Getting Good: An Introduction to the Becoming Machine Series

taylor_cover

As a researcher who studies games and their practices, communities, and industries, I am deeply interested in the ways that my own proficiency with games (or lack of) modifies how and what I know about them. To take a pithy example, my years-long experience playing in Guild Wars 2’s PvE scene affords me some insight into the ways that the game has evolved to create some opportunities for incidental collaboration between players while suppressing others. At the same time, my utter incompetence with the game’s PvP play leaves me less capable (and less willing) to investigate it – to ask, for instance, how the Guild Wars 2’s meta has evolved in response to the demands of top competitive guilds. Continue Reading

High-stakes gamblers, game design, and the meaning of cheating

las vegas

The word “cheater” exists to define someone responsible for breaking a set of rules. Ordinarily, people use it to refer to transgressing the rules of a game, the expectations of a romantic relationship, or someone otherwise getting ahead, getting recognition, or achieving something with far less effort than it was supposed to require. Such situations seem obvious — it is clear that you should not look at someone else’s test paper or download a piece of software that boosts the strength of your video-game character – and thereby place blame solely upon the individual. But is cheating always that simple? Continue Reading

Procedural Ethics

Expanding the Scope of Procedures in Games

Essay - Procedural Ethics

In this article I put forward the idea of procedural ethics. Procedural ethics is a way of studying videogames, videogame culture, and the videogames industry that focuses on both the computational and ethical aspects of gaming. This theory is born from the desire to move beyond some of the limitations of current theories used to study games, making questions of ethics and people central to any study of games. Procedural ethics argues that procedures are not just the in-game algorithms, images, and text that force the player to make a decision or to agree to participate in a particular world. Rather, they are made up of everything that went into that procedure being programmed, including the developer’s history, the community, and the player’s experiences, as well as the socio-cultural context surrounding the game and the player. Continue Reading