Why We Always Playin’????

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The Name of the Game

This week, we said до свидания to digital art and began our exploration of games and gaming. To be honest, not a big topic of interest to me. Shocking, I know.

Anyway, to start off our discussion on the topic in class, Marissa led a round robin where each of us described a game, digital if we could or not, we liked to the class. We went in a circle and the person who followed you in the circle would tweet out the game the person ahead of them described along with an interesting detail about it if they could. I was behind Patrice and ahead of Vanessa~

Patrice doesn’t really play many games so she didn’t have much to share about them, but here’s what I tweeted out about what she did say:

Like many of us, Patrice has a game on her phone (Candy Crush) she’ll play when she’s bored (sometimes get sucked into for too long if she lets herself something all of us seem guilty of….) but other than that, she’s more familiar with traditional board games like Trouble.

Again, this seems to be the rule not the exception for almost all of us. I don’t play games on my phone as much as I used to but I was pretty competitive and sucked into them at the height of my interaction. My poisons of choice were called BookwormNeko Atsume and High School Story (later Hollywood University when the creators expanded their enterprise). The first game was a wordplay game where you would get a random assortment of letters and have to create words from them in order to gain points. But, some of the letters were “on fire” and if they reached the bottom of the screen before you were able to make a word, the “library” would burn and you’d lose.

As for the other games, they had longer term objectives. You had to collect fish in Neko Atsume which would be left by cats after you fed them or gave them a toy to play with. These fish were used to pay for better food and toys which would attract more cats who would leave more fish and also mementos (which you couldn’t actually do anything with so I’m not sure why they mattered now???) And in the school games, you essentially created a little high school or university that you could populate with different kinds of students (jocks, nerds, preps, slackers, skaters, goths, cheerleaders, etc). There was a main cast of characters that moved the game’s objectives (main quests and side quests) along and, usually, at the completion of a quest you’d get to add one of those characters to your school. There were also exclusive outfits and buildings and decorations you could “win” or buy. It was kind of like a really low-key version of Sims (which was an online game many, like myself, are pretty familiar with).

All this said, the game I actually chose to describe was a card game perhaps most known for its infamy: Cards Against Humanity. Vanessa captured how I summed the game up pretty well:

Basically, Cards Against Humanity is Apples to Apples for adults~

I’m realizing, now, though this description does nothing for anyone who doesn’t know what Apples to Apples is. So, let me break it down a bit more.

Cards Against Humanity is a card game in which you get a set of topic cards with prompts (coloured black with white writing) and another set of cards with a wide array of captions on them that could be used to respond to/answer the prompt cards (these are coloured white with black type). Usually, you play this game in a group of 3-4 or more. Minimum 3 players. Every player gets 7 white cards. The first player to get 7 black cards wins. Though, arguably, the real objective of this game is to get the biggest laugh or to garner the largest reaction with your card combo.

See, these cards don’t have your usual array of prompts or responses. No. At best, you could describe them as outlandish or odd and at worst, horribly, terribly offensive. If you have a delicate system or if your sensibilities are easily offended, this is most decidedly not the game for you. My friends and I love it.

If you’re curious about exactly what kind of subject matter Cards Against Humanity dabbles with, I’d suggest playing a few rounds online. As far as I know, all the cards you play with online are actually in one of the many decks. (In case you didn’t know, the game has many decks and many more expansion packs with all different kinds of themes and nonsense. For example, my friends and I usually play with the bigger, blacker deck ^.^


There are even unofficial expansion packs like Crabs Adjust Humidity which are pretty great as well and the main company doesn’t care that these exist. Another great thing about this game is the company itself which has the same sense of humor expressed in the game. Like, one year they sold literal b*llshit on Black Friday. Arguably, stunts like that along with the creators’ general nihilistic and apathetic attitude–which appeals greatly to its disillusioned young adult audience–have helped propel this game into popularity.)

So, yeah, I just went off on a tangent.

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Anyway, let’s see if I can get back to the subject at hand….

While, surprisingly to me, not everyone knew about Cards Against Humanity, most of the class was familiar enough with it. Many of us have played it before or seen it online. Stephanie even referred to it a drinking game…

Anyway, other than more traditional board games like Trouble or card games like Cards Against Humanity, the only other kind of game most of us seemed familiar with was Sims. 

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(For anyone who doesn’t know, Sims is a collection of simulated computer/console games that, well, simulate life. You can essentially live out an entire life through a simulated character or collection of characters. There are many version and expansions of this game along with a large community of creators who make mods you can download–with varying degrees of success and implementation–to use in the game.)

Almost all of us could say we lost hours of our lives playing Sims.

Many of us bought the expansion packs. Some of us played on our computers others on consoles. Most of us didn’t connect with any of the community features–we liked to play on our own. Some of us like myself used cheats in game #boolproptestingcheatsenabledtrueforlife~ Point is, this was a digital game many of us knew.

