I am a fan of playing games vicariously – a behavior which Aarseth does not seem to hold in high regard. Aarseth claims that “merely observing the game will not put us in the role of the audience.” However, if you value an audience as part of the economics of the game industry then I would contest that a vicarious gamer does have the potential to impact the bottom line by influencing the purchase of a game which they may not even play. It is understood that Aarseth was really addressing the fact that many scholars who use video games as their medium for scholarly research are not actually playing the game. This is usually self-evident to those who have either played the game or watched someone play the game in the question.
Although it is not directly stated anywhere in his text, Aarseth appears to be a fan of the graphics revolution as well. If we use Aarseth’s criteria for studying video games then we would not be able to accurately judge a game made for a visually impaired person using the same categories. Someone with a visual impairment would not be able to experience the graphical world of the game. This ostracizes a potential audience( an unfortunately frequent occurrence) due to the disability. It could be argued that placing that same visually impaired individual next to a sighted person playing a game like BioShock (which doesn’t skimp on the sound elements) would at least provide the visually impaired person with a media rich video game experience. How would Aarseth’s criteria allow for this type of game to judged? Would it start out with a handicap…no pun intended but ironic nonetheless.
The first week’s readings gave a good foundation for the expectations of a scholar interested in studying video games. I would wholeheartedly agree that previous research out of psychology and media studies has suffered from researchers making judgments on a game that they surely did not play. I agree that we should be investigating standard methods of practice for investigating games but I would hope that this method and standard could be inclusive of a wide variety of games and gamers. legal to social to
Quick Google search came up with the following info/sites for visually impaired gamers:
- Bavisoft – http://www.bavisoft.com/ – Software developer for the visually impaired
- Science Daily – http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/1111-video_games_for_the_visually_impaired.htm – AudiOdyssey (below) game for the visually impaired
- Disabled World – http://www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/accessible-gaming-sites.php – List of accessible Games Websites
- NPR – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6669943 – Video Games for the Vision Impaired