Expressivity and norms in game simulation

[The Japanese translation is below.]

This is a response to the critical article by Zoyə Street (@rupazero), which is based on the post I wrote before and Masayuki's string of tweets I cited there.

The core conception in our original discussion was the distinction between possibility (can / cannot) and permissibility (may / may not). I called the latter norm. We both claimed that unlike non-electronic games, video games have only the dimension of possibility (at least they don't need the dimension of permissibility), and so, Masayuki said, "the degree of mental freedom [in playing them] is overwhelmingly higher".

Using the same pair of concepts, Zoyə makes a different and more interesting argument. Zoyə says "permissable and possible can overlap considerably" in such a case that it's impossible for gay couples to get married in Nintendo's Tomodachi Life. Same sex marriages, Zoyə says, "were removed from Tomodachi Life because of a 'bug'" which would lead to the existence of pregnant men.

By calling it a “bug” Nintendo suggests that this is impossible in the real world, but in fact it is impermissable: transgender men can and sometimes do bear children, but cissexism does not permit people able to bear children to be recognised as male.

That is, any implementation of "cannot" in mechanics expresses by itself the author's thought (conscious or not) that it should not in the real world. There is no freedom, but prohibition and norms. I agree.

I'm interested in that issue because it may be just about simulation. In abstract or non-representational games, this kind of problem won't take place.

Game simulation consists of any partial correspondence between game's mechanics and the real (or "alternate" but reality-oriented fictional) world. Which of aspects and elements in the world are implemented or not, is the matter of choice. In the choice appears the author's attitude towards the world. Sometimes it works as the expression of a certain normative attitude ("what is permissible, what is not").

It's this expressivity that game researchers such as Gonzalo Frasca and Ian Bogost have called the "rhetoric" of video games. Rhetoric has forces, and there can be good uses of them as well as wrong ones.

PS. Recently, Jesper Juul has argued a related issue in his blog.

この記事は、Zoyə Street(@rupazero)さんのブログ記事への応答です。Zoyəさんは、以前私が書いた記事とそこで引用した@hambalekさんの一連のツイートをもとにして、より発展的な議論をしている。


Zoyəさんは同じ概念を使いながら、より興味深い方向へ議論をすすめる。いわく、ビデオゲームにおいて、「できること/できないこと」と「していいこと/してはいけないこと」とがオーバーラップするケースがある。具体的には、先ごろ話題になっていた『トモダチコレクション 新生活』における同性婚不可能問題だ。Zoyəさんによれば、同性婚が実装されなかったのは、ゲイカップルが結婚することで妊娠する「バグ」のせいだという。






PS. イェスパー・ユールがこれに関連することを最近ブログに書いている

9bit by MATSUNAGA Shinji


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