I think only about 2 of us were video gamers, though most of us knew some of the bigger games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends (my best friend made it to Platinum 3 in League maining Sora and sometimes Jinxx–and I actually know what this means because I wrote a short research paper on online gaming discourse a few years back which might now come in handy). It seemed like there was little interest amongst our group in participating too much with these games. Though, the topic of E-sports and competitive online gaming did draw some more intrigue.

My only knowledge of anything like an online gaming community comes from my participation with Neopets. I haven’t played in a while but I used to go on the site ever day and play games to earn Neocoins I could use to buy different items for my Neopets (of which there were many species and of which I only had 2) or for my “home”. Every year, there was also a site-wide gaming event called the Altador Cup. You chose to play for one of 16-17 teams which each represented one of the “world’s” many lands. I always played for the Darigan Citadel and did pretty well, usually earning enough points playing the soccer-style game to buy some top-tier prizes from the prize shop at the end of the month-long event. I even got an “All Star” trophy one year that would be displayed on my user look-up.

Anyway, that’s about the depth of my knowledge on online gaming~

So, being that not many of us are all that familiar with digital games, I think this unit will be an interesting and possibly enlightening learning experience for all of us~

Why Do We Play So Much???

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What stemmed from our conversation on games was another discussion about the purpose of games. Many of us described using games, especially those on our phones, as a way to counteract or subvert boredom. Some of us described playing a game as just a way to pass time. For a few of us, playing games was more about winning them.

But, is there a greater purpose to playing games and to games themselves?

This is something explored by Radiolab in one of their podcasts about games. In the show, the hosts talk about games and their purposes from many different angles. Far too many to address in this one post. But, one of the most interesting parts of this discussion for me was when they began talking games as being a way to both explore/express the imagination–all that could be possible and a way to explore bigger ideas like fairness. I’ve never heard games described this way until now. Though, this idea does touch upon something I believe Katherine mentioned in class–that though we may describe games and our interactions with them as “mindless”, they aren’t really. We’re still engaging in a stimulating activity whether we acknowledge it or not. More, that stimulation is not stimulation for its own sake. Many games, especially, now provide these outlet for users to exercise creative thought processes they otherwise may not be able to. Theory holds that the skills developed in-game transfer over into other areas of life outside the game, improving skills such as multi-tasking or communication.

Another interesting topic the podcast touched on and that I had never heard of before was that of the “novelty” of games. No, not that novelty. But, this idea that whenever you play most games checkers excluded there comes a point in the game where you initiate an action or make a move that has never been made before. That is the novelty. In chess, this occurs once you leave the “book” which is an online archive of all the moves in chess games ever made which I have some thoughts on but that’s another story.... It’s the play that you decide to make that has never been decided in game in same circumstances. It’s the manifestation of your imagination but also the maneuver that shows you know the name of the game (or else it couldn’t be made). This phenomenon is not exclusive to chess, though perhaps with the existence of the “book”, it is easier to acknowledge and document.

To me, I guess, the novelty is the magic of games. It’s what games are all about. They give you these moments that will never occur again and ask you to make a choice, leave a mark. Do something different. Imagine. Create. Play. I think all games minus checkers have the potential to do this and that is why they are important.

What about you?

You play?



Daily Digital Alchemies

*DDAs this Week:

I made a QR code for my blog using, shockingly enough, a charcoal drawing of a skull I did about a year ago~ What do you think? Spookily perfect for me, yeah?

As for this DDA, I wrote a little diddy that’s all very my style. To be honest, I clicked through hand after hand of cards the site dealt before I came across one that inspired me. Then, I added some slashing red and black lines in Paint and voila~

This was a really cool DDA and I kind of wish we went over this while we were talking about gifs. I think this would have been a really simple demonstration of early gifdom (i.e the really early precursor to online gifs).

 My personal favourite for obvious reasons ^.^~

Twit 1 & Twit 2



*Speaking of games and fun alchemy, this was a really fun and cool game we played this week in class. I didn’t get to talk about it in the main body of this post but I did enjoy this game and found myself growing oddly competitive??? And, maybe it’s the Slytherin in me, but I actually looked up cheats (which, were surprising to me in that they even existed???) to make some of the things I wanted to in this little alchemy lab game. Judge me if you will but once I was able to find a way to make all the little objects I wanted to, I was having a lot of fun~

*As for fun podcasts that I love, I think how “fun” they are depends entirely upon your definition of the word. I’ve been a loyal Murderino for a while now so I have to recommend My Favorite Murder. It’s a podcast all about, you guessed it, murder–the hosts “favorite” murders that week. Each show explores two different murders and the circumstances around the crimes. And, despite the heavy subject matter, the hosts do a phenomenal job of adding tasteful brevity throughout the show. For any true crime fan like myself, it’s a must-listen.

Another great podcast is Last Podcast on the Left. Now, this is a highly inappropriate approach to discussing murders, true crime, and conspiracy theories but it is Great. The hosts have such a witty, conversational banter that almost seems entirely improv-ed because it comes so naturally. The one guy provides some hysterical voice acting as well. Highly recommend you listen to this show in a room away from anyone who would be offended by Cards Against Humanity. This show makes the game seem tame~

~Till Next Time~


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