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Games that had impact on you

Games that had impact on you
« on: February 12, 2010, 09:26:51 am »

Because some questions raised in the this thread I would like to know if anyone could name some games that have had impact on them on real life issues. Since all of you are game designers I do not mean games that made you think different about games, but rather about real-life things.

For my part, the list is depressingly short (so many games.. so little impact):

Osmos
This game gave me a greater understanding of gravity, orbital mechanics and momentum. It actually felt like I was being enlightened while playing it.


and that is really all I can come up with now...

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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2010, 10:08:06 am »

After playing Braid my subconscious thought that I could rewind time. This life-threatening misconception luckily just lasted for a day or two.

As the board game fanatic I am, I have to say that Go probably is the game that has affected me and my thinking the most. It teaches some very interesting concepts about greed vs. timidity, construction, rhythm, patience and much more. Poker is also a game that I think makes you learn a lot of useful stuff.

Computer games are harder... I would actually say that FPS games have showed me a little about how it is to be a soldier, something that's hard to imagine otherwise. Not to say that it's a very realistic way of showing it, but still.

In the end I think the GTA games have had the most impact on me. Actually when I traveled to USA for the first time I felt like I recognized a lot of things from the games, which was totally cool. I'd say that GTA works very well as a kind of over the top simulator of American culture. Maybe it should be required playing for anyone who wants to move there? Smiley
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2010, 11:17:44 am »

I don't like actually learning things in games. So I never look for that. And I'd be annoyed if a games tried to teach me something on purpose. Because I look for art in games. And art is more complex. Art requires the voice of its creator. It becomes a thing about connecting for me. Connecting with the artist, sometimes, but often simply connecting with the idea of being human, and what that means in its social context. So I guess, art is about sharing experiences for me.

Holding hands with Yorda in Ico, a walk on the beach with a prostitute in GTA3, caring for my creature in Black & White, sharing James Sunderland's confusion about what is real and what is not in Silent Hill 2. All of these are fond memories that helped me feel more connected to people, more comfortable being human.

But in terms of life-changing impact on the level of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Baudrillard or Sade, Nothomb and Carter, or Bernini, Van Eyck and Duchamp, or Bach, Pergolesi and Brel I'm afraid no game has done that for me yet.

I do tend to think that there are only two things in this world: good art and bad art.  Grin
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2010, 01:47:14 pm »

This is sad but I got to be honest. None.

I play videogames for about 16 years and none of them had really any serious impact over me. Strategy games made me think that it's a modern way to fulfill the desire of commanding and conquering (I believe some of humans have it and I base my opinion on the history of mankind). That there is beauty in strategy I know for sure. But in the end it is "Art of War" that makes me think "Hmm... how to make a game that would follow those ultimate guidelines" rather than writing 'second' "Art of War" after playing Starcraft. Starcraft is much more entertaining and I played it for 2 years. I read Art of War for several days, perhaps. But in the end, it's Art of War standing on my shelf, not Starcraft.

Several games had impact on me as a designer but that's it. Even "The Passage" that watered my eyes didn't really make me think much about anything rather than game can be touching. It's funny but actually even a scene from silly "Kung Fu Panda" where old wise turtle turns into flowers (which is a symbolical death of his) made me think more about death as a beauty of dying, of changing form, of traveling beyond physical restrictions than "The Passage". One verse of David Sylvian's "World Citizen" song: "Why can't we be without beginning, without end" made me spend about 5 minutes on several lectures about modern Japanese music that I was doing couple of years ago, but if I would be doing a lecture/panel about art games and give Passage as example, I would probably not be able to say as much and try to inspire people to think as much as basing on just this one verse.
And finally, this thread (as you can see) gave me more than any videogame ever. Encouraged me to think and express myself, thus to discover a bit more about myself.

Sad Smiley
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2010, 05:31:23 pm »

As a response to Michaël:

I feel a bit misunderstood after using the words learn and teach. I guess I sounded very focused on learning "useful" things, which might sound very boring and square =). But useful things are also meaningful, which kind of is the holy grail of what we do, right?
Even if you don't look for it actively I think that experiencing pretty much anything ("art" or not) makes you think about things differently (= you learn something from it). And doesn't something that helps you be more comfortable and connected to people actually help you learn to do that, in a way? Maybe the two words learn and teach are too connected to school and stuff to be usable. It just feels strange to say "I don't learn from stuff, I experience them deeply and become another kind of human". What's the difference?

