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Still, it might be interesting to think about how one discipline could borrow from the tools of the other. And I find that in those cases, just dumping a bunch of info on people kills the moment dead. But when you start seeing in your head the confrontation with him going in a certain way, that creates the problem that you might start railroading to get there. And so he fudges and so on to ensure that. Other problems are usually quantitative: the GM needs to learn the rules, or needs to prep more, or needs to get better at improvising; usually these things are all possible.

Chances are no one reading this has read the book because it is not well known. He has no overt agenda in favor of or against, but simply to document what he has found through his own studies and others. The copyright is , which is important in a fast-changing field like this. So some of this might be out-of-date. Licensing is almost totally done at the state level, so it is a difficult area to study with 50 states, each of which is different.

This book mostly looks at studies made by others, because there is simply too much data for one person to compile. Kleiner has looked at the process of licensing most carefully in the state of Minnesota in particular, presumably because he is a professor at the University of Minnesota. He found that most licensing comes from occupational groups looking to become licensed. I think this is opposite to the public perception that licenses are a response to consumer groups. Kleiner cited several studies which looked at the quality benefits achieved by licensing Table 3.

In most cases, these studies indicated little difference in quality between those licensed and those without a license. Unfortunately there is no discussion on how quality is measured. Several studies also measured the price of services of licensed occupations Table3. All of these studies indicated an increase in prices by licensed practitioners.

A later analysis of studies Table 4. There was also one chapter on licensing in the EU. It did indicate higher earnings in licensed occupations, but not much of any data on the prevalence of licensing in Europe vs. There was quite a bit of economic theorizing throughout the book, although little of it was based on the data he cited from various studies.

Weaknesses of the book: 1 Quality of services for licensed vs. In particular, most people supporting wide-spread licensing do so based on a version of the precautionary principle: it may not be the most efficient, but is still worth it if it saves some lives. It is difficult to make conclusions based on the studies done. I definitely have an agenda on this topic. I believe that licensing of occupations by the government is one of the worst anti-market actions taken by government. As this book indicates, licensing almost invariably increases the prices of these services, and often does not increase the quality.

If I have a difficult time finding an available plumber, it is much more difficult for me to find a good plumber. I think 1 and 2 about offset each other. One of the worst effects of licensing is cutting out many of the poor and lightly educated from many professions. This hits the poor on both sides — raising prices as consumers and increasing unemployment as aspiring workers. These missing workers of the poor are partly the lowest tier of quality that the professions purposefully exclude to bring up the reputation of their profession and the fees , but also workers that may be perfectly competent in the profession, but not competent in taking tests or managing administrative tasks.

Many of these workers may be very good at cutting hair or roofing a house, but terrible at the paperwork of getting a license. Plus a whole lot of these licensed professions have zero effect on lives saved. It is true that we need a lot more data to make better decisions. I will have to spend some time looking at it. IJ is far from non-partisan on this issue, so those supporting licenses may find it unconvincing. We need more objective data, but the IJ study may not qualify for that.

I find this book to be very valuable because it covers an area that is largely unresearched. We need more data. In some States, like AZ, becoming a hairdresser requires more time, money and effort for licensing purposes than becoming an EMT. But hey, I think the precautionary principle in this case is bunk and if the government is going to require a license for an occupation, then they need to be able to first prove there is a net benefit to the public for the licensing rules beyond just restricting competition.

Being a member of a professional body at least gives some kind of guarantee. A bad haircut will eventually grow out, but someone who was charged a couple of thousand for shoddy building work that may even have caused more damage is harmed a lot more. As much as I feel a good deal of licensing in occupations is a hassle and could be pared down, the consequences of a preponderance of unlicensed practitioners in a variety of fields going about jobs and projects in an incompetent manner are potentially severe, even if comparative studies dont show massive differences in quality.

And I think that one issue with studies is even jurisdictions with less stringent licensing regulations still have a bit of a conformist effect due to it being a pretty common nationwide phenomenon the need for license. To get a better idea of the consequences of lesser licensing laws, you would have to make studies using data goig back quite a few years, which may or may not be availible.

Almost all professions have associations. Nothing is stopping you from using practitioners that belong to these vouching associations. I want to make my own decisions about who to patronize. Not quite what I was getting at Mark. As you mentioned the only absolute empirical way to determine would be to mine data from eras where similar occupations existed, but widespread licensing did not. It would make little sense to compare occupations in general, as those have obviously evolved. I was kind of guessing what you were getting at, apparently getting it wrong. But I suspect it will longer than this thread is open to actually figure out where each other is coming from, so maybe we give up on this one.

How about this, then: A. These are organizations that rate organizations based on complaints and ratings of previous clients. I think Yelp is global. And of course word-of-mouth often works too. Do you really think because someone has a license that means they are good and have integrity? To me the much bigger problem is that licenses sometimes greatly restrict the number of practitioners, so that I have to pick someone even when they have bad ratings. If cutting hair requires a license, it is illegal to cut hair without that license.

If cutting hair has certification, then some body, public or private, certifies someone as a competent cutter of hair, it is illegal claim to be certified if you are not, but it is legal for an uncertified barber to cut the hair of any customer who wants him to do so.

In practice, licensing is generally controlled by the profession and used to create an entry barrier in order to hold up the price of their services. With certification, if the certifying authority tries to do that, to refuse certification to people who are competent but have not jumped through the required expensive hoops—several hundred hours of class time in the case of barbers—word eventually gets out and customers stop taking the lack of certification as strong evidence against competence. In Israel, you need a license to be a tour guide.

In the legal profession, one nice thing about licensing is that it makes lawyers a good deal more trustworthy. For example, lawyers know that if they abuse the monies in their trust accounts, they could easily be out of a job forever. Even then, most jurisdictions have lawyer funds for client protection, which works a bit like FIDC insurance. Any time a government comes out and actually admits to a desire to censor speech, my inclination is to take them at their word.

The way it works is that there is an organization with the authority to discipline attorneys, up to and including possible disbarment. For example, via hostile workplace lawsuits, the types of conversations which employees can have at work is limited by the employer on pain of firing to avoid the risk of lawsuits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or similar. More ambiguously, the Drug-Free Workplace Act likely pushes employers to drug test a much larger proportion of employees than would be required by straight liability issues. There are literally hundreds of law firms that represent employers and a lot of them post free information on their web sites for marketing purposes.

