MSc Information Systems & Management

2008 – 2009

Deconstructing Digital Games: Developing an Analytical Framework Bridging Narratology and Ludology Andreas Alexiou 0857171 Supervisor: Dr. Joe Nandhakumar

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Despite the fact that digital games exist for over forty years now, they have become the focus of serious academic research in the last ten to fifteen years. While the first attempts for their analysis were made from fields like film or literary studies with a focus on the narrating potential of the medium, during the last decade another approach have emerged for the study of digital games; that of ludology. Lodology considers digital games as the evolution of traditional games and treats them as such. While a few attempts have been made in the past for developing a framework for the analysis of digital games, they are considered incomplete. That is mainly due to the multidimensionality of the medium that requires a multi-disciplinary approach for analysing it holistically. Based on academic literature approaches, digital games as both stories and games were taken into account, and those elements that should be analysed in this contextual framework, are indentified. These elements are divided in three layers: Game Story, Game System and GameWorld. In addition, an example of the applicability of the framework is provided based on a sophisticated computer role playing game, The Witcher. The main aim of this study is to synthesise the perspectives of academics regarding the true nature of digital games and make a small step towards a more holistic approach in their analysis. Moreover, the development of such a framework could be further used to identify patterns among game titles that could indicate developing trends, limitations in game development or even recipes for success.

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I would like to take this opportunity to first thank my supervisor Dr. Joe Nandhakumar for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work on a subject I so love. I can’t thank you enough for helping me with my work and for the patience you showed throughout the time it took me to complete my research and write the dissertation. I also feel deeply indebted to Dr. Nikiforos Panourgias for all his support, inspiration and insight regarding this project and not only. To all my friends, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your support and understanding especially during the last phase of this work. Thank you all for being there when I needed a break from my work and for making my life interesting and beautiful. I dedicate this work to my first ever playmates: my parents, Nikos and Fotini and my brother Alexander.

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Table of Contents
Abstract............................................................................................................................................. ii Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................................... iii 1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 2. Background & Motivation .................................................................................................. 1 Research Questions & Rationale......................................................................................... 3 Structure ............................................................................................................................ 3

Digital Games as Narratives ....................................................................................................... 5 2.1 2.2 To Be a Story or Not? ........................................................................................................ 5 Classical Approaches to Narrative ...................................................................................... 7 Aristotelian Approach................................................................................................. 7 Formalism .................................................................................................................. 8 Structuralism ............................................................................................................ 13

2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 2.3

The Narrative Elements of Digital Games......................................................................... 17 The Imagination Stimulator ...................................................................................... 17 The Story-Teller ....................................................................................................... 18

2.3.1 2.3.2 2.4 2.5 3.

The other side .................................................................................................................. 20 Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 23

Digital Games as Games .......................................................................................................... 25 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Silent Evolution: An Introduction on Games .............................................................. 25 Rules................................................................................................................................ 30 Simulation........................................................................................................................ 32 An introduction to ludology.............................................................................................. 34


Theoretical Framework ............................................................................................................ 36 4.1 4.2 4.3 Game Story ...................................................................................................................... 40 Game System ................................................................................................................... 40 Gameworld ...................................................................................................................... 42


Case study Analysis & Discussion............................................................................................ 48 5.1 5.2 Game Reading: The Witcher ............................................................................................ 49 Applying the Framework .................................................................................................. 50 Layer One: Game Story ............................................................................................ 51 Layer Two: Game System ........................................................................................ 55 Game Mechanics .................................................................................................. 55 iv | P a g e

5.2.1 5.2.2

................... 66 6..... 57 Control Scheme ............2.............................2........................... 56 Goals ...................................................................3 5........................................................................................................................................... 58 Environment ....................................2........................ 74 v|P ag e ..................................................1 6..3 5...............1 5...........3.....................................................................2........................................ 66 Limitations .....................................................2......... 56 Information.........2 Conclusions .................................................................................................2....2...............2.................................................................................2 6................. 58 Components ....................................................................5.... 57 Layer three: Gameworld ..... 61 Conclusion & Limitations ............................2..............................................................................................................5 5......... 67 Reference List.............2 5........2...................................................................... Interface .................................................................................................................3......................................4 5....................................2...... 69 Ludography ........................

Digital games3 seem to take a dominant role as a form of entertainment all over the developed world with the industry in the U. 2009). Source: www.vgchatz. we can now encounter all sorts of product advertisements within the games themselves. Popular game titles are being transferred on the big screen and vice-versa and with the average player currently being 35 years old (Entertainment Software Association. the player may witness all sorts of familiar landmarks: the Shell gas station on the corner.1 Background & Motivation By the time these lines were being written Nintendo’s Wii. 2009). the McDonald's on Main Street or the Budweiser billboards near highway exits. Introduction 1. video games (that purely refers to games with some form of video display and conventionally to console games) and arcade games (any form of electronic game that has been designed for public play).[INTRODUCTION] Warwick Business School Referring to August 01/ 2009. All the above inevitably forced a sharp rise in the interest shown on the cultural genre of digital games by the academia and after nearly forty years of quiet evolution they are now 1 2 3 For more information and statistics on the video game industry. Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s XBOX360 had sold over 52. 24 and 31 million units respectively The term digital games will be used in this study as an umbrella term for the terms computer games (that purely refers to a “computer controlled game” and conventionally to any game played on a personal computer). At the same time game titles like “Wii Sports Resort” or “Monster Hunter Tri” (both for the Wii console) delivered weekly sales of 918K and 561K respectively2. visit www. videogames have attracted huge marketing campaigns where besides the promotion of the ever-new hardware and software in the traditional media platforms.7 billion sales with 68% of the households using at least one digital game platform (Entertainment Software Association.vgchartz. 1|P a ge .S alone reaching a gross total of $11. While playing a driving game for example.

with questions like “do games induce violent behaviours?” dominating the literature. Steadily the focus of interest started to move away from and towards analyses that acknowledge the relevance of this new medium. Lev Manovich’s (2001) work is based on films. The dominating approach so far has been narratology. Most of the early works on digital games bespeak this fact. That tendency led scholars like Espen Aarseth and Markku Eskelinen to claim theoretical imperialism (Aarseth. stimulated academic interest that initially focused in the social impacts of digital games. the exploration of its capabilities. Landow (1997) used poststructuralist literary theory in his work Hypertext 2. Based on the notion that digital games are not one medium but many different media at the same time. All those trends that started to become apparent in the late 80’s and took the form of an avalanche during the last decade. 2001).0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Many of those arguments have been expressed in the infamous narratology vs ludology debate.[INTRODUCTION] Warwick Business School recognised as a large-scale social and aesthetic phenomenon. drama and film studies (Eskelinen. it is not within the scope of this dissertation to take sides and argue in favour of one theory or the other. With our need to understand digital games came the need to identify a theory that can help study them as accurately and thoroughly as possible. 2|P a ge . its cultural qualities and more. Nevertheless. It is clear in the literature that multiple views and arguments exist regarding the “most fit” theory for studying digital games. while George P. and as game. theatre. 1997) or colonisation from the fields of literary. the medium’s different qualities are acknowledged and lead us to approach games as a twofold existence: as narrative. Brenda Laurel (1993) in her classic work Computers as Theater approached computers from a dramaturgy perspective adopting that way a more Aristotelian concept of closure as the source for the players pleasure.

2 Research Questions & Rationale Warwick Business School The aim of this dissertation is to identify the core elements that digital games possess. IV. novels.[INTRODUCTION] 1. their level of importance and their incorporation in a comprehensive framework that will provide the basis for further research. Identify all the core elements of digital games that derive from their dual nature. Therefore. III. Categorise them according to their nature and develop a framework. a unified approach that incorporates elements from different disciplines is required for their proper analysis. cannot be considered holistic.3 Structure This dissertation is structured as follows: Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature on digital games as narratives. and demonstrate different layers of characteristics. Games will be approached from a through-the-eyes-of-theplayer perspective and will include a focus on specific elements that affect the overall playing experience. Digital games differ from traditional games as well as from other forms of narrative media like films. theatre etc. The rationale behind this approach is that the analysis of games under either narratology or ludology alone. Study digital games both as narratives and as games. 1. II. In the light of the above this dissertation aims to address the following: I. Apply the framework on a case study and identify its level of functionality. Drawing on the existing literature this chapter aims to stress the qualities and potential of digital games as a 3|P a ge . The framework will be drawn upon the twofold nature of digital games.

