Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: science(Page 1 of 2)

Collection of Propaganda Games Part 1

Propaganda is about changing public opinion on something for political or other motives and many games aim to that very thing. In my opinion both advertising games and educational games aim to change the way people think and can therefore be lumped together under propaganda games.

Like many things in the world of games Hollywood have already tackled with putting propaganda in their entertainment properties, the most blatant and perhaps comical example of this comes from Wayne’s World:

Games don’t tend to be that blunt or honest, or get nearly as much money for tossing in such blatant advertising. Still, we can look at what;s out there in the world of games.

Here’s a fairly random selection of games that lean to the educational side but can also be considered propaganda because of the message they carry.

Super Tofu Boy by PETA

Moonbase Alpha by NASA (article on the game).

Real Lives allows you to simulate what it’s like to live anywhere on the planet.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s games to help kids understand citizenship.

Save the Silly Earthlings from their climate change.

Phylo a trading card game inspired by Pokemon, instead it’s abut real animals.

Sweatshop a game about the horrible working conditions that too many people on the planet suffer through in order for cheap products to exist.

Mayor Munch is a game about the most pathetic mayoral race in Toronto’s history (article in the Toronto Star).

Urgent Evoke an interactive story about saving the world.

World Without Oil is all about getting players to be more conscious of how oil is used in everything.

The Bail Out Game is a chance to relive the welfare the banks got from the USA during the banker caused bank implosions of a few years ago.

The NRA has a pro-gun game for ages 4 and up, which is quite ironic.

For more explicitly educational games please check out the great list at Games for Change.

Somewhat related stuff:

Here’s a previous post on the Canadian military looking into using virtual reality and things like America’s Army.

It’s worth looking at how Angry Birds has been manipulated into propaganda in this post at MetaFilter.

Video Game Rocket Science

Making games isn’t rocket science unless of course, it is. There are a lot of games that use rocket science to make a game, just check out Wikipedia’s category page of space simulators. Two rocket simulation games have come across my radar recently that I think are worth mentioning.

NASA’s Rocket Science 101

NASA’s most recent official foray into mixing rockets and games can be found in their game Rocket Science 101 which incorporates real missions into the sim. It’s designed for kids and does a good job of explaining what’s happening and why. One problem I have with this application is that there is no way to mess up meaning that it’s more of an interactive learning experience rather than a game.

RedOrbit has an article on the NASA game.

As well as the entertaining aspect of Rocket Science 101, the game provides users with a way to learn all about NASA’s thrilling missions and the various components of the rockets used in those missions, as well as how they are configured and how they work together to provide a successful launch. Game players will have a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of engineers at LSP, who do the same things for real missions at NASA every single day.

Kerbal Space Program

Now this is a game where you can screw up!

Kerbal Space Program (KSP) is challenging, very challenging. You need to construct a rocket then launch it with three kerbals (living things) aboard without blowing it up. In KSP you have to design and fly the rocket meaning that if you don’t know your flight angles then you’re going to run into problems. It’s so good that people at NASA play it.

KSP has a demo of an older version of the game that you can download and play at their site.

No matter what, it seems it’s a complicated process to get to the Moon (or the Mun):

Ever Lost Your Sense of Time While Playing Games?

Anybody who’s played the Civilization series knows that it’s possible to lose one’s sense of time while playing a game. In fact, games themselves are good at removing a sense of time by design. Level designers rely on the ability to mess with our perception of time. Heck, I’m not going to lie, I lost track of time playing a few casual games too. I digress, the point is that it’s easy to lose our temporal connection to the world around us thanks to games.

How we understand time is based on our time perception which can be altered in various ways and understood in others. Our understanding of time can be influenced by everything from how hungry we are to what language you speak.

This video is here so the block of text appears more welcoming. It’s the first music video that I saw when searching time on YouTube.

Things get more messed up when physicists look at time because some of them conclude that it all might be an illusion. How very zen.

A very interesting thing happens when we combine the social and the natural sciences, and this is evidenced in how we loose track of time while playing video games.

After analyzing the data, the researcher found that time perspective was indeed connected and related to how frequently someone plays video games. Specifically, that “larger amounts of playing time correlates with lower level of future time perspective and higher levels of present time perspective — especially present fatalistic.”

Present fatalistic is connected with dissatisfaction, aggression, and depression. We could hypothesize that people who spend significant time playing develop the present fatalistic orientation.

However, it is more likely that people who already are present fatalistic play more, because playing helps to decrease their negative feelings. This would support Yee’s suggestion that extensive playing is an indicator of mood management.

Source paper:

Lukavska, K.. (2011). Time Perspective as a Predictor of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Playing. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0171.

Civilization Far From Equilibrium

Yesterday this talk came up twice in two very different conversations, one related to game design and the other related to the nature and necessity of complexity and energy in society. This is a talk worth watching (or listening) to.

The talk in question is a Civilization Far From Equilibrium: Energy, Complexity and Human Survival by Thomas Homer-Dixon. It was delivered last June at the Equinox Summit in Waterloo.

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