John R. Sageng – The Constitution of Agential Properties in Games

A game is an artefact or a context that prescribes that the player shall traverse certain motivational structures in the course of play. In this presentation I examine how these actions and motivational structures are possible.  I first introduce the notion of a conative ecology. I argue that the notion of an “affordance” is unsuited to use as a basic concept to determine the reality status of the game environment, as an alternative I propose to analyse such ecologies as
consisting of agential properties that determined by the contents of practical reasoning. Next, I discuss representationalist understandings of game ecologies. I argue that we fail to see what games are if we assume that they essentially are systems of signs. While most games do utilize system of signs, I hold that their main function is to prescribe action guiding properties that are endowed by cognitive mechanisms very similar to those we use
when we establish social ontologies. In the last part I outline a proposal for how game ecologies consist of artificial
similarity spaces imposed by a process I call “deconditionalization”, and use this proposal to characterize the nature of computer game ecologies in particular. I put forward the claim that the function of the game mechanism is to instantiate forms of actions that are to be acted on for their own sake. The outcome of this proposal is an understanding of games that make them out to be works of actionable structures.

This presentation is based on the paper “The Ontological Status of Game Ecologies”, available in the archives for  Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, Krakow 2017.

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