Monday, February 27, 2012

First class on Radical Games

Today we learned what a Radical Game is and how it can make a significant contribution to the field of games and play. Furthermore, we discussed how some existing games can serve as examples how the novelty (seems relatively easy) and contribution (seems often the more difficult part) can unfold.

Next week, we do a design workshop so we meet in the Exertion Games Lab, 9.1.27.
You need to bring money :-). Also, you need to setup your tumblr or alike for your design team of 3, so you can start designing your radical game (email us the URL please). You should also start reading the papers and write your critical reflection about the class by adding a comment below.

Thanks again for contributing to Radical Games today!


  1. Add your critical reflection on the class here please!

  2. My critical reflection is that games can be radical in ways that are outside of gameplay or even the system. In today's lecture Floyyd spoke about how Wolfenstein was radical for using a new business model. Maybe Xbox Live as the first games distribution service to use microtransactions could be considered just as significant. Although it isn't a game itself the distribution model incentivized designers, influencing them to adjust their models to include microtransactions (which themselves change how conpartmentalized systems within a game are).

  3. the whole "what was so radical about this game" was kinda confusing when it wasnt put in terms of chronological order. like what games come before it or after it. it will be easier to understand if you put some major games in a timeline and then asked the questions to get some proper sense of progression.

    ummm. my definition of research was like to "look up precedents that will benefit the design". so basically, get other people's idea and repackage it to something different. like that monkey brain thing(sciency) to a game. of course the monkey one was a slightly more complex one of monkeys moving a cursor across a 2d space. there is also a star wars themed children's toy that uses brain activity level to float a ball. i dont know whether that precedes mindball or not.

    or that microbe thing that move towards food. i first read about it with these microbes being "trained" to move towards food. the movement turns a little wheel around which produces infinitely small but measurable electricity.

    with the pig pointing thing, what i was thinking was follow good ol' pavlov and condition the pig to touch the button thing, play a buzzer and then dispense food from above. then its good for both the pig and the person. they both get a defined goal. pig is to get the button and the person is to get away from the pig.

    ummm. thats about it

  4. The term/ notion that really stuck with me for the entirety of the class was “contribution” and the ways in which games, deemed radical, contributed to our current understanding of what makes a game and their limits/uses.
    Until today I had never really given the concept much thought in view of the fact that the majority of games being released annually seem far more intent on rivalling the familiar, as opposed to branching out and challenging current beliefs surrounding games and what they could and could not accomplish. However, after today’s lecture, I am beginning to realize that if we wish to remove the old way of thinking that is associated with games and really pave the way for new advancements that we must, not only, strive for a game that is novel in its make but one that is intent on establishing/generating novel knowledge.

    As for the word “Radical”, I found that it did not do the games, discussed, any real justice given that it failed to truly highlight how important such games were to the future of gaming and seemed far too ambiguous as it doesn’t really acknowledge what the game has accomplished and what not. On top of that, since it’s been reiterated so often in society to describe an item, it, to some extent, sort of tends to lose its impact/ appeal and becomes just another term. I could be wrong in saying the above and I understand that in class it was defined as being a game that had ‘significant advancements’ and ‘challenged understanding’, nonetheless such is how I perceived it.

    Anyway I suppose that’s all I have to say in terms of the reflection. Before I do go though, I read in one of the articles, regarding the game centipede, that the reason women were soo hooked may have had something to do with the fact that it was a) the first coined operated machine and b) programmed by a female. Nothing further was added, however I suppose that makes sense as the women who programmed it could have done the controls in a way that made it…female friendly….or at least something along those lines.

    1. Ps. I apologise for the grammatical and spelling-related errors. I accidentally copied over the un-edited version as opposed to the edited one; so apologise if what i said failed to make sense.

  5. Made a lot of sense to me, thank you. I appreciate how you comment on the importance of making contributions with games, I agree that it is an opportunity that is too often overlooked with games (mostly because it is difficult, but I think we should at least be trying)

  6. I have to state first of all that I immensely enjoyed my first class of semester.
    All this discussion of radical games and what makes a truly unique contribution to games as a whole has been a bit of an eye opener, and is starting to change the way I look at a game. I sincerely think that regarding older games -- whose radical concepts may now have fallen in to the norm -- it's essential to know what kind of market they released into. And when they were released years before I was born, I honestly have no clue. As mentioned by some others, perhaps a lightly fleshed out timeline could have helped us a little.

  7. Did you check the definition of a "video game" on Wikipedia?
    "A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device."

    From the class, you learned that the contribution of "Ipad game for cats", "pig chase" etc. is that pets can also play videogames, so you should change the word "human" in the definition to something like " that involves human, and possibly animal interaction..." with links to the above.

  8. Unfortunately I get home quite late on Mondays, but better late than never.
    What I really took away from this weeks class was our definition of research. I think it was important to note the distinction between "looking something up" and research which involves: finding new information, extrapolating new knowledge from that information and then sharing it with the group. E.g. Learning that Centipede was indeed released before Space Invaders and then sharing that with the class to further our understanding of the topic.

