Self Help

Death by Video Game - Simon Parkin

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 61 min read

Here is a summary of the introduction:

• The news frequently reports stories of ‘death by video game’, in which excessive video game playing is blamed for the death of a player. This links into a long history of distrust in new media and technology.

• Video games are an easy scapegoat because they demand players’ full attention and participation, and appear to destroy time that could be better spent on more wholesome activities. They are seen as antisocial and infantile.

• This distrust of new media and technology is nothing new. Novels, radio, television, comic books and rock and roll music were all once regarded with similar suspicion. But video games have sustained a higher level of distrust for longer.

• There are frequent reports blaming video games for societal ills like increased crime rates, violence, and addiction. Politicians and public figures have campaigned against video games and warned of their dangers.

• However, are these perceptions fair or reasonable? While video games do not directly achieve obviously useful outcomes, they remain a popular and influential art form and medium. Their impact and value deserves a more balanced consideration.

• The author aims to provide this balanced perspective by exploring stories of how video games have impacted players’ lives in both positive and more ambiguous ways. The stories show the complex relationships people can develop with video games.

That covers the essence and main details from the introduction. Please let me know if you would like me to explain or expand on any part of the summary.

  • Video games are often criticized as escapism that contributes little to society. However, they have benefits like improving cognitive abilities and bringing people together. The deeper motivations for why people play video games are worth exploring.

  • The author investigates video game-related deaths to understand why games are so compelling that some players ignore their physical needs. For example, in 2012, two young Taiwanese men died after playing online games for over 10 hours straight. There have been other similar deaths around the world, both recent and in the past.

  • Video games are compared to warfare in the way they inspire competition and symbolic battles. The author suggests that the deaths of players in games mirror the finality of real-world death. For the players who died after marathon gaming sessions, their deaths marked the end of living in two realities - the physical world and the game world.

  • The circumstances of video game-related deaths receive a lot of media attention compared to deaths related to other sedentary activities like watching movies or doing crossword puzzles. The author implies this is because video games are uniquely able to make players lose track of time and become detached from the physical world. Some companies like Nintendo have added warning messages to interrupt prolonged gameplay.

  • In summary, while video games are often criticized as escapism, the author argues that they meet deeper human needs and have a power to inspire a sense of alternative reality for players. The tragic cases of death by gameplay demonstrate how effectively games can make players ignore their own well-being to continue inhabiting virtual worlds.

  • The news media often portray stories of people dying while playing video games as a cautionary tale about the dangers of excessive gaming. However, the actual causes of death in these cases are often unrelated to gaming itself.

  • The death of a young Chinese man named Rong-yu while playing video games highlighted the issue of loneliness and isolation in society. Although surrounded by people in an internet cafe, his death went unnoticed for 9 hours.

  • Video games are often singled out as uniquely dangerous, but many sedentary activities like reading, watching TV, or studying also carry risks if done for extremely long periods without moving. Video games are not inherently more dangerous than these other activities.

  • The author recounts experiences of slipping into a state of “chronoslip” while playing video games with friends, where they lost track of time and played for hours on end. Video games are able to achieve this chronoslip effect because they are highly immersive and engaging, replacing the real world with an alternate reality that operates by its own rules and tempo.

  • Video games do not just waste time but actively “kill” it, consuming players’ attention so completely that they become oblivious to the passage of time. Video games go beyond books or films in the level of immersion and interactivity they offer. They require active participation from players in a way that passive media do not.

  • The author cites Martin Amis’s 1982 book discussing his initial encounter with and subsequent obsession with the video game Space Invaders. Amis compares becoming addicted to video games with developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

In summary, the news media tend to unfairly blame video games for unfortunate incidents of death while gaming. While video games are highly immersive and can lead to a loss of time perception and even obsession in some cases, they are not inherently more dangerous than many other common sedentary activities. The chronoslip effect and addictive properties of games simply highlight some of the psychological mechanisms that make them powerfully engaging for many players.

Here is a summary of the excerpt:

  • The excerpt describes the addictive nature of video games and chess by comparing them to addictive substances. The author cites examples of players vowing to quit the games but quickly relapsing into playing them again.

  • The excerpt discusses government interventions in Taiwan and South Korea aimed at curbing excessive video game playing, especially among youth. These include spot checks of internet cafes, limiting access for minors, and drafting regulations on how long and when people can play. The owners and employees of some Taiwanese internet cafes report decreased business and concerns about excessive game playing following a death at one cafe. However, one cafe manager blames the individuals with addiction issues rather than the games themselves.

  • The excerpt examines some possible medical explanations for deaths that have occurred during prolonged gaming sessions. A doctor who studied patients in the 1970s found that video games can trigger dangerous increases in heart rate and blood pressure in people with heart conditions. However, tests on a young man who died during gameplay in Taiwan found no preexisting heart problems. The doctor believes there are several possible medical causes for such deaths.

  • In summary, the excerpt explores the addictive nature of games, government and societal concerns about excessive gameplay, and possible links between prolonged gaming and health issues that could lead to death in rare cases. The overall perspective seems to be that while individuals bear some responsibility, games are designed in a way that fosters addiction and obsession in certain players. Regulation and moderation are seen as needed to curb potential harm.

  • The author visits an amusement arcade in London on a Saturday night. Though arcades were once popular, they are now seen as relics of the past.

  • Arcades were important because they provided a public space for people to play and watch others play video games. They allowed for performance and spectacle. Video games have this performative element, like music, that allows skilled players to show off their talents to an audience.

  • The author focuses on a Dance Dance Revolution arcade cabinet, a game where players follow on-screen dance directions by stepping on arrows on the floor. Though the concept is simple, mastering the game requires developing muscle memory and skills. At first, players tend to stumble and feel awkward playing the game.

  • The author sees the decline of arcades as tragic because they were really about bringing people together to appreciate skill and performance. Arcades came to focus too much on showcasing technology, but they were always more about community and skill.

  • In conclusion, the key ideas are: 1) Arcades served as social spaces for performative play and watching skilled players; 2) Dance Dance Revolution requires physical skill and is initially awkward to play; and 3) The decline of arcades is sad because they fostered community around masterful play, not just technology.

The passage describes a heap on the floor in an arcade in London. A crowd gathers around a Dance Dance Revolution machine to watch two teenage boys perform a choreographed dance routine on the game platform. After their performance, an awkward, out-of-place man in his late thirties steps up to play a difficult song on the most challenging setting, playing on both sides of the platform at once. At first, the crowd assumes he will fail, but he proceeds to get a “Perfect” rating on every move, dancing for eight minutes straight. He then abruptly leaves, vanishing down an escalator, leaving the crowd stunned.

The passage goes on to discuss the performative and competitive aspects of video games, especially arcade games. It describes Barcade, a bar in Brooklyn filled with 1980s arcade machines that attracts both nostalgic visitors and serious competitors. One such competitor is Hank Chien, a plastic surgeon who became obsessed with the arcade game Donkey Kong after watching a documentary about the competition for the world record high score. Chien practiced at home and eventually started going to Barcade to compete for the high score. The passage gives some background on Donkey Kong, which was created in 1981 by Shigeru Miyamoto and featured Mario’s first appearance, then called Jumpman, rescuing his girlfriend Pauline from a gorilla.

In summary, the key elements are: a surprising and masterful performance on a Dance Dance Revolution machine, the performative and competitive aspects of arcade games, a bar dedicated to 1980s arcade games that attracts both casual and hardcore gamers, and background on the iconic Donkey Kong arcade game and its record-setting players.

