Modern video games are a superior storytelling medium to books, cinema, and the spoken word.
Debate Rounds (5)
My Position: Pro
1. "video games": This term is used in its traditionally understood context and, for purposes of this debate, refers to the electronic games that operate on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
2. "superior storytelling medium": The goals of a storytelling medium are below. My assertion is that video games accomplish these goals more effectively than the other listed mediums.
to engage the user
to convey a narrative structure
to teach the user a moral or lesson
to impart information to the user
1. Please avoid professional debate terminology.
2. Please avoid semantic arguments.
3. Issues of accessibility, cost, and resource requirements are irrelevant. The argument assumes that potential users have equal choice as to which medium to select.
4. Please understand that this is my first debate on this site and be willing to provide me with guidance if I violate any community standards or procedures during this debate.
5. The final round is for summation and no new arguments should be proposed.
6. I will bear the burden of proof.
Round 1: Acceptance & Opportunity for Opponent to ask Clarifying Questions
Round 2: Initial Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals
Round 5: Restatement of Primary Arguments / No New Arguments
This is also one of my first debates, so I wish you luck! Lets begin!
The highly interactive nature of video games cannot be effectively duplicated by books, cinema, or the spoken word and, because research shows that humans learn most effectively by doing, video games are more capable of creating engaging environments that draw users into a continuing narrative structure while simultaneously imparting information that will be retained over the long term.
1. How People Learn: (see statistics on adult retention at the bottom) http://www.extension.umn.edu...
Research indicates that human beings learn and retain information most effectively when they combine all of the available modes of learning. These are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Video games are the only one of the four mediums under discussion that combines all three of these components. In fact, the advent of motion based input systems for modern game consoles has vastly increased the kinesthetic potential for video games. Books and movies combine visual and auditory learning modes but lack any kinesthetic component. The spoken word offers only auditory input to the user. Therefore, research supports the proposition that video games are superior learning tools to the other narrative mediums in this dispute.
This status as superior learning tools shows the reasons that video games are more successful at accomplishing three of the four defined goals of a narrative medium. First, video games more effectively engage the user because, by combining all three types of learning, all possible users are able to experience the narrative in their preferred format. Second, video games are more successful at imparting a moral or lesson because the user will retain the moral or lesson far more effectively than with other mediums. Finally and for the same reasons, video games are more effective at imparting general information to their users.
The scope of modern video games cannot be effectively replicated by books, cinema, or the spoken word and this scope creates an environment that increases user engagement by allowing the user to easily regulate how much information they receive.
1. Large Video Game Worlds: (click on the jpeg)
2. Length of Fallout 3:
Many of the most successful modern video games create massive game worlds that encompass literally miles of territory, hundreds of characters, and thousands of possible events. However, these massive worlds also retain their clear narrative structure. For example, Fallout 3 can take dozens upon dozens of hours to complete if you do everything. This approach will produce a deep understanding of the background of the Fallout 3 world, its characters, and the events that occur in it. Alternatively, the main narrative can be completed (and clearly comprehended) easily in a fraction of that time. The end result of this process is that the user can intensely experience a video game world and its narrative in whatever level of detail most effectively maintains their engagement. This variable scope is something that books, cinema, and the spoken word cannot easily replicate. First, it would be almost impossible for any of these other mediums to convey a world that is literally hundreds of miles wide in the detail that video games can. The resulting product would become so unwieldy as to be useless. Additionally, the narrative structure of any book, movie, or oral story that attempted to convey a world in equal scope to that offered by a video game would almost certainly lose its narrative core because the user could not easily select to ignore the additional content and proceed directly to the critical narrative points. Second, even if it is argued that books, cinema, and speech can be created in varying formats that the user can select in order to determine the level of detail they desire, this is still inferior to a video game which requires only one format to accomplish this same level of engagement.
Video games are more effective at accomplishing the accepted methods of creating engaging narrative worlds.
