Mizuko Ito's response (excerpt)

Mizuko Ito's response (excerpt)

2004-01-10

Asymmetries between event time and play time interest Mizuko Ito, who asks “How do you answer the door to get a pizza to nourish your flesh-and-blood body when you are in the middle of life and death online combat?”

The question of representational realism and fidelity in the case of time is particularly intriguing. What are the trade-offs for particular game genres? In the case of objects, people, and places, certain game genres demand higher degrees of realism with regard to real life, such as flight and sport simulations, but most games take advantage of the opportunity for fantasy characters, settings, and physics. In the case of time, pauses, warps, and replays are all player-accessible technical capabilities. Current game design seems to support these options for time play at the expense of temporal realism and consistency in part to manage the balance between flow and dead time that Juul points out, but also to coordinate between real life rhythms and play time.

This leads to another intriguing question embedded in the essay. Given fantasy time and time play as a parallel to fantasy worlds and identity play, how do we coordinate between real and virtual time? When players are essentially in two places at the same time, as two different personas, and in two different points in time, something has to give. Event and play time ideally track along the neat railroad diagrams in Juul’s paper, as player and software engage in coordinated exchanges, but in reality, the contingencies of our real lives constantly intrude and put brakes on our play time. How do you answer the door to get a pizza to nourish your flesh-and-blood body when you are in the middle of life and death online combat? If your opponent is a home computer, you probably have the luxury of freezing both event and play time, but if you are playing an online multi-user game, event time marches relentlessly on unless you can somehow convince your opponent to take into account your real-life circumstances.

Jesper Juul Responds