ponedjeljak, 10. prosinca 2012.

Philosophical concepts in some iOS video games

Since i’ve returned from Philosophical Practice summer seminar in France where i was introduced into new way of thinking, at least for me (and i wrote about that in my last post), im trying to practice what i’ve learned. One of the most important things for me now is to think in much simpler way. Concepts can be of much help in this practice and by putting all things or most of the things down to concepts, many of them in our daily life could be seen as philosophical. For instance, few days ago, in my Ethics class i talked about movies with my students. I told them that, basically, there is some philosophy and ethics in every movie. One of my students disagreed with me and dared me to watch Fast and Furious 5 and find at least 20 topics that could be discussed in Ethics class. I took a challenge and watched it. I found 8 ethical/philosophical concepts within first 10 minutes and more than 30 concepts during the rest of the movie. When i told them to my student, he was astonished and now he has a task to find ethical concepts in Transformers. I hope he will enjoy it.
But now i wonder, could philosophical concepts be found in video games. Actually, i’m pretty sure they can and i would like to examine them.
I’m going to start with some of the games I already play on my iPad and afterwards i’m gonna download some more for examination.
1. Into the Dead (shooting game with zombies): survival, death, afterlife, consciousness, panic-attack, killing
This game makes me wonder alot about life and death. Internet is full of stories about zombie apocalypse, but all those stories are concerned with finding shelter and saving own lives. I would be more concerned with what happens to their awareness and how would zombies even be a threat to us with our weapons. This also raises the question of how one could kill someone who is already dead, and of course, if zombie is dead, is he even someone, is he/she/it a person!? Also, science and bioethics could jump in here and ask the question could we cure them, even better should we cure them. Finally, if we couldn’t do anything about them and if we would all to turn into zombies, we have to ask ourselves would we still be a civilisation, what kind of civilisation would that be and for how long could it even last.
2. Agent Dash (running, jumping, collecting): wealth, hypocrisy, evasion
If this game should teach me something it would be that everything in life costs money.  In this game you need to buy everything: boosts, your own life, you even can buy more money (silly notion at first glance). Even more, your main character is an agent, kinda James Bond parody type, who wears a tux at the beginning, which leads me to concept of glamour and also hypocrisy connected to his role – an agent is person who often isn’t sincere, whether because of nature of his work or because of his own human nature – also a question to be examined. At the end, not only that game itself demands of you to evade obstacles, but it seems that the character, if he was real, would be of such clumsy nature that he lives his life by avoiding problems rather than confronting them, which isn’t a very good message to send out.
3.  Jetpack Joyride (flying, collecting, avoiding): science, friendship, luck, myth, progress
This game is all about gadgets and what science could do for us next.  A man’s desire to fly, to use machines in order to help us survive and live better always leads us to question our purpose on Earth and to final concerns about how far are we ready to go. In addition to this we can wonder playing this game is science our friend or enemy – because it can help us survive, but it also can kill us if we dont threat it well. On the other hand, concepts of luck and myth lead us, with some of game’s features, to the other problems: what role does chance play in our lives, can we control events in which we engage, are we willing to take risks to achieve our goals and can we turn such notions in our advantage.
4. Dark Meadow (escape): reality, freedom, control, self
Who am I? What is real? What is my purpose on this world? At the beginning of this game, your character is thrown into unknown world/place where he is held captive, he doesnt remember who he is nor how did he get there. All he knows is that an old disabled man is the only living human being within this facility (abandoned hospital) and that there are some strange beings attacking him. Should you trust this old man?  How can you know he isn’t misleading you? How can you know he isn’t the evil genious who constructed this supposed world to deceive you? How do you know everything around you is real?
5. Virtual City Playground HD (strategy, simulation): responsibility, environment, happiness, culture, civilisation
It is often too easy for us common citizens to speak against politicians or any other people in power. What if we were given responsibility for others in a way of organising our entire civilisation? Providing our citizens with all their needs isn’t easy. They demand schools, health care, firestations, stores, transport, entertainment…so many things to think about. Try to imagine yourself being in charge of all this and even more, like one of  The Simpsons episodes, imagine that the virtual world you created is actually real, that your virtual reality which you enjoy in your spare time is actually someone’s only reality. Would you want to be someone’s god?
Those were some examples of how video games could engage us in philosophical problems, how we can percieve them and set our attitudes toward them. Of course, everyone would probably come up with different concepts and there could be so many of them. So, please, if you would like to contribute, do so in comments and share this if you liked it.
Zoran Kojcic

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