The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology - Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman Part One
- Cultural Models: Do You Want to Be the Blue Sonic or the Dark Sonic? – James Gee  – Pg 610
“Cultural models, which cannot be stated in one definitive way, are stories or images of experiences that people can tell themselves or simulate in their minds, stories and images that represent what they take to be “normal” or “typical” cases or situations. In this sense, they are like theories…”
“Cultural models are picked up as part and parcel of acting with others in the world. We act with others and attempt to make sense of what they are doing and saying. We interact with the media of our society and attempt to make sense of what is said and done there, ass well. Cultural models are the tacit, taken for-granted theories we [usually unconsciously] infer and then act on in the normal course of events when we want to be like others in our social groups. People who have no cultural models would have to think everything out for themselves minute by minute when they attempt to act. They would be paralyzed. And they certainly would not be social beings, since part of what makes us social beings is the set of cultural models we share with those around us.”
“Most other academic disciplines operate in a similar way. They leave out a myriad of details to formulate a basic pattern that later can be made more complex to apply in different ways to different situations… leaving out a lot of details to get the basic pattern… People form cultural models from their experience by leaving out many of the details to capture what they take to be the typical cases.”
- Interaction and Narrative – Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern [2000|2005] – Pg 642
“Where gameplay is all about interactivity, narrative is all about predestination. There is a pervasive feeling in the game design community that narrative and interactivity are antithetical…”
- Emergent and Player Constructed Narrative -
“…emergent narrative is concerned with providing a rich framework within which individual players can construct their own narratives…Autonomous characters may be designed in such a way that interactions among autonomous characters and between characters and the player may give rise to loose narrative or narrative snippets [Stern 2002; Stern 1999; Aylett 1999].” (This looks at MMOs and the Sims as examples but is this concept limited to just these types of games?)
- Murray’s Aesthetic Categories – [Murray 1998]
Murray proposed three categories for the analysis of interactive story experiences: immersion, agency, and transformation.
Immersion – the feeling of being present in another place and engaged in the action therein. Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” – when a participant is immersed in an experience, they are willing to accept the internal logic of the experience, even though the logic deviates from the logic of the real world.
Agency – feeling of empowerment that comes from being able to take actions in the world whose effects relate to the players intention. (Not more interface activity) [empowerment is key, not just interactivity.]
Transformation – 3 different meanings
- transformation of masquerade – the game allows the player to transform themselves into someone else for the duration of the experience.
- transformation of variety – the game experience offers a multitude of variations on a theme. The player is able to exhaustively explore there variations and thus gain an understanding of the theme.
- Personal transformation – the game experience takes the player on a journey of personal transformation.
Transformation of masquerade and variety can be seen as means to effect personal transformation.
- Interactive Drama -
“the characteristics in an interactive drama should be rich enough that the player can infer a consistent model of the character’s thought. If the character’s thought can be understood [e.g. goals, motivations, desires], then this thought becomes a material resource for player actions. By reasoning about the other character’s thoughts, the layer can take actions to influence these characters.,, either to change their thoughts, or actively help or hinder them in their goals and plans.”
“In interactive drama, the understanding of the formal causation from the level of plot to character additionally helps the player to have an understanding of what to do, that is, why they should take actions within the story world at all.”
- Agency -
“A player will experience agency when there is balance between the material [actions] and formal [play] constraints.”
“When the actions motivated by the formal constraints [accordances] via dramatic probability in the plot are commensurate with the material constraints [affordances] made available form the levels of spectacle, pattern, language, and thought, then the player will experience agency.”
affordances means what is allowed (positive) in a game as opposed to not being allowed to do things (negative) or at least being made aware of what you can’t do. Only let the player know what they can do, what they’re afforded in the game.
- Relationships to Immersion and Transformation -
3 ways of inducing immersion according to Murray: structuring participation with a mask [an avatar], structuring participation as a visit, and making the interaction conventions [the interface mechanics] seamless.
“An avatar can provide both material [action] and formal [plot] constraints on a player’s actions. The avatar can provide character exposition through such traits as physical mannerisms and speech patterns. This character exposition helps the player to recapitulate the formal, plot constraints. Through both input and output filtering, the avatar can provide material constraints [affordances] for action.”
- Middle Ground Positions -
- evoked narratives – elements from a known linear narrative are included in the spatial design of the game (Star Wars Galaxies)
- enacted narratives – organized around the player’s movement through space (Adventure Games)
- embedded narratives – narrative events [and their consequences] are embedded in a game space such that the player discovers a story as they progress through the game (Half-Life)[LocoLobos?]
emergent narratives – narratively pregnant game spaces enabling players to make their own stories (The Sims)
-Summary- [How it applies to me]
looking at emergent and embedded narratives to create a linguistic-less game experience with a narrative. The environments you go through tells a story(embedded spaces); the character’s design/presentation(looking at social psychology for design) tells a story. These two form the formal (plot) constraints (affordances). The material (action) constraints are informed (afforded) through the level layout and the character’s design. This informs the player of all their affordances and allows them to interact and proceed in a way that they should, making meaningful choices, and achieving agency (kind of like flow). What they do also affects the game/narrative. [Things done in the level should effect the game (narrative and mechanics)] – example – boss at the end of the level is harder/easier, different altogether, etc. based on what the player did in the level getting to the boss [for my visual component Loco Lobos]
- Game Design as Narrative Architecture – Henry Jenkins  – Pg 670
- Enacting Stories -
“We might describe musicals, action films or slapstick comedies as having accordion-like structures. Certain plot points are fixed where-as other moments can be expanded or contracted in response to audience feedback without serious consequences to the overall plot.”
“The introduction needs to establish the character’s goals or explain the basic conflict, the conclusion needs to show the successful completion of those goals or the final defeat of the antagonist.”
- Embedded Narratives -
“…narrative comprehension is an active process by which viewers assemble and make hypothesis about likely narrative developments on the basis of information drawn from textual cues and clues. As they move through the film, spectators test and reformulate their mental maps of the narrative action and the story space. In games, players are forced to act upon those mental maps, to literally test them against the game world itself.”
“The heavy-handed exposition that opens many games serves a useful function in orienting spectators to the core premises so that they are less likely to make stupid and costly errors as they first enter into the game world. Some games create a space for rehearsal, as well, so that we can make sure we understand our character’s potential moves before we come up against the challenges of navigating narrational space.”
“…a game designer can somewhat control the narrational process by distributing the information across the game space. Within an open-ended and exploratory narrative structure like a game, essential narrative information must be redundantly presented across a range fo spaces and artifacts, since one can not assume the player will necessarily locate or recognize the significance of any given element. Game designers have developed a variety of kludges which allow them to prompt players or steer them towards narratively salient spaces.”