Research Proposal: Pervasive Video Games as Public Art

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[. . .] Even though computer games were in their infancy in 1982, Crawford saw the potential of video games even in treatises like Pac-Man, Tempest, Space Invaders, Missile Command and Super Breakout. The latter of that series is screen-captured in the first appendix. However, Crawford asserted that even though the games of that era were crude, he held the view that they were a form of art and that over the years they would become more present and ubiquitous in the lexicon and activities of daily life and artistic expression. Indeed, he was precisely right

Crawford goes on to elucidate and explain that game design is both an artistic process as well as a technical process at the same time. Even while a game programmer tweaks and creates the gaming code and language, he or she is also engaging in the process of creating art. The days of that time, such as the example of Legionnaire used in the Crawford text, states that computer barbarians had three basic routines and algorithms that they engaged in. They would run for safety, approach to contact or attack. Obviously, the number of possibilities and routines has become more and more advanced as gamers actually demand a stiff amount of artificial intelligence that is actually at least somewhat difficult to master and conquer. However, it is possible to take that too far and make the game too complex and non-intuitive but there also to be at least some modicum of complexity and challenge to mastering the same or the amount of satisfaction is less

As far as more modern research that is much more applicable to modern daily life, one can look at the IPerG project. Started in September of 2004, the IPerG project, which stands for the Integrated Project on Pervasive Gaming, ran from that 2004 start date until its conclusion on February 29th, 2008. Over its nearly four years of processing and existence, the goal of the IPerG project was "creation of entirely new game experiences, which are tightly interwoven with our everyday lives through the objects, devices and people that surround us and the places we inhabit." They go on to say that their work is meant to be the catalyst for future forms of art and gaming in the future. The main findings of the IPerG are easily accessible on their website. The IPerG project was a partnership of the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (who was the coordinating partner), the Interactive Institute, the University of Tampere, the Nokia Research foundation, the University of Nottingham, the Fraunhofer Institute, Sony Europe, Gotland University and Blast Theory. One interesting note about Sony is that the aforementioned MMORPG Everquest (and its sequel Everquest II) are both the products of Sony Online Entertainment

As is noted on their website, a "pervasive game" is one that expands the envelope with its salient features that make use of social, spatial or temporal dimensions. They define spatially expanded games as those that are played on the street, around the world or in certain cubbyholes of cyberspace. Temporal games are those that are interwoven and meshed with a person's everyday lives. For example, someone that schedules a week of vacation to coincide with the release of an online game's expansion pack would be a perfect example of this. Lastly, a social expanded game is one that "blurs the boundaries of player-ship." One of the deliverables offered by the IPerG project was the chart seen in the second appendix of this proposal. The sixteen games developed, tested and then mapped on the chart are listed on the left side of the chart. The X axis was spatial, the Y axis was temporal and a line at a forty-five degree angle from the X/Y axis is the social spectrum. Obviously, results varied quite a bit. Location Box/Crash, Magic Lenx Box/The Alchemist, Interference and Rider Spoke scored very high in the social and spatial dimensions but not in the temporal. Games like Day of the Figurines and Coup replaced the spatial element with temporal. Two games did well in all three dimensions, those being the two Prosopopeia Bardo games. Games like Epidemic Menace, Hot Potato, Insectopia and Mythical: The Mobile Awakening also did pretty well in all three dimensions

In another part of their summary on their website, they note that there are four major dimensions that are part and parcel of a pervasive game and keeping it going. Those four parts, in order as mentioned on the IPerG website, are target groups, market structures, revenue streams and product life cycle. These concepts are fairly common in the general business world but obviously take on a newly realized complexity when speaking of things like art and constructing a virtual world that engrosses and swallows up users into the experience and/or the fantasy of the game. When it comes to pervasive games, target groups are when there is an identification and understanding of the players (or potential players) of the pervasive games. A market structure would be the overall organization of the market that distributes a pervasive game to end users. A revenue stream is the overall value chain of the pervasive game. In other words, it is the revenue streams and facets that make the game profitable. For some games, it is user dues or advertising. For others, there are other means of support like capital investments that prop up the venture until it is (hopefully) self-sustaining and propagating. When speaking of user-driven sales, just as one example, just that one dimension can be divvied out into many different dimensions depending on who the target audience is and where they get the money and/or permission (e.g. children/teens) to buy and/or use the game. A matrix that shows this in action is noted in the third appendix

Regardless, any pervasive game takes money to develop and perfect and this requires revenues coming from vendors, advertisers, users or a combination of those three and/or others. The product life cycle is the envisioning and realization of games as products even if they are fairly abstract. While they are very virtual and unreal in nature, they are also real in the fact that code and art has to feed and mechanize the game and thus render it as art. This is what game engines and game designs are meant to do and the product as it is being produced must be updated and error-checked at all times to allow for the best user experience possible. Needless to say, when speaking of games that are marketed and sold in the real world, some succeed and some do not. With some, it can be inability to secure or sustain revenues due to faulty business acumen. With other ventures, failure can be because of the game simply not being accepted or liked by the target audiences. Other concerns, like those of the mentioned product life cycle, can include bugs not being identified or remedied quickly or the game just not being perceived as realistic enough to users. This is a function of the art not reaching and resonating with enough people. However, no pervasive game is going to ring true and well with all people but this is true of all art

As noted throughout the report, one of the more prescient and adept authorities at defining and analyzing the pervasive game phenomenon is Markus Montola. Indeed, the prior-mentioned spatial, temporal and social dimensions of the IPerG project are also forwarded and vouched for by Montola. He made such a mention in at least one of his scholarly works. Rather than cite the popular MMO games like World of Warcraft and Everquest, Montola instead points to massively collaborative games like The AI Game, location-based mobile games like BotFighters and games that augment reality with ludic and engross content like Visby Under. Montola makes a very salient point when the points to games that are very traditional and "regular" in nature that start and stop when a person starts or stops playing it. However, games that are spatial, temporal and/or social in nature often perpetuate and operate no matter the involvement (or lack thereof) of a given user and/or events will happen while a user is offline or otherwise unaware until they discover the changes later on. He goes on to state that pervasive games are aided, enabled and made possible via technology advances and options that help dictate the level to which a person can become involved in the game and the level of control that they can enjoy or pass on depending on the preferences and predilections of the user. One last major point made by Montola would be that gaming experiences can either be an augmentation of reality or they can even create a new reality. Other times, both of these manifestations happen at the exact same time at one level or another. This paradigm and environment that is created or enhanced leads to a situation where "real life" and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Pervasive Video Games as Public Art.  (2014, May 30).  Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/pervasive-video-games-public-art/8898610

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"Pervasive Video Games as Public Art."  30 May 2014.  Web.  24 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/pervasive-video-games-public-art/8898610>.

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"Pervasive Video Games as Public Art."  Essaytown.com.  May 30, 2014.  Accessed June 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/pervasive-video-games-public-art/8898610.