dmyers.us

I am David Myers. This is my website.

I am a Professor at Loyola University New Orleans USA.

This site contains an archived version of my semi-retired Loyola University Homepage, a brief description of the books I’ve written, a list of my academic presentations and publications over the last several years, and a blog where I only occasionally post.

You can navigate by clicking on the Post-Post-K menu overhead.

Clicking on “Home” within that menu takes you to the blog, where you are now.

Games are not | The video

Just saw this.

Sign of the times.

But I do appreciate the effort.

Twixt redux.

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Some regurgitated notoriety is coming at me from the City of Heroes resurgence.

For those late to the party and/or in need of a refresher course, check here. This link is a good third-party summary (no strings attached) and, unlike others, is still available online.

You can also search for “Twixt” on this blog from the pull-down menu overhead.

The whole and nothing but the truth is here and, more specifically, here.

Games & Literary Theory | Copenhagen


Here be metalepses.


Excerpt…

In effect, the game’s culminate context of interpretation — a context in which all values and meanings of all game objects are fully realized and most efficiently applied by the expert player — is not found in the resolution of discourse but in the intermittent and ongoing resolutions of repeated play. And, insofar as these resolutions are always in the future — i. e., in further game replay — the culminate context of the game is an idealization of play. As there is no parallel idealization of fictionality, the pervasive ontological metalepsis of games and game replay remains distinct from the indeterminate ontological metalepsis of fiction and narrative. In narratives, metalepsis is to be resolved; in gameplay, metalepsis is to be achieved.


preliminary slides [pptx]

ITRA | Paris


What can’t be a toy?


EXCERPT | Introduction

What are the formal properties of toys?

Curiously, formal toy definitions have received less scholarly attention than formal game definitions.  While Suits (2005), Caillois (1961), and Huizinga (1955) are commonly cited in an ongoing debate on the nature of games, formal or otherwise, there is no analogous canon of theory and theorists — and comparatively little available literature — on the formal properties of toys. This reveals a critical difference in common conceptualizations of games and toys: While the form of the game intrigues us, the form of the toy is considered less critical and therein, perhaps, less interesting.  Indeed, it might be assumed that any formal object can be played with as a toy and, as a consequence of that playing, become a toy.

But this assumption has complications. Some objects are banned from becoming toys, regardless of their playability: “dangerous” objects. For instance, while current commercial classifications of “toy” are quite broad (and based more on function rather than form)…

Products designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use in play by children under 14 years of age.

Council of the Safety of Toys, 2009, p. 11

…these definitions are inevitably qualified with exceptions, prominently including “essential safety requirements.” These requirements clarify important formal properties — both material and conceptual — that exclude some objects from becoming toys.

Another significant — and less culturally determined — complication to the notion that any object can become a toy is found in those objects that, if and when they are played with as toys, are destroyed.  These include physically delicate objects as well as conceptually delicate objects such as models, simulations, and games.

This essay examines the formal properties of those objects excluded from becoming toys in order to more clearly delineate, if any such exist, the formal properties of toys.  These properties of toys then allow speculation on the limits and boundaries of toys: How might these be determined and manipulated?


preliminary slides [pptx]

Games & Literary Theory | Montreal

 


How dissonant is ludonarrative dissonance?


Excerpt…

Here, I wish to try a different approach and examine the dissonant experience itself: examine the effect of dissonance more generally without necessarily attributing that dissonance to any specific properties of game or narrative.

To this end, I will conceive dissonance as a generic phenomenon associated with human information processing:  a consequence of processing information from two disparate sources. This assumption assumes ludonarrative dissonance is a subset of other, more broadly conceived and potentially generic human dissonant experiences, and that classifying ludonarrative dissonance as similar (or at least analogous) to these other experiences may be enlightening in ways that detailing differences between game and narrative has not yet been.


Excerpt…

In this more radical interpretation of ludonarrative dissonance, the incompatibility is not in two disparate informational channels, but rather in two interpretive frameworks — two disparate cognitive mechanisms (or “paradigms” in the Kuhnian sense) — that are required to interpret and experience game and narrative.

