PS5-Grand Theft Auto: The Video Gaming Industry

Jimmy, 15 North American male

I was in a store, I saw a game that I wanted. I bought that game. I went home and played it on my computer. but in reality, the same game is for a console. Then, I was in a theme park, I played the game on a handheld console, which was also weird because it was supposed to be on the computer, or the other console from reality. It was also very revolutionary, like nothing I had ever seen, it was really fun and I played it with my friends. they liked it too.

Mr Hagen's Reply

Interesting dream. Of course play is an important motivation. The computer is the most sophisticated mode of play yet invented, where the boundaries of fantasy and reality become blurred.

Homo Ludens: Man the Player

The Anthropologist Johan Huizinga's "Homo Ludens" represents a milestone in understanding human behavior. Huizinga maps out how play is the motivating force behind various human phenomena including law, war, poetry and art. Ball games, riddle-solving, beauty contests, courtship, wit, struttings, contests of skill, entertainment and amusements can all be traced back to the play motive. Play and Culture are twins feeding off each other, crystallizing in knowledge and history. Play both individual and communal produce folklore, poetry, philosophy and dreams.

World of Fantasy Gaming

Gary Allan Fine "Shared Fantasy:Role Playing Games as Social Worlds" believes that gaming produces collective fantasies projected on the sub-culture's communal screen. Dungeon and Dragons, Chivalry and Sorcery and The Empire of the Petal Throne were all early computer generated role-playing worlds for the player. All thought and fantasy become part of a constructed social world.

Sociologists and Psychologists have long recognized that human behavior is driven by finite worlds of meaning which have the potential to encapsulate the individual, a group and a nation. Ideologies work in this character. William James "The Principles of Psychology" addressed the phenomena of "various orders of reality" while similarly Alfred Schutz "The Problem of Social Reality: Collected Papers" asserted that people make sense of the world through multiple realities:

"All of these worlds--the world of dreams, of imageries and phantasms, especially the world of art, the world of religious experience, the world of scientific contemplation, the play world of the child and the world of the insane--are finite provinces of meaning". (Schutz) 

Play, Dreams and Imitation

The cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget "Play, Dreams and Imitation" sees play as the basis for "autotelic" or intrinsic motivation. Play is essentially in itself a self-gratifying and rewarding behavior not in need of any other inducement or reinforcement. The maturation of symbolic play and make-believe is an important driving force in developing a sense of self and your identity.The fact that you recruit your friends and they play the game with you shows you wish for them to follow your lead and imitate you as their role model.

Computer as a Postmodern Symbol

Although computers have existed for some time, the computer is still for the fast majority inhabiting the planet a symbol that does not yet exist in the unconscious ie dreaming. As a symbol the computer represents a cybernetic information driven social reality and the primary basis for what has become known as Postmodern society.

Virtual Reality and the Video Game Industry

Howard Rheingold "Virtual Reality" provides some insight into the reason you find yourself in a "theme park" blurring the boundary between an information generated fantasy world and reality.

The Video Gaming Industry has been a growing phenomena for 10s of millions of players around the world having instituted a successful commercialization of children's pasttimes. To quote those in the culture, "when you play a video game you enter into the world of the programmers who made it. You have to do more than identify with a character on the screen. You must act for it. Identification through action has a special kind of hold. Like playing a sport, it puts people into a focused, and highly charged state of mind. For many people, what is being pursued in the video game is not just a score, but an altered state."

The word cyberspace was coined by the novelist William Gibson in his 1984 book Neuromancer: "Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation" whose nervous systems are jacked into the Matrix. The 1999 film "The Matrix" is an screenplay adaptation of Gibson's 'Neurormancer".

Welcome to the world of Post-modernism, where simulations have created a hyperreality, where the boundaries between the real and imaginary have lost referentiallity. It is a world that is constituted by the electronic codes of the play of simulations. In it's positive attributes it can enhance reality, yet in it's negative aspects it can create the Un-real, a NO-Exit world of cybernetic control. For a good read see the work of Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulations. Baudrillard a self proclaimed intellectual terrorist argues that the dangers of media and information technologies and their effects are real and actively producing the un-real.

Many of the dreams received at the International Institute for Dream Research underscores the increasing cybernetic surveillance and control Baudrillard fears.

Some other literature of interest includes:

  • Brenda Laurel "Computers as Theatre"
  • Joseph Weigenbaum "Computer Power and Human Reason"
  • Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold "Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming"

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.