So perhaps one of them has an exhaustive list of laws which regulate employers. Probably most or even all of those laws have some impact on worker behavior. Also, employment litigation release agreements tend to enumerate laws which regulate the workplace, although they would likely not include a law where the worker has no individual remedy. Probably with Google you could find some release agreements. Maybe even keep the names and stadiums of the university teams in place for the new minors. Meanwhile the NCAA can become, like its counterparts in other countries and its lower divisions , an extracurricular activity for students who are actually attending college in order to earn degrees.

Of course, like many of our media elites and unlike Michigan alum Chait I went to a college without a big-money athletic program so the sports really were extracurricular activities. I can rattle off several schools where the NCAA has a very significant negative effect on the campus experience, a problem I think is overwhelmingly apparent at many division 1 schools. Short of that, places with an honors college or significant bifurcations between say the engineering school and a liberal arts college—on one side of such a bifurcation, the non-amateur athletics problem may not be as much a problem, and the contrast might be, er, edifying.

Your Name is a movie I recommend. Is it more like just switching memories and knowledge, or is it really the whole mind perception, cognition, sense of self, tastes, habits, intelligence, various abilities, etc. Each of them has continuity of consciousness. They retain their own memories from their original body, think the same way they always did, etc. Almost all mind-swap scenarios rely on ignoring the fact that the mind just is a particular brain in a particular arrangement, except for those that involve brain transplants.

I suppose the issue you mention is unusual in that even brain transplants would have this problem, but apart from that it seems to be just one more thing for the scenario to ignore, among countless others. Any reason this one is a particularly huge stumbling block? The very medium of animation means that certain practicalities are outweighed by aesthetic priorities. Look at the size of the examples page on TVTropes. This one has been done a million times — anime, western animation, film, literature, you name it.

All of my college friends were really into this movie last year or the year before? Thoughts… well… IMO, Harris is, for all intents and purposes, a saint when it comes to intellectual honesty, general benevolence and civil discourse. That being said, the Vox articles on the topic were decidely more partisan and sensationlist, unfortunately. I think both of these gentlemen can share fault for inflating this issue. Well that was interesting. I read the original Vox piece , the email exchange , and the follow-up Vox piece.

I have never read, watched to listened to Sam Harris before and know of him only through reputation. I can certainly see why Harris was pissed. And then Klein kills him with kindness in the email exchange. And then Harris continues for email after email, expecting at some point that Klein is going to deal with him positively. Harris got trounced in the email exchange, and then shot himself in the foot by releasing the emails in which he got trounced. I agree. It was a mis -calculation to let it go on so long.

Should have simply linked to the Vox articles and left it at that about 2 or 3 e mails in. They seemed to be talking past each other. I think Klein did not appreciate how generally accepted most of the basic science on q is, and this resulted in a blind spot — almost certainly ideologically driven — that Harris interpreted as willful ignorance. What does Klein get wrong on the basic science? It seems to me that he has a better grasp on it than Harris. In his latest podcast episode, he admits that it was a mistake.

He also said that he and Klein will be recording a conversation soon, which surprised me, because I thought Klein had nothing to gain from doing so; he could have just called Harris an Islamophobic racist and walked away and come out smelling like roses. So good on him for agreeing to do so. Suppose you are in a country where same sex civil partnerships that are functionally equivalent to marriages exist but gay marriage does not, like the UK in [1].

Which of the following would best describe your opinion? Suppose you are in a country that has a law that punishes men being made to penetrate the same way as forced intercourse, but only the latter is called rape like the UK currently[2]. Often this is unintentional; sometimes it is intentional obfuscation. Nancy, In many places, the law has such degrees; the problem is getting any terminology for such distinctions into everyday discussion of the issues. A lot of these reddit anecdotes might fall into that area.

But when you show those results, and everyone thinks it means rape….

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More broadly, a problem is that the social standards are very different from the legal standards. Someone can be a bad person without being a criminal, and getting rid of that space really messes things up. Anyone who likes drinking care to take a crack at what a reasonable approach for self-protection would be? I used to drink heavily, and have to keep a watch on myself; I am definitely an alcoholic, although I am doing a good job right now of not drinking much at all.

This all goes for keeping onesself safe from harm, not putting yourself in a situation where you might cause harm to others, not embarrassing yourself, etc. I have been lucky enough that only the third happened to me, but I know people unfortunate enough to have the first happen to them, and people shitty enough to do the second and keep on drinking. I think a better explanation is that first year students tend to have the bad combination of not knowing how to drink and not having an alcohol tolerance.

If I had kids going to university, I would make sure they could get several drinks in them without getting loopy. Not going past buzzed is indeed a good choice. I have learned that if I must drink, I should stick to ordinary-strength beer: I can drink a lot of it over the course of an evening and be mostly fine. Anything higher-octane is a bad call, besides maybe a glass of wine or a shot here and there.

The most enjoyable parties are the ones where everyone knows everyone else. Keeping yourself safe is a practical issue, not an issue of legal or moral responsibility. One of the side benefits of the MADD-style anti-drunk-driving campaigns is that being the sober member of a drinking party is somewhat more reputable than it used to be.

At which point, yes, we need and in most places have degrees of sexual assault. I think it depends greatly on the person, as people can behave very differently for the same level of inebriation. For example, the one and only time I got so drunk that I fell off my bike later, I merely engaged in very overt flirting. The drinking was actually also in part flirting, because we were doing a drinking game where she was losing a lot and I offered to drink her drinks. Anyway, I felt quite capable of staying within the boundaries of morality and to say no to others. However, other people may not have the same capability.


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This is the bit where it all gets tricky. And this can vary from time to time, or within an incidence of drinking depending on the intake: someone can go from happy and laughing to mean and sad if they have a few more. Not in e. Some jurisdictions do use a more expansive definition, but not all. I have consumed enough alcohol so that I could see that it was having some effect on me, although my guess is that a random stranger would not have noticed the effect.

My prejudice against people getting drunk comes not from the sort of seriously scary problems people have been discussing but the repeated experience of getting into what should be an interesting conversation with someone and eventually realizing that the reason it was so frustrating was that he was half drunk and so not following the argument.

I find it hard to see any good reason why I would choose to get drunk. And yet obviously some people, probably most people, at least sometimes do. At one point there was a tentative medical consensus that one drink a day gave enough cardiovascular protective effects to be a net positive. I never did succeed in making that a habit, and eventually the consensus shifted again…. Not in NY either. Rape is PIV only. Part of the reason people get drunk is, of course, that alcohol is a central aspect of the culture.