    I used to refer to (what I know know as) "Radical Games" as Innovative Games, but I can see that mere innovation doesn't do games like Space Invaders, Tetris and Wolfenstein justice. It never occurred to me that such a great yet simple and elegant innovation as a highscore or a shareware system would change the way society viewed games and the way that games influenced society.

    - Alex

  9. On the topic of games contributing in society, did you guys hear of the proposal from the univeristy of Oxford which claims that Tetris can cure flashbacks that are caused because of post traumatic stress and trauma? All though this is just a proposal, it does confirm the idea that there is no real end to how much a single game can contribute. So, even if it was created with one purpose in mind that it is still possible for it, down the road, to contribute elsewhere as well.

    1. Research article as requested :)

  10. There was one thing that did stick through my mind during the class was branching out to animals in turn breaking the magic circle further, but at what point does this go. When talking about games in the magic circle humans tend to see the limits even if it’s just through observation.
    Having an animal play with a human tends to be reliable only when the animal is in a controlled environment as they would have no idea about the limits unless placed in that area.
    My point becomes at what stage does the magic circle gets blurred to the point where it’s just messing around with a game rather then playing it.

    also references to the Oxford tetris study
    there are a ton of articles

    and also a vid of a frog playing a game

  11. I've never been a big fan of the word 'radical.' Like Alex, I preferred to say innovative but this first class has illustrated that there is a clear distinction between a game that is radical and one that is innovative.

    Once we started discussing games from the past I was surprised that Elite wasn't mentioned. ( I personally would consider it a radical game because it was a milestone in what was capable for home-computer games, featuring procedurally generated areas (like Minecraft today) and directly reaching out to the community with a special mail-in reward system the developers crafted. I forget all the details of said reward system as I don't believe Wikipedia documents it, but basically players who achieved 'Elite' status in the game, a feat which took many hours of exploration, were able to send in the proof to the developers and they received a reward for it.

    Anywho, that's just my little contribution to radical game history. Someone might disagree with me.

  12. Interesting! I'd like to know, if Elite was radical as you claim, what contribution did it make?

    1. Elite was not the first game to use 3D graphics, but is credited as the game that popularised them since it featured free open-ended exploration of, for the time, convincing vector worlds. As well it is often credited as the pioneer of the space flight sim genre. (

    2. The idea of a procedurally generated world was unheard of at the time, and the publishers involved even had to restrain the developers somewhat since they were making the game far too big at one stage. Elite proved that it was possible even with simple vector graphics.

  13. There's been a few moments in all the years i've been playing games that i've sat back and gone "wow thats cool" (translate to radical now). One was the first time I discovered a game where the time in the 'real world' effects the game, it was one of the pokemons (maybe the original gold) but for me it made the game a lot more real as what was happening around me was reflected in the game. Now i'm not sure if they were the first people to do this (probably not) but I think that was pretty radical. Now i'm seeing more and more games (usually rpgs like skyrim etc) where they have a day/night system, which really does give a sense of time in the game and also makes it easier to relate to the character.

    1. So what contribution did it make?
      Let me try please: By demonstrating that the time in the real world can be a data source for digital game events, Pokemon made a contribution by demonstrating that digital games are not necessarily closed systems in which the only input comes from the player.
      Could that be the demonstration?
      (Also: Is it different to GSP input to the game?)

  14. A very interesting first class Floyd. I found myself thinking a lot about your hypothetical car game, the one in which you are allowed to change your car's colours and under what circumstances it could be considered a game with a significant contribution to the world of gaming knowledge.

    I pictured a tree where each branching off is marked by a game that first brings a new concept to the world of games, at the very tips of this tree the branching offs are trivial innovations but as you move down the structure closer to the trunk the level of abstraction increases and the importance of the concepts increases. The closer to the trunk(which is simply the concept of "game") the more "radical" the concept.

    For the following example let's call the car game mentioned above "BlueCar". BlueCar sounds pretty boring, you get to pick one of two colours for your car, and then race it on a generic map. Here is a series of "novel concepts" expanding in scope and increasing in abstraction, the branching out closer and closer to the trunk.

    The novel concept of BlueCar is that you can change the colour of your car for the first time in a racing game

    The novel concept of BlueCar is that you can change the colour of your gaming avatar for the first time.

    The novel concept of BlueCar is that you can customise the appearance of your gaming avatar for the first time.

    The novel concept of BlueCar is that you can customise your gaming avatar before play for the first time.

    The novel concept of BlueCar is that you can customise a game experience before play for the first time.

