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October Required Reading

(social) Realism in Gaming

This was assigned as a non-required reading in Marisa Olson’s Media Change class. Found the article really thought provoking and provided me with the direct answer to the question: will games achieve what cinema has? Yes, but in a very different manner… it’s going to take a game that’s socially relevant, that completely consumes the player, and provides powerful enough moments that it awakes the gamer by challenging him to reconsider the significance of his in-game actions.


  1. Charles wrote:

    His most important insight comes at the end and is unfortunately under-developed: That the “realism” of a game is not attached to the game itself, but to the individual play session. In other words, GTA III: San Andreas might not be a “realist” game when I play it, but it’s much more so for someone who actually lives in urban Los Angeles. Another analogy might be even better. Defcon isn’t a “realist” game for me because I have no influence over the nuclear arsenal of my country. Is it “realist” when it’s played by the President?

    Friday, October 5, 2007 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  2. Oren wrote:

    I think I read this a while ago, when I took Alex’s class. If I remember he had some interesting points, but I always felt that he took way too much from his Film Theory and tried to cram it into games. Sometimes it fit perfectly, other times, I felt like he was just trying too hard on something even he realized wasn’t working. But I do agree with some of the things he said, especially what Charles mentions. This also plays into the whole violence in video games debate though, if you are a violent person to begin with, will playing violent games make you more violent? I think he mentions the gang that used to play GTA before going out and starting fights. They said it got them in the mood. So did the game “cause” them to be more violent, or did it just correlate to their violent tendencies? Would they still have gone out and mugged people if they didn’t play GTA? This may seem off topic, but this weeks episode of Weeds has an interesting rant on the porn industry, were a main character says how he always saw the porn industry as providing a service, keeping perverts in their home where they wont harm anyone. Is the game industry doing a similar service, keeping violent people in their homes, rather than letting them go out and terrorize the neighborhood? Or is it doing what people have claimed the porn industry has been doing for years, corrupting the minds of people who would otherwise be normal? I like to think we are doing the world a service, because I cant be killing real people if I spend all my time killing fake people.

    Friday, October 5, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  3. Frank wrote:

    I’m confused. Realism is a function of the context in which the player plays the game? So when a trained pilot plays a flight-sim the game is more realistic than when I play it? I would say its about the same amount realistic, and I’m not sure what Alex is saying that is supposed to persuade me to give up this, to me, simple, intuitive, and commonly-held interpretation of the term.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Charles wrote:

    I think that the idea is that there’s ‘Realist’ (with a capital ‘R’) and then there’s ‘realistic’. While I agree with Alex that the player is a vital part of the context of a game, I can’t speak to whether the rhetoric of ‘Realism’ (with a capital ‘R’) has any merit.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

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