|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help|
This item has the following downloads:
1 DISRUPTIVE PLAY: EME RGENT RHETORICAL ACT S IN VIDEOGAMES By KYLE BOHUNICKY A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Kyle Bohunicky
3 To all the players, games, and game designers
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my parents, friends, and two cats for their continual love and support throughou t my education and the thesis process I would also like to acknowledge both Laurie Gries and Sidney Dobrin for their encouragement and guidance. Lastly, I
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 6 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 THE EMERGENCE OF DISRUPTIVE PLAY ................................ ............................ 8 2 GAMES AND WRITING ................................ ................................ .......................... 20 3 PLAYER AGENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 26 4 DISRUPTIVE PLAY AND THE GLITCH ................................ ................................ 30 5 DISRUPTIVE BYPRODUCTS: MISSINGNO ................................ .......................... 37 6 CONCLUSION: TOWARD A RHETORIC OF DISRUPTIVE PLAY ........................ 44 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 51
6 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Meg aman Zero result s creen ................................ ................................ .............. 25 4 1 Koopa staircase glitch ................................ ................................ ........................ 36 4 2 Minus world glitch ................................ ................................ ............................... 36 5 1 MissingNo. ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 42 5 2 The Old Man ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 43 5 3 Surfing along the coast ................................ ................................ ....................... 43
7 Abstra ct of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts DISRUPTIVE PLAY: EMERGENT RHETORICAL ACTS IN VIDEOGAMES By Kyle Bohunicky May 2013 Ch air: Laurie Gries Major: English player produced videogame glitches function as rhetorical acts, providing player disruptive its rules. Through the disruptive practice of glitching, players participate in a mode of rhetorical resistance that re writes the formal rules that structure the the game. This paper also investigates how the emergent genre of disruptive play has enabl ed players to play with the constraints that dictate their role and disruptive play practices that include sequ ence breaking, character modifications, and arbitrary code execution in Pokmon while gesturing to the broader implications of disruptive play in videogames.
8 CHAPTER 1 THE EMERGENCE OF DISRUPTIVE PLAY served as an important framework for positioning designers as rhetoricians of using processes persuasively, just as verbal rhetoric is the practice of using oratory persuasively and visual rhetoric is the practice of using images player and the activit ies that make up her performance as a vehicle for the bound performance of various actions, which assemble the nition of procedural rhetorical recognizes that videogames do not construct arguments through representation alone, but instead offer players the chance to produce these arguments by occupying and performing different rule bound perspectives. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for instance, offers players the oft cited possibility to mimic a Compton esque gangster gunning down rival gangs, thereby providing a performance of acts that construct potentially problematic arguments about certain races or ethnicitie s that populate San Andreas landscape. Less cited, however, is the possibility to peacefully perform activities such as car stunts, breaking up fights, or base jumping off of mountains. While
9 these are marginal activities that are d e emphasized in favor of the larger, headline catching, narrative oriented goals in the game, we cannot neglect the complicated network of player acts when we talk about performative rhetorical modes such as procedural rhetoric. Hours of base jumping may not have any contribution or connection to the main narrative within the game, but we must and position arguments unfold. The appeal of Grand Theft Auto that it provides players with a space to occupy a multiplicity of subjectivities and construct different arguments t hat complicate the intention of the designer based on how each player decides to perform in the game space. While one player could choose to run over pedestrians, another player might decide to explore life as a base jumping clown who tracks bigfoot in th e California wilderness. Moreover, Grand Theft Auto 3 allows players to choose how they accumulate a key resource like money, giving them the option to play as a taxi driver who helps transport non playable characters to their destinations. Representing games in networks of performance that consist of interlinked rules, procedures, and acts that deeply compli toward procedural rhetoric should encourage game scholarship that examines
10 how arguments emerge from the multiplicity of subjectivities that the player inhabits through the act, and how she chooses to perform within that subjectivity. media in the sense that they may imagine a public whom they address but whom they do not require to play out their narrative and arguments, videogames need players to act on them. Videogames register and respond to interaction, offering up their narratives and arguments only as players engage with, explore, and perform in their procedures and systems. Moreover, games are persistent worlds t high degree of freedom and malleability also means that if a programmer or designer wishes to construct a specific argument with a videogame, she must design a set of actions that gu ide the player toward a specific performance in the game space. In the political newsgame, Darfur is Dying for example, Susana Ruiz makes specific arguments about the genocide in Sudan by constraining and guiding players with minor tweaks to the refugees that she can imitate. The stealth segments, players must run towards a well to collect water for the camp under the constant threat of capture by Janjaweed militia. To avoid captur e, the player can duck behind trees and shrubs until the militia has passed, at which point she can resume hunting for the well. While players are given the possibility to choose from eight members of a Darfurian family (seven if you exclude the non playa ble father, who, players are told, is unlikely to forage for water because
11 swift and can conceal themselves behind the low lying rocks and shrubbery much more easily than their slow and bulky adult counterparts. It is possible to successfully fetch water as a female adult, but the speed and size of the children, as well as the tenacity and technology of the Janjaweed as they patrol the arid landscape in jeeps, guides play ers towards choosing certain family members over others. These physiological, environmental, and technological constraints that Ruiz imposes on the possibility space in Darfur is Dying creates a specific argument about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. If the player is captured, the kidnapping by the Janjaweed. If she succeeds, the girl can bring more water oose the adult over the small girl based on the needs of the camp, these constraints namely, the young girls in the family. As evident in the previous examples, procedural con straints in videogames offer players powerful and evocative identities that enable programmers and in game procedures. However, players do not begin as a Darfurian child or CJ in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ; rather, players become these subjectivities through their performances of in rhetorical qualities are inscribed in the procedures that are designed to narrow