The chapter focuses on the analysis of digital games as rules and as simulations. the limitations of the research and propositions for future research. 4|P a ge . The game elements that have been identified as essential for game analysis are categorised in three layers: Game Narrative. Chapter 5 provides an application of the framework on a case study and relevant discussion. Chapter 4 is a representation of the framework developed using the existing literature. In Chapter 3 digital games are approached as games and their core elements as such are identified. It also presents the classical approaches to narrative that have been applied to digital game analysis so far and identifies the narrative elements of digital games. Game System and Gameworld. is also given. the discipline that studies games. Chapter 6 consists of the conclusions of this dissertation.[INTRODUCTION] Warwick Business School story-telling medium. A short introduction on ludology.

as does work. a certain latitude in the necessity of improvising being inevitably left to the initiative of the players. wealth. ending in a situation identical with that which prevailed when the game began. Contemporary 5|P a ge . Isolated: circumscribed within the limitations of a precise time and place and agreed upon in advance. we can look in the work of Caillois (1957) and the six conditions which exist in play: 1. 4. We could argue that since one of the conditions and according to the author “the essence of play” is to be unproductive. as does art.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School 2. in which event play will immediately lose the characteristic of an attractive and happy diversion.1 To Be a Story or Not? It seems that not all games tell stories. to create neither wealth. Unproductive: creating neither commodities. 2. with the exception of a transfer of property among the circle of players. it could be claimed that games do not necessarily generate narratives as well. Fictitious: accompanied by a specific awareness of a second reality or of a frank unreality in contrast to daily life. Digital Games as Narratives 2. 5. 6. Uncertain: whose progress and result cannot be determined in advance. nor a work. 3. Unregulated: subject to the conventions that suspend ordinary laws and temporarily institute new rules that alone count. Free: something which the player is not forced to engage in. nor any kind of new element and. In order to prove our point.

quests... in a recent interview argues: “Video games are the medium with the most untapped potential when it comes to storytelling [. the video game scriptwriter of titles such as “Mirror's Edge”. foes.” (Parker. There are 6|P a ge . story loses. “Heavenly Sword”. and the entire “Overlord” franchise.] Gameplay and story can sometimes have quite different goals that can often see them fighting for space. scenery etc.. 2009).. the narrative elements of digital games have been promptly recognised and there have been many attempts to approach games through respective theories. 1) who argues that in most cases “[. Pratchett’s view portray accurately the current situation in the digital games field and partially justify the views of extreme ludologists like Markus Eskelinen (2001..] stories are just uninteresting ornaments or gift-wrappings to games”. daughter of the English novelist Terry Pratchett.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School digital games on the other hand.] but there’s a long way to go. It’s really about finding the common ground between the two and thinking about story early enough in the development cycle that it can properly fit together with the gameplay. Digital games (at least in their majority) can be thus perceived as a hybrid between game and storytelling. And nine times out of 10. Rhianna Pratchett.. demonstrate in their majority some sort of narrative that unravels throughout the game with well defined. Nevertheless. Developing the right synergy between gameplay and narrative takes time to become industry-wide. p. [. Not just lie on top of it like a kind of narrative custard. For every Portal or Psychonauts we have several dozen titles where the narrative has clearly been an afterthought and has no real bearing on the gameplay. heroes.

1 Aristotelian Approach Brenda Laurel (1993) suggested a model of the Aristotelian theory where a two-way system of relations between Aristotle’s six hierarchical parts of play was described.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School three major classic narrative theories that have been used for the study of digital games: the Aristotelian. Hence. language (diction). pattern. 2. while the opposite direction describes the audience view (material cause) of the narrative represented by its understanding of the plot (Figure 1). character.2 Classical Approaches to Narrative 2. Aristotle identified six distinct parts in every play: action. All those parts are related via material cause and formal cause. 2001) 7|P a ge . the formalist and the structuralist theories. thought.2. the interrelation that goes from action towards enactment is considered as the authorial view (formal cause) of the narrative presented by the plot. and enactment. Figure 1: Theory of Drama (Adapted from Mateas.

2001). requires a well defined universal plan to cover all possible branch points rendering the task both authorially and computationally intractable (Louchart & Aylett.2. 8|P a ge . By taking action in the experience. While Mateas’s theory includes user interaction and gives more importance to the characters. Mateas (2001) tried to address this issue by putting forward a neoAristotelian theory (Figure 2) in order to represent the roles and limitations of the user as a character in the drama. 2. He achieved that by introducing two new causal chains. Figure 2: Neo-Aristotelian theory of drama (Adapted from Mateas 2001). it is constrained from below by material resources and from above by authorial formal causation from the level of plot (Mateas. the classic Aristotelian theory does not integrate the element of interactivity that is present in digital games. the player's intentions become the formal cause of activity happening at the levels from language down to spectacle but this ability to take action is not completely free. The concept of beats which operate like way points in the required route and was proposed as a solution to the above issue. it still remains a plot-dominating approach that incorporates mechanisms for forcing the user back into the desired action sequence. The player's intentions are now becoming a new source of formal causation.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School However.2 Formalism The Russian formalists’ approaches to the macro structural level of narrative focus primarily on the forms of the narrative rather than on the substances of its content (Louchart & Aylett. 2004).

[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School 2004). Complicity (θ). and had promised her hand in marriage to her cousin Lord Cedric. It introduces important characters and presents a pre-narrative graphical representation of the different components of the tale. In the Formalist approach. (ABC↑). Beginning of counteraction (C). or morphemes. Propp was able to arrive at a typology of narrative structures. who although a knight. if he could kill the Dragon that lived in the mountain and was terrorising the people of the land. Violation (δ). Mediation connective incident (B). King Henry told David that he could achieve a knighthood. far away lived a young princess called Victoria and a poor boy called David. the quest type adventure story. Unfortunately for them. Trickery (η). Vladimir Propp extended the approach by using this method by analogy to analyse Russian fairy tales. sentence structures were broken down into analysable elements. Interdiction (γ). the logical sequence of events that leads the hero to decision-making. and Victoria did not want to marry him. Lack (a). King Henry would not allow his daughter to marry anyone who was not a knight. Villainy (A). and have his daughter’s hand in marriage. He then argued that the structure of all fairy tales is based on a single type. Departure (↑). Princess Victoria and David loved each other so much that they decided to get married. was a mean and ugly man. Example Preparatory Section Aims Functions involved Example Provides the narrative and the reader with the essential necessary knowledge to understand the next section. Exposes the reasons. or narratemes. Some of them can also be grouped into pairs and can cause the occurrence or nonoccurrence of certain events that could change the structure of the narrative and its classification (Louchart & Aylett.part model for analysing that structure. 2004). Abstentation (β). Reconnaissance (ε). Victoria’s father. By breaking down a large number of Russian folk tales into their smallest narrative units. and developed a seven . the motivations and the goals of the actions. actions and ultimately to leave home and his engagement into a quest. Delivery (ξ). Complication Section Aims The call for action. in a land far. All the functions in Table 1 are considered to appear in the order in which they are listed. Logical and Chronological Process Initial Situation Section Aims It is placed prior to the development of the tale itself (represented by the symbol α). Functions involved Example 9|P a ge . Once upon a time.

