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Integral Video Games: Reloaded

Last post 07-17-2008, 8:52 AM by Fangsz. 40 replies.
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  •  07-08-2008, 4:04 PM 61837 in reply to 61453

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Do I think an epic story can be told through the video game medium?  Certainly.  In fact, I think it's already been done.  Grand Theft Auto 4, which I beleive recently set a new record for the most money ever made for after a new video game is released, forms an epic of sorts, but it falls short of being an integral epic.  Actually, that was one of the inspirations for the idea I just outlined was the desire to do kind of an integral Grand Theft Auto which replaces the irony and hopelessness of such a story with shared meaning and vision, a game that looks at so-called urban isolation and, rather than simply smirking at it, examines integral ways to bring people together.  If I had to sell it right now, I'd say it's kind of Blue Man Group meets Heroes meets Grand Theft Auto.

    I do think I should point out though, that, despite the less-than-integral state of affairs with some of the best-selling games, there are certain games which I think offer the first glimpses of Teal-to-Turquose structures in the medium.  I would go with Uncharted: Drakes Fortune for the PS3, where the developers, Naught Dog, looked extensively at offerings in the pulp adventure genre throughout history (from old pulp adventure novels to Indiana Jones to the Mummy to National Treasure) to create the ultimate pulp adventure story, and told it in interactive form in the slickest, most intuitive way possible.  If you're familliar with the Matrix Trilogy, there are two games in that universe which are especially worth note.  The Path of Neo, with a story written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers, offers a cohesive statement on the entire Matrix Trilogy and poineers some new methods of interaction and exploration in video games.  And then there's Matrix Online, which provides a framework capable of telling a living breathing story to a world full of hundreds of interacting players (taking on the role of newly awakened redpills), with the game developers filling in the roles of key characters in the Matrix Universe such as Morpheus, Niobe, the Oracle, the Merovengian, and Persephone (though you might be suprised at how many of those guys have been killed off at this point!), and thus continuining the evolving story which the Matrix Trilogy began, picking up where the third film left off.

    What's the easiest way to make a simple game?  I'm not exactly an expert on the subject, for while I'm very interested in the video game meduim and where it's headed, my own work has been more in written fiction and film at this point.  So I'm not sure exactly what software would be the best for creating a simple video game (though if you want it to be 3D, you could possibly do a "mod" for a popular game like Half Life of Unreal, I beleive they sell tools for that purpose), but once you decide on the software you're going to use, my only advice would be to try and distill your ideas down to their simplist possible form and then explore them to the greatest extent that the technology (and yor patience) allows.  Keep in mind, though, that I might not have any idea what I'm talking about.  You might want to look to other simple games for inspiration, in which case I would suggest checking out the best simple game I've ever come across.  It's called flOw, and you can play it for free online:

    http://intihuatani.usc.edu/cloud/flowing/

    The goal of the game developer was to use simple but elegant graphics and a soothing, adaptive style of play (adjusting to the player's difficulty level) to evoke a flow state in the player.

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  •  07-09-2008, 2:24 AM 61889 in reply to 61837

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Fangsz:

    There are a couple of things that I think are ripe for game development:

    1. The classical epics are often centered around the need to call up courage to avert death. I am thinking it might be time to start taking "biological life" as a given, not threatening to end it in the game characters, and instead, showing that there are things worse than death.

    My son killed 48 people today on Call of Duty, before lunch. It's like playing marbles ... click click click.

    2. Learning. There is nothing so exhiliarating as learning. And there is just so much material out there that could be embedded in a game, whereby the player essentially learns entire college courses in the process of playing the game. In fact, why should we even attend boring lectures when the material can be embedded in fascinating games that allow us to learn 5 times faster and more enjoyable?

    I have to say - game developers as a group are not exactly overwhelming us with their constructive applications of this new technology. And we are not exactly demanding that they do it, so that is that.

     

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  •  07-11-2008, 1:30 PM 62309 in reply to 61889

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Thought y'all would enjoy this guest blog i just posted to KenWilber.com....

    http://kenwilber.com/blog/show/459

    Press Play to Grow!
    Designing Video Games as “Trojan Horses” to Catalyze Human Development through the Conveyor Belt of Growth
    by Moses Silbiger

    click here to download full document.
    click here to download accompanying poster image.