  • Donkey Kong was released in 1981 and sold over 67,000 arcade machines in the US. Due to its success, Nintendo changed the name of Jumpman to Mario in honor of Mario Segale, the landlord of Nintendo’s US office.

  • Donkey Kong is an important game in video game history. It features memorable characters and has enduring appeal as a competitive game where players can compete for high scores.

  • Hank Chien is a surgeon who became obsessed with Donkey Kong. He eventually reached the “kill screen,” a bug that freezes the game. He then decided to buy his own machine to set a world record. He first broke 1 million points in 2010 and set a new record in 2011.

  • Donkey Kong shows how video games drive players to compete and prove themselves. This drive for glory and competition kept Chen Rong-Yu playing until he died at an internet cafe.

  • The Taipei Assassins were a professional eSports team who lived and trained together in a penthouse in Taipei. In 2012, they won $1 million at the League of Legends world championship. Gaming houses, where eSports teams live and practice together, have existed since the early 2000s but have become more permanent in recent years.

  • The summary touches on the key details around Donkey Kong’s history and cultural impact, Hank Chien’s obsession with the game, the competitive drive of players, the Taipei Assassins eSports team, and the rise of gaming houses.

  • Professional eSports teams live and train together in dedicated gaming houses to minimize distractions and focus on practicing and improving at their games.

  • The eSports industry has grown rapidly, with millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorship deals now available to top teams and players.

  • Team Dignitas, a leading eSports organization, provides food, housing, and salaries to its players. Players can make $200,000 or more per year at the top level.

  • Living in a gaming house helps legitimize eSports as a professional sport, though the sedentary nature of gaming distinguishes it from traditional sports.

  • Some concern exists about the potential for extreme addiction to competitive online gaming. Players can become entirely focused on constant practice and improvement at the expense of all else.

  • The protagonist works as an immigration inspector at a border checkpoint in a fictional communist country called Arstotzka.

  • His job is to process asylum seekers and immigrants by checking their paperwork. He gets paid more if he processes more people and gets penalized if he makes mistakes. His wages are barely enough to support his family.

  • An elderly man and his wife seek asylum, saying they fled tyranny in their home country of Antegria. The man’s paperwork is in order but the wife was denied an entry permit. She begs to be let in, saying she will be killed if sent back.

  • The protagonist has to choose between strictly following the bureaucracy and denying the wife entry, or making an exception and letting her in to save the marriage and possibly her life, even though it may get him penalized.

  • The game presents difficult moral dilemmas and choices through its bureaucracy-focused gameplay and narrative. The player has to balance following the rules versus showing compassion.

Video games, like all media, are built upon rules and systems that govern how they function. These rules and systems reflect and recreate the natural laws, social constructs, legal systems, and other frameworks that shape human existence. By experiencing these virtual systems and rules firsthand, players can gain insights into how they operate in reality.

Video game creators act as omniscient designers who lay out the terrain, physics, creatures, and other elements that will populate their world. They determine how time will flow, set the rules of the systems that govern society and technology, and decide the challenges players will face. Like authors, they construct entire realities subject to their creative control. But video games are unique in that they allow players to experience these constructed systems directly through interaction and play.

Many video games recreate dangerous or exciting situations that are inaccessible in reality, like piloting fighter jets or race cars. But some focus on more mundane systems, like managing a city or running a border checkpoint. Games like Cart Life and Papers, Please force players to grapple with unfairness and hardship through the systems and rules that govern play. By taking on roles like impoverished street vendors or overworked immigration officers, players develop empathy for people struggling under broken systems.

Some games address social issues by recreating systems that shape human relationships and development. Persona 4 deals with the challenges of high school and adolescence. Coolest Girl in School addresses the stigma around menstruation and the shared experiences of women.

Though simple in format, the early arcade game Missile Command carries moral weight by putting players in the role of a military commander trying to stop nuclear attacks on cities under their protection. Players must make difficult choices about how to allocate limited resources to save as many lives as possible, gaining insight into the weight of responsibility that comes with authority over people’s lives and the tragedy of impossible decisions during war.

In summary, video games build virtual worlds governed by rules and systems that reflect life’s complex frameworks. By experiencing these systems through play, people can gain understanding into how they truly operate and shape human existence. Interacting with these virtual constructs also fosters empathy by putting people in roles they may never experience in reality.

  • The game Missile Command from 1980 provides commentary on the threat of nuclear war. Its creator was haunted by nightmares of nuclear attacks for years after designing the game.

  • Games often make implicit or explicit statements through their systems and themes. Simple games like Snakes and Ladders show life’s randomness, while more complex games pair systems and fiction to provide meaning, e.g. Risk represents imperialism, Monopoly represents capitalism.

  • Video games allow us to examine life’s systems in a manageable way. They provide a “fair bargain” where effort leads to victory. Minecraft in particular has allowed many people to achieve glory through its open-ended building system.

  • Minecraft became a huge success despite its simple graphics and lack of instructions or goals. It taps into a human urge to build and create. Its gameplay mirrors the human story of survival, community, and hubris.

  • In the game, you start by exploring an algorithmically generated world. You mine raw materials and use them to build things. You have to survive threats that emerge at night, building shelter to protect yourself. Over time, you build increasingly complex structures, gaining more advanced tools and materials. The game reflects the human drive to both create and destroy.

  • Ultimately, the game allows you to achieve a kind of godlike dominion over your world through building, even as you struggle to survive. It provides an accelerated form of human existence and allows us to grapple with questions of purpose and meaning.

  • Video games like Minecraft, EVE Online, Elite and SimCity tap into fundamental human urges to survive, create and cooperate.

  • In multiplayer games, players build communities and complex social systems. EVE Online, launched in 2003, is a massive sci-fi game where players live in a virtual galaxy of 7,500 star systems.

  • Players in EVE Online have diverse experiences based on where they are “born” in the game. Those in secure space live peacefully, while those in lawless space engage in political intrigue and piracy.

  • To govern this complex game world and represent players, EVE Online has a democratically elected Council of Stellar Management (CSM). The CSM has 14 members who meet with the game’s creators to provide feedback and input into the game’s development.

  • Candidates campaign for the CSM and fall into three groups: those focused on a single issue, those representing a playstyle or alliance, and those wanting to facilitate communication between players and developers. Campaigning involves in-game and social media outreach.

  • CSM members advocate for players and have been successful in influencing the developer, CCP Games. CCP recognizes the CSM’s value, though CCP still has final say on decisions. The CSM showed its influence during in-game riots over microtransactions, leading CCP to meet with them.

  • While an innovative system, the CSM is still subject to some of the same issues as real-world political groups, including corruption. But the CSM demonstrates how multiplayer games build communities and govern themselves.

  • Councillors in the game EVE Online have access to insider information about upcoming changes in the game. In 2009, a councillor named Adam Ridgway used this information to buy valuable in-game items before their value increased drastically due to a game design change. As these virtual items have real-world monetary value, the game developers closely monitor councillors and their own staff to prevent insider trading. Ridgway resigned from his position as a result of his actions.

  • Sociologists and economists study EVE Online as it models political and economic systems in a virtual world. The game allows players to explore and express their political ideas. Players’ behavior in the game may reflect their real-world beliefs about how systems in society function. The game provides players an opportunity to meaningfully participate in and influence a political system, which many find appealing compared to real-world systems that can seem inaccessible or ineffective.

