Empathy in games

This week I would like to talk about empathy in games. Empathy in games is something I have never thought about a lot before we talked about this is last weeks lecture.

In my opinion it’s just games. It’s not real, so why have empathy. For example in games where you kill or hurt people. They are not real, so why even care? But afte my friend Rikke presented a game called Hellblade, it really got me thinking. The game is about a girl who suffers from mental illness and hear voices. Her innerbattle. She doesn’t know what it is and calls herself  “cursed”, which is it not. She hears voices who tell her negative things about her, like she can’t do stuff and so on. They are pressing her down and making her feel worse. So after Rikke was done with her presentation I felt like maybe I want to play this game, to know what it is to struggle with mental illness. Now a days it’s really common and probably more than we know about. I can’t relate to that because I don’t know what it’s like. Hellblade got a lot of feedback that people know understand what is like, and people who are suffering from mental illness feels like they are not alone after playing this game.. Maybe I will give it a shot.

Later we also played games in class. I chose to play a game about beeing a refugee from Syria trying to make my way to Europe. I thought it would be easy. But how wrong was I? It was really difficult. There was a lot of decisions to make, difficult ones. I had to play it many times until I got to Europe. I was really not aware that it was so difficult to be a refugee. I knew it was hard, but since I have never been one, it’s hard to put yourself in that position.  And I know that game can’t really make you experience exactly what it feels like to one, but it gives you some insight. Just by playing that game, I feel like I understand it much better know, and I can actually sympathize with refugees know. It is really hard. Even if you get to Europe (which you only will do if you are lucky), it’s not guarenteed that your family will. Refugees are tough ass people! Respect!

Empathy in games

This week I would like to talk about empathy in games. Empathy in games is something I have never thought about a lot before we talked about this is last weeks lecture.

In my opinion it’s just games. It’s not real, so why have empathy. For example in games where you kill or hurt people. They are not real, so why even care? But afte my friend Rikke presented a game called Hellblade, it really got me thinking. The game is about a girl who suffers from mental illness and hear voices. Her innerbattle. She doesn’t know what it is and calls herself  “cursed”, which is it not. She hears voices who tell her negative things about her, like she can’t do stuff and so on. They are pressing her down and making her feel worse. So after Rikke was done with her presentation I felt like maybe I want to play this game, to know what it is to struggle with mental illness. Now a days it’s really common and probably more than we know about. I can’t relate to that because I don’t know what it’s like. Hellblade got a lot of feedback that people know understand what is like, and people who are suffering from mental illness feels like they are not alone after playing this game.. Maybe I will give it a shot.

Later we also played games in class. I chose to play a game about beeing a refugee from Syria trying to make my way to Europe. I thought it would be easy. But how wrong was I? It was really difficult. There was a lot of decisions to make, difficult ones. I had to play it many times until I got to Europe. I was really not aware that it was so difficult to be a refugee. I knew it was hard, but since I have never been one, it’s hard to put yourself in that position.  And I know that game can’t really make you experience exactly what it feels like to one, but it gives you some insight. Just by playing that game, I feel like I understand it much better know, and I can actually sympathize with refugees know. It is really hard. Even if you get to Europe (which you only will do if you are lucky), it’s not guarenteed that your family will. Refugees are tough ass people! Respect!

Violence/Empathy & Games

After googling articles related to empathy and video games I quickly found out that violent video games don’t affect empathy directly, and scientist hasn’t found any differences in measures of aggression or empathy between gamers and non-gamers. There is countless of articles and studies focusing on this specific subject, but if we look around us we also see that people are pointing fingers at social media, the commercial business and the TV business, blaming them for influencing the youth in a negative direction. Parents react when their kids spend their spare time playing video games, but do they notice the music their children listen to? There are few things that doesn’t influence us today, but what matters is how we act.

 

I feel like the society today is out for blood. Were constantly looking for someone/something to blame for all the negativity surrounding us, and people don’t mind pointing at the video game business and pushing the blame over to them. Often when we hear about a shooting in USA or in other parts of the world they also make sure to mention that the suspect also sat at home playing shooting games at least a couple of hours every day. It´s easy to blame people who use their time playing games, since many of these people are introverts that shadows themselves from the world around. I started playing PS4 a lot after I moved as a teenager and found myself surrounded with strangers, it was a way to safely escape the real world and meet people with common interests. You stop feeling like a lonely outsider and start feeling like a normal happy teenager.

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When I got home to enjoy my Easter break I noticed that PS4 store had their yearly Easter-sale, and I noticed a game that I’ve seen before but never thought about buying. Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the games plot takes place over three episodes in a city named Arcadia Bay and you play as the main character Chloe. Throughout the game you choose how to direct the plot, you take choices that affects how the game will play out. If you choose “wrong” the game will end in a specific way, so you have to think about your choices and do research while playing to choose “right”. After each episode you get to see the choices you’ve made and what other players chose. It’s a game that demands that you think and without thinking about it you start caring about the characters, and if you go to YouTube and read comments on videos about the game you’ll see many people that’s touched by the game. This is a perfect game that brings forth empathy, and all the stirred players are the evidence of this.