12 the decisions that a p layer can make, pressing her towards performing and responding to the game system in specific and intended ways. For example, while one might wish to play Grand Theft Auto IV peacefully, the programmers at gning Niko to shove any pedestrian that the player walks him into, which will often result in a fistfight with the pedestrian. Conflict is coded into the avatar that players control as well as control over how that avatar expresses their goals in the game environment. These acts shape the ambiguous and formative stages of spontaneous play in the game space, a stage that Roger Caillois calls paidia 1 during which the abstract and undirected to be classified as a stage, such as shoving every pedestrian that Niko brushes into, paidia is guided undirected energy are shaped into recognizable activities. Caillois taxonomy of play reveals that rules and procedures teach individuals to app ly their energy towards specific ends, which in turn produces a specific type of performance. 1 In The Definition of Play and the Classification of Games shall define it, for my purposes, as a word covering the spontaneous manifestations of the play instinct: a cat entangled in a ball of wool, a dog sniffing, and an infant laughing at his rattle represent the first identifiable examples of this type of activity. It intervenes in every happy exuberance which effects an immediate and disordered agitation, an impulsive and easy recreation, but readily carried to excess, whose impromptu and
13 The integration of conventions, techniques, and objects helps to further hone and focus player performances, leading to increasingly styled identities such as a and semiotic domain of these identities, play develops even further towards specific ways of playing a game like Chess or specific genres of videogames. Player identities th us emerge from the objects, rules, and acts that enter into abstract modes of play. In her examination of the paratextual industries 2 that surround videogames, Mia Consalvo identifies a similar process of production, examination, and administration of play Cheating videogame strategy guides and magazines such as Nintendo Power. Consalvo places this rhetoric in conversation with the ways that Nintendo Power presented players with diagrammed maps and strategies that would advise players to follow specific decisions and courses of actions over others. According to Consalvo, t subject distinguished from other gamers by her distinct performance in the game space and specific type of 2 way to think about the game industry and the texts (and the industrie conceptualization of the paratext, which constitutes all of the elements surrounding a text that help structure it and s produce to reflect on or respond to a cultural artifact.
14 spontaneous releases of energy according to the ludic rules and strategies offered by the magazine. As paidia is shaped by paratextual media and internal rules that govern specific in game procedur es, player activities not only shift towards ludic play, but becomes a performance of a specific role. By instructing players on how to play and win for instance, Nintendo Po wer circulated a type of knowledge that produced identifiable subjects with a distinct rhetoric about how one should driven activities in the game often clashed with the DIY hacker rhetoric of players who relied on unlicensed cheat devices like Game Genie. While early paratextual indus tries invented player identities that streamlined play, founding a tradition that has been echoed in modern day F.A.Q.s and strategy guides, programmers also designed their games around a limited vocabulary and grammar that encouraged players to perform in game procedures in a specific manner. Moreover, in game tutorials and instruction manuals attempted to and still do conform the ambiguity of paidia towards recognizable activities that partake in predictable and designed interactions with the procedures in the game. Games have been, in this sense, highly directed spaces in which player agency is directed towards and
15 bottlenecked in specific identities. As the player shifts from paidia to ludus, or from undirected play towards procedural play, play itself is replaced with performance in which the player mimics or imitates a limited identity. Theories of procedural rhetoric that elucidate how rhetorical engagement unfolds during ludus, or rule driven play, are not inherently problematic. In fact, they demon strate that games can offer productive learning spaces in which players actively produce and apply knowledge to specific situations. However, in such theories, player subjects are still confined to knowledge of limited type and degree. In this thesis, I ar gue that players challenge the limits of ludus by postprocedural practices such as glitching, sequence breaking, hacking, and modding through which players are able to overc ome the limited identities imposed upon them by the set of acts coded into the game space. For example, Grand Theft Auto IV that causes Niko to hug or apologize to any pedestrian he bumps into; on the oth er hand, a player might also find and utilize an in game glitch to simply pass through pedestrians. Disruptive play offers players a chance to not just critically reflect on their activities, but to change them and re write the rhetorical identities that they occupy. conceptual terrarium for all types of player produced new media modifications that resist the actions and identities designed into the game play. In one sense,
16 disruptive p oriented analysis of 3 t to a codifiable, recognizable subject that can be identified as somehow operating outside of writing still a subject (65). Postcomposition studies reconceives the student subject as an integrated unding environment I draw on postcomposition theories to suggest that disruptive play practices such as glitching are a postprocedural form of designed identities and social models within videogames. I argue that disruptive play practices like the glitch enable players to work through and challenge the procedures and outcomes that dictated the performance of identities in the procedural stage. I suppor t this thesis by examining how players have taken up playing with the glitch as a challenge to the procedural constraints and subjectivities that programmers typically impose on players. Glitches the digital hiccups and fatal system malfunctions that caus e electronic equipment to function irregularly are a largely misunderstood member of our digital media ecology. Instead of bemoaning the glitch as a nasty bug gnawing its way through information 3 subjectivities have policed the theorization and production of writing,