First function of the Donor (D). and receives a magical agent or helper that proves to be essential for the achievement of the quest that the hero is engaged in. Table 1: Propp’s seven part narrative model (adapted from Louchart & Aylett. 2004). Provision or receipt of a magical agent (F). the Return (↓). unconscious structure behind all religion and myth. Repeat Section Aims At this stage the author can either opt for a repeat of the first stage. all the 10 | P a g e .[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Donor Section Aims Warwick Business School The hero in this section is tested. Campbell argues that there is a common underlying. Solution to the task). Solution (N). and kept his promise. David was able to kill the dragon and went triumphantly back to King Henry’s castle. Functions involved Example Action Section Aims Functions involved Example It is led by a series of actions and ultimately results in direct confrontation of the villain and the hero. by starting a new villainy. The sequence DEF provides the hero the means by which the completion of the quest is possible. Unrecognised arrival (o). and the king offered him his daughter in marriage. and they all lived happily ever after. Recognition (Q). Propp’s structure of fairytales brings to mind the concept of the monomyth suggested by Joseph Campbell (1968) in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Spatial transference between two kingdoms or Guidance (G). Second Move Section Aims Functions involved Example This section involves the function pair MN (Difficult task. David became a knight of the land. Struggle (H). Liquidation of the initial misfortune of Lack (K). and gave him a magic sword to kill the dragon. the Hero’s reaction (E). Exposure (Ex). the Pursuit. Chase (Pr) and the Rescue (Rs). Branding marking (J). It was in the mountain that he met a strange wizard called Archibald. David went on a long journey to the mountain in order to kill the dragon and win the hand of his beloved. Victory (I). or move on to the second move and end the story (the Second move section). Wedding (W). Thanks to the magic sword. While Propp’s rather prescriptive narrative structure cannot be effectively used in cases where more emergent narrative approaches are required. The King was overjoyed. Unfounded claims (L). Punishment (U). Archibald offered to help David. brings the last actions into a story and concludes the story. Transfiguration (T). Difficult task (M). Victoria and David were married at a wonderful wedding ceremony. fits successfully in all quest-type digital games.

each with a number of subsections.and of the collective unconscious. a goddess (sometimes associated with a mother figure). The journey has three major parts to it – Departure. a mentor. The hero cycle also contains a number of familiar repeated characters . which he felt provided the foundation of mythological thinking in a great diversity of cultures. Initiation. Campbell was a student of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and his ideas were greatly influenced from Jung’s notion of cultural archetypes that Jung believed are reflections of the human mind -that our minds divide themselves into these characters to play out the drama of our lives.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School great mythical sagas are basically one story. and returns to his ordinary world with a marvelous boon. though the monomyth is a clear attempt to find an underlying structure beneath the many surface manifestations of the story of the great quest that can be found in all great myths and epics around the world.the hero (obviously). Such stories commonly revolve around the “Good versus Evil” or “Light versus Darkness” struggle. An outline of the structure would look like the one below: I. magic potions or forces. The Call to Adventure 2. seeing the hero’s journey as a simultaneous journey of the ego to achieve oneness with the world. We can also identify traces of Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis in his work. Refusal of the Call 3. jesters or tricksters. In its shortest form. Supernatural Aid 11 | P a g e . to overcome its fears of both id and superego. the monomyth. and Return . the hero ventures out from his ordinary life and world into a supernatural one. a villain (often referred to as the “dragon”). Campbell doesn’t talk much about being influenced by the Russian formalist or the French structuralist theory. helpers and even rogues. encounters and defeats strange and magical forces arrayed against him. Departure 1.

Master of the Two Worlds 6. The Ultimate Boon III. The Crossing of the First Threshold 5. The Road of Trials 2. Refusal of the Return 2.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] 4. The Belly of the Whale II. or games. 2002). like “Diablo”. The Magic Flight 3. Return 1. The Crossing of the Return Threshold 5. like “The Lord of the Rings”. The Meeting with the Goddess 3. “Neverwinter Nights” etc. Woman as the Temptress 4. the “Star Wars” and “The Matrix” series. films. By emphasising on the lines of dialogue themselves 12 | P a g e . without that meaning that all games use all stages described above. Atonement with the Father 5. The functional analysis of dialogue that extends from the Russian Formalists and only recently appeared in film studies could be another useful tool in the analysis of the digital games’ narrative element (Smith. Rescue from Without 4. Propp’s and Campbell’s theories are quite useful for analysing the narrative structure of digital games since many of them are drawn on the archetype of the hero. Apotheosis 6. Freedom to Live Warwick Business School We’ve all encountered the above structure in many novels. Initiation 1. “Dungeon Siege”. “Ulysses”.

cited in Lindley.2. 1983. 2005.). According to the structuralist theory.3 Structuralism The work of Propp greatly influenced structuralists like Claude Lévi-Strauss.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School and not on larger structures like traditional literary theory does. According to Chatman (1989. we could study the way that these bits of dialogue work at the local level to give the player narrative information (op. 7) “[.. 2005). 5). Tzvetan Todorov and Roland Barthes. 2004: p. Figure 3: A simple representation of the structural theory (adapted from Louchard & Aylett.] a spoken or written discourse which undertakes the telling of the events in a story” (Rimmon-Kenan.] the story is the what in the narrative that is depicted and the discourse the how”. This general principle inspired a structural approach to general cultural analysis in which specific social forms are seen as manifestations of an underlying generative system (Lindley.. cited in Louchart & Aylett. p. 2004) 13 | P a g e . The French structuralism explored the structures of narrative based on a linguistic approach and mainly on the structural linguistics of Sausseure who made the fundamental distinction between language (la langue) and speech (la parole). The term text refers to “[. cit. 2... the narrative text must be divided in two distinct parts: story and discourse.

it resembles the kind of narrative that linear media like films or novels provide. Consequently. According to LeBlanc’s dichotomy. the discourse level can be mapped onto what appears on the computer screen when the player is engaged in action. in retrospect “[.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School In a digital game. 2005: p. embedded refers to all the pre-generated narrative that exists before the player takes action. In that sense. Similar views can be identified in the work of many scholars that study games. It emerges from game events that unfold as the player interacts with the 14 | P a g e .. 9). It is designed in order to provide motivation for the events and actions that will follow in the game and it can be perceived as a story context. Emergent narrative on the other hand arises through the interaction of the player with the game system.. Those two rubrics can be parallelised with LeBlanc’s (2000) “embedded” and “emergent” narratives.  Players can engage with narrative as an emergent experience that happens while the game is played: Jak and Daxter's story arises through the play of the game. 2005). During action the player is in fact creating the context for and bridging sequences between the elements of predefined narrative that usually include non-interactive cinematic cut scenes and in-game stories and histories by improvising within the limits set by the designers and ultimately becoming a sort of author of the narrative constituted by the screen history of play (Lindley.] the game story is the total implied game world history as determined by the pre-designed potential of the game in interaction with the game play actions of the player” (Lindley. Salen & Zimmermann (2004) identified two broad structural rubrics for understanding the narrative components of games:  Players can experience a game narrative as a crafted story interactively told: the characters Jak and Daxter are saving the world. since it is the main story arc that guides the player through the game.

Free health on demand is apparently always welcome in every game. the story that is created by the player’s actions during play.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School system. The term also implies that the player despite the very well defined set of rules she has to operate in. Examples of such are the cases of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and the often cited Grand Theft Auto III. Obviously the story in sports games is not as complicated and developed as stories in adventure games or RPG’s but in such cases the player is in control of the story and not the designer. The designers of the game hadn’t plan of such an option but the players apparently utilised the system’s rules (or lack thereof) and created an emergent narrative. In Warcraft II it is possible in some of the missions for the player to send its few troops and peons (workers that gather resources) and exterminate the others side’s peons before they built their headquarters. Essentially while players are given a sense of control. Doug Church (1999) suggests a similar distinction. objects or the world. Cases of players taking advantages of system loopholes (without necessarily cheating) in order to achieve their goals are more than often. He argues that in adventure games the story has been written in advance by designers and is revealed to the players through their interactions with characters. the designers hadn’t even considered such possibilities when the game was being developed. raise an army and complete all the required objectives. 15 | P a g e . they end up with the same plot. But on the other hand story exists in games like NBA Live too. can experiment and discover alternative approaches for reaching the objective. In Grand Theft Auto III the player has the option to replenish 25 points of health by paying a prostitute. It is the story that happens in the game. That typically means that the battle is won since the player is left all alone in the terrain to deploy her base. It sounds like a useful option in cases of need but it costs money. In most of the cases. What some players discovered was that afterwards you can kill the prostitute and take your money back.

Apparently. and the third kind is found in external materials. Such restrictions led towards the development of process based or emergent theories like the one proposed by Louchard and Aylett (2003) that could more easily fit in the digital games or virtual reality concepts. and text levels being generatively interdependent. printed maps and more. which includes the cutscenes and all non-interactive elements. popular culture etc. including game manuals. The authors studied interactive improvisational theatre and Live Role Playing Games and proposed a process view of narrative as a dynamic system building itself from the interactions of its own narrative elements and factors. contemporary digital games are fundamentally and qualitatively different from traditional linear narrative forms and it is thus harder to apply the traditional narrative models described above onto them. another is in-game storytelling that occurs while the player is actually playing the game as in dynamic conversations etc. (Carlquist. more semiotic levels having textual manifestations.. it is not hard to identify narrative structures in digital games. 16 | P a g e . Many of the recent games follow patterns familiar from movies. 2002). 219) also makes such a distinction. Nevertheless. Such an approach considers the user and his or her behaviour as a primary resource for the storytelling system and brings a different perspective to the role of the user within the story.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School Richard Rouse (2001: p. Lindley (2005) identified those differences in: the player being a joint reader/author at some levels of narrative structure. He suggests that there are three different layers of storytelling in digital games: one is out-of-game storytelling.