1. Creating a Realistic Fantasy World:
A comprehensive and engaging world is created by (1) Defining the Physical World (2) Defining the Rules of [the World] and (3) Defining a Consistent Reality. Video games by their very nature accomplish all three of these tasks because they have computer driven engines that teach define the world, the rules of the world, and keep the worlds reality consistent. While the other available mediums can accomplish these three tasks in much more indirect and less effective ways, the ease with which modern video games can do so makes it far easier for them to create the engaging narrative worlds that maintain audience attention.
Because video games can vary their responses to the actions of the user, they are more effective at producing engagement and teaching a moral lesson.
1. Video Games, Reinforcement, & Learning:
2. Video Game Addiction:
A basic understanding or human psychology indicates that people learn very effectively through various manners of reinforcement. Video games are the only one of the four mediums under discussion that can easily vary reinforcement to user actions. Because of this, they are much more effective at both maintaining engagement and teaching a moral.
The recent surge of concern regarding video game addition is a strong indication of this truth. This addictive quality is directly related to the ability of video games to adjust narrative outcomes to the actions of the user. It is exceedingly rare to hear anyone discuss the dangers of becoming addicted to books, movies, or listening to stories. In contrast, cases of video game users dying from over-engagement are becoming more and more frequent. While I obviously do not argue that this trait is a positive for video games, I do assert that it is clear proof of the greater ability of video games to create user engagement, one of the fundamental purposes of a narrative in this debate.
Additionally, the fact that video games can change their structure to respond to user actions makes them more effective for teaching a moral. At best, books, movies, and the spoken word can simulate negative impacts on the user. In contrast, video games can actually create such negative impacts. Instead, of simply telling pirates that their actions are bad or could have negative consequences (as other mediums are limited to doing), a video game like Earthbound can actually use strong, selective negative reinforcement to teach this moral. The video game Earthbound is a perfect example. If this SNES game was pirated, then the game actively changed itself to teach the user that such actions can harm them. At its most extreme, the game deleted the players save file right before the ultimate climax of the game. This costs the pirate literally dozens of hours of work and, given the level of affinity that gamers feel for their games, is a harsh penalty much more effective for teaching the moral lesson that piracy is bad than could be accomplished by any other medium.
Conclusion: For each of the above reasons, video games are more effective at accomplishing the goals of a narrative medium as defined for this debate and the resolution is affirmed.
My argument is rather simple. Many video games, if not most, the game-play is made more important then that of story telling. Many games that are out don't even have a plot!
As Pro says, video games tend to be more interactive, and one could learn easier by doing interactive things over not.
My argument against this is that, studies show that interactive teachings do work better then non-interactive ones. But people tend to play games for the fun of it, many people, if not most, don't even put a thought forth into the plot. They tend to be more mesmerized by the game-play and 'fun' aspects. Due to this the plot isn't nearly as easily seen by the 'gamers' in comparison to those who were to read a book or watch a movie.
In books or movies, the plot is practically the main thing that you're reading or watching it to see. The 'story telling' in it is made to be somewhat obvious and 'high tech' (foreshadowing, ect) Certainly more then games make it anyway.
Video games may be the only thing that uses all of the possible learning methods in this discussion, but as I said before, it doesn't matter if one aspect greatly outshines the others.
Pro states that with video games one can retain the 'moral lesson' easier, I'll keep the same argument to go against that.
The only difference between this 'scope' the Pro talks about in his 2nd assertion, is that you'd generally be playing in a first person view. In my opinion that doesn't give video games an advantage in this topic. Video games have their way to show the scene and story, but so do books, movies, ect. I also want to state that books, and especially movies are better at expressing emotion then video games, which in a way can help them with their story telling. If you can empathize with the characters then you can have a much deeper understanding of what they do.
Pro in his 3rd assertion goes into how video games define... everything pretty much. But again, I think that books and movies generally are equal in this way, if not better. They do it in a different way, but generally they put more detail and information into it, so in that way I see them as superior.
In his 4th assertion he goes into how video games, in a scene, has different timelines (Using my own words, so hopefully I don't confuse you.) I say different timelines because you can pick a story by doing something in particular in your game and it would take you down one of a few story lines, or timelines. That's just an advantage of the 'first person view' type of thing that video games tend to give you. For one, it doesn't improve how they 'tell the story' it just give you more options. Secondly, books and movies just tend to have a different type of narrative, and that in no way makes them inferior, it just attracts a different audience perhaps.