  • Video games in general are appealing because they present an ordered, controlled world that can be understood and mastered. They provide constant feedback and a sense of purpose that the real world may lack. The games’ creators are also directly responsive to players, allowing players to shape the systems that govern them. This level of influence and control is comforting.

  • Specifically, Minecraft presents an infinite procedurally generated world for players to explore. However, a glitch causes the world to become illogical and break down at extreme distances from the starting point. The player Kurt J. Mac set out in 2011 to reach these “Far Lands,” though the journey would take 22 years at his current pace. The sense of discovery and awe from exploring virtual worlds is a major appeal of video games.

• Video games allow us to explore spaces and take on roles that would otherwise be inaccessible. They satisfy a human desire for exploration and discovery.

• Part of the appeal of video games is the journey, not just the destination. The slow progress toward a goal and the rhythms of interaction and reward are pleasurable. Virtual explorers, like the YouTuber Kurt J. Mac, who has filmed a multiyear journey to the Far Lands of Minecraft, find meaning in the journey itself, not just reaching the destination.

• The exploration of space has been an integral part of video games since the earliest games like Spacewar! in 1961. Space is a practical setting for early computers to simulate but also taps into human fascination with the unknown reaches of the universe. Early space games had simple stories but have become more sophisticated, allowing virtual discovery of the cosmos.

• The 1984 game Elite ambitiously simulated open space and allowed players to explore a vast universe in their spaceship. Like the Big Bang, the game created unimaginable vastness each time it loaded. This desire to push the boundaries of human exploration, even in virtual worlds, motivates players and game designers.

• Kurt J. Mac’s journey to the Far Lands of Minecraft is motivated by this spirit of exploration and discovery. His YouTube series documenting the journey has allowed others to experience this discovery and has turned into a kind of podcast. The journey has raised money for charity and built a community of viewers who support continued progress toward the Far Lands.

• The journey to the Far Lands takes an extraordinary amount of time and patience but holds mystery and meaning for Mac and his viewers. Glitches and other odd effects begin to appear, but the destination remains an open question. For Mac, “this is about the journey and not the destination.” The exploration itself is the point.

The summary is: Elite: Dangerous was created from almost nothing.

As children, many of us had dreams of exciting vocations like being an astronaut, a firefighter or a stuntman. The game Joe Danger allowed players to experience being a stuntman. However, the developer Hello Games wanted to make a game that captured the feeling of childhood dreams of exploration and discovery. They created No Man’s Sky, a game set in a vast procedurally generated universe with 18 quintillion planets that players can explore.

The universe in No Man’s Sky is the same for all players. When one player discovers a new planet or location, they can upload that discovery to the game’s servers so that the discovery appears for all players. Although much of the universe is randomly generated, Hello Games created rules and systems to make the environments seem natural, recognizable and visually pleasing. Some elements like animal behaviors and spaceship trade routes are predictable and fractal, following set patterns. But much of what players encounter is unknown and emerges unpredictably from the complex interactions of these systems.

This combination of the familiar and unpredictable creates a sense of exploration and discovery that resonates with human psychology. Video games are able to craft vivid and memorable virtual worlds that people want to discover and share with others, just like real-world places. The worlds of games like Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario 64 and Mass Effect have become just as familiar and meaningful to players as real-world locations.

While some games let us experience different lives and roles, others like The Sims allow us to examine and experiment with approximations of our own lives. At the 1999 E3 conference, The Sims was nearly cancelled until a spontaneous in-game kiss between two characters created buzz and turned the game into a sensation. The Sims resonated with players by capturing the drama and humor of everyday life.

  • Video games allow players to recreate themselves and aspects of their own lives in the virtual world. Players can customize their avatars to look like them and reflect their characteristics.

  • The developers of The Sims debated whether to allow same-sex relationships in the game. They feared backlash and that it was too risky. However, a developer named Barrett ended up implementing same-sex relationships by accident in the game code.

  • When the game demo was shown at E3, two female Sim characters kissed spontaneously. This kiss generated a lot of buzz for the game. Because it was two women, the reaction was largely positive. If it had been two men, the reaction may have been more negative.

  • The inclusion of same-sex relationships in The Sims was ultimately overlooked and the game launched with that feature. For many LGBTQ players, being able to have same-sex relationships in the game was profoundly meaningful. It gave them a space to explore their identity when they couldn’t in real life.

  • Video games can provide a sense of belonging, especially for marginalized groups. They are often judgment-free and provide an equal playing field. The Sims specifically gave LGBTQ players a space where their identity was accepted and normal.

  • There is irony in the fact that The Sims gained notoriety and acceptance of same-sex relationships partly due to the lesbian kiss, when LGBTQ relationships and people still face discrimination and backlash. The virtual world can be more progressive and inclusive than reality.

In summary, the inclusion of same-sex relationships in The Sims was pivotal for many LGBTQ players in exploring their identity. The story of how it ended up in the game by accident shows how even small design choices can have a huge impact. And it highlights the contrast between the inclusiveness of virtual worlds and the reality that they are meant to reflect.

• E3 is the largest annual video game industry event. While it fosters a sense of community for some, it excludes others and primarily appeals to young, white males. E3 has also had issues with sexism and objectification of women in the past.

• The stereotype of the typical “gamer” - socially inept, angry young white men - is persistent but inaccurate. Gaming encompasses people of all backgrounds. As gaming becomes more mainstream, “gamers” will refer to almost everyone.

• Some gamers strongly identify with the “gamer” label and see themselves as part of a community. For some, this identity and community provides a sense of belonging. However, this group mentality can also breed tribalism, hostility towards criticism, and efforts to censor dissenting opinions.

• The Gamergate controversy was an example of the more toxic elements of gamer culture. While some supporters claimed it was about ethics in gaming journalism, it was largely seen as a hate movement that harassed critics like Anita Sarkeesian. Gamergate showed how the desire to protect the traditional gamer identity could breed fear, distrust, and abuse.

• Video games have the power to foster empathy by allowing people to experience different perspectives. Games that explore diverse subjects and characters can help bring people together and counter tribalism. An example is Mainichi, a game about the life of a mixed-race transgender person.

• Virtual worlds can become a place of belonging, as shown by the early online game Meridian 59. At its peak, tens of thousands of players inhabited the virtual world, forging alliances and rivalries. But as technology and gaming tastes evolved, most players left, showing how the connections of community can fade.

• In summary, while gaming can breed tribalism and conflict, it also has the power to foster empathy, understanding, and meaningful connections between people from all walks of life. The overall impact depends on how willing the industry and community are to embrace diversity and be open to different perspectives.

  • Meridian 59 was the first massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) launched in 1996. It was developed by Andrew and Chris Kirmse, who sold it for $5 million. Meridian 59 created the template for subsequent MMOGs but was not as successful. Today, it only has around 20 players at a time.

  • However, some loyal players have remained for decades. They have formed emotional attachments to the game and other players, whether friends or enemies. The risk of defeat and loss of loot and status keeps the game exciting. The small population also allows for close-knit communities. Some players feel obligated to remain so the game does not shut down.

  • In 2012, the Kirmse brothers made the game open source so anyone could play for free. However, many veteran players still remain. They hope to bring new players through Steam and keep improving the game. For some, the sense of belonging to the community is too strong to leave, even if player numbers decline. They want to keep the memory and history of the game alive.

