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Saving Worlds with Videogame Activism

Saving Worlds with Videogame Activism
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Author(s): Robert Jones (New York University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 19
Source title: Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Richard E. Ferdig (Research Center for Educational Technology - Kent State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-808-6.ch056

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Abstract

Due to its nature as an interactive medium, the video game offers uniquely different approaches to the project of activism. Unlike other audio/visual media like film and TV, video games consist of processes enacted by players. More specific, they contain rules systems known as algorithms that the player navigates to become successful at the game. And through that process of learning that algorithm a new form of rhetoric is born. Ian Bogost labels this unique form as procedural rhetoric: “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions rather than the spoken word, writing, images, or moving pictures.” Through gamic actions players internalize not only the rules, but also the rhetoric of that rule system. To demonstrate precisely how procedural rhetoric works through video game technologies, this chapter presents a definition for video game activism as well as three distinct modes: original design, engine appropriation, and machinima. Using three recent case studies, the chapter suggests some of the implications for educators and why they should take video games seriously as means of political expression when teaching students about civic duty.

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