Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

*This Thursday* JAAC X AFB Discussion: Tavinor on Video Games



Just another reminder that the next JAAC x AFB Discussion will be appearing this Thursday, March 2.

We will be looking at “What’s My Motivation? Video Games and Interpretive Performance” (abstract below the fold) by Grant Tavinor, available in JAAC’s Winter 2017 volume, 75 (1), online here. Grant is Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Lincoln University, NZ and author of the book The Art of Videogames.

And big thanks to C. Thi Nguyen (Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University) for providing the critical précis. Grant will provide a response, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments.

Mark it in your calendars, and look forward to seeing you then!

Here is the abstract:

The interpretation of character motivations is a crucial part of the understanding of many narratives, including those found in video games. This interpretation can be complicated in video games by the player performing the role of a player-character within the game narrative. Such performance finds the player making choices for the character and also interpreting the resulting character actions and their effect on the game’s narrative. This can lead to interpretative difficulties for game narratives and their players: if a decision to act is made by the player, is it that the player’s own imaginative reasons for acting warrant some narrative interpretations and exclude others? To answer this I argue that we need to investigate (a) the interactive ontology of video game narratives, (b) the notion of game playing as interpretative performance, and (c) the player-character, an artifact through which performance is focused in narrative games. Doing so shows there to be at least two problems with the notion of the correct interpretation of narrative games. Neither of these problems entirely negates the normativity of game narratives, however, and so players are left with the problem of how they might decide which of the possible playings are warranted. I end by making some practical suggestions for the thoughtful and narratively interested game player.

Image: Minecraft screenshot

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