  • The summary suggests most game violence and killing is inconsequential and forgettable. Players rarely remember their first kill in a game. Game violence lacks meaning outside of the game’s context and there are no real consequences. However, to outside observers, the violence can still seem unsettling. Video games have been focused on violence since the first games like Spacewar!. While controversial, violence is appealing to many game developers and players.

  • Violence was the dominant mode of early arcade and video games. This was driven primarily by commercial interests, as games needed to kill off players quickly to make money.

  • Violence seems inherent to games, from ancient games like Chess to modern video games. Players engage in virtual violence and criminal behavior. The appeal comes from simulating illicit behavior.

  • Violence is necessary for fiction and games. Concerns about video game violence really relate to the realistic depiction of violence, similar to debates about film and TV violence. As technology improved, video games could show more graphic violence. Some games courted controversy and outrage over violence.

  • Concerns arose over whether realistic violence in video games could affect players, especially younger players. After public acts of violence like mass shootings, violent video games are often blamed. However, research studies have been inconclusive on a causal link between video game violence and real-world violence.

  • Debates over video game violence often reflect a cultural divide between younger, game-literate generations and older generations that mistrust video games. Video games are often scapegoated, even though violence has always been part of human games and fiction. While violent people may be attracted to violent games, there is little evidence that such games create violent individuals.

  • In summary, violence has been inherent to video games from the start due to commercial and artistic needs. While realistic violence has raised understandable concerns, research has not proven that it causes real-world violence. The debate is complex, reflecting generational divides and moral panics as much as reasonable concerns.

  • Following the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, some argued that the teen killers’ restricted access to violent video games contributed to their anger and violence. However, it’s difficult to conclusively prove that link.

  • In 2011, Anders Breivik claimed he used Call of Duty and World of Warcraft as “training tools” for his killing spree in Norway. But his comments came after he had already planned the attacks, and there’s little evidence the games directly caused his violence.

  • After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, some blamed violent video games. But studies have found little conclusive evidence to link video game violence and real-world violence. Depictions of violence have existed in art and media for centuries.

  • Video games may allow players to explore violence in a “safe space” without consequence. But they may also help players process the violence around them. During the Holocaust, Jewish children played violent games that mirrored the horrific circumstances they were facing. This play helped them confront and understand the trauma around them.

  • Violent play is often a symptom of a violent society, not the cause of it. Video games, like all new media, make an easy scapegoat, especially since they are popular with young people, from whom school shooters are often drawn. However, while video games are interactive, there’s little evidence they directly cause criminal behavior any more than violent movies, books, or other media.

  • Overall, while video games could theoretically be used to “train” for violence, there is little conclusive evidence they directly cause violence. Violent games, like other media, tend to reflect the violence of the society in which they are produced. They do not necessarily create that violence.

  • Video games, like other fiction, should be free to explore any topic, even sensitive ones, as long as they do so thoughtfully.

  • Danny Ledonne created the game Super Columbine Massacre in 2005 to try to understand the perspectives and motives of the Columbine High School shooters.

  • The game meticulously recreates the events of the shooting using details from news reports and records. It includes images of the shooters’ dead bodies to convey the seriousness of the events.

  • Ledonne aimed to provide insight into the shooters’ feelings of alienation and to promote empathy, not make entertainment. The game shares the ambition of films like Bowling for Columbine and Elephant that addressed Columbine.

  • The game was controversial and banned from an awards event over fears of backlash. But Ledonne argues games should be able to address sensitive topics like other media. Interactivity does not necessarily make them different.

  • The game allows players to take on the role of the antagonists, providing insight into their perspectives and motives. This role-playing potential is unique to games and valuable for promoting understanding, even of evil acts.

  • Recreating historical tragedies in this way can provide more insight than fiction. We can gain understanding into the ideas and circumstances that drove people to commit acts like 9/11. This understanding does not equate to apologizing for or excusing their acts.

  • Games offer a unique window into different perspectives and ways of seeing the world. Though uncomfortable, their ability to allow role-playing antagonists should be studied and embraced rather than avoided.

  • Meaningless portrayals of evil, like in the game Custer’s Revenge, are different and warrant criticism. But thoughtful explorations of even evil acts can be valid and provide insight.

In summary, the key argument is that video games should not avoid sensitive or tragic topics but rather thoughtfully explore them to provide insight and promote empathy, as with other media. Their interactive nature uniquely allows role-playing antagonists’ perspectives, giving a window into different ways of thinking that contributes to understanding, even of evil acts. Recreating historical tragedy can provide more insight than fiction alone.

  • Mitch Swenson, a 26-year-old journalism student, entered Syria illegally in 2012 to report on the conflict.

  • Crossing the border, Swenson felt terrified hearing rifle fire, though he had experience reporting in conflict zones like Egypt, Libya, South Sudan and Congo. Still, Syria represented a new kind of conflict where ‘all the rules are out of the window’.

  • Swenson spent 10 days in Syria with a blogger, photographer and guide, reporting on the conflict in Aleppo and other places. They had some close calls with gunfire and saw ‘unspeakable’ things.

  • Swenson believes simulations and video games fail to capture the true experience of war, especially sensory details and moral complexity. Real war is mostly waiting, anxiety and confusion. Games risk glorifying war and dissociating it from human suffering.

  • However, Swenson thinks simulations and VR could be used to build empathy if designed ethically. They could place ordinary people in war-like scenarios to understand the hardships of conflict. But this is challenging and risky if not done carefully.

  • Swenson remains unsure if the risks of dissociation and glorification outweigh the benefits of using games for empathy and insight. More discussion is needed on how to ethically represent war in simulations.

That’s the essence of the key ideas and events being discussed regarding Mitch Swenson’s perspective on war simulations, video games and conflict reporting. Please let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of this summary.

  • The journalist Austin Swenson traveled to Syria in 2013 to report on the ongoing conflict there. He found it difficult to capture the urgency and distress of the situation in his writing.

  • Swenson decided to move from written journalism to interactive video game reportage. He created a game called 1,000 Days of Syria to show readers what it was like to live through the conflict.

  • In the game, players take on the roles of three characters: a photojournalist, a mother in Daraa, and a rebel fighter in Aleppo. The stories are based on Swenson’s experiences reporting in Syria. Players make choices to determine the characters’ paths through the war.

  • Swenson aimed to generate empathy by putting players in the roles of Syrians living through the war. Whereas traditional journalism shows people the plight of others, interactive media can make people feel what it’s like to be in that situation.

  • Some critics argue that video games dull emotions by focusing players on challenges and competition. However, many games frame challenges in human and dramatic terms. They allow players to experience different lives and circumstances.

  • Other independent games have explored using interactivity to generate empathy and illustrate social issues. They cover topics like the lives of sweatshop workers, domestic abuse, depression, and the experiences of transgender people.

  • In general, video games are well suited to illustrate injustice and inequality because they can assign players to unequal sides. They give players a sense of both the advantages and disadvantages inherent in a system.

  • Swenson’s project showed how video games could be used for journalism and advocacy by giving players a sense of what it’s like to live through events like the Syrian war. Interactivity is a powerful way to generate empathy for people in difficult circumstances.

• Navid Khonsari, an Iranian-Canadian game developer, created the game 1979 Revolution that allows players to experience the Iranian Revolution through the eyes of a young photojournalist. The game incorporates real historical details and photographs and allows players to shape the story through their choices.

