Interesting class isn’t it? I mean come on? What other classes here at UC Merced can you play video games and then get to talk to others about it? Hmm, as of now I can’t think go any. Anywaaaaayyys, the game I decided to play was Space Invaders.
At first I did not know how to play the game at all. In fact, I did not even read the rules because I thought it would be a simple game that would not be difficult to figure out. So, I just told myself I would figure it out as I would start to play. However, when I started I could not figure it out at all! I was moving the arrows on my laptop thinking I had to dodge the attacks from the aliens, but as I was moving back and forth my score stayed at zero. I knew I was doing something wrong, so I decided to read the instructions to understand how to play. Then when I understood the game I though it was fairly easy, and as soon as I thought that, the aliens started moving down making it easier to attack me. So then I started moving faster and as I did a red thing came out on top and started moving. I got scared not knowing if I had to kill it or dodge it. I decided to take a life risk and shoot it, but luckily received points for it. Unfortunately right when I shot it, the aliens were too far down that they got me and I died. After my first few attempts I thought I should give the game a try again. At first when I started playing it I thought it was fairly easy and did not understand why I thought it was difficulty. I, then, easily passed the game, and when I thought I had won the game, I thought it would be over, but then it took me to the second level. Right when I had started I noticed a lot more aliens moving way faster, but I was doing good by hiding under the blockades and killing the aliens when i had the chance to. Towards the end, there were two aliens left thinking I could kill them, but all of a sudden they started shooting at me nonstop. Eventually they got me and I immediately died.
So would I say playing this game was fun? Yes and no.
In his book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design Raph Koster states, “I also have experiences where I stare at something and simply don’t get it. I hate to admit it, but my typical reaction is to simply turn away” (6). That was exactly how I felt the first time I played the game when I did not read the instructions. I did not know what to do but just stare at the screen. I wanted to turn away too, but this was an assignment so I played the game. However, as I began playing the game it was fun because I understood how to play it and it was exciting seeing myself win. According to the “optimal experience” chart I landed in the worry and arousal part, but it was the good type of worried. I was worried that I was going to lose but at the same time felt a stimulating feeling of winning. It all changed when I went onto the next level. My optimal experience went to bored and anxiety. I was getting bored of losing and feeling anxious every time an alien got close to me. Again, I relate to Koster when he states, “Games that are too hard kind of bore me and games that are easy also kind of bore me” (10). After some time of playing the game and feeling excitement during the first levels and then worrisome and anxious after the following levels I got bored of the feeling all those feeling in one game.
Brian Sutton Smith, author of The Ambiguity of Play, argues that we need to play to make us happy about this crappy world and I agree with that. To me “fun” is something that amuses me or makes me happy. When comparing Space Invaders to Sutton Smith’s argument I understand how the game is better than real life. This is because in Space Invaders the gamer can shoot aliens as much as he can and feel dominant about his skills. As the audience, we are glad aliens don’t just come and attack us, but it is pretty cool how we can have control over them even if it is just for a minute through a game. In the end, I definitely recommend the game because to gets addicting for a while due to the adrenaline rush of trying to survive.
Koster, Raph. A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005.
Sutton Smith, Brian. The Ambiguity of Play. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.