People for whom the euphoric effect is stronger tend to have more of a problem controlling their intake, either in a chronic way alcoholism , or the more common acute way getting counter-productively drunk. Staying on the right side of that cliff is especially tricky given the increasingly impaired judgment that is the more consistent effect of the drug. For many people the point of being nicely buzzed is also the point at which drinking more seems like a great idea. At 3 drinks, 6 sounds good. At 6 drinks…. Of course, your body processes alcohol.

Still not healthy but better than drinking a whole bunch of hard liquor at once and being wasted. Do you mean if a man is forced [How?? Does this actually happen? Question 2 is asking about the receiving partner e. As to whether this happens, it does , and it happens in the usual ways : blackmail, incapacitation, threats of violence, physical force though perhaps in different ratios than people raped by being penetrated against their will.

My apologies for linking news articles describing studies instead of the studies themselves, but I think some other commenters here have much more comprehensive sources on the subject. Under those conditions, how could a man possibly become … and maintain … enough to …?

I suppose I would repeat my answer to question 1, verbatim:. People can have very idiosyncratic responses to alcohol, and even for the same person, its effects can vary for all sorts of reasons. Some people get obviously hammered really, really quickly, but remember what happened, or most of it.

Others seem mostly fine, but stopped forming new memories early on due to the sauce, and have been blackout drunk — but not noticeably so — for some time. The most plausible scenario where this could happen is if I meet a really attractive woman who clearly, desperately wants to have sex with me. A large part of me pun…not intended might want to succumb to temptation, but the fact that I am married this encapsulates everything from plain intellectual awareness of my marital status to memories and thoughts of my wife, the emotional and social significance of my marriage, etc.

My wife and I have even talked about this hypothetical scenario! If she is able to do that — and she would only be able to if she had managed to keep me physically aroused throughout the whole ordeal, and normally I am turned off by dominant female sexual behavior — then I would say what she did was still clearly seduction , not rape or anything close.

A less plausible scenario but one that better fits the parameters in the OP might be one where a really unattractive woman has somehow managed to tie me down and get my pants off, then injected me with some chemical that produces an erection regardless of mental state. Or maybe a better way to put it is she proceeds to forcibly envelop me? While I might find this physically uncomfortable and potentially emotionally traumatizing, I find it hard to imagine this would involve the kind of horror that male-on-female rape entails, even when the raped female is pretty drunk and is mostly just having trouble saying no.

I would not want the two scenarios to be legally conflated. To make the case for female-on-male rape being equivalent, it seems like you have to start to lean on the idea that sex you later regret counts as being raped. This idea has never made sense to me, maybe because I still envision sex primarily within the context of a relationship, rather than as a recreational activity strangers may take part in.

If it gets stimulated physically, or hell even the right sound or smell or image, a penis might become erect. Hell women often usually? Would you care to elaborate on this idea? The situation you describes sounds exactly like the one that would give someone long term mental and emotional issues. There is 1 Forced restraint 2 Unwanted sexual intercourse. I am having a hard time imagining how the fact that female-on-male instead of male-on-female makes it any less traumatizing for the victim.

I think you could consider it rape if the victim was penetrated but does it suddenly not count as rape if the victim is enveloped? That part requires some buy-in from the upstairs office, as it were. Now imagine being traumatized or intimidated. You bring up a blackmail scenario in which I suppose a man might be able to close his eyes and think of an attractive woman so he can maintain an erection in order to have coerced sex with the unappealing woman blackmailing him.


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And yes, if a woman being forcibly penetrated were to close her eyes and think of a desirable man as a way to get through the ordeal, she is still being raped! Come on. What kind of responses? How often exactly? How do they know? This is a non-sequitur. Define physical resistance then.

A given man can be just as traumatized by a sexual incident as a given woman, but classifying the incident as rape depends on other things. Even apart from the fact that others have noted that one can have erections without even any particular craving for sex perhaps that happens less to you than to others, but trust us, it happens to most men , one can also feel horny while wanting not to have sex, just as one can feel hungry while wanting not to eat. Would you be willing to outline what other things are needed for you to consider a given sexual incident as rape?

The motivation for that comment is that we want to encourage people to express there opinions here even if they are really really different than what we individually accepted or think is reasonable. The hard part is responding to everyone. Fem-dom BDSM porn notwithstanding. I think I would say that in all but the most rare and unlikely of scenarios there must be penetration by the rapist into the rapee.

The difficulty is that Well… is promulgating not just an opinion, but a falsehood that men cannot maintain an erection during sexual assault. Apparently heightened emotional states positive or negative can also heighten physical responses such as erection. After all the mental trauma is really the distinguishing feature between rape and consensual sex physical trauma is possible but not necessary. Congratulations on picking a user name that makes everyone responding to you sound ambivalent. I allowed for some uncommon exceptions. One of them might be that rare guy whose response to trauma is to become and remain erect.

Randy M: Hah, yeah someone pointed that out a while ago. Well, penetration for one. If I understand your position than it is possible for a man to rape another man but only if the victim is penetrated but it is only sexual assault if the victim is enveloped. Do you agree? If someone else made it they did so unclearly and I missed it. In response I would say the difference is that if a man gets and maintains an erection enough to participate in sexual intercourse, it is a far stronger indicator of his at least partial consent to participating in that intercourse than is the fact that a woman lubricated or orgasmed.

It is so much stronger an indicator, and the likelihoods of the two scenarios so different, that I would not want the law to treat the two scenarios as if they were interchangeable. A man can easily be physically aroused by a woman but not be willing to have sex with her. I think everyone that was responding saw the connection but that you missed it. Please keep this connection in mind if you discuss your opinion elsewhere because you could possible deeply offend someone. A A female goes to a party, gets drunk falls asleep upstairs alone in a bedroom. B A male goes to a party, gets drunk falls asleep upstairs alone in a bedroom.

When he wakes up the next morning he has no clothes and can clearly tell a female violated him. According to your definition, A and C would be rape but B and D would not be. I would say that we should use the same word for all four situations. Part of the reason I think it should be the same word is that society currently cares much less about situations like B and I think that hurts the victims of those situations. Because society is getting more serious about situation A I think if we use the same word for A and B it will help victims of B.

If they are treated the same by the law we should use the same term. Your insistence that the legitimacy of a man complaining about being forced to penetrate is based on the ability to maintain an erection during a traumatic experience is weird, since: — The legal definition of rape of women merely requires any amount of penetration against her will. If a man stops raping before he ejaculates, it is still rape. A single thrust is sufficient for it to legally be rape. Morning erections seem to typically be of the latter sort. Many men with spinal cord injuries seem able to get reflexogenic erections, but not psychogenic erections.