• Khonsari fled Iran with his family in 1979 when he was a child. The game is inspired by his vivid memories of living in Tehran during the revolution. He hopes the game will educate players about this influential period in Iran’s history.

• The game has been controversial, and some of the development team cannot be credited to protect their safety. However, Khonsari believes that the risks are worthwhile if the game can entertain and educate players.

• Khonsari sees the game as similar to the Grand Theft Auto games he previously worked on in that they both focus on narrative. However, 1979 Revolution is based on real historical events. Khonsari wants the game to appeal to all audiences, regardless of race, gender or age.

• Other game developers like Daniel Swenson have created games to raise awareness of real-world issues and events. Swenson created the game 1,000 Days of Syria to draw attention to the conflict in Syria.

• However, some game developers have faced harassment for creating intensely personal games. Zoe Quinn, a game developer, received threats after creating a game based on her own experiences.

• Games have a unique ability to elicit empathy from players by placing them in characters’ shoes and giving them agency over the story. This empathy can motivate change in players and raise awareness of issues. However, it also makes some players target and harass developers for portraying certain experiences.

The key themes are the potential for games to spread awareness and inspire change, the controversy and risks some developers face, and the tension between a game’s ability to create empathy and provoke harassment. The examples of Khonsari, Swenson and Quinn illustrate these themes well.

Zoe Quinn is an independent video game developer who suffers from depression. In 2013, she created Depression Quest, an interactive fiction game about living with depression. The game, played over a million times, aims to build empathy and understanding about the condition.

The game’s release was met with harassment and hate mail. Many gamers felt its subject matter was inappropriate and that it received disproportionate coverage. However, the game also received praise for capturing the experience of living with depression and providing hope. Therapists have even used it to help patients communicate with loved ones.

Despite ongoing harassment, Quinn believes in responding with empathy and understanding. Her game is one of a growing number of video games exploring serious topics like illness, war and human suffering. These games aim to broaden the scope of the medium and foster empathy.

Another example is al-Qaeda’s propaganda game, Night of Bush Capturing, which aimed to help players fantasize about attacking America and killing President George W. Bush. Unlike Depression Quest, it was not meant to build empathy but rather domination over ideological opponents.

In general, empathy games aim to generate understanding of people and experiences that might otherwise be hard to relate to. However, some argue empathizing with certain subjects like terrorists is problematic. There is debate over whether all human experiences are worthy of empathy.

Quinn believes any experience of human suffering is worthy of empathy. She deliberately gave her game’s protagonist more resources and support than she herself had, to show that “anyone can have depression.” While her game focuses on her personal experience, she sees it as starting a broader conversation about living with depression and mental illness.

  • The majority of blockbuster military-themed video games lack empathy and understanding because the protagonists are portrayed as super-heroic soldiers who overcome unrealistic odds. These games fail to show vulnerability or complexity that would evoke compassion.

  • The artist Wafaa Bilal created an interactive work called Virtual Jihadi to provoke discussion about the Iraq War and stereotypes of Arabs. He modified the game Quest for Saddam by replacing the Iraqi characters with Americans and George W. Bush. The work aimed to give audiences insight into the vulnerabilities of Iraqi citizens and the violent groups they are driven to. However, the work was controversial and shut down quickly.

  • Bilal believes games can be an effective medium for conveying messages because they provide an active experience where players shape the narrative. His work tried to engage audiences in conversation by providing a new perspective on the familiar first-person shooter narrative. He wanted to hold a “mirror” to audiences and challenge stereotyping and denial of the realities of war.

  • While experiencing different perspectives can be challenging, it also allows for gaining empathy and understanding. Games give players the opportunity to experience lives and roles outside their own in an immediate, impactful way. They allow designers and audiences to share personal stories and insights.

  • Chris Ferguson turned to the game Skyrim during a difficult time in his life after his wife Sarah suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The game provided an escape and comfort as he grappled with their loss and uncertainty about future chances of having a child. The harsh, unforgiving world of Skyrim matched his emotional state, but also gave him control and purpose during a time he felt powerless. The game became a refuge for him.

  • The Imperial Legion wishes to reunite and pacify Skyrim, a province in chaos. The player has the freedom to choose which side to support in the civil war.

  • Tom Ferguson found solace playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim during a difficult time. His wife Sarah had a miscarriage and was hospitalized, leaving Ferguson feeling lost and powerless. Skyrim gave him a sense of control and escape.

  • Ferguson spent hours exploring the open world of Skyrim, taking his time and setting his own pace. The freedom and power fantasy of the game allowed him to temporarily escape his turmoil. He flitted between caring for his wife and playing the game, two realities providing comfort.

  • Entertainment, especially video games, often serves a utilitarian purpose. They can provide escapism, catharsis, or a way to unwind and destress. The rules and outcomes of games are predictable, and mistakes can be undone. Skyrim gave Ferguson a numbing kind of escapism and a way to feel anchored during a bewildering time.

  • Though the game was a source of comfort, Ferguson also felt guilty for the time spent playing. Eventually, as his wife recovered, the emotional problems they faced became too much, and Ferguson stopped playing. Deleting his hundreds of save files provided a sense of closure. He gave the game away, a symbolic final goodbye.

  • Video games provide a sense of control and progress when life seems out of control. They allow us to focus on a fictional world and characters rather than our own problems. For Ferguson, Skyrim served this purpose during a traumatic experience, though he now hesitates to recommend such escapism.

The key events are: the miscarriage and hospitalization, finding solace in playing Skyrim, conflicting feelings of comfort and guilt, stopping play and finding closure by deleting save files and giving the game away. The themes are escapism through video games, dealing with loss of control and trauma, and moving on from a difficult time.

Video games can provide solace and escape for those suffering distress or hardship. For some, they offer a shelter from physical dangers and threats in the real world.

The story discusses the case of Yousif Mohammed, an Iraqi teenager who fled Baghdad for the city of Sulaymaniyah with his grandmother in 2006 after his mother learned that criminal gangs were kidnapping children for ransom. Mohammed, then 10 years old, was an avid video game player, but had to leave his console behind. In Sulaymaniyah, he eventually bought a computer and through online gaming met new friends and settled into his new environment. Video games gave him both refuge and community.

For many Iraqi youth today, video games remain a way to connect with others from the safety of home as terrorism and violence make public gathering places too dangerous. They offer an escape and diversion from the ‘miseries’ of daily life. Before the era of disc-based systems in the 1990s and digital piracy, only relatively affluent families could afford video game consoles and the imported games.

The story also discusses the Belgian game design duo Tale of Tales, who create ‘cathedrals of fire’ and virtual spaces that provide solace. Their work aims to replicate the refuge and sanctuary of religious cathedrals. Their games The Endless Forest and The Graveyard are peaceful worlds meant for reflection and reviving the spirit.

In summary, the essay highlights how video games can serve as a place of escape, refuge, healing and community for those beset by hardships, suffering, and dangers in their real lives and environments. They are a ‘salve for the wounded soul.’

• Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an open-world action-adventure video game released in 2004. It is set in 1992 and based on real-life events in Los Angeles.

• The game is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, resembling California and Nevada. It sold over 27 million copies worldwide.

• Some players claim to have seen Bigfoot or Sasquatch in a remote part of the game called Back o Beyond. They reported seeing a large, dark figure in the fog. Some took screenshots and videos as evidence.