These two distinct modes — liminality and narrativity — originate within the natural history of our species and continue to influence us much in the same manner as did their original forms:  one fundamentally experiential and expressive, the other fundamentally social and communicative.

Myers, 2017, p. 64

Which of these two competing scenarios is most likely could then be suggested — if not determined — with reference to the nature of ludonarrative dissonance. Does this dissonance recede as knowledge and skill is applied toward its resolution, or does it persist?  The intractable persistence of ludonarrative dissonance is at least one indicator of the intractability of two disparate interpretive frames.

..the most likely conclusion to draw from this persistent failure is that game-playing and storytelling originate in two distinct human aesthetic sensibilities.  Though neither is made lesser through its incompatibility with the other, neither is made greater or more enjoyable as a reluctant partner in an interminably dissonant pairing.

Myers, 2017, p. 43


Preliminary slides.

Link to draft paper inside slides.

Games & Literary Theory

 Fifth Annual Conference

Lost in a game / Lost in a book
Université de Montréal, Canada, 20-22 October 2017
http://gameslit17.digitaltextualities.ca/en/Call-for-papers

Abstracts due >>> March 31st 2017

Possible Worlds (Part 2) | Kraków

 


Preliminary slides (GIFs won’t work in this version) for a presentation for the Games and Literary Theory conference in Krakow, Poland, November 2016.

I (continue to) examine the use of the “possible worlds” concept to explain the relationship between games and stories.  I (continue to) find this explanation wanting.

This version of the presentation presents an alternative conceptualization of the relationship between stories and games — and the implications of that conceptualization.

Possible Worlds, Literal Games | Liège

 


Preliminary slides for a presentation for the Poetics of the Algorithm conference in Liège, Belgium, June 2016.

I examine the use of the “possible worlds” concept to explain the relationship between games and stories.  I find this explanation wanting.

What is a simulation of a game?

 


Presentation for Philosophy of Computer Games conference, Berlin, October 14-17, 2015.

Introduction

The relationship between simulations and games is unclear.

Some, for instance, claim that that games are a particular sort of simulation — e. g., “the computer game is the art of simulation” (Aarseth, 2004, online).  Others claim that simulations are a particular sort of game — e.g., “I consider simulation models to be a subset of the more encompassing game model” (Klabbers, 2009, p. 49).

In both these instances — and in many others (see Karhulahti, 2014) — regardless of whether simulation or game is given priority over the other, simulation and game are assumed compatible with one another and, occasionally, equivalent.

Or, in other words, if a game happens to be a simulation — if, for instance,we claim that racing games or sports games or war games are simulations — then this claim alone does not preclude these games from being games.  Likewise, should a simulation also happen to be a game — as, for instance, nominative-based claims might insist about Microsoft Flight Simulator (subLOGIC, 1977) and Euro Truck Simulator (SCS Software, 2008) — then this does not preclude these simulations from being simulations.

With the goal of clarifying the relationship between simulations and games, I will argue here that transforming a game into a simulation may well preclude that game from remaining a game.

In order to argue this, I will not use a conventional strategy; I will not attempt to define a simulation, and then to define a game, and then to compare and contrast these definitions in hopes of finding either critical differences or critical similarities between the two.  Rather, I will restrict this analysis to an examination of what a simulation of a game (SoG) might look like, given three possible (and mutually exclusive) relationships between games and simulations:

  1. Games and simulations are essentially distinct — i. e., games are not simulations.
  2. Games and simulations are essentially equivalent — i. e., games are simulations.
  3. Game and simulations are in some relationship other than the two above.

The extent to which an SoG within any one of these three is more likely and compelling than within either of the other two is then taken as an indication that the relationship between games and simulations within that particular scenario is more likely and compelling than within the other two.

This strategy of focusing on the relationship between simulations and games, rather than on either game or simulation in isolation of the other, offers some advantages and insights in comparison to more conventional analysis.  For instance, this strategy initially avoids having to define a game as anything other than a simulation, not a simulation, or something in between.  This strategy similarly avoids having to assign a simulation any definitive ontological status beyond a single and important one:  its semiotic function as a reference.  For, as a reference, a simulation is necessarily bound in important ways to its referent.

Presentation slides.