Pro makes the argument that that people don't tend to get addicted to things like books and movies, in comparison to video games. For one it doesn't support the topic of this debate. Two they're addicted to the game-play generally. A example 'MW3' Most people play the campaign once or twice, but then they generally play 10 times that time online. That's 100% unrelated to the plot. People play video games for fun, not the plot.
With all of this said I'm comfortable to say that books and movies are not inferior to video games, especially in the 'story telling' aspect, and if anything, they're superior.
1. Con asserts as his primary argument that in "[m]any video games, if not most, the game-play is made more important then that of story telling." This is irrelevant. Even if it is conceded that "game play" is made more important than storytelling, this does not reveal anything about the quality of the storytelling. Worse for Con, game play is how video games tell their narratives. The game play is so critically important because it is the means by which the narrative is related. Con"s statement is essentially the same as saying that books make poor narrative mediums because reading is more important than story telling.
2. Con attempts to assert that many video games do not have a plot. Con provides no source for this claim. I would request that Con provide some evidence for this and counter with the assertion that the overwhelming majority of video games have a plot. In modern games, this plot is more important than ever. See http://www.overthinkingit.com.... Also, I note that "simple plot" is not the same as "no plot" and that even a simple narrative is a narrative.
3. As I understand it, Con"s response to my argument that video game interactivity increases learning is that because people play video games for "fun", they are not as focused on the plot as in a movie or book. Initially, I would cite Con back to the above website which establishes that for modern games much of the enjoyment comes from plot. Second, I would point out that under the debate definitions, one of the goals of a narrative medium is to produce engagement. Con admits that video game users are "mesmerized" by game play. Again, I point out that game play is the method that video games use to tell their narrative. It is therefore good that users are "mesmerized" by it. Effectively, Con admits that users play video games because those games are highly engaging. I fail to see how this is a refutation of my argument given that such engagement is an agreed goal of a narrative medium.
4. Con concedes that video games are the only narrative medium that uses all modes of human learning. I reassert that research indicates this makes them more effective at the last two defined goals of a narrative medium. I cite to my evidence in the prior round.
5. Con argues that the story telling of movies and books is more "high tech" because it uses things such as foreshadowing. Con offers no evidence for this assertion and I would ask him to do so. I also point out that modern games employ literary devices regularly. See http://tvtropes.org...
6. I apologize to Con but I do not understand his argument against why video games are more effective at getting users to retain moral lessons. I would ask that Con restate this argument.
7. Con seems to misunderstand my argument regarding video game scope. The issue is not that games are "first person". The issue is that modern video games create worlds far more massive and detailed than books, movies, or speech can match. Then, video games allow users to experience this world as deeply as they desire. This increases engagement and narrative understanding by allowing the user to get as much narrative detail as they desire without becoming bored.
8. Con asserts that movies and books are better at expressing emotion and that this creates a deeper understanding of character motivation. First, I deny Con"s assertion that movies and books express emotion more effectively. Con offers no evidence for this assertion. In contrast, I cite the following study that shows how modern games are using characters as narrative devices that create both emotional responses and enhance the narrative experience. See http://www.eludamos.org....
Furthermore, I would respond to Con"s argument by pointing out that video game users usually take on the role of protagonist. The decisions they make in the game are motivated by their own emotions. At least for the protagonist, users have a far greater understanding of character motivation than any other medium can provide. For support, I cite and quote the following study. "In general, players tended to make "moral" decisions and to treat game characters as though they were actual people. . . . These findings indicate how real the virtual world can become when one suspends disbelief and immerses oneself in the scenario." See http://www.liebertpub.com...
9. My 3rd assertion was that video games more effectively create fantasy worlds because their electronic engines allow them to quickly and easily define the world. Con, citing to no evidence, simply says that he disagrees. In a video game, if a user wants to know if something can be done, he attempts that action and will thus know the parameters of the fictional world. In all other mediums, the rules and definitions of the fantasy realm must be explained through clumsy exposition or, at best, demonstration. Thus, video games create more engaging fantasy worlds (per my evidence cited in the prior round) and, since engagement is one of the defined goals of a narrative medium, video games are better narrative mediums.
