing to come around that encourages and engenders such outcomes, it is very safe to say that very few art pieces are as engaging, interactive and usable for personal satisfaction and enjoyment as the art that is seen in games like those from the IPerG project as well as more commonly known games in the public sphere such as Candy Crush, World of Warcraft and Farmville.
Another concept that will be touched upon in this report will be the concept of the chronotope, a term forwarded and explored by Bakhtin. Other terms and concepts will include how gameplay design plays a huge part in whether people truly engage with and becoming enveloped in the artwork of the game and the aesthetics of dislocation. In other words, the quality, depth and breadth of the art is deemed by many to be inextricably linked with how/when people immerse themselves into the games and the manifestations that become apparent when the art is done in a cohesive and enthralling way rather than in a way that bores users or only holds their attention for some time. Indeed, some games are fleeting in their popularity and people eventually move on to the next fad or game option while other games have an enduring and long-lasting effect and presence. Of course, the user experience and how the users react to the same has everything to do with the cultural, economic and societal effects render themselves.
The digital and temporal nature of the games and the cultures created therein may seem to be fake and unreal to those that focus on what they can see, hold and use in real life. However, other recent events that have little if anything to do with video games and their associated cultures have proven that this can indeed happen in the modern age. It is not some futuristic concept with little to no merit or something one would see on Star Trek. One example is alternative currencies like Bitcoin. The Bitcoin phenomenon, not unlike that of pervasive video games, is condemned, criticized and is labeled as an avenue for fools. However, to say that there "is no there, there" would be a mistake. Another example would be the recent movie "Her" which starred Joaquin Phoenix in which a man has a real relationship of sorts with an operating system rather than a real hot-blooded man or woman. However, while some may snicker at the idea of a man doing such a thing, just as they may do so for a video game fanatic, the concept is not nearly as unrealistic or unfathomable as some may think. While there is not much "art" to Bitcoin, the concept of "Her" is very much an art-driven realm because the 1's and 0's that would underpin such an operating system would absolutely evoke an emotional response, at least of some sort, for the user and that is what art truly is at its core. One need not sculpt the statue "David" or paint a beautiful oil painting to get an emotion response.
The purpose of this report is to define and explore the processes, tactics and habits that go into designing and crafting a pervasive video game that engages a user in a way that only art can. This is obviously done through things like looking at the successes and failures of past games, how a new game should be constructed and why, the mechanics of getting a game from concept to a real online and active experience and so forth. The blend of audio and visual elements have to be assembled and arranged in a very delicate and precise fashion so that the digital world created as much mimics and creates what would be expected. Indeed, there are several distinct elements that must be built into each game. These objectives can be as simple as objectives and goals that can be met like meeting a certain time or less in a race or completing a quest. The trick is to take such an objective that is challenging and engaging and artistically creating a culture and an environment that makes sense and dissuades the user or users from suspending their disbelief. The backdrop, the way in which things are traveled through and used, how updates to an objective are seen or not seen and so forth are all important.
Chapter II -- Literature Review
As discussed throughout the introduction, the main focus of the research through this research project and, more specifically, this literature review will be the works of Robb, Montola and the IPerG project. However, before looking at more modern research and example of pervasive games, one should look at the predictions made…[continue]
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