Bogost: Relaxation

Zachariah James Watson

As Bogost begins his chapter on video-games and the purpose they serve when it comes to relaxation, he points out how video-games can be called either a “lean forward” medium, or a “lean back” media. Leaning back is typically associated with control, activity, and engagement. It is also most associated with relaxation, passivity, and sometimes even gluttony.The process of leaning forward requires continuous attention, thought, and movement when it comes to video-game activity. Leaning forward is useful when the desired effect of a video-game is high attention and twitchiness. Depending on what sort of mindset and/or mood you are in, either one of these approaches to video-games can be utilized in order to achieve your desired goal and purpose (relaxation, activity, etc.). There are multiple examples of video-games that can simulate either one of the desired states of mind and/or being. For instance, open-world and/or story driven games like Skyrim Dragon’s Dogma, and/or Mass Effect can allow you to explore countless possibilities with your custom designed character and have the story unfold as you see fit. This creates a sense of relaxation in terms of personal empowerment and fulfillment. Bogost uses a term for this topic known as Video-game Zen.

Discussion Questions:

1) Do you believe that video-games can serve as an effective form of relaxation?

2) What ways do you think that video-games do or don’t serve as tools for relaxation?


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