Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Elizabeth_Penny_Ch. 3_I

It seems as if several of the comments regarding Penny's essay boil down to the following question: are first person shooter type games effective environments for training? For example, will a teenage-boy become completely anesthetized to violence because of a game simulation and go on a killing spree? Grossman argues unequivocally, "yes"; Quake creators Lantz and Eric answer (not surprisingly) "no". So... where does this debate leave us?
Penny's concept of 'theater' may shed some light on the issue. Penny tries to answer the question, "why don't actors who play serial killers usually turn into real serial killers?". He answers this question by describing some of theater's properties: it is reflexive and double -- the audience knows it is about to experience illusion. As the chorus in Henry V states in the play's prolog, "“Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them, / Printing their proud hoofs i’th’ receiving earth”. In simulation, however, Penny says there is no "outside". The desire is for "complete enveloping illusion".
Although Penny never makes this inference (and perhaps it is a leap in logic), might it be possible that most people who play violent video games never actually commit violent acts because they realize that they are taking part in a play, an illusion? Conversely, those who use simulations to train for a future action (the military, pilots, patients undergoing psychotherapy, etc) are probably not thinking "oh, this is fake ... let's just play a game". Instead, they are likely becoming completely immersed in what they are doing, realizing that this training will be valuable in real life in the future.
Anyway, perhaps conscientiousness of the "realness (or lack thereof)" of simulation affects the way the medium affects (yes, I do know I used that word two times in a row!) its players.


At 11:34 AM, Blogger Julius said...

There is a difference between plays that work with illusions and those that break illusions. It's the same thing with films ... . But if we could have a Holodeck we would still go there and try to build a perfectly realistic world. People would also play ultra real combat simulations in there and I think they would still be able to make a difference between reality and simulation, because that's what every person normally is able to do. If not, all soldiers coming home from war would engage in massacres back home.


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