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Considering ambiguity in play.

Started by droqen, July 08, 2023, 02:21:37 PM

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I recently stopped reading Playing Software (Sicart) because of this statement:

QuoteWhat toys and video games do for software agency is eliminate or contain ambiguity. In a well-designed video game, we know what we have to do, and we are given tools to learn to see what the software will do to and with us.

It's important, however, for me to reflect on my strong negative reaction. What does Sicart's picture miss, or grossly misrepresent, that I care about in video games? He's not saying "video games are only about reducing ambiguity," but it is a straightforward claim that video games do reduce ambiguity. So it's not a question of whether video games are being too narrowly defined in terms of purpose, but that I am having a strong negative reaction to the idea that 'eliminating or containing ambiguity', in particular of our relationships to software, or in general of the thing with which we are playing, is part of the design of a video game, or in general of play-spaces or play-tools.

I'm here to ask myself: What's up with that?


Logically it follows I must believe that ambiguity is some necessary component of play. What does it mean to play with any thing? I might examine WHAT DO WE WANT TO GET POINTS FOR? In my letterclub of the same name, I suggested "We want to get points for our values."

Recently I have been wondering if there is any issue with extrinsic rewards, or whether they are simply measuring the wrong thing -- measuring something that is measurable, rather than something immeasurable... That is, an extrinsic reward is bad because it rewards something which can possibly be extrinsically rewarded, something which can be externalized. An intrinsic reward can possibly measure something precisely, perfectly. The right thing.