Games and values, designers as authors

Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum have started a project that reminded us of things we have been saying in the past about the importance of authorship in games.

The “Values at Play” (VAP) research project assists and encourages designers to be mindful of what values their computer games promote. We would like to see a diversification of video game values to include positive principles like equity, creativity, diversity, and negotiation, along with the traditional tropes of violence and machismo.

I’m not sure what form this “assistance and encouragement” will take. I’m secretly hoping for some “violence and machismo” in this area. And I’m not sure if the current generation of fun-obsessed game designers will care (or will realize that they don’t). But I think it’s important to put this issue on the agenda. Perhaps in the past, it was ok to design games as if they were footballs, or pogo-sticks or ping pong tables. But, like it or not, with the advances of technology (and new forms of game appreciation in the public), games have become an expressive medium. And, as a designer, you better be aware of what your game is expressing!

Visit Values At Play!
I’d especially recommend the short snippets of interviews (from Tracy Fullerton and Celia Pearce amongst others). Hope we get to see and hear more of these.