17 networks and hard drives, we should celebrate these radical ruptures as an emergent postprocedural practice in digital media spaces. Glitching is a form of construct the spaces and bodies that they occupy. This essay will therefore put videogame theory in conversation with postcomposition theory through the glitch in order to examine the practice of disruptive play that allows players to move beyond those identities that are pre programmed into the game. To unpack how disruptive play liberates digital technology and its subject from the identities inscribed in game procedures, I use the first section of this paper to explore how videogames train players to heed specific rhetorical identities. Kurt Squire argues that games teach players a grammar of doing and being ( From Content to Context 19) that structures player activities within the game. I appropriate this re when, and where the player is directed to use her verbs in the game space. The first section of my paper works to demonstrate and explore how dialogic activity between player and programmer shapes paidia into ludus by teaching the player the verbs and grammatical rules that punctuate game acts. I specifically draw on are directed towards a specific subjectivity through the set of verbs that the player begins with. Verb based design analysis reads the pla
18 through the set of verbs that she can use in the game, as well as what those verbs can and cannot be applied to. vocabulary is further restricted by the larger procedures and systems that are coded into the game. While the previous section allows us to see a dynamic and identity generated via this dialogue is ultimately linearized and directed by the narrative, rules, and procedures that the programmer inscribes in the game. Under these compositional limitations, the player is enculturated into a programmer designed performance where she cannot obtain a position of true agency. I conclude this se ction of my paper by arguing that proceduralism reveals how ludic games perform a sleight of hand that provides players with a simulated sensation of agency, which I demonstrate through Erik Wolpaw and Portal Mighty Jill Off Moving beyond procedural understandings of game play, the third section of my paper explores how players resist these compositional subjectivities and reclaim agency through the disruptive play practice of glitching. I engage this postprocedural dim ension of videogames by turning to speed run communities procedural impositions on player and program activities. Using glitches, TASVideos re writes spatial grammars encoded in a ga me such as Super Metroid
19 4 in which it re writes the parameters ascribed to it by its programmers. Postprocedural practices enacted during critical play enab le player and program to critique and deconstruct ludus, which I demonstrate in my analysis of the MissingNo. glitch in Pokmon These two examples capture how glitch allows the player and program to engage in a form of critical play with and interrogatio n of the procedures encoded in the game. Ultimately, by showing how players actively produce procedures that challenge the limits of the game systems in which they participate, this essay demonstrates how postprocedural practices can lead to players to ca rve out positions of true agency within synthetic worlds. 4 In later sections, I argue that player and program activities i n the so who orders the world under a specific logic (or the user who expects the world to be ordered and operate according to what the programmer dictates). Although some glitches are fatal, many glitches compliment and promote an
20 CHAPTER 2 GAMES AND WRITING Notes on the Balinese Cockfight is central to a conceptualization of games as spaces that produce spec ific identities. I n Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture Galloway etation of culture to suggest that in addition to being a text in the sense that it obeys a regime of signs and rules, culture is an acted text performed by its participants From this reading Galloway argues that we might think of action in general (such as playing, eating, or exercising) as texts consisting of multiple procedures that follow specific socio cultural rules and c onstraints. Thus, Galloway couches play play is a cultural act and because action is textual, play is subject to interpretation just like any other text 15). Yet unlike the cultural acts that Geertz reads, the te xt and identities produced while performing a videogame text depends on the verb sets that players can access with their controllers. she marks the game space with a verb set that is s pread across the analog stick, face buttons, shoulder pads, and other input devices su ch as keyboards and dance pads. Similar to how the keys on a keyboard are assigned to specific text characters, the buttons on a controller draw from a set physical voca bulary that the program can read and respond to in the game space. The player is taught
21 playable entiti es in the game space. This arrangement of NPE s structures the activity of play into a spatio temporal text that the player performs, and the performance of the text is linked to a specific interactions designed by the programmer. The player becomes the p rogrammer designed player subject by deploying her physical language according to the pauses, repetitions, and rhythms of NPE s in the game space. Deviations from this script are often, but not always, rebuked with death or a failing grade. To make clea r how games construct and administer specific subjectivities through proceduralism, consider the platforming series Megaman Zero In this grammar of doing and being, is evaluated bas ed on a grading system (Figure 2 1 ) that ranks their enacted composition using letter grades A through F (players can also receive an S for an especially exceptional performance). To earn a high letter grade in the game depends on how well the player perf orms the lead composing and occupying this identity is measured by specific criteria such as successfully clearing the stage, clear time, enemies killed, damage received, lives los t, and power ups used. Her score for each of these criteria depends entirely on how, when, and where she used her verbs in the game, thereby
22 to slowly explore the game space o r pursue a pacifistic engagement with enemies in the game, the programmer reproaches the player with a low letter grade and point deduction. Megaman Zero thus models play as a text composed through the action of its participants, who in performing the tex t become its very subject. Under such programmer directed rubrics, games function as acted documents that are composed as participants perform and adhere to specific subjectivities administered through the evaluation of how she uses her vocabulary. The concept of verb based design, however, enables us to get close to the game identities and offers a method for theorizing about the texts and subjectivities produced from the verbs that pl ayers have access to during play. Verb based design develops from two primary principles. First, the player avatar and its world are both built around a specific verb or verb set such as jump (or a combination of verbs such as run and jump), which allow( s) the player to communica te and interact with the scripted objects in the game space. The pathos and overall argument of the spaces in Darfur is Dying are linked closely to the verbs that players can access in those spaces. For example, players are only allowed to increases the tension and terror of encountering Janjaweed militia in this Darfurian camp, providing a brief moment for peace and respite.
