The readings this week were woven together with a major emphasis on processes, procedures, and expression. Furthermore, all of the readings this week advocate for more scholarly research of games, specifically the input (the code and procedures), as most existing research focuses on the output (the screen and gameplay).
In Procedural Rhetoric, Ian Bogost acknowledges that video games are not taken seriously in academia: “videogames are considered inconsequential because they are perceived to serve no cultural or social function save distraction at best, moral baseness at worst” (viii). He analyzes the procedural aspect of video games under a rhetorical lens and proposes the concept of procedural rhetoric to capture this rhetoric. He defines procedural rhetoric as “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions rather than the spoken word, writing, images, or moving pictures” (viii).
Bogost claims that, because video games are expressive, they are well suited for rhetorical speech/persuasion. Video games utilize the enthymeme: “the player performs a great deal of mental synthesis, filling the gap between subjectivity and game processes” and “a procedural model like a videogame could be seen as a system of nested enthymemes, individual procedural claims that the player literally completes through interaction” (43). The player is willing to accept the claims put forth in video games, and often this is done unknowingly.
I agree that video games deserve more attention as rhetorical objects and more “acceptance as a cultural form” (vii). The readings this week made me think critically about the different types of video games I’ve played, such as the Sims, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), Runescape.
Relating this information to some games, like the Sims, is easy. It is more difficult with other games, like DDR. The procedures involved in DDR seem so simplistic; it’s difficult to initially see the value of studying the procedural representations of the game.
The player must step on the correct arrows as they match up with a line on the screen. The level of accuracy influences the number of points awarded and the words that appear on the screen, such as “Perfect” and “Boo.” There are no lively characters or realistic setting for the game, and there certainly is no story.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin, in Expressive Processing, uses the term expressive processing to “talk about what processes express in their design–which may not be visible to audiences,” such as their “histories, economies, and schools of thought” (4). Considering these hidden processes, such as the culture embedded in the game design, validates DDR as something that has significant cultural and social functions.
On another note, in the Introduction to Technical Communication for Games, Jennifer deWinter and Ryan Moeller discuss the technical communicator’s potential role in the production and dissemination of video games.
Although the reading did not touch upon this at all, I thought about my technical writing work at ITS. From there, I thought about the terminology of the audience. With technical writing for WVU’s IT services, the audience is the user. With video games, the audience is the player.
There may be nothing behind this distinction, but it may add to the perception of video games as not worthy of serious consideration from scholars and technical communicators.