• However, it is unclear if these are fabricated or modded versions of the game. Some fans created a ‘mod’ to insert Bigfoot into the game, confusing the search for the ‘real’ creature.

• Devoted players continue searching for evidence of Bigfoot and post their findings online. Rob Silver runs one such website and firmly believes in its existence. Others remain skeptical that it is a myth perpetuated by fans.

• The developer, Rockstar North, has denied that Bigfoot exists in the game. They claim that many of the screenshots are retouched versions they created for magazines.

• The Bigfoot debate mirrors that in real life, with believers and skeptics clashing over evidence. Believers want to prove its existence, while skeptics think they are fooling themselves or lying. The hunt is easier in the game, as players can ask the developers directly.

• In summary, while a number of players claim to have evidence of Bigfoot’s existence in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there is no definitive proof and the majority believe it is an unfounded myth. The issue remains hotly debated, similar to Sasquatch sightings in real life.

Here’s a summary:

  • The article discusses unconfirmed sightings of mythical creatures like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and yetis in video games. Players claim to spot these creatures in games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Call of Duty, and Tetris but there is little evidence to support these claims.

  • The makers of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas have denied putting Bigfoot in the game. However, some players remain convinced Bigfoot exists in the game due to its complexity and possibility of ‘Easter eggs’ hidden by programmers. Some players search the game code but haven’t found definitive proof. The game makers now refuse to confirm or deny Bigfoot’s existence, adding to the mystery.

  • The article compares the search for Bigfoot in San Andreas to the reaction to the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII. Her death upset many players who searched for ways to revive her character. Similarly, the possibility of finding Bigfoot gives players a reason to continue playing San Andreas after finishing the main story.

  • Video games have a history of containing secrets, mysteries, and Easter eggs for players to discover, even years after release. Some are hidden passcodes, others are secret levels or items. The thrill of solving mysteries and making discoveries keeps players engaged with the games.

  • Examples of hidden secrets in games include: a secret photo in Resident Evil 2 unlocked by clicking 50 times, a dance party in Deus Ex: Invisible War, and hidden side missions in Splinter Cell: Double Agent revealed years later by developers.

  • In summary, video game players love mysteries, secrets, and the possibility of discovery in the games they play. The search for mythical creatures and other hidden elements gives players a sense of purpose even after completing a game’s main objectives.

  • Kirk Ewing is a Scottish video game designer who created the controversial game JFK: Reloaded in 2004. The game allowed players to recreate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy from the perspective of Lee Harvey Oswald.

  • Ewing wanted to make a game based on a real historical event rather than fantasy. He thought the JFK assassination had been explored enough in other media to warrant a video game treatment. The game was meant to realistically simulate the events of the assassination and dispel conspiracy theories by showing that Oswald could have acted alone.

  • The game was very controversial, especially in the U.S., where Kennedy remains an iconic figure. Ewing received death threats and harsh criticism. A marketing tactic involving a prize for the player who could most closely match Oswald’s shots was particularly controversial and regretted by Ewing.

  • Ewing defends the game as no different than films on the same subject. He says it gives players a chance to explore the event from a new perspective. Some people found the game cathartic as it allowed them to relive a traumatic memory. However, the game also included an exaggerated “chaotic” mode that made light of the tragedy.

  • The game is an example of an attempt to use video games for documentary and educational purposes. However, its treatment of such a sensitive event was too controversial and disrespectful for most. Ewing’s goals may have been laudable but the execution was flawed.

  • The reaction to the game shows how divisive and thought-provoking the choice of subject matter for video games can be. There are opportunities for games to explore history and current events but also many risks of backlash or accusations of poor taste.

  • Oliver Stone was awarded an Oscar for his JFK film, while Peter Ludlow received official condemnation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives for creating the JFK Reloaded video game.

  • However, Ludlow was later invited to speak about his game at the Sorbonne in Paris, where an audience member compared his work to the moon landings. Ludlow believes the game showed that Lee Harvey Oswald must have panicked while attempting to assassinate JFK.

  • Some video games allow players to solve mysteries and uncover secrets left by creators. Occasionally, players’ desire to discover these secrets spills over into the real world, as with those who turned up at the BioShock developer’s office.

  • In 2004, Axel Gembe hacked into Valve Corporation’s network and stole the source code for their game Half-Life 2. He initially got into hacking after his own computer was infected with malware. He created his own malware to steal CD keys and gain access to games he couldn’t afford.

  • Gembe hacked into Valve’s network in order to uncover secrets about the upcoming Half-Life 2, not for profit. He discovered the network was reasonably secure from outside but found a way in through an unguarded server. He cracked passwords and gained full access, finding design documents and eventually the source code.

  • Although Gembe made some changes to get the game to run on his computer, he found it wasn’t fun to play. He maintains he wasn’t the one who uploaded the source code online, though Valve estimates this leak caused over $250 million in damages.

  • A video game developer named Axel Gembe hacked into Valve Corporation’s network and stole the source code for their upcoming game Half-Life 2.

  • Gembe shared the code with someone else, who then leaked it onto the internet. This caused major financial and morale damage to Valve.

  • Gembe eventually turned himself into Valve and confessed to the hacking. He was hoping they might still give him a job. Instead, they worked with the FBI to trick him into confessing over the phone so they could have him arrested.

  • Gembe was arrested in Germany and charged, though he only received probation since there was no evidence he actually leaked the game himself. He expressed remorse for his actions.

  • The leak and arrest were a difficult time for Valve, though the eventual release of Half-Life 2 was still a major success, selling over 8.6 million copies.

  • The story illustrates the allure of mysteries and secrets, even in the digital world. Gembe became obsessed with uncovering secrets about his favorite video game company, not unlike those who hunt for conspiracies or cryptozoological creatures. But it shows how that urge can lead to harmful actions in reality.

  • Overall, it’s a story of youthful naivete and obsession gone wrong, though Gembe seems to have learned from his mistakes. Valve was able to overcome the setback, and Gembe moved on to have a career in security. But it serves as a cautionary tale of not taking virtual worlds and mysteries too far into reality.

  • Ryan Green, the co-creator of the video game That Dragon, Cancer, told the story of when his son Joel, who had terminal cancer, became severely dehydrated and was in immense pain. Green felt overwhelmed and helpless to comfort his son for six hours. He called his wife to come help because he couldn’t handle it anymore.

  • Joel was diagnosed with cancer at 4 months old and had endured many difficult treatments in his short life. The family wanted to find a way to express and share their experience, so Green, a game developer, decided to make a video game.

  • Green said the game allows others to meet his son and family and understand their experience, though from a safe distance. In one scene in the game, the player has to figure out how to comfort Joel when he’s crying in pain in the hospital. The solution is to pray, which provides relief. However, Green said that in real life, God doesn’t always provide such clear solutions or relief. The game aims to show his perspective honestly without proselytizing.

  • Green acknowledged the risk of making a game about such a difficult topic, especially since Joel’s condition was still uncertain. He didn’t know if the game would end with Joel living or dying. But he hoped the message of finding meaning even in suffering would remain. He said life brings many ups and downs, but he hoped to tell a good story regardless of the outcome.

  • The summary notes that most video games end in triumph, but that a few subvert this by showing the damage caused along the way. In contrast, That Dragon, Cancer aims to provide a tragic story that finds meaning even without a triumphant ending.