23 Secondly, whenever the player presses a button to use a verb or to interact with an object, the player effectively creates a sentence to which the game responds with a sentence of its own, thus generating a dialogue in the game space between player and programmer through the program itself. The production of subjectivities in a videogame is entirely dependent on whether the program (and programmer) can recognize and respond Rise of the Videogame Zinesters helps t o expand on this principle of recognition and response within verb based design Specifically, Anthropy describes verb based design with the following example: When the player does X, the protagonist does Q. This is the kind of rule I correspond to in a sentence describing your game, one that governs the game. In other word s: FUTURE MATADOR (subject) TELEPORTS (verb) to avoid RAGING BULLS (object). ( 147 ) Although Anthropy takes matadors and bulls as her example this translation of player and program activities into a sentence demonstrates how specific verbs construct a dist inct subjectivity precisely because they are recognized by the program. This recognition is conveyed through the response that the program creates to player activities, such as turning the bulls around to charge again after the player teleports and reappe ars. Player identities develop through dialoging with the objects and variables inscribed in the game space. I f the player writes to the program through a button input that constructs the ssigned to the
24 The arrangement and activities of objects (whether immobile bricks or moving non playable characters) provides a grammatical example shows how discrete acts link up to specific identities in future matador is directly connected to how she responds to the raging bulls event. In the paidia stage, the player might be content to aimlessly teleport around a large space; however, the appearance of the bulls marks the transition from paidia to ludus. At this point, the ability to teleport around the stage is given an explicit purpose: to dodge the bulls. Teleport becomes a response to the charging bulls, but this response also reflects back on the identity of the player, transfo rming her into something of a matador from the future. Placing the bulls in the play space orients that space around specific interactions and rules, which shifts play from paidia towards ludus. The game thereby connects a specific procedure and subjecti vity to the rules coded into the raging bulls. Ultimately, this example demonstrates how player activities are ordered around verb sets that the program can recognize and respond to the game ocabulary from the start, and by introducing new rules and objects to further narrow how players act in response to changes in the game space, videogames encourage players to occupy pre made identities through their performance in the game space.
25 divorcing the player from play, and moving the player towards specific modes of show how player participat ion in a game exists on a spectrum with play and ambiguity on the paidia side and performance and identity on the ludic side. As videogames teach players the purpose for their verbs, the player begins to move away from frenzied or experimental play of pai dia and is structured and directed towards performing discrete acts. In the following section, I raise the question of agency to explore the possibilities and limitations of the identities that players are encouraged to inhabit during ludic play. Figure 2 1. Megaman Zero result screen
26 CHAPTER 3 PLAYER AGENT S R ecent work in rhetorical agency and distributed cognition allows us to further nuance the subject production of procedural play in order to more fully examine the exte nt of agency that the programmer allocates to the player as she leaves behind the formative stages of gameplay. In her essay Agential Matters: Tumbleweed, Women Pens, Citizens Hope, and Rhetorical Actancy Laurie Gries writes that the traditional seat o been challenged and contested by recent work in cognitive science Instead of treating agency as a static cognitive possession, Gries draws on the work of Lambros Malafouris to describe how agency is an acti vely emergent property of o bjects such as the clay, the wheel, and water are material resources integrated into the act of making pots, yet each of these material s does not passively follow elements affords the intentions of the potter to shape a pot in specific ways. As water interacts with clay, for instance, the hands of the potter constantly respond (8). Pottery is thus an enacted text between mind and matter in which a pot emerges from the action occurring between the potter and the materials. During this activity, r hetorical agency emerges from material engagement between a potter and the various involved materials, water, clay, machine, etc.
