Comments on

Son of Webster

Original entry posted: Tue Aug 8 03:12:55 2006

pseudonymous @ Fri Aug 4 13:13:08 2006 EST

Remind me why I want to be a professor because that was just awful.

How does that help create better games? At what point is that in any way helpful? How will ludology better the human condition? If someone can explain that to me, I'll be interested because as it is, it seems incredibly self-indulgent. Not only is our culture such that a significant number of people can conceivably spend a significant portion of their day(s) in front of a screen playing video games, but now we're trying to legitimize their spending the rest of their time over-intellectualizing about it?

I love a good bit of bullshitting as much as the next guy, but the quicker we get to applied ludology the better.

Josh @ Fri Aug 4 15:13:20 2006 EST

I'm a big fence-sitter on ludology. I'm all for dissecting video games into their finer parts ... and let's face it - sometimes fine means small and boring.

Just not sure ludology is actually responsible for making games better. Perhaps it just needs a chance, or perhaps the industry to needs to adjust to allow for such input or something.

But at times it feels like that mad scientist who spends all his day trying to find that elusive equation for "fun" that all his students keep talking about...

Thomas @ Fri Aug 4 15:23:58 2006 EST

I am not sure that the current generation of so-called gaming scholars are really interested in the "finer parts." Most of what I see is more like late-night bong-hit rambling, but dressed into much more tiresome language.

I'd be more willing to grant them a break for not making games better if they'd stop acting themselves like that's their role. Dropping the ridiculous name would be a start.

pseudonymous @ Fri Aug 4 15:52:30 2006 EST

"Because I'm an expert in - name-eology!" What do you expect the name to be? It has to be Greek. The suffix -ology is Greek in origin. It's customary for the root to be so. That's why it's called geology and not terrology. The name of all things remains the most clever thing I've seen. The line of inquiry needs a name. This is as good as another.

Maybe it's just a personal frustration, having studied philosophy for so long. At some point, the knowledge must amount to something. Ludologists inquire into the nature of these games, ask what's really going, and maybe come to some genuinely clever conclusions. What then? Are we engaged in some sort of meaningful practice or are we just playing around? That's what gamers do. Do we need ludologists?

Thomas @ Fri Aug 4 16:01:44 2006 EST

I tend to think we should reserve the "ologies" for the hard sciences. Not that we probably do, at any consistent level, but "ludology" strikes me as a dramatic cry to be taken seriously.

We don't call the study of films "kinemagraphology." We call it "film studies." Why can't this just be "game studies?"

Again, the appropriation of Greek terms (paida, ludos) to describe otherwise uncomplicated concepts (narrative vs. open-ended simulation) seems desparate to me.

Thomas @ Fri Aug 4 16:08:04 2006 EST

But yes, the point about the end result of this knowledge is a good one. Especially since I rarely see any links between the study of gaming, and its improvement.

But then, I would argue (as I repeatedly have) that a real, interesting game studies program would be more interested in the cultural significance of games, and less in arguments about defining whether they should tell a story.

Wait, did you just bash philosophy? "Maybe it's just a personal frustration, having studied philosophy for so long. At some point, the knowledge must amount to something."

pseudonymous @ Fri Aug 4 23:50:34 2006 EST

I'll bash anything that's more interested in being clever than it is in being right.

Like I said, I love a good bullshit session, but, at some point, we sift through our clever phrases and make a decision. Are we right? Are we wrong? Does it matter? I just think it ought to matter. It ought to amount to something.

I think some philosophy does. I think some ludology could.

jccalhoun @ Mon Aug 7 22:42:15 2006 EST

"How does that help create better games?"

Well, it isn't about creating better games. It is about understanding what is unique about them and why they are so engaging. I would think that anything that millions of people enage with every day is worth studying.

Regarding why is it called ludology and not game studies. Well, the reason is simple. Wired got it wrong. Ludology is a type of games studies.

The term ludology came about in response to the then current practice of many narratologists starting to write about videogames in terms of narrative. Therefore, the term was chosen as a play on that. Ludud comes from Roger Caillois's book Man, Play and Games in which he discusses ludus and paidia which is basically formal games and freeform play.
While I once found the ludology side of things much more interesting, I feel it was due to my reaction at seeing so many people who knew nothing about games writing horribly innacurate things about them.
Now, however, I think that looking only at the games and not the players is missing the point of what games are about.
Historically, the ludology vs. narratology debate was important as it helped people think about medium specificity. now, however, the time has come to move past it and into more interesting things regarding the cultural impact and signifigance of gaming.

Thomas @ Mon Aug 7 23:12:55 2006 EST

now, however, the time has come to move past it and into more interesting things regarding the cultural impact and signifigance of gaming.

Which is really all I've been saying all along.

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