Levels of gaming

Where’s the actual interpretation and acting taking place when you’re ‚playing‘?
Games can be used to understand, and to intuitively act upon, the inner workings of a set of rules (e.g. simulation games), or they can show the inner or hidden conflict of a game and reality (e.g. serious newsgaming or ironic gamifications of real events), even criticize the still common notion of a tangible difference between gaming – accepting a set of rules as given by a benevolent gamedesigner – and ‚real life‘ – accepting a set of rules as given by political, social, business, educational ‚reality‘.

Gaming can take place in three different stages, with several variations in each category, depending on the players outspoken or unknown goal:

  • Making the best move in a given situation.
    This aims for a fast, rational, efficent, secure and goal-oriented handling of a game.
    (Mathematical gaming theory, behaviourism)
  • Using the best gaming strategy, and thus being able to creatively develop new tactics and surprising, unusal moves within the framework of the game’s rules.
    This allows for a flexible approach to difficult, complex, or yet unknown situations, but with a specific goal or outcome in mind. Baffle and awe opponents as well as allies.
    (Cognitivism, cybernetic instruction, moderate constructivism, most modern learning theories)
  • Accepting given goals, rules, strategies as constructions which can and should be altered if the game seems to be too torn by inner conflicts, has rules contradicting each others, or strategies cumulatively failing in certain situations. One goal is to create new goals. This may include a change of perspective on said items as well as their actual re-interpreting as toys instead of inherent game-parts.
    (Metagaming, Piaget’s assimilation, Frasc’s ‚Gaming of the oppressed‘-approach, radical constructivism, benevolent social hacking)

This threefold approach could be applied to a general understanding of media and the emergence of ’new media‘, too.

Some interesting links: Gonzalo Frasca’s Enemy Dolls and Claus Pias‘ Der Hacker (german)