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Lesson 4: Track A Summaries

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Schedule   ::   Lesson 4   ::   Track A Summaries   ::   Track B Summaries


Tews, R. R., Chapter 9: Archetypes on acid: Video games and culture.

Reading summary/quotes:

What are the effects of a game on a person? Tews provides a basic overview of the major approaches to understanding human behavior and attempts to explain the widespread impact of video games on society with each approach. These approaches include behaviorism, social learning theory, and psychoanalysis and the subconscious connection. Tews suggests that the theory best able to explain the video game phenomenon is the psychoanalytical theory of Carl Jung. Jungian theory states that all societies share common, fundamental understandings of the world. These are expressed in art, dreams, and games in the form of symbols, or archetypes. Tews cites several examples of games and explains the archetypes they contain. The examples range from simple games, such as Frogger, to more complex ones such as Tomb Raider. Tews also discusses the positive and negative archetypal roles of the animus and the anima.

Tews begins with a vivid description of a mother playing a video game late at night while nursing her baby. This illustrates one way that second generation players become acculturated to the world of gaming.

“Understanding and explaining the impact of video game experiences is essential to understanding the cultural experience of this young family (p. 169).” (Can this understanding be generalized to all young families that play games?)

“We know that early experiences strongly affect our sense of the world, our sense of self and ability to adapt to the environment. The role that video games play in affecting these senses is an issue that must be addressed in greater depth by the field of psychology because the games have as great a potential to impact behavior, problem solving, and social coping as nay other form of media (p 169-170).” (How is this measured? Can problem solving be quantified?)

“As video game realism has increased, so has the amount of affect generated in response to gameplay (p. 172).” (Below this quote it says that research has supported the notion that realistic games produce more intense behavioral and emotional responses in the player. I don’t disagree with this but it just seems that it is just a notion. If there is support then why isn’t there a bigger push to stop violent games that shoot cops…

Behaviorism and video games: gamine unit is perceived as the ultimate Skinner box (p. 173).

Social learning Theory: bobo doll. The kids would see someone hit and then they would hit the bobo doll. This is the idea that children see and mimic what they have seen. So the issue is do should games be made that show kids to do bad things?

Psychoanalysis and the subconscious connection: one becomes a hero and writes the scrip through our experiences in the video game world (p.175). (How much script do players really write?)

We play games and like them because they temporarily transport us to another reality (p. 175.) ( This is the idea of ‘being there’ or presence. From McMahan paper immersion, engagement, and presence.)

From a psychological point of view what is most intriguing about the games is that the game play may modify the player’s behavior in interpersonal relationships (p.176).”

At the end of the article, Tews underscores the need for further research to compare first generation and second generation players, as well as “the role that the video game archetypes play in video game culture (p. 181).”

Chapter 3: Immersion, engagement, and presence: A method for analyzing 3-D video games. (Lesson 4 Track A): The idea of presence relates to McMahan’s paper on immersion, engagement, and presence. Being immersed in the game is a big reason why people play.

Related articles/class discussions:

  • Class discussion: Why people play games.

Discussion points/questions:

  • Are there hidden meanings? Can’t it just be a game?
  • Some of the effects are impact behavior, problem solving and social coping. How do we quantify these?


McMahan, A., Chapter 3: Immersion, engagement, and presence: A method for analyzing 3-D video games.

This chapter traces the progress of video game design as it relates to immersion, engagement, and presence. McMahan is quick to point out that more visual technology and effects do not necessarily equate to more immersion. Narratives can contain psychologically immersive elements that can compensate for a lack of visually immersive elements. Engagement is also discussed as a factor in immersion. Presence is another important element that is explored. McMahan uses the game Myst as a case study to discuss all three elements. The importance of language to describe immersion and engagement is important so that gamers have a way to get more of what they want in games.

“The term ‘deep play,’ when referring to video games, then, is a measure of a player’s level of engagement (p. 69).”

“…immersion means the player is caught up in the world of the game’s story (the diegetic level), but it also refers to the player’s love of the game and the strategy that goes into it (the nondiegetic level) (p. 68).”

Related articles/class discussions:

Chapter 9: Archetypes on acid: Video games and culture (Lesson 4 Track A):

Social realism is similar to social learning theory.

Related articles/class discussions:

  • Class discussion: Game motivation.

Discussion points/questions:

  • What are some elements that contribute to presence?
  • How do games facilitate telepresence?
  • Why would it be important for a game designer to be able to discuss video game immersion, engagement, and presence?


Contributors: Tom Caswell, Marion Jensen, Jennifer Jorgensen, Jon Scoresby, and Tim Stowell
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Lesson 4: Track A Summaries. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/instructional-technology-learning-sciences/instructional-games/Lesson_4__Track_A_Summaries.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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