What is a “Game”?
- According to the Oxford Dictionary, a game is “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”
- And according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a game is defined as “a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure.
“A game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are negotiable”. – Jesper Juul
NCAA Football 14 is an American football simulator developed and produced by EA Sports. This game boasts numerous different online or offline, single or multiplayer game modes to not only be an escape for one person but also a competitive experience for friends sharing a room or an online server. There are numerous different means of playing this game as well by either taking on the role of a Head Coach and customizing that avatar with the allowed customizable options and choosing where he will be coaching for the next few years as you pursue top high school athletes and make your way to the top to eventually obtain the infamous National Championship Trophy. There is also a Road to Glory setting where you create a high school athlete and play as him as you traverse your senior season and dependant on how your performance was you will then choose a university who had offered you a scholarship to play for them in the upcoming years. This game mode includes climbing your way to the starting position on the team and competing against others in order to help lead your team all the way. Like the installments, prior to this game, there is still a quick play mode and a mascot game to play as well.
NCAA College Football 14 As a Game
Through the lens of a “game”, NCAA 14 I feel, falls perfectly in that spectrum being a competitive, rule-based, sport of skill and strength. As Juul describes games as “an activity which is essential: free (voluntary), separate [in time and place], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe.” (Juul). You are in a competition to either beat the AI or another player. The goal of the game is simply to win. You are free to choose from a host of different college football teams, to play at numerous different fields with different offensive and defensive schemes to try and best your opponent. I personally have sunk an incredible amount of hours into this game, toggling the difficulty and increasing my player skill in order to beat the best. I found most of the enjoyment from the game has come from the Dynasty feature where you assume the role of an active head coach for a college team. My enjoyment comes from coaching a “cupcake” team such as New Mexico, UMass, or Air Force and seeing if I can take them to the big game and win it all. Like I said, I have sunk a lot of hours into this game and that is because it relies heavily on player skill and recruitment strength. You must devise a mean of recruiting excellent high school athletes and train them so they may compete to their highest level against the other schools.
As a game, this installment of the series remains fresh and always continues to be an enjoyable experience. Though it is 4 years old now, this game is still one worth keeping for my PlayStation 3 and that is for the easy to hop in games and always fun and competitive feel that it brings to the table, more so than Madden in my opinion.
What is Art?
- According to the Oxford Dictionary, “art” is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
- And according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “art” can be defined as “skill acquired by experience, study, or observation; and occupation requiring knowledge or skill.” such as the “art” of making friends, or in this case, the ART of customizing, strategizing, and mastering the game.
NCAA College Football 14 as an Art
This installment of the franchise offers a wide array of customizability to a tune for all the different players and fans of the game. From choosing your favorite teams to the gear worn by your players, the design and look of the coaching staff and the field with completely customizable uniforms and players inside of the newest TeamBuilder feature that EA Sports has provided. Through this feature, you can also search for and download different teams generated from different users keeping the community alive and running as well as witnessing and experiencing the artworks of another player. This goes into Becker’s opinion of works of art when he says,“works of art, from this point of view, are not the products of individual makers, “artists” who possess a rare and special gift. They are, rather, joint products of all the people who cooperate via an art world’s characteristic conventions to bring works like that into existence.” (Becker) You as a player now have the freedom to create your OWN team on top of the 150 different teams already programmed within the game. Through this feature you can upload photos and create uniforms for the players, you can toggle the skill levels of the individual players as well as spec them to a specific strength they may possess (some more run heavy, hard hitting, coverage, speed, or power). These different features and constant creativity from the player’s end is a strong component as to why I feel this game will stand the test of time as it continues to feel fresh each time I play it time and time again.
What really stands out to me through the lens of “art” when looking at NCAA 14 is the occupational requiring knowledge or skill to play. What I mean by that, is this game is extremely tactical, more so than most make it out to be. It takes prior knowledge of the sport to help the player excel. Knowledge such as, when to call timeouts to maximize time, knowing which new recruit would fit best in the program that you are trying to run, to knowing your strengths and weaknesses in your defense and making adjustments towards the identified strengths and weaknesses of the offense and vice versa. It is a tactical game and there is an acquired skill that goes into truly mastering the game. To me, that is the beauty of this game, finding the best way to attack and at the same time strategizing my squad in order to reach the overarching, sole purpose of the game, to win.
Jesper Juul. (2005). “Video Games and the Classic Game Model” in Half-Real: Video Gamesbetween Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press: pp. 23-54. [PDF]
Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley:University of California Press: pp. 1-39.