27 Gries helps us procedural rhetoric. Rhetorical agency in both Gr unfold s an emergent property between a player/potter rhetor and the objects in her environm ent. This definition of agency is useful for understanding how agency emerges as players modify and respond to the social models constructed by game designers much like the potter to the clay on her wheel. However, unlike the clay on the wheel, this model of agency requires that players critically engage with the designed constraints imposed on the identities and environments that they inhabi t. The game environment can be thought of as a network of activities and rules though which the programmer imposes spatio temporal patterns and rhythms. These patterns encourage players to develop receptivity patterns that stabilize how they engage with different events, which shifts player actions in the game space toward prior intention as opposed to intention in action. The procedures that a player chooses to perform in the game space are directly shaped and influenced by the objects in the environmen t, which teaches the player that certain verbs are more effective than others in different situations. For example, the range offered by shooting a fireball may present a good strategy for dispensing with slow moving and weaker enemies, but this action is less effective against a fast moving enemy who counters with a ranged attack of shaped through the activities of other objects and enemies in the game
28 environment, are specifi c to the domain of Super Mario Bros. As a possibility space with limited outcomes, players are encouraged to apply the fireball to both situations, but for different reasons: while running past the fast moving enemy and only shooting at slow ones may incr confronting the fast enemy with the fireball rewards the player with a large amount of points. New objects introduce new rules and relations that shape the initial state of ambiguous play by presenting various advanta ges and disadvantages to certain modes of engagement, thereby creating a possibility space for different outcomes depending on the goals and skill of the player. While the multiple applications of a verb set in a game affords players a slight degree of age ncy, this agency is purely a simulation; player activities are one from others within that domain. Interestingly, games such as Anna Mighty Jill Off parodies the limits of player agency by modeling the environmental procedural constraints in a sadomasochistic narrative where the player performs as a submissive whose mistress demands that Jill scale a tower Portal al so procedurally critiques the restraints imposed upon player agency and activities in games by using the environment to confront players with the illusion of transgressive play in videogames. The player controls Chell, a test subject who is ordered around through each testing chamber by a callous computer AI named GLaDOS. Throughout the 19 testing chambers, players experiment with a portal gun to
29 escape at the end of the test. Curiously, each test chamber has cameras mounted on the walls, which players can destroy by firing the portal gun at them. The game promotes environmental spaces that develop two identities for players to inhabit through th eir performances: players environment also affords the possibility to learn to resist GLaDOS by dismounting the cameras in each chamber. At the end of the 19 th chamber, GLaDOS thanks the player for participating in the test as the platform she is standing on slowly descends into a fire pit where previous test subjects have been disposed. At this moment, the player can either allow Chell to descend into the pit, or she can resist this deat h sentence by firing a final portal to escape. The latter option leads players to the actual ending of Portal and it should of course be noted that escaping the fire pit is a sleight of hand as it leads to the ending the designers intend the player to re ach. However, this moment is salient in that it shows how interaction with the cameras in Portal made ident agency of the player. As I aim to show in the next section, however, disruptive play gives players a chance to reclaim agency by critically interrogating and responding to these procedural constraints.
30 CHAPTER 4 DISRUPTIVE PLAY AND THE GLITC H In the pr evious two sections of this paper, player agency was largely constrained by the narratives, procedures, and vocabulary that the programmer granted to the player I f the programmer language of the program and player, then neither would be able to perform or recognize this action Glitch, however, presents players with a way out of the recognition and response between player and programmer by en abling the player to engage directly with the program itself. Using the glitch, players dialogue with the program in order to invent their own procedures, vocabulary, and narratives through critical play with the constraints imposed on the game space. In this section of my paper, I look at the procedures and objects that players have created by playing with the glitch, and I demonstrate how these inventions have expose significant insights into the construction of synthetic worlds and subjectivities. Befo re looking at the postprocedural products that players are creating with the glitch, I want to briefly distinguish between two different types of glitch. Players commonly use the glitch as either an exploit to perform better in the game, or as a form of in terrogative play that generates new knowledge of the game by disclosing hidden data and constructing new characters. Although these two categories are not mutually exclusive, and indeed an interrogative glitch can also be put to work as an exploit, I make this distinction based on the ends to
31 which players apply these glitches. One well known example of using the glitch Super Mario Bros. enables players to quickly rack up unlimited lives by carefully manipulating the ricochet of a Koopa shell. With the correct timing and proper alignment from the foot of a staircase in World 3 1, the player can endlessly bounce on a Koopa shell, which in turn perpetually increases the score multiplier. Th e latter category of interrogative glitch developed from discoveries like crouch jumping through a seemingly impervious wall in World 1 2 to access the buggy Minus World (Figure 3), where players could explore the original test levels that the programmer s never removed from the game rom. Whereas the first category of game, the second type of glitch to ok on deeply subversive connotations in that it led players outside of the game procedures into a wilderness of data and The influence of the Super Mario Bros. Minus World and other i nterrogative glitches on play habits has forwarded a postprocedural conception of the gaming space as malleable, which has encouraged players to experiment with the ludic boundaries of the game worlds in which they participate. Although the content was no Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was discovered by taking apart and modifying the game itself, which is similar in nature to the postprocedural logic of
32 interrogative play with the glitch. Furthermore James Newman suggests that the search for and exploitation of glitches, imperfections in the code or its execution, is further evidence of the willingness of some players to not only play games but also to play with the v ery boundaries of their operation. It confirms also the desire to explore games in immense, precise detail and to simulation model. (64) Glitching demonstrates that players are not pa ssive consumers without agency in the game space, but are instead engaged in re writing the game, transforming it into a living, dynamic, malleable entity that reveals new insights as players investigate it. Although the glitched game is often prone to im mediately and irrecoverably crash, if a player can sustain this tenuous state of semi failure, then the player has the potential to generate unexpected data by creating a situation in which player input and activity causes the game to unpredictably pull da ta and code. In a glitched state, it is the program that experiences a state of frenetic play with its data that Caillois attributes to paidia, allowing players to slip outside of the procedural constraints that have been designed into the game. The TASVi deos community exposes the forms of disruptive, critical play that glitch affords, and the state of paidia that the program enters into once players trigger the glitch. TASVideos is a digital community of gamers and hackers in search of exploits and inter rogative glitches like the Minus world, or glitched beam guns in Super Metroid To understand the indeterminacy of the game once it undergoes paidia through the glitch, c ontributors create d RAM