  • Video games typically feature victory and success, not failure, as the expected outcome. In contrast, literature and film are often willing to explore more troubling themes. The creators of That Dragon, Cancer, a game about a young boy’s terminal illness, believe players will find meaning in such a devastating experience.

  • The lead designer of the game, Ryan Green, lost his own son Joel to cancer in 2014. Although the news of Joel’s death was devastating, Green and his team decided to continue working on the game to capture the essence of Joel’s life and share it with others. The game shifted focus from Joel’s suffering to celebrating his life and character.

  • Other games have also examined serious themes of death and personal struggle. Jason Rohrer’s Passage is about aging and inevitability of death. Christos Reid’s Dear Mother is an open letter to his mother about her rejection of his bisexuality. Making the game allowed Reid to process his pain and share it with others.

  • Papo & Yo is a game dedicated to the creator’s family who survived abuse from his alcoholic father. The game is a metaphor for that struggle. Reid sees making personally meaningful games as a way to work through issues, share them, and find closure.

  • While difficult to experience, games that explore human suffering in a meaningful way provide an opportunity for players to empathize and grow in understanding. But due to the serious subject matter, not all players may wish to engage with them. For creators like Reid, however, making such games can be a personally rewarding way to find hope and healing.

  • The passage describes walking through magical realist streets that change based on a child’s whims and imagination. Moving a discarded box slightly can alter the building in front of you. This represents a metaphor for a child navigating a harsh, indifferent environment.

  • The child meets a monster representing his father’s alcoholism. The monster is docile until it licks frogs, then becomes enraged, like the father when drinking. The game shows the tragic impact of the father’s addiction in flashbacks. The child says “He cannot control himself” but a friend says “Only you can cure the monster.” It’s about a child trying to save the unsaveable.

  • The creator said he made the game because “games actually saved me” as a child, providing safety and control lacking in real life. The game invites discomfort in participating in the creator’s therapy and catharsis.

  • Other examples of therapeutic game-making include That Dragon, Cancer, about a child with cancer, and Dear Mother, about grief. They are ways for creators to externalize experiences, recreate and better understand them. Games can help understand others’ experiences and positions.

  • Brenda Romero suffered an assault in 2006 and coped by designing game levels in her head to understand “pain and evil as a system.” She explored tragedies and injustices in games like Train, about the Holocaust, and The New World, about slavery. Train provokes feelings of shame in players by having them efficiently load people onto trains to Auschwitz, revealing its destination at the end.

  • Romero researched the Holocaust extensively for Train. Tragic subjects are not taboo for her post-2006. “You can’t have human tragedy at any scale without a system. And if you give me a system, I can make you a game.” Some criticized her for the pain caused, but others saw value.

  • Therapeutic game-making can be both public/performative and private. For some like Romero, game design is a way to process the world, even its darkest parts. Games have helped her understand and share difficult life experiences.

Here’s a summary:

• Desert Bus is an unreleased 1995 video game by Penn Jillette and Teller, designed to parody the anti-video game lobby. In the game, players have to drive a bus in real time for 8 hours between Tucson and Las Vegas. The game cannot be paused and there are no passengers or traffic. Players get one point for completing the journey.

• The game was meant to show how boring and pointless such a simulation would be. It was part of a larger collection of games called Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, but the publisher went bust before it could be released. Only a few review copies were sent out.

• The game was rediscovered in 2005 and posted online, gaining notoriety as ‘the worst video game ever created’. Some players took on the challenge of scoring high points to break the world record.

• The quest for survival is the oldest and strongest human instinct. This is reflected in most video games, where characters have ‘lives’ and you have to avoid the ‘game over’ screen. Games often use the metaphor of life and death, employing concepts like health, lives, and terms like ‘over’ or ‘die’. Some games represent death by turning the character into a ghost or leaving a gravestone. This creates a sense of urgency and high stakes for the player.

• The game designer Eugene Jarvis said ‘all the best video games are about survival – it’s our strongest instinct, stronger than food, sex, lust for money’. While this is debatable, survival is a dominant theme in many games.

  • Video games have explored the theme of survival in many different ways, from the 1960s game Space War to more recent military-themed blockbusters. Some survival games focus on escaping danger, while others explore survival in the face of boredom or monotony.

  • Desert Bus is a game that simulates the mundane task of driving a bus for hours on end. In 2007, a group of players live-streamed themselves playing it to raise money for charity. They ended up raising over $1 million, showing how people can be inspired to support seemingly pointless endurance challenges.

  • Desert Golfing is another simple desert-themed game that has inspired devotion in players. The game subverts players’ expectations by not allowing them to restart or undo past mistakes. This forces players to accept their past failures and learn from them. The game becomes an exercise in survival and persistence against frustration.

  • The designer of Desert Golfing was inspired by the game Journey, and wanted to add golf to that game’s desert setting. The terrain seemed perfect for golfing, but in a stripped-down, minimalist style. The game explores themes of survival by trapping players in an endless desert and not allowing them to escape their mistakes or past scores. Players become obsessed with improving their skills and sharing their progress with others.

  • In the end, simple yet unforgiving games like Desert Bus and Desert Golfing tap into the human urge for survival and mastery. They provide a “consequence-free space” for learning perseverance in the face of boredom, frustration, and one’s own imperfections. The games themselves become more about the psychological journeys they inspire in players.

  • Desert Golfing is a minimalist golfing video game created by Canadian developer Justin Smith in 2014. Smith was inspired by the game Desert Bus and Penn & Teller’s ‘interminably long and repetitive’ style.

  • Smith created the game’s infinite, randomised golf courses using an algorithm he wrote. He wanted players to have a ‘sense of freedom and reconciliation with life’s past mistakes’ by not allowing them to restart the game. The game took Smith only eight days to design.

  • The game has been described as ‘interesting’ because of the psychological journey it takes players on, rather than its visuals or gameplay. It taps into humanity’s desire to persevere and survive against difficult odds. Video games in general allow us to test our adaptability and survival skills in simulated environments. High scores in games may also allow us to prove our worth and skill to others.

  • The Iñupiat people of Alaska created the video game Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) in 2014 to help preserve their cultural heritage. Their oral storytelling tradition was under threat, so they founded Upper One Games, the first indigenous-owned video game company in the US, to create the game.

  • Never Alone tells the story of a girl named Nuna and an Arctic fox who must work together to overcome challenges, reflecting the Iñupiat value of interdependence. The development team worked with Iñupiat elders, storytellers and artists to properly represent their culture in the game. The result has helped share the Iñupiat’s stories and values with new audiences around the world.

  • Creating Never Alone required the development team to work with amateur game makers in a new way by bringing the Iñupiat community into the creative process. This was challenging but ultimately successful. The game has helped revitalise interest in the Iñupiat’s cultural heritage, especially among younger members of the community.

  • In summary, both Desert Golfing and Never Alone are examples of how video games can be used to explore profound ideas around human psychology, adaptability, endurance, culture and identity. They show how games do not need advanced graphics or complex gameplay to be impactful.

  • Richard Bartle grew up in a working-class family in 1960s Britain with limited opportunities and expectations.

  • His mother had some of her stories published but was not properly credited, highlighting the injustice of the class system.

  • Bartle created his own role-playing games as a child, inventing worlds and characters. He named his first game ‘Dr Toddystone’ assuming it would be poor quality.

  • At age 16, Bartle first encountered a computer. He learned to code through a slow process of writing out code by hand for administrators to input. He created a basic tank battle game.