That means that while all the actions the player performs -if reflected upon..3 The Narrative Elements of Digital Games Warwick Business School “From the moment I walked onto the world of Norrath.3.. Nevertheless. It can be used for creating an atmosphere or a context in order to help the player emerge into the gameworld more efficiently or motivate her to passionately follow the quest.]. 2009) but that way we shift our focal point away from their most important aspect. narrative does support the 17 | P a g e . it is true that it’s possible for some narrative elements to be found even in games like Tetris (Post.].could form a dramatic plot.. What I came away with most is the nagging question of what the author’s role might be in a video game world. Narrative can be used in different levels and degree in games. It was that alive and real to me [. On the other hand there exist games that do have narrative aspirations. Author 2. this plot is not normally the focus of attention during the heat of the action (Ryan. Those games were not developed with story-telling in mind. These are the cases where narrativity performs an instrumental rather than a strictly aesthetic function by trying to immerse the player in the game.. it doesn’t mean that everything should be described in narrative terms. I knew I could write a thousand books set there [. Jesper Juul (2002) argues that while narratives play a fundamental role in human thought and culture. when that happens the narrative theme may become backgrounded or temporarily forgotten.” Robert Anthony Salvatore. 2001).[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] 2. They were perceived as a means of pure entertainment or skill practice and should be analysed as such.1 The Imagination Stimulator While it has been supported by many theorists that everything is narrative or at least can be presented as narrative.

but the realisation of the idea would have been too costly and so “The Dig” eventually came to Lucas Arts.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School players’ cognitive and psychological engagement and improves their gaming experience (Grant & Bizzocchi. Such a case is of the game “The Dig”. It would be impossible to argue that the actual narrative layer of the game could be stripped away from the game and leave much to be analysed. why would designers put so much effort into the creation of a narrative interface? Why would graphics be so sophisticated? Why would the task of the player be presented as fighting terrorists or saving the earth from invasion by evil creatures from outer space rather than as “gathering points by hitting moving targets with a cursor controlled by a joystick”? [.] It may not be the raison d'etre of games. but it plays such an important role as a stimulant for the imagination that many recent games use lengthy film clips. where it was envisioned as a sprawling adventure game. engaging gameplay etc. 2005). As a typical point-andclick adventure of the mid-90’s. 18 | P a g e .” 2.. which interrupt the game.2 The Story-Teller On the other hand.. sophisticated game mechanics or physics and does not offer an exciting or engaging gameplay.] if narrativity were totally irrelevant to the enjoyment of games.3. p.. it does not possess any breath-taking 3D graphics. The idea behind “The Dig” was originally hatched by Steven Spielberg as an episode for his “Amazing Stories” anthology series.. some developers recognise the potential of video games as an effective storytelling medium and try to develop games that mainly aim on telling a good story rather than offer non-stop action. 1) puts it: “[. to immerse the player. As Marie-Laure Ryan (2001.

[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School Nowadays advancements in technology make it possible for great stories and engaging gameplay to coexist. 2010 and is expected to feature realistic character emotions (McInnis. Such an example was Quantic Dream’s4 “Indigo Prophecy” that gave real context to the term “cinematic gameplay”. under development by the French Studio Quantic Dream that is expected to be released in Q1. graphics. 19 | P a g e . he hopes games will one day be created by authors. However. the experience is still exactly the same. physics. David Cage. Working on this new generation of experiences requires a very different type of skills.” For example. With this new format. he identifies a few problems in such an initiative. 4 Quantic Dream is a game development studio that has invested in proprietary technologies for many years. but fundamentally. 5 Heavy Rain is an interactive adventure game. improve AI. we will become no more than toys. If we don’t invent new paradigms. including a PlayStation 3 3D engine. instead of having levels designers define where enemies and ammo should be placed on the map.” (Parker. in one recent interview argued that: “All games look the same because we have exploited to the bone the potential of our current game paradigms. The founder of Quantic Dream. And he continues: “[Another] issue is that there is no grammar for interactive storytelling at the moment and very few people in the world are working on this. 2009). 2009) Cage believes storytelling is one possible answer. to create what they call "real-time emotion" within games. if we cannot address the evolution of the market demographics and offer new kinds of experiences for an older audience. How many different games can you make where you shoot enemies in first person? You can make them look better. I think Heavy Rain5 is the only AAA title based on interactive storytelling in development at the moment. and so on. Cage would like to see writers creating appealing stories and characters. namely publisher demands and a different set of development skills.

Aarseth 1997. according to the structuralists. Early text adventures. Later text adventures.4 The other side For ludologists like Juul and Aarseth a plot makes a story and rules make a game. could interpret far more complex sentences. ludologists argue that game players do not identify with their avatars in the gameworld as readers or spectators of a narrative do with the main characters of a story (Simons. existents (actors and settings) and events (actions and happenings).48) the game's story was conveyed through passages of text. Jesper Juul. Text based adventures later evolved into Graphic Adventures where graphics were used to convey the environment to the player. and modern interactive fiction. and never the twain shall meet. for example by typing "get key" or "open door". narratives can be split into a level of discourse (the telling of the story) and the story (the story told).[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School The first game that can be said to have a story is 1977’s ADVENT (or Colossal Cave or Adventure) that later gave its name to a whole genre of computer games. 2000). Moreover. in his article “Games Telling stories? A brief note on games and narratives” (2001b) raises some interesting points on whether narrative is an important element of digital games. that were revealed to the player in response to typed instructions. the adventure games. An impetus behind distinguishing the story from the discourse and considering 20 | P a g e . that originally meant to say “a game like Adventure”. such as the aforementioned Adventure used a simple verb-noun parser to interpret these instructions. The plot-versus-rules distinction is simply a non-starter. 2007). with the classic point-and-click adventures surviving until today. In the primitive form of adventure games that Adventure introduced and have gone down in history as text-adventures or Interactive Fiction (the term was first introduced by Byte Magazine in 1981. allowing the player to interact with objects at a basic level. The story part can be subsequently split into two parts. 2. as has already been amply demonstrated in practice by games like “The Sims” series (Wright. As we already saw. p.

[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School it as a separate level of meaning from the narratives that express it is the fact that the same story may be expressed in many different narratives. if that was the terminus. Our main disagreement with Juul’s argument though is that all and all. the game even features a few sequences that are referred to in the movie but have never been shown until then. First of all the game is quite dated and the arsenal that the developers of that time had in their possession was very limited for reproducing a representative atmosphere and complex character relations. If we see for example Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (COR) that is based on the Pitch Black movie we will be able to draw a lot more connections between the two. As Jenkins 21 | P a g e . either within the same medium or across different media (Lindley. To support his argument he uses Atari’s Star Wars (1983) game that was based on the George Lucas movie of the same name (1977). meaning that stories from other media must be retellable in digital games and vice versa. but apparently it wasn’t. We believe the main problem in the above reasoning lies with the unsuccessful selection of the game that was analysed. It would be possible for the developers of COR. to develop a 3D world where the events of the Pitch Black movie would take place. Juul (2001b) draws upon the aforementioned structuralist views and argues that a story could then be recognised by having the same existents (with the same names) and same events even across media. After briefly analysing the game he comes to the conclusion that if the title was removed from the game. Besides the fact that the main character is a 3D model of the actor that stars in the movie (Vin Diesel) and has his voice. Thus he concludes that the Star Wars game cannot be said to contain a narrative that can be recognised from the Star Wars movie: most characters from the movie are missing and the few events that are included in the game are simple simulations where the player can either win or fail. background stories etc. the connection between movie and game would be hardly noticeable. it doesn’t matter that the game is not a complete reproduction of the movie upon which it is based. 2005).

p. and reading/viewing time. the function of the game. Juul’s (2001a) next argument regards time. 2006: p. 22 | P a g e . denoting the time of the telling of events (in the order in which they are told). there are many types of narrative that do not look back into past events. Since the game follows historical events it is obvious that the story time is distinct from the narrative time.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School (2004. the story time. a first person shooter. In the classical narratological framework. 2) puts it. which represents the Battle of Normandy Campaign. Juul argues that when we play a game e. The player has the role of a private that lands in one of the five beaches in the Normandy area (Pointe du Hoc) where the Allies carried out the code-named mission “Operation Overlord" in June 6. is not “so much [to] reproduce the story of a literary work… as [to evoke] its atmosphere”. the narrative time is the same as the reading/viewing time but it is pretty often completely distinct from the story time. 1944 under the command of the American General Dwight D. denoting the time of the events told. we can use the game Call of Duty 2 and in particular the first mission of the game. We shouldn’t also forget that despite the typical retrospective stance of narratives. In this case there exists a very well defined story where the outcome is already known (the allies win) and all that is left is for someone to tell (play) that story. in their chronological order. To illustrate. That fact alone doesn’t reduce the narrating ability of the medium. narrative time. It is true that at least in the majority of games. Eisenhower.186). the famous D-Day. and the discourse time.g. like the Grand Narratives of religion regarding the Second Coming and the Last Judgment that are yet to happen or the sports commentary that is happening in real time (Ryan. it is hard to find a distance between story time. a narrative has two distinct kinds of time.