Also, I don't mean that any of the games I mentioned were designed to teach me anything (I'm pretty sure they weren't). But they still did.

Compared to some books and music I agree with everyone that games are pretty lame.
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2010, 05:49:56 pm »

Also, I don't mean that any of the games I mentioned were designed to teach me anything (I'm pretty sure they weren't). But they still did.

I see. I think this is a very important distinction to make!
Most of these so-called art-games seem far too much "on purpose" to me. Almost, indeed, didactic. The creators seem to have a kind of message or lesson, and then they will teach it to you. That's what it often feels like. I don't like being taught like that. (If I want to be taught, I want an academic context, I want it to be dry, hardcore, focussed. Not playful.)

But learning something form experience, that's a whole other matter!
And I agree that there's a lot of potential for this in interactive media. As designers, we should focus on creating opportunities for experiences. Not on broadcasting some message or teaching people the result of our own experiences.

I would personally use the word "grow" or at least "change" instead of "learn" in this context.
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2010, 05:50:14 pm »

Hm. Somewhat unrelated to games as experiences, but I think chess had a pretty big effect on my life. I learned it at a young age and while I couldn't tell you exactly how it affected me, I'm pretty sure it had a big impact on my thinking.

As far as video games, I agree with everyone so far, that compared to books, film and music, I couldn't name a single game that can compare to films that made me cry, books that impacted my thinking or beautiful music that I come back to time and time again.

That said, I think that, there have been many game experiences for me that were beautiful in one way or another, so I can't disregard them completely. Unfortunately they were few and far between for the most part, and eclipsed by other things in the game, so they failed to form any real memories.
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2010, 07:41:25 pm »

Also, I don't mean that any of the games I mentioned were designed to teach me anything (I'm pretty sure they weren't). But they still did.

I see. I think this is a very important distinction to make!
Most of these so-called art-games seem far too much "on purpose" to me. Almost, indeed, didactic. The creators seem to have a kind of message or lesson, and then they will teach it to you. That's what it often feels like. I don't like being taught like that. (If I want to be taught, I want an academic context, I want it to be dry, hardcore, focussed. Not playful.)

But learning something form experience, that's a whole other matter!
And I agree that there's a lot of potential for this in interactive media. As designers, we should focus on creating opportunities for experiences. Not on broadcasting some message or teaching people the result of our own experiences.

I would personally use the word "grow" or at least "change" instead of "learn" in this context.

Give some examples! Discussing about things we do not make but we can make without any examples or ideas is not only dry but pointless. Talking about abstracts without trying to give it a imaginary shape or colour of any kind doesn't lead anywhere, really.
So, first of all I do not agree that art games are created "on purpose". Look at origins of The Passage (Rohrer) or Aether, Coil (2x McMillen) or Edmund (Greasley). I can't agree at this point. They all seem to be created quite spontaneously, be manifestations of feelings (death of old neighbour, childhood, mother's dealing with divorce) or something that the origins I don't know of (rape) but it definitely doesn't try to teach us anything.

I think that this whole "teaching" that you talk about is close to a story with a moral. Author can build a story because he has a moral or perhaps find it during writing. Or even do it unawarely. If the story is written well and told for some more reasons than just lecturing the reader about right or wrong, it is most likely that we will approach the moral the way we can think of it and the way it can inspire it. I would even go further and say that it is like idea that Aristotle had. Want to teach your kid something? Don't ever say "see son, this is how you NOT do it" but become an example for him. Do things as you want him to do and he will follow you. Perhaps it's the same with the story. If author is natural in his writing and the reason why the moral exists at the end of the story originates from his experiences and his behaviour, not theoretically created rules that written on paper looks terrific but he is unable to follow them in practice, then the moral appears much more appealing to us, readers.

