Just off the study of Cognitive Learning and the mind as a computer phenomena I will again look into the realm of gaming with a brief foray into some politics of representation of virtual reality prominent in gaming.
At the recent Game Developers Conference, Quantic Dreams, creators of titles like the Heavy Rain which brought a groundbreaking emotional resonance and choose your own narrative essence presented a short film “Kara” which got my attention as that is my name. The story referred to the companies technological one step closer to pass the “uncanny valley” that aesthetic principle in virtual reality where once human representations get past the stylized and towards the photoreal a divide exists where the realness becomes sorta creepy. Too my surprise a cultural critique, Daniel Griffiths summed it up pretty well in is article Sexy Robots and… ”Kara’s eyeballs are indeed fantastic, and it is an impressive technical feat to render them in real time using the PS3′s venerable processor. But I’d like to see this ingenuity used for something more than B-movie thrills, Uncanny Valley striptease and sexy lady robots.” To be clear, the storyline refers to the adulation of aesthetics (not to mention industry sexual objectification) as a kind of slavery, however, I think the author was right in pointing out that this is not unusual, even encouraged in the industr(ies) with no further insight or encouragement of alternate imaginations for gameplay.
That being said, despite this, I am all for aesthetics on the occasion and compare this to the Games-for-Change mentality of using technology for the better. In later entries I will go over some the dark sides to technology because it’s always important to lend a critique and analysis of the influences of context. However, in short regarding the booming educational gaming industry, is this earnestness of changing things for the better just a simplified unicorn dream? This forum was presented highlighting the traditional gamers worries. Currently many educational games specify non-traditional gamers and low entry point or contain a specified audience. Cannot games be compelling, instigate deep learning and be of pleasing design. I dont see why it’s has to be mutually exclusive, however, it’s good not to let the aesthetics run the show and to understand the complexity of contexts that underwrite or simplify the narrative in any story including education. Yet, in the end, lets face it, many of the of the G4C issues are not about something so amorphous as culture or aesthetic which are my interests, they are about healthcare, or water supply or issues that may in fact be more cut and dry. I’d like to see this dialogue grow within the fields that emphasize play within a visual rhetoric for learning and not always in the boxed “correct politics” manner that may limits a potential dialogue.