    Learning is at its best when it is goal-oriented, contextual, interesting, challenging, and interactive. These same winning characteristics also define the best computer games … Learning can and should be hard fun!
    - Clark N. Quinn, E-learning & video game designer, and author.

    We are already the most overinformed, underreflective people in the history of civilization. Is it possible the twenty-first century needs a new kind of learning and a new kind of leader to help us …? Perhaps [we can] begin building not simply an information highway but a transformation highway.
    - Robert Kegan, developmental psychologist, professor, and author, Harvard University.

    Introduction

    As odd or paradoxical as it may seem, I envision video games being increasingly designed to facilitate human development, as virtual reality technologies continue to evolve and integrate with leading edge developmental practices.

    Most of us have played a video game at least once in our lives, or at least watched somebody else play, often a close one. Can you remember what you felt when you played a video game for the first time, or watched another player deeply engaged in one? I invite you now to engage in a brief Phenomenological exploration. Try to access how you were feeling, what were your emotions about it? … Who were you at that moment? Can you identify what “self” was playing, or observing somebody else deeply immersed in the game? What were your thoughts about it? Was there something “magical” or “different” about that? Just pause a little moment and close your eyes to really access and embody that memory…

    So, how was your experience? I could access my memory quite clearly, as if it was happening right at this moment… It is 1981, and I am playing Pong for the first time… “I am feeling a deep sense of excitement, curiosity and awe. I am kind of dazzled, can’t almost contain myself in my skin. My whole being is bubbling as I engage in this dynamic, alive but basic “virtual reality” unfolding in front of my eyes and TV. My fingers are frantically rolling the control, in utmost focus and attention. Moving the bar up and down, the epitome of virtual action! Ping… pong…ping…pong… Yes! A little bit there… Damn!!! I almost got it!” As I reflect through my experience now, I can see myself going through some kind of altered state of flow, close to a brief “pre-trans” mystical experience. The 11-year old boy is amazed. He stares at the screen. Thoughts arise in his awareness: “Wow… what a cool experience! This is really fun! How strange… How “they” can make that? How they can do something like that in my TV? Hey, it is my turn now, I want to play more!”

    Video games as a Storytelling Media of the 21st Century

    Now being a 38 year-“young” man researching video games at the dawn of the 21st century, I still feel quite amazed and dazzled with what is now being called “a new generation of interactive entertainment”. Recent technological and artistic developments have made some of these games to be so realistic, meaningful and potentially engaging that the line between “virtual” and “real” reality are really starting to fade away... Transported through time from Pong to now, I see myself enthusiastically engaging in a 40 hour (15 days) “action-research” marathon playing Bioshock, a video game set in a beautiful but “fallen” utopia futuristic city called Rapture, located at the bottom of the ocean. The creative storyline is based on Ayn Rand’s constructivist insights from the book The Fountainhead (1943), which unfolds in an exquisite aesthetics of a post civil war art deco decayed environment, providing the adequate atmosphere that invites me to subtly experience with full engagement a series of existential insights.

    Suddenly, the quest for the victory is also the quest for my own path and identity as a player. Am I really in control of my choices in the game? Groundbreaking surprises await me throughout the path as I start knowing more about myself, my past history, and why I am really there. Boundaries between my player self and “real self” sometimes seem to disappear… Chosen by many standards as the “game of the year in 2007”, Bioshock is part of an emergent generation of “First Person” role playing video games (RPG) that bring an exquisite mix of high level of aesthetics, technological power, and a fairly amount of subjective depth (if you have the right “eyes” to see it), including “grey” moral choices that go beyond the “black and white” of good and evil. However, as expected from a contemporary best selling action and role-play game (RPG) title such as Bioshock, many aspects of the current paradigm of video game design are still at play, including violence, shootings, weapons, and blood, lots and lots of blood…

    But, would that really spoil the other deeper and more positive aspects of the experience? Would that be really only a video game problem, independent of the reactions and interpretations of the player? Are video games, especially from the First Person RPG genre, “doomed” to be a just a mirror of our contemporary mainstream culture, society and entertainment? Well… yes and no, if seen from the lens of the Integral Psychology created by the contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber (2000), which can take into a more balanced account both the “dignity and disasters” of the evolution of video games and virtual reality technologies in a broader and deeper context; a perspective that accounts for many developmental variables and aspects of AQAL.

