Praise for Chris Bateman

  • Jane McGonigal
    "the most thoughtful respondent in games, barring none"
  • Kendall Walton
    "wonderfully refreshing and inventive"

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Philosophy Books

What's your Gamer Class?

Game Design

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Chris: reconsidering your evolving aestheti theory of games I wonder if you have considered the theories of "sensemaking" as source for further inspiration. The Wikipedia bit on organizational applications (pioneered by Karl Weick) is actually quite insightful - that's the part I feel able to comment on. But ther seem to be applications in human machine interaction which seems directly to your purpose. Plus there is a well written part on network centric warfare doctrine that reminds me eerily of a design concept for a Battlefield simulator as if inspired by your theories ;-)) ... hope your book presentation went well. Best!

Hi translucy,

I haven't dug very deeply into sensemaking, although it came up in passing on my AI Masters degree as part of human computer interaction. It's one of those interdisciplinary areas that happens to include both my background (computer science/cognitive science) and my current interest (philosophy). :)

All the best!

I love this so hard. I think this really where I'm going with all my research. I've always been interested in how play and story can work together in a game, and that has been my major research focus so far, both as a designer and as an academic. I hate watching cutscenes (but you have to watch them). I want to feel like I'm a part of the story, not like I'm being story'd at.

Incobalt: thanks for the kind words! I hope it goes without saying that if you like this piece, you should pick up the book. ;)

My colleague Ernest said some ten years back now that the secret desire of game developers to be film-makers was 'the enemy' (or something similar), and although I do think games and film techniques can work well together it's very lazy to simply lean on film techniques for game narrative.


I mentioned this blog in a reflection post about my game project this past semester: . My project dealt with narrative and play in games, by creating a game that tried to tie narrative to the gameplay. I note a number of flaws with this project, and next semester I am going to be taking a more academic look at this subject.

I also mentioned your book, which I recently bought for part of my research and general interest.

Icobalt: thanks for taking an interest! The intersection between narrative and play is a highly productive research area, and probably will be for some time to come. Best of luck taking your work forward!

I feel like you've missed a great opportunity with your theory here.

Why not just consider all art to simply be pretend instead of a game? It seems like by considering all art a game, you make things needlessly complicated, because a game is so specifically structured. Consider the following:

As an abstract structure for meaning, there is no way to experience pure game. Therefore, the game structure must be delivered through a medium of some kind. If this medium is token-based roleplaying, the result is a boardgame.

The same is true for story. The story structure must be delivered through a medium of some kind. If this medium is live-action roleplaying, the result is theatre.

By making all art pretend instead of a game, that frees up art to include some combination of these abstract structures for meaning: game structures, story structures...and even others! And because each medium is unique, that necessitates these structures to take on different forms in order to deliver meaning more clearly. If they conflict with each other in some way, you get some form of dissonance. When Samyn says videogames don't need stories, I interpret that as him saying that there are other abstract structures besides just games and stories. And that makes perfect sense with this model.

I find this model an *order of magnitude* more elegant than 'all art is a game.' It's simply pretend, which means each artistic medium requires its own form of suspension of disbelief, i.e. the pretending skill.

Therefore, I don't consider myself to play a painting because it's a game. I playfully consider a painting because it's a form of pretending. I'm playing in the lusory sense of the word instead of the ludological sense.

Godatplay: thanks for your comment! My obvious question: is pretending not a game? It seems to be when we say of children who are pretending "oh, that's just a game she's playing".

Anyway, my approach here is founded on someone else's theory - Professor Kendall Walton's make-believe theory of representation - which I am simply borrowing to make the strongest case I can for the claim to games as art.

Your alternative approach is probably viable - but having just published a book adapting Walton's theory to games of all kinds, I'm hardly in a position to be riffing off an alternative approach! :)

Best wishes!

I guess I would say no, most likely not. Pretending is simply play.

But yeah I know what you mean, you're kind of committed. Understood :)

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