Now, is moral exactly a teaching? I don't think so. Teaching happens in or outside of schools and is based on talking about certain subjects. There is always theory and it is sometimes followed by practice (I would say that history is highly theoretical but archeology will follow second path: theory followed by practice). That's what teaching is in it's most well-known form.
But morals appear in stories. Telling stories is not teaching. Stories that have hidden messages are not teaching. Is "Alice in Wonderland" somewhat political even though it was created for a young girl? Is "Winnie the Pooh" highly taoistic even though kids read it around the world having no idea about that? See, no one says "Do as Winnie!". Instead, book describes fascinating way of intuitive reasoning that Winnie practices. In an enjoyable way. And it is fascinating for both children and for adults (incl. those interested into Eastern Ancient philosophy). So it teaches! But only in a way. It teaches if you want to be taught. Message is hidden and it doesn't shout right into your face, right? It seems to be there not because the author had an idea of putting it there but because it seemed natural for him to write the character the way he felt he should be and act (Winnie).

Now, how can we know what a reader/player/interactor shall learn from experience, Michael? Honestly, I don't know. People are sooo different and they change all the time. For example, I've seen "Marley & Me" last year in the cinema. I found it touching like many other people but most valuable thing I have found in the movie was an image of a family of two adults and 3 children that were capable of staying calm and reasonable most of the times. I come from a country where people are stressed way too much and often happen to create much more problems than they really have. And this was different to me. Especially that movie was based on real characters. From the other hand, some people find the movie not even touching but boring. How can anyone know what a reader/viewer/player will feel and think?
I think that there is no way to predict it. We can do something the way we feel it and the way it makes us feel and only optionally keep our fingers crossed that on the other side of the screen someone shall feel/think the same. I say "optionally" because I really believe that a creator that is not an entertainer should care not at all about what audience thinks. That's the thing with being NOTentertainer. You have your reasons, you have your vision. Satisfy yourself, it's hard as it is to fulfill your vision and realize it. Why would you have to deal with people that don't even know you?! And shall never meet you. It also reminds me of Brad Bird saying (in making-of "Ratatouille") that he found out it is not really reasonable to bother with thinking what audience will think or feel if they will see it in 2 years. We make our (not)games faster but still, sometimes the very idea comes way before we begin to work on something. Maybe even 2 years before someone sees it. Why bother? There is like a chasm between how we perceive our work and how they can perceive it. All those saying how audience knows best is a bullshit for entertainers. Imho Smiley

I agree that we should create opportunities for experience. But I have found out that if there is a message (and message comes quite naturally if an author has something to say [generally, something to say]), the experience might be only much more valuable. Message doesn't necessarily has to be something strict and awkward, it doesn't have to be a restriction. It can be hidden behind the canvas, influence the canvas and be there but stay invisible for most of people. More precisely, for those who don't want to see or are unable to see (e.g. their world-view differs so strongly that they perceive things differently).
I find that message is a valuable thing, and that there is plenty of space for several messages in one creation. Simply, if one puts his heart, mind and soul into his creation, it appears and it is there. But, it makes creations much more personal and from what I observe most of authors do not want it or don't do it for other reasons. I find my creations empty if there is not me inside them, but perhaps it is just me.
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2010, 01:20:29 am »

I find it difficult to distill what exactly I learned from what games. I'm sure I've gotten much of worth from many games.

(If I want to be taught, I want an academic context, I want it to be dry, hardcore, focussed. Not playful.)

Pardon the language, but you're fucking boring.

This is a motto of mine: "Games should have more of everything else, and everything else should have more of games."
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agj
Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 08:55:22 am »

This is a motto of mine: "Games should have more of everything else, and everything else should have more of games."

I understand. Some people think that. I don't.
Probably because I'm old (I'm 41) and a father of two (12 & 13). And maybe because my parents were hippies. Wink
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2010, 11:11:38 am »

I don't really think that it has anything to do with age. There are older (than you) lecturers who haven't lost their edge yet and they are still passionate about what and how they pass the knowledge to students (means: it is far from being dry or boring).

I have to agree that your way of seeing academic lecturing is boring. Not fucking boring, but just boring. It's actually something that I was strongly opposing to while I was a student, sir!

Wink
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2010, 09:19:23 pm »

I tend to like things that other people call "boring". Smiley
(and dislike things that other people call "edgy")
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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2010, 07:20:46 pm »

Gravitation had an impact on me.  I sympathized with the struggle of creative work and relationship.

