June 27, 2017

What is Soup? And the philosophical question of what is a game really?

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The Institute of Digital Games is proud to announce the release of a new, free, playable-philosophy thingie by Dr. Stefano Gualeni:


A digital world offers interaction within the boundaries of a created environment. It allows you to do things, even if the ‘thing’ amounts to little more than pressing a key. Research at the Institute of Digital Games (IDG) focuses on developing a deeper understanding of how these concepts can be used to teach through doing by looking at people interact with gameworlds, studying how games can impact them, and designing games that do exactly that.

Computer Games and Philosophy

Something Something Soup Something, is also designed to stimulate reflection on the possibility to analytically define what a game is. As Prof. Gualeni himself explains:

[Something Something Soup Something] involves some narrative, it allows for a bit of exploration, it features a section that quantifies the performance of the ‘players’ in relation to a pre-established goal... But does the presence of those ‘ludological ingredients’ warrant its definition as a video game? What if only a part of it could be formally recognized as a video game? Is it even wise or productive to strive for a complete theoretical understanding of concepts like ‘soup’ or ‘game’?

The game (if we decide to call it so) was developed in collaboration with two IDG students: Isabelle Kniestedt and Johnathan Harrington, and with the support of Maltco Lotteries.

Updating Wittengestein: Philosophy through videogames

SOMETHING SOMETHING SOUP SOMETHING reveals, through its gameplay, that even an ordinary concept like ‘soup’ is impossible to unpack or capture completely.

In his 1953 book Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein uses a thought experiment to clarify the concept of subjective experience, such as the concept of pain. It proposes that you imagine everyone has something called a ‘beetle’ in a box. People can only see inside their own box and can never see what is in anyone else’s. Despite this limitation people can still have meaningful discussions about ‘beetles’ despite never actually knowing what is in others’ boxes.

Source: THINK Magazine

In a sense, this is also what happens to our definitions of a "game". In reality everyone has a different image of what a game is, yet there is some common core understanding. If you want to go in more depth: there is also a TH!NK magazine article about the game!

We encourage you to try the game and let us know what you think!

Why? Because we don’t know what soup is, and neither do you! :)

Want to know more about the philosophical questions in videogames?

The Institute of Digital Games is one of the leading Universities in Game Design. The 2-year M.Sc in Digital Games approaches game design from an academic and multidisciplinary appoach ranging from philosophy, narrative all the way to the technology-oriented artificial intelligence and procedural content generation. As a research-oriented institute we're constantly publishing new work and trying to decipher new areas related to games. We have two main research areas:

Digital Humanities Research Group
Artificial Intelligence Research Group

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