More's Island of Utopia

"Lines on the Island of Utopia by the Poet Laureate, Mr Windbag Nonsenso's siter's son:

NO PLACIA was once my name,
That is, a place where no one goes.
Plato's Republic now I claim
To match, or beat at its own game;
For that was just a myth in prose,
But what he wrote of, I became,
Of men, wealth, laws a solid frame,
A place where every wise man goes:
GOPLACIA is now my name."
Thomas More, 1516.

Thomas More. trans. Paul Turner(1965)2003. Utopia, London: Penguin.

Do you want people to find Utopia through your game?

Some Rantings...

from wikipedia

The term utopia was coined by Sir Thomas More as the name of an imaginary, idealistic island where society lives in harmony with government and all men are free from poverty, tyranny and war in his Latin book De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia (circa 1516), now known more commonly as Utopia.

most games don't present utopia-they present a dystopia mainly, somewhere contestation can foster plot, narrative and saleable game mechanics


somewhere where utopia must be maintained...simcity and other god games

utopia is a damn boring gameworld- maybe that's why we don't see that many....maybe the Sims?

even the online rpg 'utopia' has regular wars

even 'second life''s utopian gameworld is capitalist and negates More's notions -the have's and have nots still exist..definitions of utopia i think have mutated since..

i suggest games have levels of 'utopia'-internalised plot and therefore facilitators of game mechanics

or.. a meta-utopia (maybe not the correct term!!); is actually willingly engaging in a play-world an utopian act
have a look at this..

anyway just ranting aimlessly...

Utopia = war

"Where society lives in harmony with government and all men are free from poverty, tyranny and war" sounds like something from a Bush speech to me and thus not at all at odds with most videogames (once referred to as "CNN games" by Julian Oliver). A large chunk of the games that take place in dystopia do so only to motivate the violence that is supposedly required to achieve utopia. As such they confirm the apparently common consensus that war is considered these days as a justified means to achieve peace (and freedom and all the other humanist ideals).
It is no surprise that games as an art form that for the most part refuses to accept authorship as a responsibility, perhaps without knowing it, serve to sustain the policy of the governments of the places they are created in. Utopia is one of the ideas used by war mongers to justify their violence.

utopia=war? a gamers perspective


A large chunk of the games that take place in dystopia do so only to motivate the violence that is supposedly required to achieve utopia. As such they confirm the apparently common consensus that war is considered these days as a justified means to achieve peace (and freedom and all the other humanist ideals).


i think in terms of gaming there is much discourse about wargaming but not so much about the contestational nature of most 2player and multiplayer games regardless of whether they are digital or not

many videogame narratives(i use the word guardedly-many narratives are purely scene setting) are wargame like - i personally have problems with many real-world war game stuff and feel more comfortable with scenarios that offer something other than this

let me explain...

there's nothing more enjoyable than a bout of fragging within whatever cathartic, visceral multiplayer first person shooter after a particularly bad day at work


i think most gamers are far more sophisticated, they can see thru' the militaristic connotations of whatever WW2 or near future or sci-fi wargame and are more interested in whether the game mechanics work and present an enjoyable gaming experience

sure, i've played America's Army and absultely deplored it's raison d'etre as a recruitment tool-it's not a bad game tho' (not brilliant either, actually it's a bit crap really) i'ts also interesting that people like T.L Taylor have d

iscussed the online forum community surrounding America's Army and she noted the amount of people using these forums as a form of post traumatic therapy!

i think gaming critique needs to avoid or go beyond the notion that all gaming and therefore all gamers are gun-nut idiots and concentrate on why contestational game modes are incredibly alluring

and this ain't just a guy thing either.. i know of several girl gamers (horrible phrase) who have completed some of the most visceral and violent single player games available..not because of any affiliation with the subject matter but because the game mechanics are rewarding and satisfying

ok you are right tho' most of these games narratives (if they have any at all) are variations on the hero's journey but with John Woo somewhere in there but cinema does the same without (possibly the backlash)...maybe violent cinema redeems itself in it's narratives, whilst gaming's narrative by mainly being scene setting washes it's hands of responsibility-i'm talking now about narrative based single player games as opposed to contestational multiplayer stuff here which could be considered as fostering a militaristic mentality but again it's still about fun-agreed desensitisation comes into the argument but after 25 years of gaming i'm still a pacifist

most games have a sub Steven Segal plotline..

i'm prepared for some flaming




I understand that many people (and forgive me, but most of them are young males) are attracted to contestational games. I find these pretty pathetic because they seem to go back to very deep and primitive things in our species that I would hope society could overcome. I mean: when it rains, we use an umbrella, right?

Anyway, I think war games like chess and other more abstractly designed games represent this contestational form of gaming much better. So if these mechanics are all that gamers are interested in, why do they play First Person Shooters at all? The only answer is that they like the dressing up. That they like the feeling of a gun in their hands and the sound it makes when it goes off and the sight of a head exploding when it receives one of their bullets. In and of itself this, while positively primitive, is not harmful, I guess, but I do think that it makes people more used to violence. And when such games coincide with a permissiveness towards violence on a higher level (most notably in contemporary politics), then it should come as no surprise that kids kill other kids to steal their MP3 players and that wife-beating is on the rise again. I'm not blaming games alone. Far from it. But violent games should be accompanied by a strong taboo against violence outside of the game. And currently I'm afraid such a taboo does not exist. Violent games can only be allowed in a civilized world. And I'm afraid we currently don't live in one.

reply : contestation

agreed...sort of...

however we cannot look at all gaming in this manner...

let's consider other game genres such as Animal crossing, harvest moon, spore, the sims, i'm deliberately ignoring online stuff-not sure why, the currently in development 'a force more powerfull' non-violent real time strategy game..
and other indie works...cloud, facade, and your own projects

considerating the point about abstract contestational games; abstractly designed games can sometimes be toooo abstract to engage with (fun!)...interestingly, i have known some very strange people who have used the more abstract strategy games as an outlet for some very disturbing megalomaniacal tendencies---role play is fun

is the level of distatefull agression and potential wife beating more inherent in Metroid prime or Call of Duty.... super smash bros melee or tekken...Americas Army or the utterly reprehensible Kuma War...battlefield 1942 or Unreal Tournament?

does scenario change anything? sure does methinks so ,as you have suggested..BUT a bad game is a bad game whatever. Super Paintball shooter (a game with a similar title does exist) wasn't very good, Whereas medal of Honour was; as was an old snowball fighting mod for unreal tournament a few years back

actually here's a point...the ratio of world war 2 first person shooters to contemporary is definitely in favour of the historically set-at least in my collection and commercially a year ago at least.do gamers find contemporary settings distasteful? (i do!)

we've all played quake and doom and it annoys me (this isn't directed at anyone) that this seems to be the total level of engagement that many have with gaming (oh yeah and Myst and Tomb Raider!)i know very little about Country and Western music so will never write an essay about it ;-) some of the above is hinted at in one of your other posts in another thread (Michael Samyn)that the media and politocos vilify gaming whilst academics sanction and support it for maybe the wrong reasons-how many of these guys/gals actually know about games. reminds me of a certain British politocos recent question in commons about age restrictions on gaming even though there have been voluntary age restrictions put in place by the industry for over 4 years

some people still watch boxing, rugby, ice hockey

Oldboy is a fantastic movie but also incredibly brutally violent..remember the 80's video nasties stuff?

i think the issue is a little more complicated...check out Raph Kosters 'theory of fun' for an easy bedtime read..it doesn't enter into the sociological and political issues however

just some stream of consciousness

btw very much enjoyed abiogenesis!