For a man specifically, there may be a strong encultured belief that he should always enjoy sex, causing mixed feelings. Many women seem to get aroused by submissiveness and quite a few get off on rape fantasies. The overall outcome of an actual not fantasized rape can nevertheless be very traumatizing. Without going into too many details: a woman I knew invited herself back to my house, then refused to leave unless I slept with her. It became abundantly clear that my choices were sleep with her or call the cops, and the latter choice almost certainly ends with me in cuffs, not her.

So I slept with her. Hell if I know. But I am quite certain that what she did should be illegal, even if I know prosecuting her for it would be a lost cause, and that the fact that I was able to have sex with her was not a defense. To save everyone the trouble of having to imagine scenarios in which this might be relevant, here is a front page askreddit thread with a bunch of guys telling their stories.

It only has to be maintained for a few seconds to engage in penetration, which is all that is required to classify involuntary intercourse as rape. But it has another element making it seem particularly bad—the fact that for an ordinary heterosexual male, engaging in homosexual intercourse seems like a polluting activity he would never engage in with anyone.

Rather, this man who has been raped by a woman is likely to have his wages garnished by the state to provide his rapist with the money to raise a child for the next 18 years. This happens ; the law is clear on the subject Kansas court case. So 2 out of 3 men who took the poll believe that being falsely accused results in a worse outcome for them, while 2 out of 3 of women think that being raped is worse. Barely Matters, thank you for the link. In addition to the obvious, I would really love to live in a culture that had a norm of not abusing drunk people.

A lot of the abusers of drunk people are probably also drunk. Alcohol tends to greatly lower inhibitions. I guess you learn something new every day. To relate this back to the question in the OP, the lesson I take away is that rape has to be very carefully defined, in the law at least.

Barely Matters, thanks again for the reddit link , and this is something to explain why I get aggravated at men who describe rape accusations as a result of sex that women regret. I read several of the experiences guys had on this thread and in the reddit. Yeah sure, objectively speaking these woman had sex with an unwilling man, so perhaps you could call it rape. But when I think of this happening to me, it is much closer to being a fantasy to me than a nightmare. I find this very hard to think of as a bad thing. It is true that this is because I am heterosexual, as I would be pretty disgusted if a guy did that to me.

So I can imagine it being nasty for some people, but again, not like forcing oneself on a woman. This is my emotional self speaking, not the rational one, but emotion matters somewhat. One more thing. To me the latter is equivalent to raping a woman. The former is at worst disgusting. A fantasy is fun, but it could be leaving out a good bit of the real world, like STDs and child support. There was a lot of overt coercion of various sorts. Are you ignoring the financial aspect?

If she gets pregnant, you are on the hook for child support plus interest and court costs for the next 20 years. Is that not…bothersome to you? Both scenarios you give are gross and involve disease risk. The male option seems worse in that regard due to the way HIV is transmitted so a larger immediate disgust reflex seems justified.

Yes of course it is bothersome. The points you bring up are real legal issues. These issues are completely different from the issues that come up when a man forcefully penetrates a woman. Should we call both of these situations by the same word of rape when they are so different? But should the forceful penetration of a woman in the West then still still be called rape as well?

After all, the consequences were different for women in the past than today. I think that raped women would often be forced to have the baby, but then give it up for adoption. In more traditional societies that exist now, you also see that raped women are often forced to not only keep the baby, but also marry their rapist. Indian women right now. I would argue that a more rational way to decide what terms to use is to first decide what minimally has to be the case to make the term applicable. Then you then apply it in a gender-neutral way. I think our intuitions about rape are heavily influenced by past circumstances that no longer hold.

One, as you mention, is that rape could lead to pregnancy with serious negative consequences in past societies. Another was that virginity was an important asset on the marriage market, so the knowledge that a woman had been raped, in many societies, seriously reduced her marital prospects, and marriage was very nearly the only reasonably attractive career option open to most women. Neither of those is true now.

If we based our judgement of rape on modern circumstances, seriousness would scale down for the probability that a woman will be on the pill, for the availability of abortion, and for the negligible effect on her future marriageability. And the fact that DNA testing plus modern law puts a male victim of involuntary intercourse at risk of having to support a child he did not choose to father would scale up the seriousness of involuntary envelopment of men by women. I can see arguments for any of them or arguments for the current unofficial status quo where women are probably less likely to be punished than men and punished less severely.

Allowed was poor phrasing. I mean that if people are adult and consent to some contract, there should be a strong presumption in favor of letting them do so. This holds for almost every type of contract. The government only need worry about how the contract affects legal issues. If people find written contracts to be unromantic, the problem is on their end.

My answer to your question 1 is both a and b. Legalizing gay marriage in your situation is a purely symbolic act, and it is a symbolic act that is bad from the standpoint of some people, good from the standpoint of others. I had a blog post on that subject some years back. My conclusion was that the government should not impose its choice of symbolism in either direction, that same sex couples should be free to call their unions marriage and people who did not believe in same sex marriage should be free not to treat such unions as marriages.

Perhaps this was unintentional, but if not, why do you make the distinction? The label ought to be meaningless, but the fact that there is any desire to keep the labels distinct indicates that theoretical legal equivalence is not likely to create practical equal treatment. From their standpoint, if a man has divorced his first wife and married again, the second couple are living in sin.

Then it seems it would be easier to change the hospital rules, because even with same-sex marriage, this means that couples same-gender and other-gender who are not married but are cohabiting, engaged, dating or the like would still be refused visiting rights. In that case, not being a spouse meant no right to visit and not being able to over-ride the wishes of the blood family. The AIDS epidemic also likely made it possible for gay marriage to be a popularly acceptable option for homosexual men, as it disproportionately selected against those most promiscuous and unlikely to support traditional monogamous marriage.

With those voices silent, it became easier for the minority in favor of more traditional lifestyles to get traction. Also this was before health insurance as as much a thing as it is now, and a non-trivial number of the gay partners were not wealthy enough to pay the huge hospital bills that come from dying slowly in America, so the long-abandoned relatives were also footing the bill, which made the decision easier for the hospital on who to support. The problem is that changing the hospital rules and having them followed is hard when homosexual relationships are considered to be bad.

Gay or straight partners not spouses could be kept out if the family objected. If the hospital winked at allowing straight partners but rigorously enforced the rules about gay partners, then you can claim this is unfair discrimination. People in hospitals are often incapacitated in various ways, so they are a context in which social conventions weigh more heavily. My own goes something like this: You would prefer that there not be gay marriage and possibly that there not be civil unions either , and think it would be much easier that hospital rules and the like be individually adjusted instead.

