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The relationship between the virtual world and the real world

Question:

Discuss the Relative Advantages and Disadvantages of Huizinga’s ‘Magic Circle’ as a Method for Comprehending the Social, Cultural and Psychological Uniqueness of the Play Experience.

The Huizinga’s magic circle is a common term used in game studies. In online games, the ‘magic circle’ refers to enclosed virtual worlds. The players enter the online social environment and the magic circle creates a shield which creates an impenetrable membrane separating the virtual world from the real world. However, there exists certain relationship between the virtual world and the real world. The virtual world has certain characteristics which are unique; however, there are also certain similarities between the virtual and the outside world. The magic circle describes the game and the manner in which the players actually interact with the game. The magic circle is a place for fantasy (Adams, 2013). The magic circle is an escape from the regular problems and when a person leaves the magical circle, it brings meaning and experience to the situation. The term magic circle is used to describe the difference between play and non-play and explains more complex type of social relations. Historically, the magic circle is defined as a space created for playing. In the magical circle, a player enters voluntarily into a space which is set apart from the ordinary life, location and duration. The magical circle has rules that differs it from the real life. The magical circle is infinite in nature and magic is transformed within the circle. Within the magical circle, a world is developed where the meaning of different elements is handled differently and the game rules have the highest authority (Stenros, 2014).

The boundaries between the magic circle and the game are blurred and porous. The division of play and the ordinary life is invalid as it is space where among other things play happens. The magical circle can be studies in a social perspective and can be associated with cultural anthropology. The magic circle can be studied as a type of social contract and there are certain rules and devices which are triggered as the game begins. Therefore, before a player begins playing a game, he needs to come to an agreement with those rules.  When a player enters the virtual world, he enters into a psychological bubble, a small and manageable world which is completely separate from the outside world.  Although the virtual world create by the magic circle can be shared with other people, it creates a sense of protected and private place. The focus and the flow of concentration do not only occur at games but also at work. The detachment from the everyday reality that the game provides relates to the human psyche of desiring time and space for a new structure. It also relates to the need of privacy of humans wherein they desire to be at a certain distance from the concentrated activities (Petry, 2013).

The experiences in the game also invade the real life of the people and affect the actual life people. The game also permeates to the dreams and the actions and thought of different people. The games are the social expression immersed and are the expressions of a specific person. At a certain point of time, a game is the expression of a particular idea or experiment and reorganizes from the point of view of player. Therefore, different people have different interpretation of the playful situations. The psychological bubble formed in gaming is not uniform and shared but personal (Huynh, 2013).

Defining the Magic Circle and its role in online games

The magic circle provides opportunity to the gaming community to address the needs of the human society. A common example can be a conspiracy game in which each player begins in a familiar setting. The game highlights the trust and suspicion among the players. The uncertainty in the situation can create skepticism about the actual reality. The designers become capable of blurring the difference between actual reality and the gaming experience. They have the potential to deceive the sense of distinction between the reality and make-believe (Rodriguez, 2006).

In the experimental game design, the skeptical uncertainty is the major controversial issue. It is experimental game design; paranoia is a major method which is used to distort the distinction between potential threats and secret plots. When paranoid, the player questions the existence of the boundaries and if they exists at all. The location of the magic circle also becomes significant for the game (Calleja, 2011).

The magic circle provides social and individual experiences through gaming. There exists interaction between personal and social experiences of the individuals. The rules of the gamming are socially shared but accepting them is a personal choice (Boomen, 2009).

However, the major concern in the magic circle is that there should be a specific boundary which creates demarcation for the actual reality and the gaming world. The core element of magic circle is the idea of ordered-life and the agreed upon conventions. A game wherein the boundaries of the magic circle are not yet defined and the rules are not created, the game will be in a risky and undeveloped.  This approach will be inappropriate in designing the games for social purpose or social philosophy. Obtaining the consensus of all the players will be complex because the ultimate aim of these games is to make the subject more educative rather than attractive or entertaining for the students (Jarvinen, 2004).

Another concern in the development of the games with the approach of the magic circle is that the all the tactics and strategies in the games must be determined in advance of the games. The games developed on the basis of magical circle will make the game dependable on the decisions and the responses of players. It may create a state of suspension and aggression among the players or creative association through trial and error (Reyes & Adams, 2010).

Conclusion

Magic Circle is an approach in designing virtual games. The magic circle is a virtual reality and assists the people in escaping the everyday life of the people. Every time, the people leaves the magic circle, it brings them new meaning and experiences. There are certain benefits of developing games with this approach as it provides the game designers to design games with which can reduce the difference between the reality and the games. The game participants have total control over the designing of the game. However, it is not appropriate in designing games which are aimed towards a social cause.

References

Huynh, K.P. (2013). Stepping out of the Magic Circle: Regulation of Play/Life Boundary in MMO-Mediated Romantic Relationship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 18(3), 251-264.

Jarvinen, A. (2004). A Meaningful Read: Rules of Play reviewed. The International Journal of Computer Game Research 4(1).

Petry, A.D.S. (2013). The concept of magic circle: a critical reading. OBRA DIGITAL - ISSN2014-503. Núm    5 – Septiembre 2013.

Reyes, I., & Adams, S. (2010). Screening Play: Rules, Wares, and Representations in "Realistic" Video Games. Journal for Computer Game Culture 4(2), 149-166.

Rodriguez, H. (2006). The Playful and the Serious: An approximation to Huizinga's Homo Ludens. Game Studies. The International Journal of Computer Game Research 6(1).

Stenros, J. (2014). In Defence of a Magic Circle: The Social, Mental and Cultural Boundaries of Play. Transactions of Digital Games Reearch Association 1(2).

Adams, E. (2013). Fundamentals of Game Design. New Riders.

Calleja, G. (2011). In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation. MIT Press.

Boomen, M.V.D. (2009). Digital Material: Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and
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