The idea is that narrative can be theoretically identified in every game but its extensive analysis should be included only in those games that can support it.] game players experience the action as happening now.. even though the events never really happened” that doesn’t mean that games can’t suggest stories. Marie-Laure Ryan (2006: p. meaning. 2001: p1). As Marie-Laure Ryan puts it: “The cognitive structure that we call narrative is such that it can be called to mind by many different media. The video game may 23 | P a g e . often cited by Juul and other ludologists. Of course. 2. We must therefore recognise the particularity of games as a medium.. it is highly probable that they are doing it in different ways than other media. when games do tell stories. specifically what distinguishes them from other narrative traditions (Jenkins. those games where narrative is interwoven with the rest of the game elements and plays a significant role in the overall experience of the game. we can safely argue that narrative is a significant part of digital games and should be considered when dissecting a game for analysis.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School Regarding the argument about the possible inherent conflicts between the now of the interaction and the past or prior of the narrative. 2006). but each medium has different expressive resources. novels or drama do. and will therefore produce different concrete manifestation of this abstract structure” (Ryan.187) argues that even if we accept the fact that “ [.5 Conclusion Based on the above. It merely means that they do so in their own way partly different from how movies. while novel readers or movie and drama spectators always remain conscious of the difference between the time of the narrated events and the time of narration.

it may imbed narrative elements in its mise en scene. it may provide a staging ground upon which narratives may be created. For example. The rule systems and the simulating nature of digital games are inherent in their nature as games and this is what will discuss about in the next chapter. Digital games possess another great potential besides being a storytelling medium.[DIGITAL GAMES AS NARRATIVES] Warwick Business School produce narrative on at least one of four levels: it may evoke a pre-existing narrative association. experiment with them and infer some of their behavioural rules. 24 | P a g e . that of simulation: the ability to represent dynamic systems. the simlulated cars in EA’s “Need for Speed” are not made only through signs but also through rules of behaviour. we should never simply reduce the experience of playing a game to the experience of a story. 2007). Nevertheless. In order to explore the potential of such simulations we should besides interpreting their signs. and it may provide resources for emergent narratives (Wallin.

we first need to understand games. Games are a rich and extremely diverse family of practices and share qualities with performance arts. and games posses other qualities besides story-telling potential. television.16) who studied video games developed for a Nintendo system by comparing them to travel diaries of narratives argue that while some sort of narrative occurs in games.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School 3. They are the next evolutionary step of traditional games and they incorporate elements of other cultural artefacts. Digital Games as Games As we have seen in the previous chapters. film. Jesper Juul (2001b) in the same vein argues that games are eminently themeable: you can play chess with wooden or glass pieces.mainly due to a lack of a formal discipline that focuses on games . The artistic elements. such as comics. material arts and verbal arts. Hertz (1997) and Jannet Murrey (1999) who were influenced by their work and agree that gameplay has a better effect on giving players engaging action than richly developed stories do. depicting knights or 25 | P a g e . are there in order to support the gameplay. they remain games. 3. sports. In their core though. Thus. while most researchers try to use narratology and relevant theories to explore digital games . according to Aarseth (2004).the experience of games cannot be reduced to the experience of story. such narratives are more about spatial progression or exploration and not so much about storytelling.1 The Silent Evolution: An Introduction on Games Digital games did certainly not appear in our lives out of nowhere.C. Such a perspective can be also identified in the works of other researchers as J. in order to understand digital games. etc. Mary Fuller and Henry Jenkins (1995: p. That is because digital games are primarily games.

then: “[.1) provides us with a brief and useful distinction: “Play is an open-ended territory in which make-believe and world-building are crucial factors. 2005). The fact that such a distinction exists in the English language is quite useful and as David Parlett points out in The Oxford History of Board Games. However. performatively.." If we accept gaming as something that takes place on a higher level. on a board or in the sand. in the game-mode." depending on the way it is framed (Salen & Zimmerman. Piaget and a few others will provide us with some useful insight.. so as to sustain the internal ordering of the play-world.not to mention time and space. It would still be the same game. Despite the limited literature on the discipline.nonplay-world distinction must. not all languages separate the two concepts. Huizinga. Games are confined areas that challenge the interpretation and optimizing of rules and tactics . this rearticulation is already presupposed as a temporal and spatial incarceration that 26 | P a g e . the works of Caillois.” Walther continues and distinguishes between "play-mode" and "game-mode. we need to stress out the difference between “game” and “play”. structurally as well as temporally. many games are built on similar underlying systems or engines. game designers always try to concretize their games because game systems that can support engaging and compelling games are very hard to write the algorithms for. 2004). because of this.] when it comes to play the installation of the form of the play-world -. with play being both a larger and a smaller term than "game.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School elves. To begin with. In practice. Walther (2003: p. feed back on itself during play: continually rearticulating that formal distinction within the play-world. While as it turns out the relationship between play and game is quite a complex one. The concretisation’s and narrativisation’s role is then what distinguishes one game from another (Grant & Bizzocchi.

In other words: games should not be play. In play-mode one does not want to fall back into reality (although there is always the risk of doing so). Consequently he suggests that in the play-mode the deep fascination lies in the oscillation between play and non-play. whereas game-mode presses forward one's tactical capabilities to sustain the balance between a structured and an un-structured space. “The player gets immersed in the playing-mood that is needed to get into the game in the first place and identify with her avatar but can also be caught up in a certain area of the game where one begins to question its criteria for structure” (Walther.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School protects the rule-binding structure of a particular game from running off target. The plot in that case plays the role of the equilibrist between playing and gaming while gaming. Figure 4: Play Mode & Game Mode (adapted by Walther 2003) The reason why this simultaneous division between and intermingling of play and games is important for the study of computer games is because it ultimately touches upon the concept of gameplay. 27 | P a g e . In gamemode it is usually a matter of climbing upwards to the next level and not losing sight of structure (Walther. but that does not imply that they do not require play”. 2003: p.1). 2003).