    But before I continue, it is important to note that due to issues of space and scope, I did not investigate in depth the potentially harmful and negative aspects of video games, since my primary concern was to focus on the main topic of exploring their healthy, positive and proactive potentials for catalyzing human development. However, as a side note, I suggest that further developmental research about the combination of a low Self-Center of Gravity (Wilber, 2007, 2000) with critical levels of disintegration, unbalances, shadows, and/or repressions in the five main aspects of a player’s AQAL constellation, could add significant data to complement most of the existing academic research on video games - which is mostly concerned with the negative influences of video games as related to cognitive-behavioral and other objective and empirical factors (e.g.: games’ intrinsic mechanics, dynamics, genres, themes and contents).

    In general, many people think that some video games nowadays can bring more negative than positive influences to players, or at best a neutral contribution. Actually, you (or somebody close to you) may be even one of them. Also, people from all ages today are fairly used to the idea of most video games as being “kids” or “adolescent” things, or being mostly superficial entertainment. But even if there is some true to that, this has not been always the case in the short but exponentially intense “30-yearish” history of video games…  As I came to realize, the potentials for video games to promote positive and proactive influences can be especially significant at this moment in time and in the future yet to come, with a myriad of educational and developmental possibilities already being explored (see page 16), and many more still waiting to be “discovered” and “downloaded” into concrete video game manifestations.

    In the next section II, I will provide a general presentation of my academic research on video games and human development, exploring their connections and potentials through various methodologies and zones by using a Quadrivia analysis. In the last section III, I will continue this exploration focusing on specific educational categories and proposing the application of various integral frameworks to facilitate human development through skilful and timely developmental education and practices. It is from here that I want to invite you to walk with me through a brief journey into the new world of 21st century video games, so we can start co-envisioning and co-creating together the emergent world of integral developmental video games!

    click here to download full document.
    click here to download accompanying poster image.




    (click image to enlarge)

    __________________________

    Corey W. deVos (dj rekluse)
    Brand Manager, Integral Naked
    Audio Manager, Integral Institute
    Managing Editor, KenWilber.com
    __________________________
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  •  07-11-2008, 2:08 PM 62321 in reply to 62309

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Yeah, this is a spectacular piece of work. Moses has really sunk his teeth into this.

    Essentially what he is saying is that video games can be the technology that serves to transform the world.

    And I think he is right.

    Real life is like a video game. Except, there is so much banging the knees on chairs, and waiting around for new challenges, and wasting gas, and with the video game, for the first time in human history, there is a world that is able to really meet our brains somewhere up their at their potential.

    I am wondering though - maybe the initial effort could be simpler. Do we really need the change to happen as the game is being played? Or do we simply need exemplar incidents to happen in the game that provide us with the model where we see as clear as daylight what the next step is?

    I am imaging a game that simply was built around ... trying to build an Integral video game! The 1st person perspective is of a person who has a deadline in which a coherent and fully Integrated game must be built and tested and deployed or else.

    And so, there are all of these facets that have to be built. And the act of exploring and building them ... in and of itself provides the player with the cognition food for life development.

    Can anyone tell me where I can find software that allows me to create a really simple game at home with no programming experience?

     

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  •  07-11-2008, 4:10 PM 62386 in reply to 62321

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Corey, thanks for pointing out that guest blog.  It looks like Moses Silbiger has really dones some amazing work.  I'll have to read it in its entirety at some point, but this intro really gives me hope about the future of the medium, and really makes me want to get into Bioshock.  Alas, though, I do not own an Xbox 360.  Too bad video games run on an exclusionary system, where buying one console instead of another ultimately influences your selection of games (seems like there could be a more integral way of making video game consoles).  Fortunately though, Bioshock is coming to the Playstation 3 with added content in the Fall.  Have you played that game at all?  A friend of mine was very impressed with it.

