Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: CARS Passage 7 – Video Games

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: CARS Passage 7 – Video Games

Session 204

Today, we’re going to continue doing CARS Passage 7 which is all about video games. Do you think they’re under the category of artworks? Let’s find out what the author thinks.

I’m joined as always, usually by Phil from Blueprint MCAT but this is Phil’s last session with us here on The MCAT Podcast as he is moving on. So we are going to continue this podcast with a round robin panel of future guests. If you would like to follow along on YouTube, go to Phil is leaving Blueprint Prep, and will no longer be a co host here on the MCAT podcast.

Get your FREE copy of Blueprint MCAT’s Full-Length 1 to follow along: Go to In the menu, click “MCAT,” then “Free Resources.” (That’s an affiliate link, so if you end up making a purchase from Blueprint later on, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[04:49] Passage 7 (Questions 36 – 41)

Paragraph 1

The most obvious question concerning videogames of interest to philosophers and aestheticians is whether videogames belong to the category of ‘artworks.’ Three philosophers have offered arguments in favor of videogames as artworks, but showing that videogames possess the qualities sufficient to be admitted as artworks under any given theory of art does not quite show that videogames as a medium are aesthetically interesting.

Note: A video game is a piece of art and then there’s some contrast here in the last sentence. There are people who have argued that it fits under the guise of artwork. But the author’s bringing their own question here at the end as to the definition of art.

[05:46] Passage 7, Paragraph 2

Videogames are an artistically valuable medium; games are artworks precisely due to their qualities. Videogames are an appreciative art-kind – a class of works that share a common feature and should be appreciated (as artworks) in part by virtue of possessing that feature. This feature, which I name Representation by Regulated Interaction, will offer both philosophers and ludologists evidence to claim both that videogames may be artworks, and that the medium has something new and interesting to offer the world of art.

Note: The takeaway here is there’s some feature that makes video games art. And this feature is Representation by Regulated Interaction. There’s some feature that all video games have that’s unique and separates it from the world of art. This is what separates video games from everything else. We’re always looking for that contrast and opinion stuff. The author says video games are art. Because they have this and other things don’t have. So we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.

[07:26] Passage 7, Paragraph 3

There are many ways in which the videogame represents information about our player-characters. One type of representation, however, is not only revealed to the audience through interacting with the videogame, but in fact consists of the way such interaction occurs. Videogames can represent facts about their fictional subjects by manipulating the way the player interacts with those subjects via Representation by Regulated Interaction. The way the avatar responds to player input represents something about the character. For instance, it is common for the relative mass of a character to be represented to the player by having the avatar move slowly or quickly in response to movement commands. Characterizing these techniques as representational capacities enables the artistic potential of these techniques to be better understood.

Note: Now, this is something that happens very often, where the MCAT will give a lot of definitions and it’s kind of confusing. For example, it’s not necessarily what’s happening on the screen, but it’s how you’re controlling them. And so if somebody is heavier, they’re going to respond slower when you’re trying to move them around. If they’re lighter, they’re going to move faster. And the author is arguing that this communicates some information to you. And so you are understanding something about the video game that isn’t being shown on screen. It’s the way that you’re controlling the characters themselves, that are providing information.

[09:14] Passage 7, Paragraph 4

Some have suggested that some forms of theatre or interactive installation may make use of Representation by Regulated Interaction. The key difference is that all interactive artworks use interactivity to engage their audiences, but only videogames are capable of using interactivity to represent things about their subjects. Video games have the unique ability to place the player in direct control of a subject of the work, the avatar. Because we take on a character role, we can be represented to about that character through the way they act on our instructions in the world of the videogame. Only in videogames will the audience be able to be represented to about their character as that character, and not as an external viewpoint with supernatural access to that character’s mental states, as in first-person literature, or viewing a scene as if through their eyes, as in film and other visual arts.

Note: There are some people who don’t think this makes video games special. The author disagrees. The key difference is they help you engage the audience, but only video games are capable of using interactivity to represent things about their subjects. So there’s a lot of detail-driven stuff here. But I think the important thing here is the second sentence. It says the key difference is that video games are the only ones that do this. So the author is talking about other stuff that some other things do, but only in video games.

[11:06] Passage 7, Paragraph 5

Avatars are not always anthropomorphic characters. The recent From Dust places the player in the role of the breath of a god sculpting a world to satisfy, or frustrate, the needs of its occupants. Flower finds the player acting on the world of the videogame through the fictional proxy of a breeze. Anything that can play the role of avatar in a videogame has the potential to utilize Regulated Interaction, and this broadens the distinctive artistic scope of game-art. In no other medium would it be possible to enable the audience to feel some of what it is like to act on the world as a breeze, a deity, or any of the avatars that videogames might use. Thus, Representation by Regulated Interaction can be used to great artistic effect. The artistic capabilities of Representation by Regulated Interaction are limited only by the objects that can be represented as avatars, and the relationships that can be developed between them and their players.

[12:40] Question 36

What is the main purpose of the fourth paragraph, beginning with “Some have suggested…”?

  1. To claim that videogames use only avatars to represent information about the character to the player

B.To explain how videogame avatars are different from first-person narratives, films, and other visual arts

  1. To persuade the reader that other forms of interactive artwork are just as capable of using Representation by Regulated Interaction
  2. To counter the argument that other art forms may be able to make use of Representation by Regulated Interaction

Thought Process:

B and D both seem true. According to the passage, both of those are in scope, or the author’s viewpoint. C is the opposite viewpoint. So that’s wrong, because that’s just wrong within the scope of the passage. And so B is this weird answer that is true in the scope of the passage. It’s not true in outside knowledge, but it’s true in the passage.