In Small Worlds, I experienced the joy and wonder of exploration.  In This is How Bees Work and the less game-y GROW games I experienced the joy of nature.  In GTA3 I experienced the thrill of mischief.

I would consider all of these "real-life issues."
Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2010, 05:00:45 am »

I'm afraid this topic might be "dead" already, but I will post anyway, since the things mentioned here made me think and I want to note what I thought.

First of all: Playing is one of the most important things for me. I actually take care that I play differnt things and that I play a little everyday. I believe that the ability to play, that is to train skills that are not really needed in every day live, is a sign of intelligence and among the animals I know only of dolphins that play.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMCf7SNUb-Q

Furthermore playing is simply fun. It gives me pleasure to understand rules, apply them as good as I can and see what can be created within certain rules. I find that often the most simple rules can create the most fascinating outcomes (e.g Go or Game of Life). Also I find that I learn faster when I play with things and sometimes I try to see theoretical stuff as a game, or better: as a set of rules that create a certain outcome when applied.

Games that tought me something:

-Spore --> I didn't like the game mechanics of the later levels too much, since they were basically RTS games, but the whole game gave me a better understanding of evolution. E.g. when some bodyparts that u needed in the water just dont make anymore sense on ground and hence u get rid of them.

-DotA --> This is actually the game I played by far the most. I played it in some different teams and with hundreds of different players from all over the world. And I thought a lot about, though a lot of these thought went were about possible tactics, by far not all were- It is through this game and through its community, that I learned about quickly forming a team to achive a goal, about group dynamics in short time intervals (a game takes roughly 1 hour) and also in long terms (A team exists for month and often breakes apart when the players develop at differnt paces, a important match was lost, or someone experiences great changes in his "real" life ), it told me about the possible consequences of blind greed, of being indecisve for too long and also of doing more than one thing at a time Cheesy.

-The Marriage --> I'm not married and I don't think I ever will be, so I am in no position to judge, but through this game I at least got to know a personal view on the "rules of marriage"

-Home --> A strong impression of how it might feel to die in a home for the aged.

-WoW --> I didn't really play it, though it thaught me that many humans seem to like rising numbers, visual effects, cool names and so on. Without referring to WoW, it reminded me that many people tend to believe in the biggest crap if it only comes in a nice dress

I learned more specific things from different games, but I don't recall all of them right now. Also I learned something from the "act of playing" in general, however this is more a feeling or abstract thoughts, than something i could express at this moment.

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Re: Games that had impact on you
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2010, 02:37:17 am »

-DotA --> This is actually the game I played by far the most. I played it in some different teams and with hundreds of different players from all over the world. And I thought a lot about, though a lot of these thought went were about possible tactics, by far not all were- It is through this game and through its community, that I learned about quickly forming a team to achive a goal, about group dynamics in short time intervals (a game takes roughly 1 hour) and also in long terms (A team exists for month and often breakes apart when the players develop at differnt paces, a important match was lost, or someone experiences great changes in his "real" life ), it told me about the possible consequences of blind greed, of being indecisve for too long and also of doing more than one thing at a time Cheesy.

I too was a hardcore player of dota. There was a straight year in my life where it was pretty much the only thing i looked forward too. I would constantly think about it, and in school whenever we got computers, i always happened to find myself at dota-allstars.com. It's funny really, because had Dota not come up, I would've never considered that it taught me something, but looking back on it, I've realized that I learned quite a bit. Not so much about teamwork and achieving a goal as lunatuna did, but rather about myself and games. Like I said I spent a dedicated year playing it, but even though I have practically nothing to show for it (aside from a few old friends), I don't regret that year of my life. It's not like in an mmo, when I decide to stop playing for good and then I look back and wish I had spent the time doing something else, something productive. I realize through Dota, that I would be perfectly happy spending the rest of my life playing a game, even if to some it'd be meaningless and a waste. Just the sublime experience that I encounter while playing has meaning for me. That's why I'm so in love with the thought of notgames, it's non-linearity, and maybe the aspect of a notgame never ending (michael brought that up in one of the threads).
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