UNI SP4 Study Period 4 2014

NET102 At Work, no one knows I'm a wizard

Internet Studies 102 : The Internet and Everyday Life

Topic 1.2: Games: At Work, No One Knows I am a Wizard

Playing games is something many have done as children and, increasingly, some may continue to do as adults. Playing games and sports are important ways to unwind, to connect and interact with other people in a relaxed setting. Learning and playing games are also a way of establishing social relationships and values. What role do games play in people’s daily lives and what has happened since the advent of the Internet to what and how people play games today?

Games studies as a whole is a relatively new discipline, with researchers from many different disciplines looking at different aspects of games and game playing. Some may specialise in studying game players, others may be interested in the games themselves, many look into the inter-relationship between games and their players, and still some others are more interested in the contexts within which games are played. All are important, but, here, we’re most interested in the context of the Internet and the social aspect of game playing. While our focus is upon games played online, as your reading will reveal, with the merging of different gaming technologies, some forms of game play are a hybrid of face to face and online play (e.g. game consoles with the capacity for networked play) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make the distinction.

What role and meanings do people exchange in game play in their daily lives and how have the developments in gaming facilitated by the Internet affected this? What are the different levels people may engage in games? How do games shape people, and what do the games individuals choose, and how they play them, reveal about themselves?

What you need to do to learn about this topic:

READ:

Two short blog posts

Brooks, G. and various commentators. (2008, July 8), Joystiq. Blog Post. http://www.joystiq.com/2008/07/08/counting-rupees-korea-bangs/

The blog author compares the gaming culture in Korea with the United States and speculates on some of the reasons for the differences.

The latest report from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association. http://www.igea.net/category/research-2/igea-research-reports/

The iGEA regularly publishes annual reports providing statistical data on Australian gamers. Find the latest report and analyse what the published data reveals about trends and features of the gaming industry and its consumers in Australia. What can you say about the role of gaming in general, and online gaming more specifically, in Australian life?

WATCH:

Schell, J. (2010). When Games Invade Real Life [Video file]. Ted Talk. Also available on Youtube. This video raises some important things to think about in terms of how gaming may be more and more a part of people’s lives in many ways, and how deeply tied this is to commodification and profit. From 2006 onwards, the gaming industry has seen the rise of casual and social gaming. Casual games are relatively simple games that do not require the same investment of time and effort as hardcore games. Beyond MMORPG and more dedicated forms of game play, the rising popularity of social networking services, displacing email amongst younger Internet users, has seen an accompanying surge in ‘social games’, that is, games made available as applications within social networking sites (e.g. Farm Town, Texas Holdem poker). What implications do you think this has on gaming in general and online gaming patterns?

DISCUSS:

Drawing on your own experience, discuss the role of games in general in teaching children and adults about functioning in society and creating, modifying and maintaining relationships with each other, are there differences in online and face to face gaming, in this respect? What games do you play and what part do they play in your life? What type of game player would you classify yourself, an enthusiast, casual or occasional gamer? If you don’t play games nowadays, discuss your personal experience of games in general; the games you played as a child on the street, in your home. Include all sorts of games, e.g. board games, tic tac toe, hopscotch, sport.

What are the implications of the rise of casual and social games on the Internet for online gaming and everyday life?

Essay

If you choose this topic for the essay, in addition to the above, you will also need to read:

Frans Mayra. (2008). The Real and the Game: Game Culture Entering the New Millenium. In An Introduction to Game Studies (pp. 118-151). London: Sage. In E-Reserve

This chapter provides a broad discussion of online games and an important text that is very likely to help you address the question fully.

Candy, Graham. (2012). In video games we trust: High-speed sociality in the 21st century. Fast Capitalism. 9.1. http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/9_1/candy9_1.html

Candy explores the shifts in time and space required for high speed gaming and the importance of locality for effective game play. Social relationships are mediated by access to high speed broadband.

Each of these six topics covered in Module 1 has a particular question for the Questions and Answers assignment, you will need to complete these questions and then submit the best three of them as part of your assignment. You may also choose this topic for your essay. Your participation in discussions and activities for this, and the other topics, contribute towards the body of work that you will select from for the Portfolio. Also, review the material in this topic for your final assignment, particularly paying attention to the role played by the Internet in terms of economics, power, identity, community, time and space (Module 2). Just as some music fans might remix and distribute music they like, likewise, gamers sometimes contribute their own customizations and versions of a game. Are there any other parallels shared by the topics of music and games? Are you finding other common themes running across the different topics? Start making notes on these.

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