33 Maps 1 that provide the in game meanings for individual string s of code in order to track the data generated by glitches and access unused resources in various games. Kejardon, a member of TASVideos who created a RAM Map of the memory addresses in Super Metroid reports that when experimenting with the glitch beam g uns in Super Metroid The beams use a simple index to find just about all their relevant data, and so when you overflow the index (which happens with any combination of plasma + spazer), the game starts pulling data and code from essentially random locati ons. What it does from there is anyone's guess. No, let me rephrase that what it does from there, nobody can guess. The only way to know would be t o read the game's programming. reflects a postprocedural process in that the program itself undergoes paidia by Moreover, this frenetic state produces knowledge about a new way of pl aying with and playing in the procedural constraints coded into Super Metroid By accessing the equipment screen and pressing left on the D pad and the A button simultaneously, players can re create the conditions described by Kejardon, which can both cor rupt the game memory and allow players to navigate through the environmental, ludic, and narrative game walls much like the Minus World glitch. When players engage in this form of play to de stabilize 1 Much like a dictionary for c omputer code a of fixed length sequence s of numeric and alphabetic values t the program will use to produce a specific condition or function. For example, in Super Metroid the memory address 7E:05F7
34 the routine function of game memory by writing with an input outside of their prescribed verb set and grammar, the program writes and responds to players with "unexpected" data and code in the play space The response generated by the program is not a response from the programmer, indicating a subtle, but si gnificant, shift in the direction of the postprocedural recognition and response such as the Min create strange aesthetic and procedural effects. Players who practice glitching development process and knowle dge of the technical principles that underpin the during game play, glitch shifts in function from a useless nuisance, to a valuable exploit or cheat, and finally to a postprocedural p ractice for players to critically investigate and re invent the game world. In terms of critical play with the glitch, overflowing the index in Super Metroid or crouch jumping through walls in Super Mario Bros. suggests that postproceduralism can be thoug ht of in terms of player produced practices that deviate from the intentions of the game designer by inducing a state of paidia within the program. However, critical play can also lead to new modes of composition and rhetorical engagement with problematic social models in digital
35 causes Niko to push pedestrians any time he bumps into one, so she might Portal to be lacking, and she could design a mod that tweaks the physics in the game to more accurately therefore not ju st a postprocedural practice in that it involves building new procedures in the game space, but it is also a form of rhetorical engagement with the social model that Rockstar Games presents or the kinematic model that Wolpaw and Faliszek offers players. T mod recognizes that Rockstar Games has made a specific argument about society through the procedures coded into the game, and her mod responds ction with pedestrians. Whereas high art has traditionally reserved a privileged seat at a distance from its audience, videogames invite that audience into them as practices build on this philosophy by giving players a chance to use mods, glitches, and hacks to debate and challenge the social models that they are offered. In this sense, disruptive play is a postprocedural register for videogames.
36 Fi gure 4 1. Koopa staircase glitch Figure 4 2 Minus world glitch
37 CHAPTER 5 DISRUPTIVE BYPRODUCTS: MISSINGNO To demonstrate how disruptive play involves both theory and practice, and to couch disruptive play in terms of p roduction, I turn to the iconic MissingNo. glitch in Pokmon Red and Pokmon Blue I offer this example in detail to show how disruptive play with glitches can offer players a great deal of insight into both the code underlying videogames and their produc tion. Moreover, this glitch reveals how disruptive play allows players a method of rhetorically engaging with the societal and ecological model offered in Pokmon At a socio economic level, MissingNo. enabled players to challenge the socio economic valu e system within the Kanto region 1 by inventing their own means of re producing items in the game, thereby disrupting commerce and the scarcity of key resources in Kanto. The glitch also gave players a means to dispute the code that determines how frequent ly and where certain Pokmon appear in the game, presenting a producing and using the MissingNo. glitch, which resulted in processes that reflected on and critiqued those designed into the game. T he original method for generating MissingNo., dubbed the "old man trick," is postprocedural because it requires players to sequence together three key procedures outside of their standard order: name entry, the old man tutorial, and 1 The name for the continent that hosts the events of Pokmon Red and Blue
38 surfing along the coastline of Cinnabar Island. These three procedures have almost nothing in common if the player were to follow the logic and structure of the game as the programmers designe d it. However, players discovered that these three procedures could be sequenced together to generate a method of with having to battle Pokmon in order to capture wild Pokmon an d make captured Pokmon grow stronger, players exploited the glitch to replicate rare items that would instantly raise the abilities of their Pokmon. Players also used a P of the glitch ultimately produced a much more peaceful, perhaps even utopic, game space in which players no longer needed to battle and harm Pokmon to raise their levels or weake n opponents to capture them. While most players used the glitch just to make it easier to capture Pokmon, its emergence invited critical reflection on the problematic treatment of animals that the game system encourages. While the glitch was originally u sed as an in game manufacturing tool, these activities. However, the insights that it produced into the production and coding of Pokmon, as well as its bizarre visual and procedura l aesthetics, have helped it become a cultural icon. The first procedure in the MissingNo. glitch sequence requires that the player use text entry to re write the formal rules of the
39 game. At the beginning of the game, the player is provided with seven c haracter slots to enter in either letters or numbers to name their character. The outcome buffer depends entirely on the alphanumeric variables that the player entered into t he last six slots at the name entry screen (the first slot has no impact on the outcome). The even numbered slots (slots 2, 4, and 6) determine the experience level of the Pokmon that the player will encounter, and the odd numbered slots (slots 3, 5, and 7) determine the actual Pokmon that appears when the battle and uses the old man glitch, the game will ignore the first M and use M, D, V to determine the Pokmon, and y, x, z, letters M, D, and V each correlate to a specific hex value (8C, 83, and 95 respectively) that are assigned a specific numerical value (140, 131, and 149 ramming. Similarly, y, x, and z correlate to hex codes B7, B8, and B9, which will spawn Pokmon of level 183, 184, and 185 respectively. So, by entering MyMxDzV at the name entry screen, the player has the potential of encountering a level 183, 184, or 1 85 Mewtwo (decimal number 131, hex value 83, letter D), a level 183, 184, or 185 MissingNo. (decimal number 140, hex value 8C, letter M), or a level 183, 184, or 185 Alakazam (decimal number 149, hex value 95, letter V). Since hex code typically consists of 255 variables, MissingNo. serves as a placeholder for the empty addresses that were not filled by the original 151 Pokmon.
