Monday, June 05, 2006

A Gameplay Resume

Tomorrow I'm attending 060606, the annual art-technology colloquium that UC Berkeley produces in sponsorship with various technology companies. (Back when I was first starting out in the field, I organized 030303, the theme of which was collective play and the transition to real-world gaming. Oh, how time flies!)

Tomorrow's theme is serious games, and all participants have been asked to bring a 1-page lifetime gameplay resume (no instructions on what exactly that means was provided.) I really like the idea and thought I'd share what I cooked up--if you make your own gameplay resume, please link back so I can see!

Below, the format I chose and the milestone games I decided to fill it out with. For brevity, I had to leave out Grim Fandango and Lode Runner's design-your-own-level app, both of which were hugely influential. I also completely skipped the event planning for New York City Parks & Rec, which of course was very game based but alas... only one page. But I will state here for the record: Massively multiplayer citywide Connect Four tournments forever!

JANE McGONIGAL ~ Gameplay Resume 060606

Early Childhood: 1977 to 1987: The Playground Games
-I attend a Quaker school and learn cooperative, rather than competitive games.
-Formative playground games include many from the New Games Movement: the Blob, Earth Ball, the parachute.
-Lessons learned: All gameplay is always already cooperative: you agree to share a set of rules and a common goal, and to sustain the fictive world and artificial urgency of the game.

Childhood to Young Adulthood: 1988 to 1995: The PC Games
-A Commodore 64 at home brings Infocom text adventures into my life. The Lurking Horror and Moonmist figured prominently.
-I write my own text and ASCII games using Basic 64 programming language.
Graphic-text adventures are embraced. Tass Times in Tone Town, Transylvania.
-Lessons learned: Talk to everyone you encounter. Pick up anything you can carry. Try all keys in all locks.

College: 1995 to 1999: The Theater Games
-Face-to-face gameplay is used for icebreaking, team building, and large-scale social events.
-I steal and modify games from theater classes and workshops.
-Psychiatrist and Murder are frequently played.
-Lessons learned: The structure provided by games gives players permission to participate in a social setting that might otherwise intimidate them. The magic circle is safe and inviting.

Early to Earlyish Adulthood: 1999 – present: The Social Currency Games
-Some PC and console games, it seems, everyone is playing. To be familiar with them is to have social currency.
-I therefore gain fluency in Counter-Strike, Halo, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero.
-Lessons learned: Common games build bridge across social and generational gaps. So much of today’s Watercooler talk is about videogames. Game literacy is key!

Graduate School: 2001 – present: The Hybrid Games
-Technology and schoolyard games combine to produce new hybrid games, and I love it.
-Flash mobs, urban superhero games, alternate reality gaming, geocaching and more turn the world into OUR playground.
-Lessons learned: There are secret gameplay affordances in everyday objects, the built environment, and seemingly serious social contexts. Life is better when we define, discover and teach these affordances to one another.

The Future: 2005 – 2100: Sacred Games?
-Organized public play resumes its function as a sacred activity? Gaming is ritual. Games are bonding. Games are transitional. Games are palliative. Games create immanence.
-Games are played at birth, death, and other important personal and collective milestones.

20 comments:

deepsat said...

I love gaming!!!!!!!! wish i could do only that all day!!!!!! sheesh!!!

Sean said...

The way you have framed your lessons learned from gaming experiences is impressive. You sound like an interesting person to know.

Anonymous said...

www.welovechucknorris.it

simply wondered said...

Well Jane - I came to this blog because I enjoy gaming and couldn't understand any of the sentences on your best sentences blog. When I was a student (English) I used to pick up my copy of Derrida and ask friends to give me a page number - then I would select a sentence at random and read it out. Every time I would guarantee not to understand what it meant even when I knew what all the words meant. I like the blog in the same way I liked that activity...It may sound a perverse form of praise but it certainly isn't intended as criticism - particularly of a person prepared to think so globally (eg your tale of bizarreness in China. I shall re-visit and look forwrad to extended acquaintance with your work. What I don't understand is how your two blogs end up at the top of the lists when I go to Blogger to edit my own. You must be doing something right. Not wild on Chuck Norris personally but it hasn't made me feel unwelcome on your site.
pip pip

one ben bir sey said...

nice blog:)

Jan said...

We used to play a game as kids that we called "The life".
The idea was that you basically did what you would do in life once you have picked what you are. Some kids had restuarants, so they made snacks, and the others went there to eat snacks. Others picked lives - like Bankers or lawyers - and basically sat around bored - eating too much at the restuarant - waiting for something to happen.
I usually wrote a newspaper so had a good time making up stuff.

I remember this one kid decided to be a teacher - but no-one wanted to submit to her classrooms - so she just taught a bunch of dolls.

Maybe ultimately what makes a game enjoyable, consists of two parts - the "involving" part - where you are doing something that absorbs you - like solving a puzzle - organising, logistics etc - Typical PC strategy games cater to this part. And the social context - with whom are you playing. Why was playing cards with grandad so much fun ? This gives broader significance to the time you spend playing.

Online gaming allows you to tap into both sources of enjoyment.

Jane Lake said...

I am a game player deluxe and I love your name Jane!

Sir Quady said...

Oooh, Jane has a fancy title!

"Jane McGonigal, Department of Performance Studies, University of California at Berkeley, USA"


I think this is pretty awesome. A little creepy, but awesome: "such attempts to coordinate individual players into collective intelligences have attracted the attention of organizations such as the U.S. Military, the Center for Disease Control and the Bureau for Land Management, all of which are currently developing games to harness the power of online players to tackle problems as diverse as bioterrorism, surveillance and wildfire modeling."

I'd defidently be interested in that. I mean, ARGers using their skillz to help out problems such as those? Awesome!

Game Masta said...

Well hopefully i will review some of these games since that is what i do.
psp-gamereviews.blogspot.com

jerng said...

Have you heard of Language Games? See Wittgenstein on wikipedia.

milano said...

very cool

Eleri Hamilton said...

While you're looking at nifty game things, you might check out the story of Cyan Worlds' game Uru. Groundbreaking game, canceled by publisher just months after lauch for abstract reasons, kept on life support by the fan community for 2 years, and recently revivied by a new publisher. It's almost the game equivilant to the Firefly/Serenity story.

Flounder said...

Where are you headed with sacred games? Can I play?

Anonymous said...

Jane - please where can I find more information on the New York game - the planning session of which you skipped? You are still participating right? You need help with anything? Let me know. Also, I promise to deliver an audience of players. We miss you.

~rose

( I have to find my blogger identity as I temporarily shut down my blog.)

Jane said...

planning session! what planning session? yes, cruel 2 b kind will be there-- as far as I know, they haven't assigned us a date for the game yet, but there is now a website for the game: www.cruelgame.com Also, my friend Ian Bogost is developing our technology platform that will allow all kinds of cool real-time systems updates, scoring, and visual mapping of the game progress. woot!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Check out http://www.myonlinesexgames.com

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