According to his definition of play: “[Play] is a free activity standing quite consciously outside "ordinary" life as being "not serious". Huizinga (1955) in his groundbreaking work focuses in the play element in culture and doesn’t make a distinction between play and game.. but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. means. all games aim to the same purpose: the amusement of the player. equipment and manipulative action (Parlett. 1955: p. Despite their different goals.3).13) Caillois (1961: p. common to 28 | P a g e . 1961: p. Play and Games.. meaning that the player has to abide the rules that govern play behaviour. It promotes the formation of social groupings. In his seminal work Man. “Fun alone is the approved reason for playing [games]” (Goffman. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. alea. the role of competition. depending upon whether. and gaming consequently is a combination of ends. mimicry and linx.” (Huizinga. which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means. It is an activity connected with no material interest. in the games under consideration. and no profit can be gained by it.17). he proposed a division of games in four main rubrics namely agon. He argues that play is older than culture itself and that it is temporally and spatially confined. rules.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School If we were to more elaborately approach the term game we could say that every formal game can be seen as a system of ends and means where means refer to procedural rules of how to manipulate the equipment. simulation or vertigo is dominant. 1999: p. chance. Colourfully said.12) on the other hand does identify two concepts in the typology of “jeux”. Within each of these classes he then introduced a continuum between two poles upon which each game could be classified. At one extreme rests “[.] an almost indivisible principle.

or ingenuity” (Caillois. and acts accordingly. is wrong.g. has no rules while ludus does. as a more strictly defined form of play that has an explicit set of rules.. and a defined space and time.  Ludus as a particular kind of paidea that constitutes an "activity organized under a system of rules that defines a victory or a defeat. a gain or a loss". Vidart suggests that even in simple mimicry games e. It manifests a kind of uncontrolled fantasy that can be designated by the term paidea”. and purposely tedious conventions [. Lalande differentiates the two not on whether rules are existent or not but based on the outcome of the activity.. that indicates e. imperative. turbulence. there is an outcome. He then defined:  Paidea as "Prodigality of physical or mental activity which has no immediate useful objective. free improvisation. Frasca used Lalande’s deductions and correlated them with Caillois’s neologisms. skill. While we can describe ludus. Based on the above classification we can call carousel as paidea and poker or chess as ludus.] arbitrary. in plays there is not. the player does follow a rule. Someone wins or loses.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School diversion. when a child pretends to be a pilot. 1961: p. that can be mapped to the English word game. Frasca continues his reasoning and identifies an answer to this confusion in the work of the French philosopher Andre Lalande.g. In games... and carefree gaiety is dominant. 29 | P a g e .] in order to make it more uncertain of attaining its desired effect. how a pilot should behave. This later principle is completely impractical. patience. nor defined objective.13). and whose only reason to be is based in the pleasure experimented by the player". At the opposite extreme we encounter an effort to bind this frolicsome exuberance with “[. He defined this second component as ludus. even though it requires an ever greater amount of effort. that can be mapped to the English term play. according to Frasca (1999) anthropologist Daniel Vidart shows that the assumption that paidea.

 Rules are fixed. There are many games in which changing the rules is part of the game in some way. The rules of a game are fixed and do not change as a game is played. Similarly. Rules are "sets of instructions." and following those instructions means doing what the rules require and not doing something else instead. In a game with many players all players share the same set of rules. and their qualities can be identified as such:  Rules limit player action. Rules are complete and lack any ambiguity. however. 3. Paidea rules are established to play the game. If one player is operating under a set of rules different than the others.  Rules are shared by all players.2 Rules According to Salen & Zimmerman (2004) rules are the logical underbelly beneath the experiential surface of any game. rules have to be totally explicit in what they convey. whereas ludus rules are rules established to determine win or loss. It is also a prerequisite for approaching the hidden structure of games that is simulation. the game can break down. The chief way that rules operate is to limit the activities of players. Understanding the game rules is central for understanding games and subsequently digital games.  Rules are explicit and unambiguous. the way rules can be modified is always highly regulated. It is not enough that rules are explicitly and unambiguously stated: the interpretation of the rules must also be shared. 30 | P a g e .[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School He consequently recognised two types of rules: paidea rules and ludus rules.

The arena. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual. 1955: p.e. The operational rules are usually synonymous with the written-out "rules" that accompany board games and other non-digital games. The constituative rules of a game are the underlying formal structures that exist "below the surface" of the rules presented to players. the temple. so the “consecrated spot” cannot be formally distinguished from the play-ground. hedged round. They are what we normally think of as rules: the guidelines players require in order to play. etc. Rules are repeatable from game to game and are portable between sets of different players. within which special rules obtain. the magic circle. 31 | P a g e . the card-table. the court of justice. However.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES]  Warwick Business School Rules are binding. good sportsmanship. and other implied rules of proper game behaviour.  Rules are repeatable. Rules are meant to be followed. These formal structures are logical and mathematical. hallowed. dedicated to the performance of an act apart” (Huizinga. are all in form and function play-grounds. Implicit rules are the "unwritten rules" of a game. These rules concern etiquette. deliberately or as a matter of course.10). the stage. forbidden spots. The reason why the rules of a game can remain fixed and shared is because they are ultimately binding. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world. For 6 The term “magic circle” was coined by Johan Huizinga in his book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture: “All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally. the screen. the tennis court. Part of the "magic" of the magic circle6 is that the rules contain their own authority. i. Salen & Zimmerman continue their analysis and propose a three-part system for understanding what game rules are and how they operate: Operational rules are the "rules of play" of a game. implicit rules can change from game to game and from context to context. isolated.

the five different modes of your suit or the properties of water (your weapons do not work underwater) are hard rules while the requirement that the player needs to disable an antenna or blow up an enemy tank before advancing to the next level is considered a soft rule. Hard rules are the rules making up the game-world. 3. objects properties and behaviours and gameplay dynamics. These rules are evaluated by an algorithm that relates the current state of the game and the properties of the objects with a number of conditions that consequently can modify the game state. how the hard rules are particularly implemented in short sequences that the player can take individually. including the final goal of the game. in a way. What they do is produce descriptions of traits as well as sequences of events (narratives). He argues that all objects in games have properties that are either rules or are determined by rules. Susana Tosca (2003) studied quests in digital games and defined them as “the array of soft rules that describe what the player has to do in a particular storytelling situation”.3 Simulation Traditional media are representational. hard rules and soft rules. are not based just on 32 | P a g e . What she proposed was that two kinds of rules exist in a game.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School example. namely. Digital games nevertheless. you might let a young child "take back" a foolish move in a game of Chess. For example in the case of EA’s Crysis. Miguel Sicart (2008) in his study of game mechanics considers rules as the general or particular properties of the game system and its agents. but you probably wouldn't let your opponent do the same in a hotly contested grudge match. The soft rules are the concrete objectives in smaller strings of actions.

it is the dynamic aspect of games that can create and support a consistent gameworld. According to Frasca (2003b) there exist three different ideological levels in simulations. After such a simulation -a rule-based gameworld. The concept of simulation lies at the intersection or representation and dynamic systems. 33 | P a g e . an alternative bottom up mode of discourse where stories are top-down and preplanned (Aarseth. As simulations. while the players interact with them through play (op. 2004). In this level we find all the editors that are included in some games and allow the players to partially modify the three levels stated above by building “mods” or modified versions of the original games including new maps. The second level is the one of manipulation rules: what the player can and cannot do in the game. settings and cut-scenes. The forth ideological level deals with meta-rules. in reality they represent the first complex simulational media for the masses (Frasca. The first one has to do with representation and events and is common between simulation and narrative. new skins for avatars built. the hermeneutic other of narratives. It includes the characteristics of objects and characters. games create representations but they do so in a different way than traditional media: through the process of play itself (Salen & Zimmerman. It includes all the objectives imposed by the developers that must be achieved in order for the player to advance and eventually finish the game.). The third level involves the goal rules: what the player must do in order to win. 2003b). on a different semiotical structure known as simulation. The representation that emerges out of the process of playing is called procedural representation and can grow directly out of the rules of the game. it can be used to tell stories while stories can only contain simulations in a metaphorical sense. The digital game is in its essence the art of simulation. In fact.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School representation but also. cit. 2004). backgrounds.

[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] 3. Despite the common belief that the term ludology has been coined by the renowned game scholars Espen Aarseth and Gonzalo Frasca the truth is that its first appearance was in an article back in 1982.4 An introduction to ludology Warwick Business School Ludus (latin word for game) and logos (greek word for speech and reason) gave birth to the term Ludology. in simple terms. From the ludologists’ point of view digital games are perceived. Many scholars. a story. they are entirely functional and combinatorial (a means to an end) and don’t act as traditional narrators. or directors like their supposed counterparts in others fields do. Ludology includes digital games theory. a sequence of events enacted constitutes a drama. when they are there. a sequence of events taking place a performance. although with a different meaning (Frasca. after Frasca’s publication Ludology meets Narratology which was followed by Jesper Juul’s “What computer games can and cannot do” (Frasca. felt at that point that narratology which was dominating in the study of digital games did not have the required set of theoretical tools in order to study such games efficiently. the term started gaining acceptance around 1999. a backstory or a plot is not enough for considering a digital game a type of narrative. Simplistically put. 2001). as we already remarked. Eskelinen believes that such characters. Also. The term was introduced by Frasca at that point for describing a yet nonexistent discipline that would focus on the study of games and digital games in particular. 34 | P a g e . Regarding the existence of characters similar to those in drama and narratives. characters. 2003a). as remediated games and not presentations or narratives (Eskelinen. actors. According to Eskelinen (2006). a sequence of events recounted a narrative and a sequence of events produced by manipulating equipment and following formal rules constitutes a game. but it goes beyond it to include all games and forms of play. The term has historically been used to describe the study of games. 2003a). However.

