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Connecting Huizinga and Caillois

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Alexander Ross

on 12 December 2016

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Transcript of Connecting Huizinga and Caillois

Quote from Roger Caillois
Key quotes from Ian Bogost on videogames and rules
"Videogames...also have properties that precede their content: games are models of experiences...When we play games, we operate those models, our actions constrained by their rules..."
Rules are deeply important to Bogost's understanding of games
In the "Art" chapter, his discussion of "proceduralism" as a definition for a particular category of artgame hinges on these games being "process intensive. Therefore their "meaning" comes from their "computational rules!"
Key quotes from Rowan
Tulloch on videogames and rules.
Bringing it to a close
The core idea about games that Huizinga, Caillois, Bogost, and Tulloch share can be paraphrased from philosophy: "Essence (the rules) precedes existence (games)."
"The Big Idea"
Both Huizinga and Caillois see rules as being foundational for all play and games. Rules are absolute and non-negotiable. Rules are the essence of games, preceding their content.
For Tulloch, learning the game is about learning the rules!
Tulloch is arguing that we need to re-think gamification, and that points and level progression are a key feature of good game design.
Connecting Huizinga and Caillois to Bogost and Tulloch
A core assumption in the writings of Huizinga, Caillois, Bogost, and Tulloch is that games are rule-bound systems. Follow the map to see how these theorists connect!
Quote from Johan Huizinga
"All play has its rules. They determine what 'holds' in the temporary world circumscribed by play. The rules of the game are absolutely binding and allow no doubt."
"The confused and intricate laws of ordinary life are replaced, in this fixed
space and for this given time, by precise arbitrary, unexceptionable rules that must be accepted as such and govern the correct playing of the game."
Without rules how w anyone know how to play? How would fairness of the game be determined? What would "correct" play look like? How would game even be experienced?
Sound familiar? That's because we have encountered these ideas about the importance of rules for games in the work of Ian Bogost and Rowan Tulloch!
"And unlike playground games or board games, videogames are computational, so the model worlds and sets of rules they can produce can be far more complex."
In the "Pranks" chapter, the quality of videogame pranks and their subversion of rules is dependent on one's fluency in game rules and systems. Better knowledge of game conventions = better pranks!
Bogost loves rules! Rules, rules, rules! The quality of the rules will determine the quality of the game!
Further connections to Huizinga and Caillois
Bogost affirms the separateness of games in the same way as Huizinga and Caillois do. Whether they are considered "models" or "simulations" they are rule-bound and differentiated from other activities.
Only with the presence of rules can the game be described or analyzed. Furthermore, rules are absolutely foundational to games.
Bogost would agree with Huizinga that there is a "spell" created in rule-bound games (think of his notion of "models of experience") and with Caillois that "rules themselves create fictions."
"The player learns these rules, so that they can
successfully participate in the game. In video games this process can be somewhat more complex because the rules are often not made explicit."
"The challenge and pleasure of a well-designed game comes in
learning the game's rules, logics and systems."
The player is put in unfamiliar situations and through various point systems (high scores, health bars), and progressing through the game they learn "correct play practices."
For Tulloch the most important pleasure in games is learning the rules! He wants to transfer this rule-learning process from games to other fields of life , such as study, political engagement, and consumption.
Further connections to Huizinga and Caillois (and Bogost)
Tulloch connects most explicitly and directly with Caillois who argues that knowing the rules is necessary for the "correct" playing of the game!
Also, think of Huizinga's "spoil-sport" and Caillois'
"nihilist." They overturn the rules of the games, thus destroying it. Tulloch goes after critics of gamification, arguing that they distort the fact that rules and correct play practices are necessary in games and game design. They are his "spoil-sports!"
Although Bogost and Tulloch disagree about gamification, they both agree that rules are absolutely necessary for games!
Or to put it simply: no rules, no game!
Full transcript