You also think that many or perhaps most people agree with you. Two questions remain: 1 Do you, and those people with similar outlooks, actually want hospital rules and the like to be adjusted that way? And 2 If so, would you have wanted that to happen if the changes that have lead to the legalization of gay marriage had not already happened? I can imagine scenarios in which I would answer a and those in which I would answer c. And I think we locked in that one a long time ago. How is it a non sequitur? Now, if your civil partnership law does not give those rights, sure, I can see the push for same-sex marriage.

Indeed, there may be no useful line between symbolic and not. Say you pass a civil partnership law that grants all of the legal rights to civil partners previously granted to spouses. Does that cover the hospital case? Are there actually government-established visitation rights, or just conventions that have been at best partially backed up in a common law framework? If the latter, does adding civil partnerships really change that common law, seeing as how in the past the relevant aspects have been established in terms of marriage?

If so, what is the greater advantage of marriage? You want to argue the symbolism is the important part that no legal part-fix can address and that this is the vital part of getting marriage. In which case, pushing for things like marriage is the way to go because you need to make huge changes in society and force things as normal practice. You may not convince opponents, but if they are constrained by law to treat you as the same as everyone else, you have successfully imposed your values and worked towards making the opposing views vulnerable to time, fashion, and what is considered everyday behaviour.

You need to force uniformity since an intermediate solution still permits a two-tier set-up and permits opposing views to survive. Nobody else can use it, they have to use the staff bathrooms on another floor. Now, suppose those bathrooms are out of order, or otherwise unavailable. A discipline like biology is quite broad, spanning diverse interests such as molecular genetics, ecology, developmental biology, etc.

The discipline of art history studies not only painting, but also a wide variety of different forms and traditions. Yes, I do think "game studies" has unfortunately positioned itself as the study of digital games specifically. But even if we accept that game studies scholars are branching out into non-digital areas like board games, we might still ask why games studies is so socially and professionally isolated from other academic traditions like sports studies, folklore studies, play theory, etc.

Can we ever hope to call ourselves a proper discipline as long as we remain so isolated from and irrelevant to those other communities that also study play and games? Gosh, it would be so nice to build some stronger ties to the sports studies community in particular! Abe, I bet you'd agree here.

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Jason: I think that in this post we have accidentally managed to identify an interesting tension: dilution and amorphousness versus collaboration and inclusion. Clearly there are benefits to be had from incorporating other fields of inquiry into game studies, but there are also benefits to establishing "game studies" as a concrete discipline.

From whichever perspective one takes, however, it should be immediately clear that citing one's object of study as "games" or even "computer games" is not a very accurate or useful label. Doug, you asked, "is the professed object of study - the computer game - too narrow in scope? The necessary questions of someone who studies "the computer game" should be "which aspects of which games in what context?

For me, anyway, the take-away from this collaboration is that I now find it hard to have strong opinions either way. Games are a fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of the human condition, and we have barely scratched the surface of understanding precisely what they are, how they work, what roles they serve, and why they even exist.

At this point "game studies" simply needs more of everything. And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away.

And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. I had the good fortune of running into Naomi Clark, formerly of Gamelab, now chief designer at Fresh Planet at a serious games conference we both spoke at last weekend.

In their presentation, Clark and Zimmerman spoke about desire, about Suit's "lusory attitude" about cultural narratives, and specifically about how currently popular social game mechanics are related to a common western narrative about the fantasy of industrial labor - that hard work and determination will lead to wealth, popularity, fame, and success. I remember hearing them speak and wishing they had pushed the idea just a bit further. They did argue that games could impoverish otherwise meaningful and important human interactions and cultural traditions.

Specifically they talked about "gifting" in social games comparing the mechanic to the tradition of the Native American potlatch. I think social games, as presently constituted on Facebook, often reinforce an all too familiar, and oppressive narrative of rags-to-riches determination in the face of arduous labor, that such work can lead to the "american dream" of wealth and prosperity, even as the chasm between wealthy and needy continues to spread, almost out of sight of one another. It also reinforces the notion that a community of wealth can support one another, driving a larger divide between the "connected" and the "disconnected.

For some reason, however, the next step ahead begins to seem farther out of your reach. You finger the lining of your pockets for loose change, wondering "could I afford that jacket," or "would it hurt too much to buy that candy? How did they get so much? They must have worked so hard to get where they are, just like I am working. Soon, soon I will have that too.

And yet, with all your hard work and determination, some things still seem, always, out of your financial reach. You begin to realize that you can't join the country club down the road unless you know the right someone, unless you own the right car, or the right clothes. You are excluded on the basis of a class you didn't even know you occupied.

You remember all your hard work, you look back at your modest farm and wonder. You try to remember why you came here in the first place. You discover that there are people willing to loan you the money, whenever you want, so that you can buy what you need. You don't worry too much about it, because it is not money, you see, it is some strange kind of fictional currency.

You know you will be held accountable for it in the future, but by then you'll have the biggest, brightest, most luxurious farm around, and you won't need to worry at all about finding money to pay back, that will be easy. Just keep digging, and working, and clicking and you'll get there. You do all this so that your kids won't have to. But you still cannot seem to afford that next tree, or that next piece of fence. You splurge one day on a magazine, or watch some television, but all you see are beautiful, expansive, well decorated and lavish farms that make your home seem like a dust bowl.

Click, click. Just keep clicking, digging, cleaning. Work hard and all this can be yours. I do not intend to suggest that if these developers have a market they should not avail themselves of it. However, I do have deep concern about how our cultural products can have a tendency to reinforce, or re-tell narratives that may have a negative effect on society.

I have a lot of concern about games especially, as I worry that "play" is becoming more and more commercialized and commoditized. Suffering a failing Farmville farm pales compared to the struggles of poor Americans attempting to scrape out an existence, pushing against an economic and social system that continues to undermine their very survival.

However, the rhetoric of hard work as the primary solution to poverty, helping to keep wealth concentrated in the hands of a staggering minority , can be found in many nuanced, even un-intentioned domains, like Facebook games. Why do games specifically concern me? Besides the fact that I work at a game lab, and study games as a job, I am concerned about how a culture's stories are written.

We need look no further than popular sports in America to see how games and the culture that surround them are tightly woven into the fabric of our collective experiences. People argue, evangelize, and hypothesize on the myriad "measured" effects of games on individuals for learning or behavioral change, and regardless of how the pendulum seems to be swinging on any given day, we must wonder how Facebook games may be reflecting or reinforcing a social status quo that has many suffering while few thrive. No, Facebook games are not responsible for poverty, of course not. But maybe with each mindless click, with each laborious click, we are replaying, in part, the story of so many who wanted to work and could not succeed, despite earnest effort and serious struggle.