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In America most of the science about violence and video games says that there is a connection, but if we look at research done in Norway it’s a bit more sceptic. There is no evidence that there is a connection, but the media still spreads fake news about how your children will be damaged and they will start fighting if you let them play shooting games. No one is talking about how video games actually can teach children about empathy and show them that it’s good to care about others. It seems like the media and many scientists are backing up their cause with moral and politic agenda. I feel like video games can be an outlet for bad feelings, if you’re mad and really would like to punch someone, you can use COD to shoot at virtual people and get rid of the aggression your walking around with, and this won’t harm anybody. Americas problem is that they don’t take care of their youth and if you want a gun it’s as easy to get as getting a cheese burger at McDonalds. Instead of focusing on violent games, we should be looking for more games like Life is Strange, and saluting games that teaches the player to get involved and forcing our feelings to appear.

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If there is one thing video games has thought me, it’s that we use too much time in front of the screen instead of looking at our own life and fixing our own problems. It´s an easy escape, and I´m sure my parents love that I´m sitting inside playing instead of being outside escaping problems with sketchy substances. (I just feel like mentioning that I´m not a teenager anymore and I do fix my problems rather than avoiding them with games, I sadly don´t play much video games anymore, but it’s a sacrifice I gladly chose so that I could be social with friends and family).

I felt the song underneath was appropriate today:)

Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX – I Love It

Happy Easter

It´s another week, and the semester is close to the end. I’m home for this thing called Easter – Break or Holiday, we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It´s fun with a holiday and a break from school this week!

#Textransformations

Last week Mia shared her work with us, which was a launch event for her art installation entitled Textransformations. We were at the Bergen University Library for this opening. It was really fun actually, she gave us pizza and we watched some art. Fun and interactive experience.

 

serious games

#Thursdayslesson
On Thursdays lesson, we learned some more about gaming and games. The theme this week was different from last week, the theme was serious-,  and empathy – games. These games are designed with a different purpose than just entertainment, but rather to create feelings in the game and induce feelings in the player. Some games are developed for this exact purpose. Games are fun. It can be hard to imagen that people play as serious games as it is today, such as shooting games and more cruel actions. Does this develop feelings with the player? Games like Survival were developed using young immigrants and refugees, who shared the experiences and challenges they met on their way to reach Europe. Technically speaking, it’s a simple game with free visual programming languages that are designed for children. It’s no coincidence that serious games not only intend to entertain but also to inform, educate and raise their own understanding of the problems that exist around us in the world.

 

// Happy Easter, and I hope you all have a nice holiday! See u next week.

 

 

 

 

 

How do you start playing games?

Getting into videogames is easy. As a new player you can’t go wrong with the blockbusters. They are by design made to be fun for as many people as possible. This is how they get their money back and as a new player that is perfect. Want to try some of this shooting action? Why not try out battlefield, call of duty or some of the other big war games. Maybe you want something a bit more story based? Then Assassins creed or Horizon Zero dawn might be more up your alley. Maybe you just want the feeling of adventure in a more light-hearted setting? Nintendo has your back! Zelda or Mario is filled with wonder and adventure with some puzzle elements strewn over it.

What I’m getting at here is to treat videogames like any other media, go for the big hits or classics first. Make it easy for yourself to hooked on what the medium has to offer. You’ll often end up asking your friends for suggestions and these will very often be great games, but maybe not for newer players. In the grand scope of things, video games are something new and fresh, but we have a good forty years of games which built upon one another. Starting on the fringes where people experiment and try new things might give you a false impression of the current games scene.

To many times I’ve talked to parents who tell me that they just don’t get video games. When I ask them what kind of games they’ve tried it’s most often none. Their knowledge comes from other media talking about games, their kids talking about their experiences with games or observing their children during play. While this is a great way to get a certain understanding it’s also woefully lacking. Games are, by definition, an interactive medium. Yes, streamers are a big part of the community, but most people watching streamers play games themselves. They have an innate understanding of interactivity and thus can set themselves in the shoes of the streamer. And those nice times when parents have played games it’s usually in some sort of warped experience. They pick up a controller mid game as a player two to their children. Going on a virtual tour of a child’s Minecraft city is lots of fun, but there is no context to the amount of work the kid has put into their creations.

When you want to get into videogames treat it like any other media. Don’t start a book in the middles. Don’t jump into a story focused tv series in the middle. Follow the whole journey from the start. Play alone.

That last one, play alone, is the scariest I’ve found. There is comfort in not knowing what a deal is when you haven’t really tried. Having a shield of ignorance is great protection from engagement, but if you play alone you don’t need a shield. You can immerse yourself without fearing scrutiny from experienced kids or judging none gamers. Playing alone gives you a free space where you can bumble about not knowing what buttons to press. You are free to experience a game on your own terms which is something I recommend to any new gamers. Later, once you’ve built up some confidence you should start playing with others. Preferably with new players like yourself, but as long as the people you play with aren’t assholes or kids you should not get any flak for being new.