as some do. in art one has to configure in order to be able to interpret while in games one must interpert in order to be able to configure and proceed from the beggining to the winning or some other situation (Eskelinen.62-65) the dominant user function in literature. film and theater is interpretative.. On the other hand in multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or Ultima Online the aesthetic and the social parts are truly integrated and “[. In a more broad sense.[DIGITAL GAMES AS GAMES] Warwick Business School based on Gerarld Prince’s and Gerard Gennete’s definition of narrative (there must be two things or components to constitute a narrative: a temporal sequence of events. Aarseth (2001) identifies another differentiating aspect of games and argues that while the old mass media were able to create mass auduences with shared values and sustained markets.1). while in games configurative. these communities had no direct communication and existed in an imaginary level. is to disregard those socio-aesthetic aspects and also to force outdated paradigms onto a new cultural object” (Aarseth. 2006). 2001: p. namely a plot and a narrative situation with both narrators and narratees) he argues that we can’t find narrative situations in games.. 1997: p. 35 | P a g e . according to Aarseth’s typology of cybertexts (Aarseth. and when we do they are at a service of an ergodic dominant. Moreover. To see computer games as merely the newest self-reinvention of Hollywood. thousands of years ago.] this could be regarded as the greatest innovation in audience structure since the invention of the choir.

game sales. Qualitative content analysis is one of numerous research methods used to analyze text data and its aim is to provide knowledge and understanding of the phenomenon under study.g. The rules give context to the game and provide the basis for the simulation that will take part. In this study the rules will be considered as the middle layer. Like we argued in the previous chapters digital games are a hybrid of story and game. Content analysis describes a family of analytic approaches that ranges from impressionistic. Through such an analysis the researchers will be able to identify patterns across the games under study that might reveal e. a digital game is indeed a virtual playground.g. a playground within which many different activities can be performed. Simulation in its essence is of course rules. but in the analysis of this layer we will focus only on the 36 | P a g e . For the player. 1992). elements of successful games when correlated with e. the virtual playground. When it comes to game we should consider its rules. Theoretical Framework The framework suggested in this chapter is a tool for game analysis. interpretive analyses to systematic. The gameworld on the other hand will be considered as the simulated world of the game. The volume of data collected from the framework’s application to various cases can be subsequently used for a qualitative content analysis of digital games. When we refer to story we refer to the total implied game world history as determined by the predesigned potential of the game in interaction with the game play actions of the player. intuitive. 1981). strict textual analyses (Rosengren. the glue that holds together the gameworld within which the story takes place.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School 4. It is defined as a research method for the subjective interpretation of the content of text data through the systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes or patterns (Downe-Wamboldt.

The player is only interested for instance in the fact that there is a game mechanic that allows her to hide in that projected shadow. Sim City) to being very structured. And when we will discuss the game system layer.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School manifestation of those rules as world elements. which is essentially the reason digital games exist in the first place). that are found in the code of the game. there is still great room for research towards this direction. as the game mechanics. thus creating shadow is of no value to the player (while playing). By adopting this approach we don’t mean to demote the importance of technology (namely the software programming. Firstly. Hitherto. while emotions. Such elements are not included at least directly in the framework for mainly two reasons. although there is progress. the controls or the goals and not the programming rules for example. the interface – input devices-. the embedded game story encountered in digital games ranges from being completely abstract or nonexistent (e. 37 | P a g e . Syberia). we will focus on the rules that affect the player’s experience. The software code that determines how light hits an object. The way the player feels while playing a game is obviously influenced by her psychological and emotional state before she engaged in gaming as well as by other environmental factors. embedded and linear (e.g. It is not necessary of course for all those elements to be equally present in every game. as well as after the play is over are not entirely caused by the game itself. works as an amplifier or a moderator for the player’s emotions and is really difficult to directly register such qualities of games and map them on player satisfaction levels objectively. The game thus. For example. or other elements that were not included in this approach like the socio-psychological or cultural elements. psychology and generally the effects that a game induces on a player during play. like we said.g. Secondly. the average player. is usually unaware of all the complex processes and state of the art programming that goes on in the background while she is engaged in action.

Konzack (2002) suggests a typology for computer game analysis from a structural point of view and identifies seven content categories: hardware. referentiality. game location. character and narrative. interface study. (2002) approach the analysis of the content of video games from a game design perspective. game pieces/players. Owen (2004) proposes an anatomy of games as an experimental tool for describing the components from which games are constructed. functionality. Consalvo and Dutton (2006). interaction map.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School Before proceeding with the formulation of our framework it is necessary to outline the existing frameworks in the literature. a few authors attempted to develop a framework for the analysis of digital games and among them are Fabricatore et al. Brooker (2001). authorship. Malliet (2007). and socio-culture. Lindley (2003) and Aarseth (2003). program code. and gameplay log. 38 | P a g e . Martin Owen (2004). They combined a grounded theory approach with a user-centred approach that is rooted in usability research. They suggest four areas of analysis that should be explored if a researcher is to properly study game content beyond the level of representation: object inventory. the means of making progress in the game. genre and socio-political connotations and remakes. game language. meaning. Brooker (2001). and proposed a set of guidelines for the development of games that have a high degree of playability. Björk and Holopainen (2005). through his case study of the game Jetman provides an early template for analysis and focuses at the elements of institution. and the time frames of the games. game play. The anatomy is based on six top-level categories of game components: game aims. So far. Koznack (2002). Consalvo & Dutton (2006) provide a template that will help game analysts to approach games in a way that is systematic but not rigidly so. (2002). Fabricatore et al.

They identify the basic components of games (physical and logical) that compose the first order of game design and can be later used to describe the second order concepts. Finally. The framework divides game components into four categories: holistic. a second way is by observing others play or read their reports and reviews. and thus save time in proposal writing and design meetings. the temporal components describe the flow of the game and the structural components define the physical and logical elements necessary for containing and manipulate the game state. His aim is to provide a heuristic and practical tool for addressing different design issues. by talking to the developers of the game. Lindley (2003) proposes a taxonomy system for game analysis and design where distinctions are drawn between game forms and functions based upon narrative. although such an approach presupposes that their 39 | P a g e . repetitive gameplay and simulation.g. rules and mechanics of the game e. game-structure and game-world as the general elements that we find in “games in virtual environments” and suggests three main ways of gaining knowledge about a game: one way is by studying the design. the game patterns. Malliet (2007) performed a qualitative content analysis in a selection of mature-rated video games according to the principles of ludology by developing and using an analysis scheme that takes into account aspects of simulation in addition to aspects of representation.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School Björk and Holopainen (2005) present us a framework for describing games based on the activities that the players perform within them but from a game designer perspective. boundary. while providing higher level categories for identifying where more detailed design methods may be applied. Aarseth (2003) identifies gameplay. temporal and structural: the holistic components describe how the activity of playing a game is separated from other activities. the boundary components limit the actions of the player within the game.

According to Lundgren and Björk (2003. quests and sub quests. be it general or specific” and that “mechanics are regarded as a way to summarize game rules”. game mechanics are “any part of the rule system of a game that covers one. 4). goals and control scheme. Järvinen (2008: p. this can be either an embedded or emergent narrative. As we already noted. The embedded narrative is consisted of the game story that is essentially unravelled to the player through the main story arc and takes the form of objectives. The later analysis can be performed with the use of a variety of tools provided by narratology according to the scope of the research.1 Game Story In this layer we analyse the narrative element of digital games. The game system involves all those elements that transform the simulated fictive world into a game. information. and only one. dialogues and other sources like the game manual. The discourse level or the plot of the game includes everything that is depicted on the screen during a gaming session. This level is particularly useful in cases where there is not an embedded narrative available for analysis which is usually the case with simulation and sports games like Sim City or Pro Evolution Soccer. 254) argues that mechanics are "means to guide the player into particular behaviour by constraining the space of possible 40 | P a g e . 4.2 Game System The next layer of the framework is the game system. Game Mechanics. interface.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School knowledge is representative and their play competent. namely the game mechanics. and finally by playing the game ourselves. possible kind of interaction that takes place during the game. 4. p.

