Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bodily game for relaxation

from Pranee's friend Ian Bogost:



  1. Ian's post somewhat confuses me and I'll try to be brief in my explanation.

    I find the idea of a game designed to encourage/coach (or whatever you want to call it) meditation somewhat contradictory. Bogost said in his post that the problem with previous attempts is that they were "so visually and aurally sensuous that it often excites rather than calms".

    He therefore tried developing a 'legitimate' zen meditation game, but to my understanding, the whole point of meditation is to relax and completely empty oneself. If this is so, creating a game where a yogi will rise only if you're sitting on the pad/holding the iPhone correctly, your concentration lies on the screen and the action of the yogi, rather then your own poise and emptiness.

    You can argue that in some games that have been played at length there are mental shortcuts drawn between the hands and the brain and conscious thought becomes limited, I know I myself have entered a trance-like state playing DDR like games with a joypad on xbox, but theres still too much visual and aural stimulation to relax the body; the adrenaline is still readily flowing at the thought of not winning the game.

    I can understand the idea of limiting visual and aural stimulants to aid a meditative state, but personally I can't reconcile the basic priciples of meditation with what is essentially playing a video game.

  2. Trance like state playing DDR.

    It may be visually stimulating, however sometimes in periods of intense focus while doing something very familiar, dancing, snowboarding, riding motorcycle, etc sometimes the subconscious takes over and you start doing it automatically.

    For example, when i started snow boarding when i turned i used to think about my body's relation to the ground, the position of my ankles, the angle and flex of the board and everything had to be done consciously. Now that i have the hang of it i just think left and right and the rest takes care of itself.

    No to mention when i get in the car, start listening to music then realize i just drove 30km's and paid no attention or have any recollection of it.

  3. "when i started snow boarding.. takes care of itself."

    This is what I was talking about when I mentioned the mental shortcuts and the limitation of conscious thought based on memory paths and I agree that this in itself results in less active processing of thought or at least deliberate decision based movement.

    I also understand what you're saying about driving and zoning out - you don't have a recollection of what you were doing for certain periods of time because driving becomes so ingrained as a part of how we behave that we don't really have to think about it (especially with something like freeway driving - there's little to no change in sitting position etc) but they point is not that you got to this state by driving, because you didn't think to yourself "Gee, I'd really like to zone out for a while - I might go for a drive" did you?

    My point is that although sometimes you're able to get into this zone from doing activities like driving, you're not driving with the intention of reaching that state. It's to some other purpose altogether.

    My argument is that the very notion of a videogame to create a relaxed, meditative state seems strange in its contrary nature.