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Video Game Paper

Video Game Paper - Shaffer 1 Steve Shaffer Suman...

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Shaffer 1 Steve Shaffer Suman Communication Studies 10 (1) 29 November 2005 Misunderstood Creatures “Gamers.” For years, they have been stereotyped as reticent and socially inept creatures of a dark, cold, silent world. But is this stereotype so true? Or can there possibly be room for communication in this world of microchips and video monitors? If the only tools these gamers have to cling to are their video game systems, then perhaps there is some way in which those machines can provide a social environment for these creatures. And in fact, there is. Video games can serve five distinct communication functions. Video games can act as a channel for a communication act, or a substitute for communication altogether. They can also act as a catalyst for communication, a topic for communication, and a form of mass media. If we apply the SEMCDR model for communication to video gaming, we can see the first function that video games provide in communication: acting as a channel. Video games can perform this function both non-verbally and verbally. Let us first consider the more common, non-verbal instance. In this example, we have two players communicating with each other through a video game console. If Player One were considered the sender , then his encoder would be his controller, which translates his non- verbal message into a series of electronic signals. The message would be the non-verbal communication that Player One wishes to communicate to Player Two through the video game. Perhaps this message is one of aggression, machismo, or perhaps “I am a better
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Shaffer 2 player than you,” or even something such as, “you’re a friend,” in the event of a cooperative video game. The channel through which all this is sent is the video game itself. It takes the actions of Player One, decoded through his controller and communicates those to Player Two through the screen on which the video game is being played, or even through Player Two’s controller in the form of vibration or other stimuli that can be decoded by Player Two’s hands. The decoder in this example would then be Player Two’s eyes, and any other sensory receptors stimulated by the video game console. The receiver would be Player Two, who would, in optimum circumstances receive Player One’s non-verbal message without distortion. However, as we can imagine, through this channel the message is very open for distortion due to the misreading of Player One’s actions by Player Two as these actions are intended to communicate a very abstract message. In addition, the opportunity for feedback is not inherently provided for. In order to provide feedback, Player Two has to begin a completely new cycle of the SEMCDR model. This type of non-verbal communication is the type that has been taking place in multi-player video games since their infancy and until the present. More recently, however, developments in technology have led to a different kind of non-verbal communication used through video games.
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