Furthermore, Con asserts that books and movies are more "detailed" than video games. This claim is demonstrably false. An examination of my prior cited evidence shows that many video games recreate worlds hundreds of square miles in size, down to the tiniest details. A book, movie, or oral narrative attempting to describe an area of equal size in similar detail would be almost unimaginably unwieldy.
10. In his paragraph beginning "In his 4th assertion he goes"", Con misstates my 4th assertion. I argue that because video games can vary responses to user input, they can most effectively take advantage of operant conditioning and thereby increase both engagement and lesson retention. I would ask Con"s forgiveness, but I do not see how Con has responded to this argument.
11. I reject Con"s assertion that having "additional options" doesn"t improve the narrative structure. By having different options through that story which can be explored, the user is granted a level of narrative understanding far greater than if forced to simply experience things on a set path. Common sense indicates that when a user can explore multiple options for each choice in a narrative, they come away with a greater understanding of the structure as a whole.
12. Con seems to misunderstand my point about video game addiction. One of the defined purposes of a narrative is to produce engagement. The ultimate form of engagement with something is addiction, the point at which the user becomes so engaged that his physical health become less important than the object to which he is engaged. Since video games are the only one of the four discussed mediums that produce this level of engagement, my argument that they are superior narratives in this regard stands. Con attempts to avoid this argument by asserting that users are addicted to the "game play" but not the story. Once again, game play is the method which video games use to tell their stories. Thus, if users are addicted to game play, they are addicted to receiving additional information, possibilities, abilities, and outcomes flowing from the narrative structure as a whole.
I reassert my contention that modern commercial video games are the superior storytelling medium. I also assert that my citation to evidence (in contrast to Con"s generally unsupported assertions) discharges my burden of proof.
I would like to thank Con for an interesting debate so far. I would also like to inform Con and any other readers that due to real world conflicts, my next argument will not be posted until tomorrow night at the absolute earliest.
The talk about "the same as saying that books make poor narrative mediums because reading is more important than story telling." 1. reading is 100% of the books story line, and everything essentially. This is completely different then video games are. 2. Books and video games can't be compared in that way.
Pro says "Con attempts to assert that many video games do not have a plot." I in no way stated that video games have no plot. There are many video games that don't have a plot, especially among browser games, such as the bloons tower defense games. Or if I were to go into console game, many Wii games such as Super Smash Bro's or Mario Cart, don't really have a plot. I know that major games, especially console games for the PS3 tend to have plots. Although larger games like that are only a small portion of what's out there.
Pro states "much of the enjoyment comes from plot." This is mostly a minority. The majority of gamers are kids younger then 18. Their opinion generally is not heard. Few few people in the majority care all that much about the plot. But those kids generally are not the ones who bother talking about these games or even making halfway decent reviews.
Pro misunderstand my statement that movies and books are more 'high tech', perhaps it was a poor word choice on my part. I guess I'll restate myself. Movies and books solely focus on the plot, generally, where video games tend to cloud the plot with the entertainment value.
Since Con requests a restatement on moral values, I'll do so. I originally didn't bother explaining myself and just said that I'll stay with the same argument from earlier (Game play clouding the actual plot, and in this case, the morals used in the story). I don't see in any way how a video game can express the morals of a story any better then a book or movie.
Pro states "The issue is that modern video games create worlds far more massive and detailed than books, movies, or speech can match." I can argue this. Books describe things, and then the readers mind can easily create this 'world' that's described, since a minds storage can be much, much, greater and detailed then any video game. It also allows the reader to have a bit more freedom to make things realistic in their mind. In a way video games would limit that since you can't make these things in your mind since everything is provided in their own limited graphics.
In your labeled '10.' paragraph you think that I've mistaken your previous 4th assertion, I disagree. I just replaced calling 'user input', with the idea of the different outcome. I was just talking about 'timelines' because all games have a limited amount of timeline, each timeline being made based on what user input is chosen.