This post can also be found at Abe's blog, A Simpler Creature. Below is a "digital conversation" between me and Jason Begy. It started as a chat in the GAMBIT lounge and we thought that it might be interesting to concretize our ideas some by writing them down. We took turns writing paragraphs to each other continuing on for a few days.

It should be stated that these are ideas we are still working out, and we simply wanted to lay bare some of our recent thoughts to perhaps move them forward. Abe: I think our understanding of "design" with regards to games needs to be looked at more closely. The attachment of games to consumer objects, either packaged board games or software, seems to have skewed our understanding of what the creators of the game are actually doing.

We seem to think that the fundamental operations of games are somehow being written by designers, with a direct authorial linkage like that of a painter to painting, a songwriter to song, or perhaps more frequently referenced, a director to a film. However, I stand behind the assertion that a game not-played is not a game at all, which implicates players in authorship. More dramatically, the organization of rules by a designer does not a game make either, which is to say, at best designers are configuring details and assigning symbols to preexisting forms, no small feat, but not wholly authorial.

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Allow me a parallel: a carpenter doesn't design the use of a chair as an object for sitting, rather she suggests only how a user might sit in it, should the user feel inclined to do so. The user may always place their belongings on said chair instead, thus rendering it a table. Jason: Previously on this blog I have referred to a board game as a mnemonic device: whatever "state" it can be said to contain only exists in the minds of the players; the tangible pieces are there to lighten the cognitive load. Any meaning the boards and bits have is assigned and maintained by the players enacting the game; the "rules" as-writ are suggestions for a method of play, and the pieces facilitate that method.

This is a key ontological distinction between video games and non-digital games. In a video game the rules are enforced by the underlying code: they are much more rules than the suggestions accompanying my copy of Carcassonne. I cannot chose to interpret Mario's in-game function in a way other than that dictated to me by the game. And yet your objection fits equally well: a board game in its box is just a collection of pieces, and a program not running is just lines of code.

All of these points and ideas beg the question: What exactly is a rule? Abe: Recently, casually around the lab, on twitter, and on my blog, I've been referring to rules and rule systems as "non-things. I fully acknowledge the playfulness of the language I am using here by calling a rule a "non-thing;" on one hand dismissing it and simultaneously reinforcing its existence through reference. However, I think it is important to distinguish the difference between an abstract understanding of a system, presumed cause and effect, and an actualized system that has been engaged, especially in the field of game design.

In the digital realm this asks us to examine the relationship between computation and the user, to examine our understanding of the space of play, and to perhaps rethink what a designer actually creates. Some people making games are doing really interesting work in this area. The Copenhagen Game Collective's great game B. The space of play is radically expanded, rules are opaque rather than transparent, and the value of the game seems to reside in the liminality of computation and performance. Then again, board games seem to have done this sort of thing for a long time.

Are video games actually so radically different? I'm reluctant to submit to "platform studies. Jason: If a rule is a non-thing until enacted, can we talk about potential rules? Or our understanding of the rules we would follow, if we were to play a particular game? It seems logical to say that a rule of football any kind is that players must not step out-of-bounds, or at least there is a consequence for doing so.

If I am not playing football right now, is this still a rule? The dichotomy is akin to the difference between a note as indicated on sheet music and as performed in some fashion. Not being one myself, I would imagine that most musicians recognize there is a difference between a written note representing a perfect instantiation of a given tone, and the subtleties of that same note performed.

I am currently unsure of to what extent this dichotomy has been theorized, but it seems to me to be a promising and relevant parallel. Another entry point into the vagaries of "rule" is to ask of a non-digital game or sport, Is a given rule a do or a do not? For example, in football the rule could be "always stay in-bounds" or "do not step out-of-bounds.

But some rules are not susceptible to negation. In baseball you must hit the ball with a bat, in hockey you cannot throw the puck into the net, and so on. Once again video games are not susceptible to these tricks of language, as the rules are hard-coded. Perhaps the un-debatable nature of video game rules is where the idea of "rules-as-designed-things" comes from. Abe: At the risk of positioning myself lest I be accused of being a social constructionist, I think that rules, hard-coded or not, necessarily depend on the society that adopts and engage them, even in the case of a video game systems.

One of my favorite things to watch is when Matt the lead designer at our lab plays a game for the first time. He is always looking for ways to "break" the game - immediately pushing on the boundaries of the game's affordances to find "something else to do. He may fall into patterns eventually, but he is first exploring the vocabulary and grammar of the system and finding ways to "play" with it. He creates a network between himself and the game as code, platform, text and context , through play, that defines the game as played. Even a game that has minimal coded affordances can invite creative play.

Again, this is one reason why I think B. It calls the relationship between player and game to our attention. That musical note comparison is very interesting. What does that written note really represent? If I am playing the score on a piano tuned a half step down, am I expressing the same piece of music? Do the relationships between the notes matter more than the relationship between the written note and its physical manifestation?

What role does the listener have in this mode of communication? Something tells me we are having a discussion that is part of a larger philosophical discourse that extends far beyond just game studies. I only wish I could somehow know it all, making my writing more thorough.

Jason: I also think it's problematic to throw-out the role of the video game designer entirely. Playing against the rules of the game to see what works and what does not is certainly possible, but it only functions in the context of the system's affordances.

Everything you can choose to do is in some way enabled by the code running the game. Certainly unexpected and unplanned behavior crops up, allowing the player to do things the designers never intended, but this is still a result of how the system functions. One thing that continually returns to mind here is the MDA framework, which posits a high degree of designer control over player behavior.

That such control is possible becomes apparent in very simple video games, such as Don't Shoot The Puppy. Here the player only has two possible actions: move the mouse thereby shooting the puppy , or do not move the mouse. In the context of the game, the designers have a high degree of control over my actions simply because they have not given me many choices.

Video games are deterministic in a way that other, non-digital games are not. I do agree with you in that this is clearly part of a larger discourse that neither of us are particularly well-versed in at the moment. However, these are important questions to ask, especially when working in an environment that privileges the designer by default. Furthermore, this line of thinking reveals some of the problems with lumping all game-like activities under one banner.

Clearly video games, sports and board games have a lot in common, but they are also clearly different, and there is room in game studies for more nuanced inquiries into all of them. This is an antapologia for Brian Moriarty. Antapologia is greek for a formal counter argument to an apologia , which is greek for a formal defense. At GDC last March Brian Moriarty delivered an impassioned, and now infamous defense of Roger Ebert's even more infamous claim that video games are not, and could never be, art.