The problem with that is that it doesn’t answer the question. And so we call that a faulty use of detail that’s something in the scope of the passage. It’s a true statement. The author feels that way that is different. But that’s not why the author brought this up. The author brought up this stuff to say that video games are the only things that can use this Representation by Regulated Interaction. The author wasn’t trying to say video games are so different.

'Make sure you understand what the question is asking you.'Click To Tweet

Correct Answer: D

[16:46] Question 37

Based on the author’s claims in the passage, the relationship between a videogame and an “appreciative art-kind” is one in which:

  1. an appreciative art-kind is an example of and a subset of the category of videogames.
  2. a videogame is an example of and a subset of the category appreciative art-kind.
  3. the definitions of the two categories are mutually exclusive in a single work, although complimentary in a broader view.
  4. the category videogame and the category appreciative art-kind are converses.

Thought Process:

Because video games are an archive, video games are a subset of this appreciative art and so B is the answer. Don’t try to answer this question without going back to the passage. Always go back to the passage if you have a question like this.

There are people who are successful in that state where they don’t have to go back to the passage. But there are people out who need to go back to the passage because they can’t remember the passage very well.

“You don't get any points for reading the passage well. You get points for answering the questions.” Click To Tweet

When you get to the questions, you always want to go back to the passage. Because if you’re not going back to the passage and you’re going inside your own head. So you’re way more likely to come up with your own things and twist the words around or bring in outside information.

You should be spending less time on the passage and more time on the questions with the ability to go back.

You just have to be careful. There are people out there who are successful reading the passage, and then never looking back. But that is such a minority of people. Everyone cannot be successful. And everyone can be successful if they go back to the passage.

Correct Answer: B

[22:58] Question 38

Suppose it is found that other forms of theatre or interactive installations are capable of using interactivity to represent things about their subjects, how would this impact the claim that videogames are an appreciative art-kind?

  1. It would have no effect on the author’s claim.
  2. It would disprove the author’s claim.
  3. It would weaken the author’s claim.
  4. It would contradict the author’s claim.

Thought Process:

If it disproved the author’s claim, I think that would also weaken it. If I had a viewpoint someone disproved it, my argument is weakened. Or if it contradicted my claim, that would also weaken the author’s claim. And so if B is true, then C is also true. And I can’t have two true answers. If D is true, then C is also true. It’s possible to weaken a claim without disproving it or contradicting it maybe. And so C is still possible as an answer choice. So we can eliminate B and D right off the bat and we don’t even have to read the passage to know it’s got to be A or C.

As you look at the relationships of the answers to each other, even if you have no idea you didn’t read the passage, you’re down to a 50/50. It’s definitely something you have to pay attention to.

Phil would highly advocate a student not to look at the answer choices for that question. Go back to the passage, what’s the relationship and then just match it like a video game is a type of appreciative archive. And so that’s a real easy thing to match if you’ve gone back.

Correct Answer: A

[30:07] Question 39

Which of the following statements would the author most likely agree with?

  1. All videogames are works of art.
  2. Only some videogames are works of art.

III. Videogames are a medium for creating art.

  1. I only
  2. II only
  3. I and III only
  4. II and III only

Thought Process:

The passage says a couple of times that video games are a medium. You may not agree that a video game or a canvas is a piece of art. But if the passage said it was then you would have to agree. And so this might be one of those things where you have to be super careful when you know something about video games. Making an analogy to a canvas is something a lot of people would do, but just go straight to the passage like it says that the medium a couple of times.

Correct Answer: C

[34:18] Question 40

Which of the following is an example of Representation by Regulated Interaction according to the author’s definition?

  1. In video games in general, an avatar might take a hit from an enemy and it is represented to the player as a vibration in the video game controller.
  2. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the player avatar (Batman) is poisoned and begins hallucinating. While hallucinating about the murder of his parents, the avatar turns into a young Bruce Wayne. In this state, the avatar does not run, but only shuffles in response to movement commands from the player.
  3. In the game Grand Theft Auto, in order to find out how Liberty City is laid out, what kinds of people populate the city, what the character’s tasks are, and the options available to complete them, the player must direct the avatar in such a way as to see, hear, converse, and otherwise gather this information about the world.
  4. In video games in general, facts about the character are represented to the player visually, such as the color of the character’s skin or eyes, and audibly, such as the way they talk.

Thought Process:

It’s not what you’re seeing, it’s the way you’re controlling the character. That’s important. And that’s what B is going into. Answer choice A is an interesting thing, where the controller will shake when you get hit if you play video games. And that’s not you controlling the character. If anything, it’s going in the opposite direction. Something happening in a video game is affecting you. The way it looks, or the way it sounds is what D is saying, but that’s not how you’re controlling the character and how the character responds to that regulated interaction.

Correct Answer: B

[36:52] Question 41

Which claim about art is most strongly supported by the passage discussion about avatars not being limited to anthropomorphic characters?

  1. Art is visual.
  2. Art is experiential.
  3. Art is practical.
  4. Art is theoretical.

Thought Process:

Many students tend to choose answer choice D but it’s wrong. It feels good from the passage. But that’s not what the passage was saying. What’s cool about being a breeze is it’s the only way for you to know what it’s like to be a breeze. And so it’s about the experience rather than a theoretical thing.

Correct Answer: B


Meded Media

Blueprint MCAT


DOWNLOAD FREE - Crush the MCAT with our MCAT Secrets eBook