Having these additional options does expand the game and as is shown, gives more options. But it doesn't 'improve' anything, although it does give more game play and time to participate.
Many things I didn't bother arguing because I felt that it would be repetitive to go over the same thing when I've already argued similar if not equivalent issues above.
I suppose I'll have to wait for you to come back online again. I'll continue to wish you luck.
I begin by again pointing out that Con has failed to cite any sources in support of his argument. I would note to voters that, should Con now cite to sources, given the rules of this debate, I would have no chance to rebut them because Round 5 is strictly for summation. Having edited and paraphrased Con"s assertions, I offer the following rebuttals"
1. "The majority of video game players don"t play for the story."
I cite Con to my source from my prior argument that rebuts this. I further cite Con to the following evidence. See http://www.gamasutra.com.... Since Con offers only conclusory statements and no evidence, I move on.
2. "Reading is 100% of the of the storyline."
Con confuses the method used to convey a narrative with the medium as a whole. Books accomplish the conveyance of information through written words. Video games do it through game play. Thus, Con"s assertion that people play video games for the game play and not the narrative is like saying people use books to "read" and not to get a narrative. The method of narrative delivery is not at issue. The issue is the overall effectiveness of the narrative conveyed.
3. "I in no way stated that video games have no plot."
I cite Con to his own arguments. "Many games that are out don't even have a plot!" I further cite to his immediately following sentence, "There are many video games that don't have a plot""
Additionally, Con concedes that, "major games, especially console games for the PS3 tend to have plots." I refer Con to the definitions of this debate."[F]or purposes of this debate, [video games] refers to the electronic games that operate on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC." Thus, Con admits that many of the games under discussion in this debate have plots. He refutes his own point.
4. "The majority of gamers are kids younger then 18."
Con offers no evidence here. I cite Con to the following to disprove his assertion. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk....
5. "Movies and books solely focus on the plot, generally, where video games tend to cloud the plot with the entertainment value."
Con cites no evidence for this. First, I would point out that many movies "cloud the plot with entertainment value." Indeed, the defined purposes of a narrative medium includes "producing engagement." This is another way of saying "entertain the user enough that they keep using the medium." Thus, I claim that Con"s argument that videos games provide greater "entertainment value" supports my position. Indeed, it can be easily argued that the central purpose of a narrative medium is to produce entertainment. If a narrative does not entertain, it is difficult for it to accomplish any other purposes because no one will pay attention.
6. "I don't see in any way how a video game can express the morals of a story any better then a book or movie."
I do not argue that video games express a moral better than other mediums. I would assert they do that equally well. I argue, using evidence, that video games create a greater long term retention of the lessons learned through classical operant conditioning. Since the defined purpose of a narrative medium is "to teach the user a moral or lesson", long term retention is far more important. It is commonly accepted that the goal of teaching is retention.
7. "Books describe things, and then the readers mind can easily create this 'world' that's described, since a minds storage can be much, much, greater and detailed then any video game . . . video games would limit that since you can't make these things in your mind . . ."
I cite Con to the following source that establishes that "studies suggest that video games should not be viewed as restrictive but instead as vehicles by which young people can expand and enrich their imaginations as well as their concepts of individuality and their connection with the world. " See http://capping.slis.ualberta.ca.... This refutes his claim that video games restrict imagination.
More importantly, Con misses the forest for the trees. My point is that because video games create more immersive worlds, whether through imagination or by providing specific sensory detail, they are more engaging and more successfully accomplish the defined purposes.
8. "In your labeled '10.' paragraph you think that I've mistaken your previous 4th assertion, I disagree."
I feel that this point has been sufficiently argued. I reassert my prior argument and allow the voters to make their own decision.
9. "Having these additional options . . . doesn't 'improve' anything . . ."
A successful narrative structure increases reader understanding of the story. A narrative is a series of choices by characters as they respond to events. In a movie, book, or spoken narrative, users can, without the medium becoming unwieldy, explore only a few variations of the outcome of character choices (although there is admittedly some inconsequently flex in this area for each medium).
