The Todd Howard Thesis

I’m getting rather busy with some law school projects at this point. For my E-commerce and Law course, I’m doing a final project on Privacy Policies that requires me to read around 50 policies and evaluate them (after I develop a system for evaluating privacy policies). I’m also undertaking a really fun but unnecessarily ambitious final project for my professional ethics course, in which I will posit some new ways to approach legal ethics (something similar to virtue ethics). There are three other law courses in addition to these more exciting projects.
I have a few blog entries I’m working on, but they’re so much like the schoolwork I’m doing now that I would rather take a break from that. I’ll post some entries about privacy, data management, legal ethics, and trademarks in the coming weeks. For now, I want to post a little about videogames.
Here is one of my favorite discussions of videogames, by the project leader of two of the best videogames I have ever played (Fallout 3 and Skyrim):

I like a lot of what he talks about, especially his concluding remarks about the need for game developers to step up and show the world what games can be and do. I like his use of the clip from “Good Will Hunting” as a reenactment of online competitive gaming. I really like his approach to a game as a loop of learning, playing, challenging, and surprising. One of the most interesting points I think he makes is the distinction between a game and a toy.

One of my ongoing projects is a look at what it is to play, what the appeal is in playing, how people play in a variety of contexts, and so on. One of my starting points was Kant’s description of aesthetics, which is the idea that our perception of beauty is the result of a sort of “play” between imagination and understanding. I liked the idea that something of our approach to playing might be linked to an internal “playing” between two mental faculties. The game/toy distinction fits into this because it raises the question of whether a game can be played by oneself (without dividing the self into two), and whether a toy can be played with by more than one person without necessarily creating a game. My initial reaction is that a game cannot be played by one entity alone, even if the second entity is the environment, and any toy that is played with by two people becomes a game unless their play is merely incidentally side-by-side. Of course, I am not convinced that my initial reaction is accurate or that it captures even a reasonable part of the full picture of games, toys, and play. Thinking about this would be a toy with which I could happily play for many hours.

There is a worthwhile point to be made about discussing the philosophy of games, toys, and play: Philosophers ask questions like these most to explore the meaning and understanding of the concepts that comprise our lives. It would be nice if a discussion about the game/toy distinction resulted in impeccably clear and universally-acceptable understandings of those concepts, but the more likely payoff from such a discussion is a better understanding of what it is to play, why we play, and how we can play better or resolve conflicts that come up as a result of playing.


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