    The defining trait of a novel concept's contribution is how early in the abstraction tree it branched out. This is where for me it get's quite fuzzy, We are dealing in the dimension of digital games but not games as a whole or digital technology as a whole, as a result quite a few of the examples of radical games already had a history in one of the above fields. The Space Invaders high score had a history in sports, the shareware model had been used two years before Tetris by a word processor, painful feedback in games has been around for at least as long as the game Slaps has been, and involving animals in games has been going on at least as long as we have been playing "fetch" with our pups. The innovations I truly appreciate and would seek to emulate are the ones that contribute to the world of games as a whole but were implausible in a world prior to the advent of modern technology(playing a pen and paper version of SimCity sounds like too much work to be fun for me)

    -Timothy Degenhardt

  15. Very excited to be taught by Floyd and Chad. You guys made a very engaging and interesting first class.

    Monday's class got me thinking a bit, about the role of games in society, "novel" ideas, definitions of broad concepts and the simplicity in innovation.
    I think there is still not 100% agreement on the term Radical. I understand all the points that were made during class. But this leads me to think...Are ANY games Radical? Or maybe...are ALL games radical? Maybe we perceive certain games as radical because It's things we haven't seen before. But maybe this is just the advancement of technology perhaps? We will always be surprised and/or interested in innovation. This might lead us to thinking certain things are radical. But aren't we just growing with the times? As new technology becomes readily available we all want to play with it. In a few years, games that are Radical now will be the norm. And new things will become radical.
    Perhaps this is irrelevant. But that thought was triggered in my mind after the lecture.

    I also enjoyed learning about games I haven't heard of before: ie/ BUTTON, Pig Chase, Sharkrunners, Mindball, Painstation etc.

  16. I was thrilled to discover we are being taught by Floyd this year, as in first year i had a great experience and his way of teaching really assists in thinking 'outside the box' when developing a 'game'. Sadly i should of commented a bit earlier in the week but what was discussed is still being tossed up in my mind.
    So, I'm still not 100% convinced using the word radical depicts what these evolutionary games have accomplished. As i mentioned in class why is it only the very first game to use a novel component referred to as radical, when games produced later on re-using this idea in a different context are no longer 'radical'. Seems a little unfair as it is hard to make a claim on being the very first person to produce these components in the world of 'games'. Then if so, if the later game has improved on the first 'radical' component would it be radical also?
    Anyway before getting to carried away with the radical games idea i'd also like to mention despite this conflict the first lecture has helped get my mind rolling again for 3rd year and i have started brainstorming some nifty game ideas. look forward to the next one.

  17. Great first class. I especially enjoyed the radical game videos on youtube, (Painstation, Mindball, etc.) I looked some of them up after later on and found that Mindball can be played either way; To see who can be the calmest and then who can freak out the most.
    Also reading some of the above comment I feel like a few other agree that it would have helped on Monday to have some sort of timeline of when the games were released so we could get a better sense of their contributions and why they were radical.

  18. This is shaping up to be a very interesting and informative class for me, particularly with my overall aspirations of improving upon my skills as a level designer and 3D environment modeller, to understand just how radical games is defined. It is especially important for me to gain a thorough understanding of how a radical game is different from other games that may have been critically acclaimed or a commercial success, but is not necessary considered 'radical'. It simply improved upon gameplay features or mechanics that were introduced in the game that is considered to have 'defined' that genre.

    For a game to be considered a radical game, it has to be proven to have, over a period of time, advance the field by introducing a new, innovative feature that significantly contributes to society's understanding of what or how a game is played. Novelty and Contribution are the key words which are of equal importance when debating whether or not a game can be considered 'Radical'. Sure, a game may have had a novel or innovative game mechanic not seen before but how exactly did that contribute to changing society's perception of games at the time of it's release. We also have to research whether this game the first to bring forward this change to society's thinking?

    Space Invaders, Tetris, Simcity and Wolfenstein 3D were great examples of radical games given by Floyd that helped me understand the concept and definition of how a radical game differs from other games the may have had innovative gameplay features or mechanics for its time but didn't have the same effect on society's perception of play that these games did. Painstation and Mindball, two games that I had never before seen, really helped me in beginning to come up with ideas for our first group game task. I was surprised that you could actually make a game with the gameplay mechanic of inflicting pain fun and rewarding. Something like this had quickly changed my perception of what a game could be.

    Understanding the concept of radical games is important for me as a designer because it will help me think of ways that could help make the games that I design stand out from other games that have been made in the past.

  19. It was really helpful to look at making a game FOR someone. Rather then going "I have an idea thats great, lets make it!!!" I guess most of the times when ideas come around like that its primarily for the person who sets out to make the game and the audience can be limited, but by looking and talking properly and thoroughly you can really try and make a game that will sell, and make other people happy.

  20. Radical Games in my mind tend to remind me of games that make me play through sequences that make me feel a sense of disbelief - as in "I can't believe I just did that" or "Did that just happen?", particularly on when it comes to games that involve story telling. There are games that use very novel mechanics to tell it's story & allow the player to experience the story outside of "superficial" action sequences, "Shadow of Memories" is a prime example of this, it's focus around a time travel mechanic, may seem novel but it manages to evoke & convey things other story telling media find hard to.

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