Modern video games, through saving and interactivity, allow users to explore the consequences of various character actions. Therefore, they allow readers to more fully explore the possibilities of a narrative.
Taking note that Con has yet to offer any evidence to support his own positions, I attack the other three mediums to demonstrate their inferiority. I apologize for the exceptionally brief nature of these attacks. The site character limit is a ruthless master.
Video games are more effective than books as narrative mediums because "playing video games requires more involvement and creative input than reading a book or watching a film - and also offers more opportunities to be active and sociable." Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
Due to character count limitations, I cite Con and voters to the following sources that establish modern video games are superior to movies in terms of engagement.
Source #1: http://www.guardian.co.uk...
Source #2: http://unrealitymag.com...
3. Spoken Word
Spoken narratives fail most noticeably at conveying a narrative structure. Because spoken narratives have no permanent form, they are subject to change through each repetition. Thus, they have no consistent narrative structure and change too often to effectively be relied upon to accomplish any of the primary goals of a narrative medium over the long-term. In contrast, video games have an almost unchanging narrative structure.
Source: http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk.... "Oral history brings with it its own challenges. Although we had access to those who had experienced events at first hand, there is no guarantee that their version of events is accurate. On two occasions, it became clear that a subject was trying to mislead us about what happened."
Finally, I cite the following as support for my OVERALL argument and to discharge my burden.
"What"s more, experts say, serious games and virtual environments may be the future of education. Not only do students find gaming more approachable and engaging than lectures and PowerPoint presentations, they insist on them. Simulations also provide a more inviting and lifelike context in which to make choices, see results, and apply learning in real-time."
AREKKUSU forfeited this round.
Per the rules of the debate, I offer no new arguments or evidence in this round and instead restate the primary arguments I have advanced.
First, I note that, to discharge my burden of proof, I have cited 18 separate sources. Con has refuted none of these sources. Indeed, he has ignored them.
Second, without re-citing to the above mentioned authorities, I summarize my arguments, briefly, as follows.
1. Video games more effectively employ the three established modes of learning and are thus more engaging, create longer retention of information and moral lessons, and convey a narrative structure. Thus, under the definitions of this debate, video games are superior narrative mediums.
2. The interactive nature of video games allow them to achieve a scope and level of detail that cannot be matched by the other mediums without the other mediums becoming unwieldy and ineffective. This increased scope and level of detail directly and logically contribute to the ability of video games to more effectively accomplish the goals of a narrative medium as defined in this debate.
3. Video games more effectively accomplish the tasks that are generally required to create an engaging and effective narrative. This is because their computer driven engines can simulate reality while also allowing interactivity. No other medium can accomplish this.
4.The interactivity of video games allows them to utilize behavioral conditioning to create engagement and teach morals. Books, movies, and the spoken word do not have this ability.
I also assert the following as proof that the other mediums are less effective than video games. Sources supporting these assertions are available in Round 4.
1. Video games are more effective than books as narrative mediums because playing video games requires more involvement and creative input.
2. Modern video games are more engaging than movies, books, and spoken narratives. Since engagement is a central goal of a narrative medium as defined for this debate, modern video games are the superior narrative medium.
3. Spoken narratives fail most noticeably at conveying a narrative structure. Because spoken narratives have no permanent form, they are subject to change through each repetition. Thus, they have no consistent narrative structure and change too often to effectively be relied upon to accomplish any of the primary goals of a narrative medium over the long-term. In contrast, video games have an almost unchanging narrative structure.
For the above briefly summarized reasons and the more detailed reasons in the prior Rounds, I request that voters side with me. Additionally, and more importantly, if any experiences debaters on this site have followed this, my first debate, in detail, PLEASE message me with any information I might need to know to more accurately follow the accepted rules and procedures of this site.
Thank you to Con for this debate, to the voters for reading the arguments, and to Debate.org for providing the means for us to explore this issue. Best of luck to Con as we begin the voting period and I look forward to any future debates.
Regardless of who you vote for, PLEASE VOTE. I would hate for my first debate to end in a 0-0 tie. Best wishes and, until next time, good night.
AREKKUSU forfeited this round.
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