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Second Person Perspective

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Not really concerned with the whole videogames and violence debate, but in the latest issue (fourth) of Armchair Arcade is an article on violence in videogames. The author makes an interesting argument with the link between violence and the Second Person Perspective nature of videogames. Second person perspective you say? Yes. He is arguing that all videogames are second person perspective and yes, that means both first person and third person games. Whereas other media like film and television have a third person perspective (the viewer is outside the action, not really participating) and not doing really well with the whole second person perspective, videogames are in essence second person perspective. You, as the user/gamer are asked to participate, it is 'the standing rule'.
(The author then notes that he is fully aware of the fact that editors of game mags and websites won't change their terminology after reading his insightful article and notes: "I doubt the editors at PC Gamer will read this article and immediately tell their writers to refer to Doom III as a Second Person Shooter" - *grin* this self-conscious statement made me laugh out loud).

He further elaborates on his argument about SPP with the notion of Aristotoles' Catharsis. Videogames is a way of playing out this catharsis en acting out violence, without severe consequences in the 'real' world. He also mentions sports with regards to experiencing competition and battle. He wonders why we shouldn´t view videogames in the same light as sports, what is seen as a positive way for channeling aggression. While I see what he means, I think sports is a more physical way to challenge aggression while videogames would be more on a psychological level. Unless of course we would have controlling interfaces which could address the more physical need of aggression (maybe I'll take this with me in my thesis). Hmm, maybe we should wonder what kind of aggression we´re talking about. Sometimes it´s enough to just yell at people and other times you would like to punch someone. I also wonder if it´s more fulfilling to see an actual person falling down after being hit or a virtual person. I´m thinking Paintball and Doom/Half-Life here. Anyway what I actually was getting at is that I think the author makes a very interesting argument and I especially like the idea of Second Person Perspective. He ends his article with a short history of violence in videogames. So what are you waiting for? Go to Armchair Arcade and read the whole article! ^_^ (it's part one btw, next issue the author will 'further delve into the topic')

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 25/8/04 09:41 |  

    Yeah, they tend to have some really insightful articles over at the old arcade.
    A second person perspective actually complements Aarseth's ergodic ideas pretty well, I think.

    Anyway cyberzel, you mention: "Sometimes it´s enough to just yell at people and other times you would like to punch someone." I tend to agree, but some of the agression the pro CS gamers I'm talking to is really quite physical. It includes both hitting keyboards and biting the table - that's tactile if you ask me.

    .: Tore :: http://vesterblog.dk :.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 18/9/04 22:38 |  

    Haha you're right Tore. Actually I myself can get quite physical/tactile (that's where the punching note comes from) myself, when losing to a game or with frustrating controls. My controllers are not really that happy sometimes...


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