    Schalk, I definitely agree that learning can be a primary function of video games, as of any medium of art.  However, as the title of this guest blog implies with a refrence to the "Trojan Horse," I think learning is best accomplished when it doesn't appear on the surface to be the primary intent of the work.  For example, one could learn a lot from The Great Gatsby or The Grapes of Wrath, but how many high school students gain the fullest possible benefit of these works when they are forced to read them in class?  From my experience, not too many.  I think enjoyment is key to the learning process, and what are "enjoyment" or "fun" if not code words for heightened state experiences?  This is why, as you pointed out, video games may be in a key position as a medium to engage people in learning and transformation.  In my mind, though, it's not just video games that seem to hold this opportunity, it's the entire entertainment industry.  We have the unique opportunity at this point in time to initiate a barrage of multi-media integral entertainment, and there are few things I could think of with more potential to transform the world.

    The thing you said about having "biological life" as a given in a video game doesn't really resonate with me.  When is biological life ever a given?  And where is life possible where death is not consistently present?  All biological entities must, in some way, kill to live.  I think what's needed is authentic contemplation of death in video games, rather than just its superficial depiction.  Removing body-death from the picture entirely, I think, would cause more problems than it sovles.  After all, what would Hamlet be without death?  What would The Matrix be without death?  Also, I don't think a glut senseless killing in video games is going to be a problem for long.  Most popular video games I've come across lately are at least self-referential about the absurd quality of violence they contain.  The next step, I think, will be to examine the subject more deeply, allowing a more balanced approach for interactive storytelling to emerge.

    Also, in response to your contemplation about, "Do we really need the change to happen as the game is being played?" for my part, I would say, in general, no, and even if it does, the full transformation probably won't come until later, and upon repeated experiences with the work, as with all works of art.  The model I like to work with for integral art is that a work of art provides both a hightened state experience the viewer/reader/player can access "now" and a series of structures that can be explored as "time" unfolds.

    Oh, and here's a site with some software for simple game design.  A few years ago, I used one of the products from that site to create a very simple 2-D game with Morpheus from the Matrix jumping across skyscrapers.  Tell me if you can find anything else for newbie video game creators.

    http://www.clickteam.com/eng/index.php

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  •  07-11-2008, 6:05 PM 62503 in reply to 62386

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    I also remembered this:

    http://www.garagegames.com/

    It looks like better software than the one I linked in the above post.

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  •  07-11-2008, 6:05 PM 62504 in reply to 62386

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Accidental double post.

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  •  07-11-2008, 6:05 PM 62505 in reply to 62386

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Accidental triple post.

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  •  07-11-2008, 6:53 PM 62511 in reply to 62503

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    Thanks Fangsz.
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  •  07-15-2008, 7:26 PM 63089 in reply to 62511

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    I've been watching a lot of the E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo) coverage, the big video game press event, and I have a few quick thoughts:

    -It's interesting to think about video games not only as content in themselves, but also as a platform for other content.  Several music artists are planning to debut new songs or entire albums on music games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, showing up in a video game before they appear anywhere else (or simultaniously with an album's release).  Both Microsoft and Sony announced plans for renting high definition movies online straight through their respective consoles, Microsoft's is synched with Netflix, Sony's is a pay-per-view format for the Playstation Store.  In the future, instead of finding art and information through abstract sources, we may discover new films and music as part of an interactive network that is intimately connected to the act of creation itself.  The World Wide Web will become interactive and intermeshed with the "real" world.

    -Nintendo announced a new advancement in the motion-sensing technology for the Wii, while an independent company called Motus Games announced a controller with very similar technology called the Darwin almost simultaniously, presumably for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  This kind of synchronicity makes me think... what if all this creativity didn't happen exclusively behind closed doors for the benefit of one console or another?  What if we could have truly open source hardware for video games, as well as the trends in open source software that are currently emerging with the bigger game developers releasing their graphics engines for smaller independent developers?  We could have a standard of core computers specs that gets updated every several years for developers to cater to, a universal standard for software that is playable on all consoles, and beyond that, any entity can create any hardware they want to extend specific games or the medium in general.  This may be a trend that is already beggining, and it would certainly do a lot to integrate some of the more ethnocentric dynamics playing out in the so-called "console wars".