Moriarty built a somewhat circuitous and dare I say specious argument that drew many cheers and contrarily much ire from the game development and game studies community. He invoked philosophy and faith, Shoepenhauer and Dylan Bob , to argue that with the exercise of free will exhibited by players engaged in play "sublime art" is necessarily precluded. I will resist the urge to poke at his house of cards.

I will not, in this letter, suggest that he engaged in "pretentious rhetoric" to the point of philosophical obfuscation. I will not argue that he unabashedly rejected wholesale the last years of philosophical discourse about art, intertextuality, mass media, and the collapsed distinction between high and low culture. I will not intimate that in mocking Duchamp, declaring The Fountain to be nothing more than a piss pot, he unwittingly stumbled into Duchamp's magical urinal, reiterating for the entire audience, the artist's brilliant statement.

No, if you want to read the myriad ways his argument has been dissected and scrutinized, read twitter transcripts. Better yet, read his apology yourself and make up your own mind. I am far more concerned with how Professor Moriarty framed his argument. I am disturbed by the distorted lens through which he is looking at games, and I am noticing that his vantage is shared by many in the game community. I cheekily call it object orientation, with the full pun intended. Game designers have become obsessed with the artifacts of their supposed creation.

I blame digital games. Games have become commodities, not as constrained performances, rather as obscured or even invisible systems, executed by machines, and operated upon by players. Best Buy, Amazon and Game Stop sell them to us as disks and cartridges or even downloaded software, and we engage them on a superficial interface level while far more complex rules and operations act as the Wizard to our conference with the great and powerful Oz.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the explosion of interactive possibility afforded by computation. However, I am concerned that our understanding of what a game is and is not has been distorted by an obsession with the "game" as object or artifact, rather than the game as performance. I know, by heart, the rules of chess, and I buy chess sets as a matter of convenience, not necessity. One can play chess with almost anything so long as the parties involved agree upon the signification of the play objects and the space.

I dare not even attempt to count the number of times I've played soccer with t-shirts for goals, baseball with a stick and rock, or even charades with nothing but the people with whom I shared some space. Games are not the objects that afford their engagement, they are defined by the engagement itself. A game not played is no game at all. Software does not a game make. Moriarty spent nearly 7, words pontificating on the lack of expressiveness in video games.

He argued about the imagery, and the sound, and even waxed philosophically about engagement and interactivity, choice and will. All the while he ignored the most expressive act of the medium, that which defines it, which is the playing itself. Moriarty said "I'm here because of this sentence: 'No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. Was Mikhail Baryshnikov not an artist? Is the choreographer of a dance the only artist to whom we owe appreciation for the performance?

What about those engaging in the act itself? Does Moriarty look at the score for Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen , without listening to it, and in reading the notation unperformed experience a "still evocation of the inexpressible? The art of dance and music and theater is performance.

Sure society has established conventions by which we value and measure that performance, which subsequently gives value to the rules or constraints by which the performance is enacted sound familiar. However, the act of engaging, of playing, that willful and practiced activity is, in fact, the dynamic evocation of the sublime expressed. For many who make and study games, the artifact of the creation is the essential component to their livelihood.

I understand why, especially in our exceedingly commercial and material culture, we want to value the object in hand, and deify its supposed "creators. Rules unrealized are not enforced, and cease to exist. Systems uninitiated are chaotic non-things. Designers have grown attached to the perception that they are creators of artifacts.

In truth the act of game design is more like composing a musical score or choreographing a dance; the "object" of the creation is not fully realized until it is engaged through performance. This post can also be read at Abe's blog, A Simpler Creature. Playing Pilotwings Resort this past week has reminded me why I love flying games so much The flying games I love are the ones that strip away all that techno-fetishistic noise and just let you feel how amazing it is to actually fly.

Sky Odyssey is one of the most exciting games I've ever played - a superb action game. It also has a oddly spiritual dimension, a thick sense of human smallness at the edge of an expansive Unknown. It is not, in this sense, unlike two of my other favorite games: Demon's Souls and Shadow of the Colossus , both games that achieve a phenomenal sense of scale and use it to evoke the sublime. The developers of Sky Odyssey do everything in their power to try and convince you that nothing could be more exciting than flying.

They even concoct an elaborate framing narrative to justify their whimsy, something about the last unexplored island on Earth in the twilight of aviation's golden age, when at least in the minds of Sky Odyssey 's makers there were still some legitimate mysteries left on this planet I am thinking of the moment when, after being separated from his friends in battle, the protagonist encounters them again above the clouds only to realize they didn't survive after all, but are in fact spirits ascending - still in their planes - to join the rest of the dead in heaven.

Aviation as a concept holds the promise of transcendence, of somehow being able to reach heaven through creative use of technology. Those who know me know I like Kubrick, so take this as you will, but I can't help but think "Sky Odyssey" might be a riff on "Space Odyssey". The desire for spiritual transcendence, to commune with forces we don't understand, seems to be a hard-wired human need. Secular attempts to grapple with this, I suppose because of my own atheism, feel a lot more interesting than religious ones In a chapter on games and cultural rhetoric, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman write about the symbolism and cultural significance of soccer.

They posit "Soccer, like all games, embodies cultural meaning. They continue:. Religion scholars and social anthropologists conceive of religious ritual in a similar way. While necessarily specific to the cultures and communities that practice them, rituals are meaningful, often symbolic activities that reflect and inform the values and ideologies of the community of practitioners. Religious rituals apply dogma to practice, often instantiating abstract principles or ideas in objects or actions.

Rituals serve as portals to the divine, experiential access points rife with meaning.

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Without delving into the complexities of sacrality, and acknowledging that there are myriad nuances to religious life that invite the separation of sacred ritual from profane experience, for the sake of this piece I would like to accept that religious ritual and sport have similarities in the domain of cultural rhetoric and meaning making.

I consider baseball as I consume it. More so as spectator than player, I am, from April to October, immersed in the culture and experiences of Major League Baseball proper and the game of baseball in general. Working in the field of game studies, it is no surprise then that I am often wondering about the game I love so much, questioning how its formal properties and context inform the game as such.

Recently I have been interested in how repeated failure in the game of baseball, established through the formal properties of the game and understood by a community of parishioners, invigorates a common Western rhetoric of redemption. Additionally, we might ask how a community of baseball understands this redemption theology through the ritualistic performance of the game played. Baseball is a game composed largely of failure.