  • Bartle saw going to university as a way to overcome the limitations of his background. He was accepted to Essex University based more on his potential than grades.

  • At university, Bartle switched from math to computer science, realizing the education system was unjust and his peers were just as capable as those from privileged backgrounds.

The key points are that Bartle grew up facing the injustice and limited opportunities of the British class system but found escape and opportunity through role-playing games, computers, and eventually higher education. His awareness of unfairness in the system grew over this time.

  • Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw created the first MUD (Multi-User Dungeon), one of the earliest online multiplayer games, while students at Essex University in 1978.

  • MUD was text-based, played on a mainframe computer. Players would enter commands via teletype terminals and receive text printouts describing the game world and events.

  • Bartle and Trubshaw created MUD as a “political endeavour” to build a virtual world that was fairer and more meritocratic than society at the time. They wanted to give players freedom and allow them to progress based on their actions and skills in the game, not their social class or background.

  • MUD spread to universities around the world. By 1989, there were around 20 different versions. Some focused on quests and gameplay, others on social interaction. This split led to the development of both MMORPGs and social virtual worlds.

  • Bartle and Trubshaw gave MUD away for free. Although this meant they never profited from it, Bartle believes it allowed their message about building a fairer system to spread. He sees modern MMORPGs as “descendants” of MUD, even if most players and designers don’t recognize its influence.

  • Bartle remains frustrated with the slow pace of progress in using virtual worlds to change the real world and address inequality and limitations based on circumstances of birth. But he still believes virtual worlds have the potential to affect reality in this way.

  • Many modern video games, even if not explicitly designed this way, provide a space where players have an equal chance to succeed based on their efforts and skills. This may contribute to their appeal and the amount of time some gamers spend playing them.

  • Richard Bartle proposed a classification of players of MMOs based on their motivations and playstyles: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers. Having a mix of these types is important for the success and longevity of an MMO.

  • The city of Los Santos in GTA V is a utopia that accommodates many different playstyles and interests. The game allows players to see and experience what they want. The city has a personality but players also project onto it.

  • GTA V can be seen in many ways: a technological marvel, a sandbox, a consequence-free space to explore darker fantasies, a spectacle, a failure to capture meaningful drama, biting satire, sexist, a mirror of Western culture’s moral failings, a mirror of the individual player.

  • The player brings themselves into the game and their activities reflect their interests and motivations. GTA V proves the saying “wherever you go, there you will be” - you can’t escape yourself and your problems. The game provides a space for players to act out their urges, good or bad.

  • The protagonists of GTA V are memorable for their moral darkness. The game examines the perils of capitalism and the American notion of heroism tied to violence.

  • Los Santos, like any city, reflects what individuals bring to it and need from it. It allows for reinvention and being whoever you need to be. The open world of GTA V in particular allows for broad freedoms of experience.

That covers the key highlights and main takeaways from the analysis of GTA V and player motivations. Please let me know if you would like me to explain or expand on any part of the summary.

• Video games offer an escape, a utopia we can shape and control. We go to them to kill time and find comfort.

• However, they can also distract, depress, and negatively impact health. They are not a substitute for real-world relationships and support.

• Games have the power to inspire and challenge the status quo, but they also have the capacity to demoralize and spread harmful ideas. Their influence on us and society is complex.

• Though stories of “death by gaming” persist, most players believe that extreme cases of addiction and health issues happen to others, not themselves. They continue playing as usual.

• The potential of games is exciting but also concerning. They could improve the world or imperil it. The impact of games remains uncertain and open to debate.

• Multiplayer games in particular offer community and competition. They fill a human need for social interaction and challenge. However, they may lack options for more complex human experiences like eating, touching, and loving.

• The design of a game leads players to certain types of actions and behavior. Players can only interact with the virtual world in the ways the game allows, often narrowing the possibilities to violence or accomplishing tasks.

• Fiction in any form, including games, is open to criticism. There are no subjects that cannot be explored, though some topics may be censored or regulated. Pushing social boundaries often comes with backlash.

• In the end, wherever we escape to in virtual worlds, we bring ourselves. We find reflections of our lives, values, and societies in the games we play.

That covers the key points and arguments around the effects and influence of video games according to the source material. Please let me know if you would like me to explain or expand on any part of this summary.

Here is a summary of the requested entries:

Fire Emblem 77: A tactical role-playing video game franchise where political and social issues are explored.

First Amendment 142: The First Amendment protects free speech in the US, though there are debates around its application to video games.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 240: A television sitcom from the 1990s that satirized video game violence.

Frogger 124: An early arcade game that exemplified the trend of games recreating primal struggles.

Frontier 91: A British video game developer known for the Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster series.

Galaxian 39: A 1979 shoot ‘em up arcade game that influenced many later games.

Gamergate 112-113: A 2014 online harassment campaign against women in the video game industry and a watershed moment in conversations about sexism in gaming culture.

Game universe: Games can have either different or identical universes for each player. Identical universes provide a shared experience while different universes maximize player choice.

Game violence: There is a disproportionate focus on violent content in games and an obsession with violence that taps into primal instincts. However, the evidence for links between games and real-world violence is disputed.

Geometry Wars 243: A shoot ‘em up arcade game influenced by earlier classics like Asteroids and Space Invaders.

Gordon, Seth 39, 43: A competitive gamer and the first player to achieve a perfect score in the arcade game Donkey Kong. He was featured in the documentary The King of Kong.

Journey 67, 85, 248: An indie video game focused on atmosphere, emotion and player experience rather than violence, competition or strict challenges. It exemplifies a trend toward more experimental and artistic games.

justice in games 68, 79: Some games explore issues of justice, morality and ethics, giving players opportunities to make meaningful choices.

Maxis 103, 105: A game studio best known for the SimCity series of simulation games. Now owned by Electronic Arts.

Meridian 59 114-119: A pioneering massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 1996.

mod 190: Amateur user modifications of commercial games, which can expand and enhance the experience. In some cases mods tackle political or social issues.

Newell, Gabe 204-212: The co-founder and president of Valve Corporation, a leading game studio and online game platform. Known for games like Half-Life and Portal as well as Steam, the dominant PC gaming storefront.

Night of Bush Capturing 162-165: A controversial mod that recreated the capture of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq War. It sparked debate about the politics of modding and limits of free speech.

No Man’s Sky 95, 97-98: A space exploration game with a vast procedurally generated universe. It was highly anticipated but criticized at launch for lacking gameplay and depth, highlighting the risks of overly ambitious open-world games.

Passage 224-225: An experimental indie game depicting life’s passages in minimalist style. It explores themes of life, love and death in a short, impactful experience.

Penn & Teller 240, 241: The comedian magicians created the unreleased video game Smoke and Mirrors to satirize the controversies around violence and obscenity in games.

Rainbox Six 104: A tactical shooter franchise focused on realistic combat situations and weaponry. Published by Ubisoft.

romero, Brenda 230-234: The co-founder of Sir-Tech Software and co-designer of the tactical RPG Jagged Alliance series. A pioneering female game developer who faced discrimination and challenges in the male-dominated industry.

Shadow of the Colossus 85: A stylized action-adventure game focused on grand vistas and minimalist encounters with towering collossi. It’s considered a landmark cinematic, artistic game.

Shenmue 61: A 1999 open-world action-adventure game set in 1980s Japan. Though slow-paced, it pioneered many concepts that became standard in later sandbox games.

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About Matheus Puppe