    -Corey's idea for an AQAL Spore competition, combined with what I've been seeing lately, gave me another idea.  Video games are a medium where the process of enjoying a given work is creative within itself, and this intimately and intricately tied to the process of creating the work, with the player's creativity actually manifesting in the work itself.  This could do a lot to heal the dynamic I often see in other media, where we have professional critics who see themselves as completely seperate from the creative process, possessing some sort of pre-given editorial witness to any work the observe, which of course cannot exist in any form of relative reality.  Thus, I think interactive entertainment is a great chance to integrate the experience of art with the creation of art using an AQAL map.  Video game creators need to make their games more integral, but we could also do a lot as players to make our play more integral, using video games as a way to test the AQAL waters, seeing how the aspects of reality the AQAL map points to interact in various virtual worlds.  I'd like to propose some sort of AQAL Interactive Online Initiative, using events like Corey is talking about for Spore in every online video game we, as a community, see as worthwhile.  This could manifest as as official AQAL groups or teams within the games structure, or as initiatives the bring the game's existing groups together in some new way, or, in the case of something like LittleBigPlanet, which is essentially a game that allows you to create your own games, creating actual AQAL interactive stories and experiences for everyone to enjoy.  I'd love to start some kind of AQAL initiative in Matrix Online, as another example, bringing together different organizations within the game's storyline that can essentially represent different lines of development.  I think this kind of thing may serve us well as the World Wide Web begins to merge into a larger interactive and creative space, becoming, as Kevin Kelly calls it, the One Machine.  With the resources of the upcoming Integral Life portal to back it up, an AQAL Interactive Online Initiative could start to show us the ways in which various interactive entertainment experiences connect to each other in terms of an AQAL framework.

    -Here are some trailers of the games I'm most excited about (with an admitted skew towards the Playstation platform, as those are the games I'll have more of a chance to play), including Little Big Planet, which I mentioned above, InFamous, which I was refering to in earleir posts, and a new MMO that takes place in the universe of DC comics, where, with the the help of an AQAL initiative within the game, the vision of an integral superhero has the potential emerge in an interactive form very soon.

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/4491.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/5157.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/8708.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/9159.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/6364.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/6669.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/6112.html

    http://www.gametrailers.com/game/5528.html

    The last game on that list is Flower, from the creators of FlOw, where it appears you play as the wind!

    By the way, Corey, I know you have an Xbox 360, have you played Bioshock?  If so, I'd like to hear your thoughts on it (though I'd be greatful if you could avoid any story spoilers in the process).

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  •  07-17-2008, 8:52 AM 63292 in reply to 63089

    Re: Integral Video Games: Reloaded

    I just saw InFamous demonstrated live onstage on G4 (www.g4tv.com) and it looks amazing.  As an emerging superhero, you have to use your electricity-based powers to fight the influence of various villians who are taking over a city which has fallen into chaos.  Not only can you use your electro-shock powers as a weapon, however, you can also use them to heal injured bystanders, which includes using yourself as a human defibrilator!  When fighting enemies, you have the option of killing them or creating a kind of electrical restraining mechanism with your powers, capturing them, I suppose, for the police to find, assuming there are any left in the city, after the advent of some inexplicable catastrophic event.  The way you choose to take on your challenges will determine the way your powers evolve.  If you use yourself as an electical wrecking ball, destroying everything in your path, your powers will develop in a way that is more destructive, but if you try to produce the least amount of collatoral damage possible, you will develop the abbility to conduct a more "surigical strike" in the words of the lead designer.  I'm guessing (and hoping) that human defribilator power will continue to develop throughout the game, as well.

    Here's a video of the demonstration I saw:

    http://e3.g4tv.com/e32008/videos/27084/Exclusive_Hands_On_inFamous.html

     

    Oh, and by the way, there's apparently also a game coming out called "Singularity":

    http://www.gametrailers.com/player/36789.html

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