Ted Williams had the most successful hitting season in the games history batting. Christy Matthewson, one of the greatest pitchers ever still allowed 2. These players were exceptional. In all the pitchers in Major League baseball averaged 4. Naturally the sophistication of the game allows for degrees of success even in these failures. It is understood, however, that the game of baseball is very hard to play. The rules of baseball mandate repetitive failure.

Largely a defensive game, each at bat has nine players on one team working together to stop one player from succeeding in scoring, by controlling a small ball in a very large field of play. Even in the repeated one on one conflict, pitchers hold a tremendous advantage over the batter. Only in baseball does the defensive player control the ball, and therefor has the advantage of knowing what they are going to attempt to throw as a pitch. Only the defense may handle the ball, the offense forced to attempt a crude bludgeoning of it with a club. The violent nature of offense in baseball demands further investigation, but for our sakes here it is enough to recognize that to win one must score runs, and to score runs one must overcome severely difficult circumstances and repeated failure.

Out of constant failure emerged a rhetoric of redemption in baseball. Baseball is a game of second, and third and fourth chances. Many of the mythologized histories in the American game are about redemption. Take for example the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 's and 's. Known for their vociferous and loyal fans, the Dodgers won five pennants from , only to lose in each World Series to the dominant, Bronx based New York Yankees. The slogan "Wait 'til next year!

Similar circumstances emerged in cities all over America where teams suffer droughts and unique patterns of failure: Boston's curse , Chicago's goat , The Curse of Captain Grant , all circumstances and mythologies that created communal bonds in misery and in the promise of redemption. Baseball players invoke this promise regularly, eagerly anticipating the next opportunity even as the stale wind of a strike out silences a crowd.

Baseball players are taught to yearn for those redemptive moments, to strive for them as a road map to excellence. To succeed in baseball, you must fail often, for all do. You must be ready for the next chance, for the shot at redemption and salvation. Notions of atonement, baptism, repentance, salvation, sacraments, and Christ's salvific grace helped shaped the course of Western religion and culture for millennia. The values emerging from these rich religious histories permeate America's dominant cultural rhetoric, even as the country expands, and populates, absorbing more diverse cultures and heritages.

Redemption is a core value in American culture, and the foundation of a common meta-narrative of achievement in the face of adversity. Americans esteem achievement in the face of adversity in the highest light, regarding such narratives as more valuable than success through support, or out of luxury. It would be no great leap to suggest that a long history of redemption narratives in Western culture has effected the creation and culture around the game of baseball. It would seem too that baseball's unique resonance in American culture may in fact be connected to the thematic symbolism of its play.

Sure other countries in Asia and Latin America have embraced the sport in their own way, however their cultural relationship to the game is different that that in America. Though perhaps no longer the most popular, baseball remains America's past-time; a ritualistic performance that permeates and tints the very fabric of the nation's cultural narrative. If you want to know, go ahead and ask me. One of game studies' fundamental gaps is the lack of a solid theory of meaning. That is, how games can mean, represent, signify, etc.

However, as this post aims to demonstrate, this definition of "game" is both fundamentally flawed and illustrates the kinds of problems that arise because we do not understand how games can mean. McGonigal cites several examples of games that fit this definition, notably golf which is one of Suits' examples. Indeed, sports seem to fit Suits' definition extremely well, as every sport I can think of is about adhering to arbitrary rules in order to accomplish some ordinary feat.

In golf the unnecessary obstacles are the various rules that prevent us from merely walking to the green and dropping the ball into the hole. Similarly, ice hockey would be much easier if players could pick up the puck and throw it into the net. Everyone would be an expert player of darts if they were allowed to walk up to the board and simply push their darts into the sixty-point segment. In these cases it is true that players are choosing to try and overcome obstacles that seem quite unnecessary, if your goal really is to arrange particular objects in a particular state.

However, this definition does not make much sense when we apply it outside of sports. While McGonigal makes an effective argument for its application to Scrabble, I would like to apply Suits' definition to Monopoly. In Monopoly the goal is to be the last player in the game, which happens when you have money and your opponents do not. The necessary question that arises here is: what does it mean to "have money?

One answer might be location: players typically signify their possession of game money by placing paper slips in front of themselves. Seen through the lens of Suits' definition, one might argue that the goal of Monopoly is to place the paper money in front of yourself, while preventing others from doing so; the "unnecessary obstacle" in this case is the game itself, the processes one must undertake before being "allowed" to put the money in front of oneself.

I hope I am not alone in finding this phrasing deeply unsatisfying. When explaining Monopoly to a new player, would you ever tell them that the goal is to put the money in front of yourself? Rather, the goal is a particular configuration of the game state.

The physical aspects of Monopoly--the board, pieces, money--are mnemonic devices that allow players to keep track of the state. To "have money" in Monopoly is not to position it in a certain way like positioning a golf ball , but rather to perform a series of processes that then give meaning to the money and define its state.

These processes create the meaning of the money. Without them, Monopoly money really is just slips of paper; its physical location is meaningless. Thus the game is the opposite of "unnecessary:" it is entirely necessary in creating the meaning required to satisfy the goal. Without the game the money has no meaning. I would argue, then, that in this sense games are not obstacles at all. The OED defines an obstacle as "something that stands in the way or that obstructs progress; a hindrance, impediment, or obstruction.

Without the game that goal does not exist and cannot be fulfilled. As an analogy, games can be thought of as modern, highly technical modes of transportation, such as a car. Cars, like games, are complex to operate and handle. They require some degree of learning before they can be used effectively. However, they are often necessary to reach our destination goal. It makes little sense to refer to a car as an obstacle when we so often depend on it to reach an end state.

The car, like the game, is needed to reach the goal. If we think in terms of the goal, as both Suits and McGonigal do, then the game is the opposite of an unnecessary obstacle. Persepolis , a touching and complicated personal account of the Iranian Revolution, is closer to what I wanted to see in a game that dealt with such potent concepts. Just Cause , while fun, was - like GTA - a joke when it came to addressing the topics it raised. Four years later it seems like someone is trying to make my dream come true Given my sour stance on Rockstar I find their use of irony more evasive than genuine, rendering their supposed "social commentary" insincere in most cases.

Yet I have to admit It's interesting what he says about fiction versus non-fiction. I don't agree with what he says. The mercurial relationship between fact and fiction is not so simple. Myth shapes reality and reality shapes myth. I don't believe that labeling something 'fiction' is a free ticket out of treating social, political, or whatever content with subtlety or complexity.

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