Culture Shock Simulator

or: a case for unfun games

Types of games before advent of vg:

Roleplaying games: based on communication, players take on roles foreign to their actual social function and let them bounce off of others who play roles, limits are set through discussion and improvisation, (largely) collaborative, players repurpose their bodys and surroundings as playfigures/-area (repurposing, based on context), children playing family, dogs playfighting => method of learning and preparing for potential future roles, learning what it's like in other's shoes (broadening of perspective)

Tabletop games: based on rules, gamespecific objects (Cards, boards, coins =>symbolic), competitive (win condition); rules as meat of the game, context largely irrelevant (nonsensical monopoly figures, 200000000 versions of Monopoly based on different franchises), figures might represent players, but are not an extension of them (symbolic)

(mixed forms: TTRPGs (obviously), Sports (tabletop: strict and clearly defined rules, roleplay: players become their function on the field (goalie, attacker...) =>closest to videogames as movement makes up play (this is why esports are a thing))

VIDEOGAMES: incorporates both tabletop and roleplaying games but negates both: can't be Tabletop game because- while strictly dependent on rules and generally having clearly defined/communicated win conditions- figure=player+abstraction (simulated instead of symbolic) (even in digital boardgames, ie virtual chess, player controls cursor, which is a simulated hand)=>simulated player demands simulated world, which increases importance of context (super mario bros 2 reskin of game with "similar but clearly out of character rules: mario games defined by appearence of player character mario (see also mario rpgs, golf, kart etc.); focus on context and communication (between player and computer, character movement) and inhabitance of a body with different abilities and limitations than one's actual physical body imply roleplay, but Computer severely limited in its options of responding to the player, strictly bound to rules which means that game can only be played on its nonnegotiable terms or be broken by the player, interaction limited; body and enivronment in roleplay are real and repurposed, in videogames simulated (inhabiting another body)

=>videogames need to create worlds, with their complexity growing disproportionally to their degree of abstraction (2D and 3D, digital boardgames as largest degree of abstraction)

Two questions follow from this:

-if videogames have the unique opportunity to let players experience worlds through a simulated body, why should that body only be subjected to fun, pleasing and empowering experiences? Since no actual danger/damage is sustained and the player is safe, we can do to them whatever we fucking want (TRUE Catharsis!!! INTENSE BOREDOM, FUCK the player (flower sun and rain))

-Do the underlying rules and win conditions have to be obvious? What can be achieved if they aren't?


conditions of my playthrough:

-started during internetless period (no access to online reources, ie tutorials/tips/lore guides)

-out of my comfort zone (western rpg, high fantasy, computer menuing, unfamiliar mechanics/language=>rules and win conditions entirely unclear to me, no sense of progression, aimless wandering and getting killed)

-horrible starting choices (low charisma Argonian (every npc constantly shouts abuse at me), alchemist/archer class (constant need to buy arrows+high miss rate means money grinding through trash mob disposal impossible, good potion ingredients only available in later areas+take up large amount of inventory space)

-expecting generic (nordic) fantasy setting with dragons and wolves and shit cause only familiarity with franchise from short Skyrim clips seen through the years

=>Confusion, lack of fun

=>enhances the Morrowind experience: struggling as dope in foreign hostile huge swampy colony consisting of (and running on???) creepy crawlers, filled with insular racists, overwhelming (and STRANNNNGE) lore told through multiple contradictory accounts (shockingly mature, down to earth and realistic depiction of alien culture)

Morrowind as a game and my personal experience with it can be explained by this excerpt from a very cool person's about page: "Games were not understood as rule based interactive entertainment, nor had the formula of instant gratification dopamine machine been perfected. These games were not even necessarily fun (some were downright torturous to play), and with all it was unclear where the bounds of the game ended, or if they even ended at all. They completely overlapped into my own life. I would always wonder: perhaps someone lived in that tiny low poly house in the distance. Perhaps they still do, unreachable and forgotten on a scratched disk submerged in landfill."

=>this is the effect morrowind had on me because of my unpreparedness: virtual culture shock

Conclusion: "If it's not fun, why bother?"- said by Reggie and weaponized by annoying people on the internet, but source clip continues like this: "but the game is also something else. It's a journey, a passport to new worlds." => worldfocused/exploration based game design: sometimes setting wouldn't allow for fun in traditional sense of completing clearly defined and fairly designed challenges, so fun would create ludonarrative dissonance=> traditional fun is not the be-all end-all of video games in general, instead potentially sense of choesion with the world, immersion, catharsis of experiencing bad shit (colonization and being lost broke in a hostile land) in a safe environment (BUT: doesn't mean that traditional fun shouldn't be top priority for most games!)

This is what my character needs to hear after so many hours of npcs being disgusted by him.