The Breaking of the Circle

Playing with, through, against medial boundaries.

This article is based on the presentation on September 29th 2011,
„Designs on eLearning DoeL – Future Spaces for Learning“, Helsinki

Picture: DoeL 2011: „Circles within circles“


Digital-networked games are created to foster a desired pattern of behaviour in their users, beyond the mere delivery of content; this is a trait shared with many innovative digital media developments.

This can be seen as an opportunity for creating better learning – or rather teaching – media, but there will also be ideological, propagandistic or commercial (mis)use. What is necessary is a broad approach in arts, ethics and aesthetics to target and tackle the permeating structures behind the obvious content, and hint on playing with medial borders – named here higher order gaming – as an anarchistic, radical counterpart in contrast to rule-conforming, more conservative gaming and game design.

Game design may follow two roads. The classic path of first order game design would be to deliver the content as challenging and as balanced as can be, to draw the player smoothly into the confines and safety of the ‚magic circle‘ of play. Alternatively it may point to the ‚magic circle‘ as a place of manipulation and the player’s power over this manipulation as player/designer. Weiterlesen

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‘.


Traditional structures and courses

Linearity, finality and causality are ‚traditonal‘ concepts of structure, i.e. they happen in a frame of reference and orientation we’re culturally used to, though this frame is currenty undergoing constant disassembly.

If a project’s course doesn’t follow the line of planning – realisation – finalisation – application, but exists in x versions in a treelike development; if there are networked and synergetic effects from all directions; if the project is never finished or has never started in the first place because of precursing projects it built upon – then it is non-linear, dendritic, hypertextual, rhizomatic, circulary-causal.

This is a starting point for a view on modern systemic depictions, or it’s entertaining sub section of gaming and metagaming.