40 MissingNo. is thus the byproduct of the game attempting to read and materialize one of the 105 remaining addresses in the progra mming. The second procedure in the MissingNo. glitch requires t he player to return to an early area in the game and speak to with an old man (Figure 5) who provides a tutorial for catching wild Pokmon. The tutorial plays out as a mock battle between the old man and a wild Pokmon, during which the game replac es the player's character an d name with the old man's character and name. Since he game is programmed to temporarily st ore the play er's name in the data buffer (a region of memory storage allocated to temporarily hold data as it is move d between processes). The data buffer is typically used to hold a set of hexadecimal values that are assigned to specific Pokmon in order determine t he Pokmon that the player can battle whenever he or she enters a new area. However, since the must rely on the data buffer Normal ly this tutorial does not create a problem, as the game will flush the data buffer with new values once the player leaves town. However, n o specific hexadecimal values are assigned to the buffer on the east coast of town called Cinnabar Island When a pl ayer swims along this coastline (Figure 6) and triggers a battle, the game retrieves the values stored from last area that the player visited instead of filling the data buffer with new hexadecimal codes Therefore, if the player flies to the Cinnabar coa stline immediately after the old
41 man's tutorial the player will force the program into a situation in which it must read the player's name to figure out which Pokmon to cue to battle. Since hex codes typi cally consist of hexadecimal value. Thus, the Pokmon that appears is determined from the values assigned to the letters used in the player's name, and if the letter correlat es with a non existent Pokmon decimal value, then MissingNo. will appear. In terms of knowledge production, the MissingNo. glitch has not just exposed and re designed the technical principles that underpin the game world, but it has also revealed the de velopment cycle behind the game itself. The 105 remaining addresses are also used to store non playable characters and Pokmon such as enemy trainers, gym leaders, and generic ghost Pokmon that the player cannot normally catch. After constructing a Ram Map for Pokmon Red and Pokmon Blue the decimal number reveals the order in which Pokmon were loaded into the game rom. Decimal values 1 (Rhydon) to 190 (Victreebel) are used for Pokmon, and decimal values 191 to 255 are for non playable data. Missin can spawn with the old man trick, falls between 1 and 190, and takes up 39 of Pokmon set has led some to speculate that MissingNo. is a placeholder for Pokmon that were originally intended to be in the game, but were withheld for
42 Pokmon Gold and Pokmon Silver This reading of the ade MissingNo. to either Pokmon Gold or Pokmon Silver If successful, and depending on the decimal value of MissingNo., the glitch transforms into a Pokmon exclusive to Gold and Silver with the same decimal value. Although the veracity of this claim r emains debated, it has contributed to speculation on numerous communities such as Glitch City Laboratories, Project GlitchDex on Bulbapedia, and RAGECANDYBAR. As suggested by Newman, these communities use the interrogative glitch as a way of exploring bot h the technical principles and the development process behind Pokmon Red Pokmon Blue Pokmon Gold and Pokmon Silver MissingNo. is a postprocedural practice precisely because it required players to develop a critical understanding of how data in the game was coded and moved around during different procedures. Moreover, MissingNo. shows how players uncovered a way to use this knowledge to invent a new procedure out of pre existing procedures in the game in order to experiment with and access hidden d ata in the game. Figure 5 1. MissingNo.
