Rushgames (Fight or Flight)

About the New Genre Taxonomy Project

When I posted about what was at the time dubbed "wargames" (Caillois' agon, Lazzaro's Hard Fun) the other week, I noted that this was part of a new mini-project to create an entirely new genre taxonomy for videogames. The purpose of the exercise is to warm up for the analysis of the data in the new DGD2 survey, which will commence in the Spring. In many respects, this is reviewing some of the key elements of the theory of play developed, and still being refined, by my company International Hobo.

One thing I wanted to make clear about the new taxonomy is that I don't know how this project will turn out. Today, I'm posting the second piece - "rushgames" - which covers Caillois' ilinx, which corresponds to Lazzaro's Serious Fun. However, I truly do not know how we will convert games of chance (Caillois' alea) into elements of a videogame taxonomy, nor am I anywhere close to cataloguing all of the ways world-immersion (Caillois' mimicry) can be used in videogames - nor is it clear whether or not we will have to create additional high level categories beyond Caillois' basic four to encompass all the major patterns of play at use in videogames. I will need the help of the players here at Only a Game to complete the project over the next few months. I'm considering holding a symposium on the use of chance in videogames in the Spring to explore that oft-overlooked topic, and will probably also need assistance in cataloguing the variety of ways mimicry can be used to support play.

It's important to note that all the genre and sub-genre names being suggested are place holders - I will probably re-issue the genre posts at a later date with new names, and I thus welcome discussion about the names chosen. I very much doubt I will stick with "wargames" for competitive/violent games, because this term already has another reading, and chose it at the time solely to fit in with the "War Week" near the end of the "Ethics Campaign". All genre titles are subject to change and consequently your opinions on the names are especially welcome.

For instance, for the two types of game which relate to the fight or flight response, we could make
this more explicit and talk about fight-games and flight-games. Or we could emphasise the element of control in what has been dubbed "rushgames" and use terms like control-games or skill-games for these kinds of games, and note the element of aggression in what's dubbed "wargames" and talk about attack-games.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the names being used both now and throughout the genre taxonomy mini-project. I look forward to reading your thoughts!


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On naming - I read the rush games piece, and I have no major quibbles with the overall idea of linking some version of fear to the illinx nature of these games. Still, I'm uneasy about pushing the link with fight or flight. Firstly, fight or flight is incomplete to my mind - there's also fold. Rabbit in the headlights isn't a very useful play mechanic, and players don't ever exhibit this for very long, since they can give up and replay - and this leads to the second problem, which is that fight or flight refers to real situations doesn't it?
There's no other options, because its real life, not the magic circle.
So while there are parallels, I don't think you should make this an equivalency.

zenBen: fight or flight refers to real situations, but it seems undeniable to me that videogames are taking advantage of this reflex. I found the idea of linking agon/competition and ilinx/vertigo to fight or flight sufficiently intriguing to share here, and I felt it held up to scrutiny better than I first thought (although I accept that it is a simplification of real behaviour - all psychology suffers from this complaint!)

Thanks for the input!

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