Getting Mad at Bismarck
On the second day of the conference about “player experience” there may have been more papers on first-person shooters and references to Husserl and Merleau-Ponty than I might have preferred, but a number of interesting issues about power constructs in game environments were raised. Although some of the work could have been accused of what Aarseth has called “media determinism” and also of privileging the visual when sound is an important component of videogames. Jonathan Frome, as part of a larger project called, “why movies make us cry, but videogames don’t” explored three seemingly contradictory premises: 1) we do not believe in the reality of fiction, 2) we have emotional responses to fiction, and 3) we must believe in something. Petri Lankosi discussed situated emotions in games with the memorable example of feeling angry at Bismarck for capturing one of his minor provincial cities in Civilization IV, even though he is a non-playing character with limited AI. Other audience members contributed their own emotional events in game worlds. Celia Pearce talked about her remorse over accidentally setting the father in The Sims on fire, even though others might to the same act on purpose with great glee. Hanna K. Sommerseth (above) talked about a number of reality effects from smell-o-vision and rumble packs in the pre-history of videogames to photorealistic in-game graphics from nonexistent glass lenses. The day came to a memorable end with the Ludica paper about modes of dress-up in game worlds, which was read by Pearce (below).