43 Figure 5 2. The Old Man Figure 5 3. Surfing along the coast
44 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUS ION: TOWARD A RHETORIC OF DISRUPTIVE PLAY In this paper I have attempted to outline the concept and emergence of disruptive play and postprocedural practices by describing how gamers have put the glitch to work in various game spaces. Moreover, I have attempted to show how we can use the gli tch to theorize about writing and rhetorical activism in game spaces. Postprocedural practices like disruptive play enable gamers to shift from passive consumers mimicking pre designed identities, to active producers who participate in re constructing and critiquing the rules and procedures that compose larger systems within videogames. However, this final section turns away from videogames to argue that disruptive play is also present in hacker and mod communities that take pre existing media and manipul ate them as a mode of rhetorical engagement. Disruptive play as a concept designates this move toward postprocedural engagement with the limitations and constraints that have dictated how we interact with media, offering numerous possibilities for challen ging these rules. Postproceduralism, as a form of disruptive play with procedural limitations, is not new in the sense that its practices and techniques have been widely circulated and distributed by numerous communities including videogame players, circui t benders, hackers, and modders who use it to engage and challenge the dominate social and technological rhetorics surrounding production. Glitch studies has begun to provide new media scholars with a
45 means of theorizing about these practices as a mode of critical play with the the death of the author, but also the death of the apparatus, medium or tool at least from the perspective of the technologically determinist spectator and is 344). Menkman suggests, in other words, that irregular interruptions in what we take for the typical function and use of electronic equipment can be put to work to challenge a deterministic, and often institutional, conception of how the author, apparatus, medium, and tool should operate. Menkman also sees glitching as a synthesis of theory and practice that dis solves the operating procedures assigned to an outside of and reflect on the identities that are inscribed on them as they participate in synthetic worlds. However, while Me nkman describes the affordances of glitch, she, nor others, have yet addressed the rhetorical agency that this kind of critical play brings to digital citizens and postproceduralist communities. As a concept, postproceduralism and disruptive play are both important for glitch studies, then, in that they acknowledge the death of the authorial subject and the procedural logic that governs uses of various apparatuses, while also acknowledging the critical and productive agency of those who experiment with gli tch. In a general sense, postproceduralism shows that the author and apparatus are alive within
46 activists and participants who have subverted the apparatus towards a much more radical form of procedural authorship that produces significant rhetorical engagements with digital tools, media artifacts, and synthetic worlds. Postproceduralism and disruptive play prove that digital democracy can still thrive even within the most author itarian of media habitats. In this respe ct, postproceduralism and disruptive both have relevance beyond glitch and videogame studies. Speaking broadly, postproceduralism can be used as a framework for theorizing about and studying the rhetorical practices that emerge from subversive participato ry cultures and digital activists. A postproceduralist approach to digital technology would look towards user generated procedures that cause either the software or the hardware to operate in some unintended way. However, glitch is ripe for postprocedura l studies outside of what the system should produce. As the MissingNo. example demonstrated, this garbage data can offer another avenue to interrogate and deconstruct the ope rating procedures coded into the technology by leaving a trace that exposes how that technology moves code and data around to assemble the world. While glitches are accessed and operate internally to trick the program into a frenetic state, hacks and mods patches that overwrite the code that governs social, economic, and environmental models in the game. Both should be seen as methods of rhetorical engagement, and the juxtaposition of user produced procedures
47 against the progr ammer stranglehold over that media. Effectively, via a postprocedural approach, we can see the glitch as a practice that acts as an internal reset switch on the procedural logic that has been attributed to vario us digital technologies, carving out a space for disruptive play in tightly coded synthetic worlds.
48 LIST OF REFERENCES Anthropy, Anna. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012. Print. hetorical Situation from Within the Thematic of Contemporary Rhetorical Theory Eds. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, Sally Caudill. New York: The Guilford Press, 1999. 232 246. Print. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory Eds. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, Sally Caudill. New York: The Guilford Press, 1999. 217 225. Print. The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games and Learning Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 117 140. The Game D esign Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology Eds. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006. 122 155. Print. Consalvo, Mia. Cheating Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2007. Print. Derrida, Jacques. Glas University of Nebraska Press, 1 990. Print Dobrin, Sidney. Postcomposition Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 2011. Print. Pens, Citizens Hope, Ecology, Writing Theory, and New Media Ed. S idney Dobrin. New York: Routledge. 67 91. Print. Galloway, Alexander. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture Minneapolis: Minnesota Press, 2004. Print. Pokmon Mythology 2012. Web. 20 April 2012.
49 Houser, Dan, Paul Kurowski, and James Worrall. Grand Theft Auto 3 Rockstar Games, 2001. Game. ----, and Rupert Humphries. Grand Theft Auto IV Dirs. Aaron Garbut, Adam Fowler, and Alexander Roger. Rockstar Games, 2008. Game. ----, James Worrall, and Dj Pooh. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Rockstar Games, 2004. Game. April 23, 2012. http://tasvideos.org/GameResources/SNES/SuperMetroid.html Video Vortex Reader II Ed. Geert Lovink and Rachel Somers Miles. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011. 366 347. PDF. Bulbapedia. Bulbagarden. December 9 2011. Web. November 20, 2011. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/ Missingno Miyamoto, Shigeru, and Takashi Tezuka. Super Mario Bros. Nintendo, 1985. Game. Mizukoshi, Masahiro. Megaman Zero Dir. Ryota Ito, and Yoshinori Kawano. Capcom, 2002. Game. Convergence 11.48 (2005 ). 48 67. n. pag. Megaman Knowledge Base 2012. Web. 20 June, 2012. Ruiz, Susan. Darfur is Dying mtvU, 2006. Game. T he University of Minnesota, 2006. 19 29. PDF. Tajiri, Satoshi. Pokmon Blue Nintendo, 1996. Game. ----. Pokmon Red Nintendo, 1996. Game. Transmission Zero 2012. Web. 13 June 2012. W., The Mushroom Kingdom 2012. Web. 13 June, 2012.
50 Wolpaw, Erik, and Chet Faliszek. Portal Valve Corporation, 2007. Game. yks9991pokeglitches 2011. Web. 25 March 2012 ----yks9991pokeglitches 2011. Web. 25 March 2012.
51 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Kyle Bohunicky is a first year Ph.D. program. He received his M.A. in English fr om the University of Florida in the for transmedia narratives authored in videogames and other digital media environments He entered the department with a B.A. in English f rom Penn State University. His for mative work at Penn State led him into 19th century American literature, which culminated in a thesis that examined the narrative structures at work in Herman Melville's novels and Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid series. W hile he still retain s much of his interest in 19th century American lite rature, teaching has inspired him to shift his focus toward the intersections of rhetorical composition and the digital humanities.