Goals. Gears of War is a great example of a game that advanced and made heavy used of the so called cover mechanics. Interface. the gathering of resources or a mere “killing spree”. duck) or can be a series of inputs that result in a more complicated action like take-cover-behind-that-car. In digital games the nature of goals varies significantly and so do the required actions for their achievement.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School plans to attain goals" and considers them as "a particular set of rules available to the player in the form of prescribed causal relations between game elements and their consequence to particular game states". the interface is the medium through which the players interact with the system (Järvinen. 378) we could argue that achieving a goal requires overcoming a challenge through the performance of certain actions. If we define goal as an aim or objective (Oatley & Jenkins 1996: p. Such requirements could be the development of a set of cognitive abilities. through the use of available game mechanics that eventually produce effects in the gameworld. The interface includes all those input devices and peripherals that are used by the players during game play. 2008). In the case of digital games where there is no direct access to the game system. That means that the player tries to achieve a goal by performing certain actions. attributes etc that the game keeps track off in order to support the gameplay. A game mechanic can be either the response of the player’s avatar to the pressing of a button (e.g jump. The information element refers to all the scores. Such pieces of information can be quantitative or qualitative in nature and are usually visible to the player through on screen bars. Information.24) suggests is that a goal induces a series of actions on (in our case) the player that in turn produce effects in the world. What Oatley (1992: p. namely: 1) Valorization of the possible 41 | P a g e . tabs or menus. Juul (2003) in order to link the player's relation to the game splits the concept of goals into three distinct components. statistics.

Goals can be either endogenous (explicitly stated as being part of the game) or exogenous (not being formally embedded in the game) (Björk & Holopainen. 2003). resources and representatives (characters) that exist in the gameworld and they are important for mainly two reasons: they provide a source of identification for the player. meaning they are the referencing point for the player’s motivation to play the game. The components refer to all the possessions.3 Gameworld The gameworld is consisted of two main groups of elements: the environment and the components. unhappy if she loses the game. resources or possessions. either to structure the game play (into levels or narrative structures) or to assist towards completing the goal and their existence can be either predefined by the game or be created implicitly by players (Björk & Holopainen. The control scheme includes all the ways by which the player can control the game agents assigned to her. In more complex games goals are often split into smaller subgoals. 3) Attachment of the player to an aspect of the outcome. 2003). 42 | P a g e . 2) Player effort: That the player has to do something.65-66). That refers to the player agreeing to be happy if she wins the game. That includes the limitations in movement/navigation. 2008 p. (Järvinen. obstacles. some as negative. Control Scheme. controller mappings and camera angles/framing. This is part of what may be termed as the game contract and happens even in a game of pure chance.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School outcomes: That some outcomes are described as positive. 4. and provide the player with challenges in the form of adversaries.

more items mean more characteristics to balance. More specifically. 43 | P a g e . Itemisation can be defined as the relationship between balance and uniqueness of items (Varilias. Intrinsic Itemization In this system items are imbued with intrinsic statistics and possibly several statistics that the player can alter (for instance. balancing becomes difficult. Massive numbers of items are available. Variety Figure 5: The itemisation continuum. but a relatively small number of stats lead to homogeneity in later stages of the game.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School The possessions in the game can be analysed based on itemisation. The items found in digital games can be used either as simple tools or as a sort of customisation that a player can use to see progress they have made. 2009): I. According to Varilias (2009) itemization most typically exists on the following continuum: Simplicity of Balance. in games like Fallout 3 and World of Warcraft). 2009). Homogeneity Less Fun Difficulty in Balancing More Fun Complexity of Balance. itemization is the process of defining what an item does. As the complexity of a game increases. adapted from Varilias (2009) While a variety of available items seems ideal. Most of the itemisation systems that have been developed so far can be categorized as one of two systems (Varilias. it is increasingly difficult to provide the player with a variety of tools.

When we focus on it we are able to see its aesthetics and make-believe (Konzack. the dungeons.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] II. there is homogeneity between players rather than items. the jungles and the islands. A key difference between differentiating these systems is how items are upgraded. while in intrinsic itemisation. Usually the game environment is built in such a way so as to limit the player that trends on it to certain paths. in games like Call of Duty and Super Mario). It includes the castles. 2001). A relatively small and limited number of items are available and as such although there is a variety in uniqueness terms. it is static and unchanging. 2009). the urban streets. but absent of hard statistics (for instance. 2008). The elements of analysis related to the game environment are: Topology and level design. 2002). events and even atmosphere (Järvinen. One main difference between the two systems is how items are upgraded. Level design in digital games refers to the creation of levels. or otherwise locations. While other games take place in real spaces or do not involve any particular space at all. The upgrade system in static itemisation boosts those stats that are otherwise unalterable. This system is absent of any customization or flavour. 2004). the space stations and the planet surfaces that we usually encounter in modern digital games. it’s the parallel universe that the player escapes to when she incarnates as her avatar. digital games take place in virtual spaces (Owen. The environment is essentially the virtual space of the game. This is achieved mainly through the use of spatial organisation and spatial design (Chen & Brown. stages etc. there is some kind of linear increase in the existing stats of the items (Varilias. Virtual 44 | P a g e . Static Itemization Warwick Business School In this system items are entirely unique due to possessing unique mechanics.

pattern. Like a common denominator. or style and character. Theme/referentiality..] a well-designed level takes into consideration a whole set of requirements. o Scale: Scale is the size of an item in comparison to its surroundings. lighting. such as user interaction and navigation. detail. albeit without compromising its aesthetic appeal. o Rhythm: A repetition of similar items in a room or space that move the eye from one area to another. this element can be a colour. A well-designed game should therefore encompass all those features. Rhythm can be accomplished with colour. games follow concepts and themes from other areas of popular 45 | P a g e . Getting equal weight on each side of an axis makes a space in or out of balance. and other factors contributing to player experiences” (Järvinen. o Proportion: Proportion is the size of things compared to themselves... pattern. texture. including the directional and responsive feedback mechanisms that will assist the player interact with the environment.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School spaces include audiovisual screens. the most important elements of level design are: o Balance: All balance is based on vertical and horizontal axes. 2008: p. p. drama. In order to achieve that. texture. Pagán (2001a. o Emphasis: A point of emphasis or focal point is the item or place that catches your visual attention upon first glance. boards or 3D terrains and dungeons. The theme element is essentially “[. which are inherent to the purpose they serve”. o Harmony: Harmony is when a common element exists that binds all parts together. 4) also argues that “[. 78).. According to Pagán (2001b). and also how all of these elements will tie together to form a cohesive environment. or the character in a room.] what game designers use in transforming the information systems specified in the rule set into systems that give birth to fantasy.

responding etc. Graphics are directly connected to the aesthetics of the game and play a catalytic role when it comes to player immersion. include pathfinding (the method for determining how to get an NPC from one point on a map to another).). which is a core part of the game engine. lighting. horror films and sports and borrow signs. the textures. 2D or 3D models. The sound category includes the elements of music.[THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK] Warwick Business School culture like science fiction.I. realism and atmosphere creation. Graphics. Sound. sound effects. Game Artificial Intelligence (A. Game artificial intelligence refers to techniques used in computer and video games to produce a degree of intelligence in the behaviour of non-player characters (NPCs). The physics of the game include all the simulation rules that are developed with the use of a physics engine. and alongside graphics play an important role in adding realism and evoke sophisticated gameplay. Sound is another important element that adds to the overall gaming experience and assists gameplay tremendously (e. shading and everything else that is usually generated by the rendering engine of the game. the simulation of sound environments and the use or not of EAX (environmental audio extensions) or other digital signal processing presets for audio. The most common uses of A. being able to identify the source of a sound in a 3D environment when using a surround system). adds heavily on the realism of a game as well as on supporting a smoother gameplay. A. Physics. ornaments or game structures that have originally been used in other media.I. aiming. fantasy. 46 | P a g e . The graphics element includes all the backgrounds.I.g.


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Figure 5: The three layer framework for digital game analysis

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5. Case study Analysis & Discussion

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[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] 5.1 Game Reading: The Witcher

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“The Witcher represents the pinnacle of storytelling in role-playing games, shattering the line between good and evil with a world where moral ambiguity reigns. In a beautiful, rich game universe created by artists first, technology second, the player becomes his own hero in an epic, action-packed narrative uniquely defined by his actions. Returning to the roots of the role-playing genre with a fresh and modern approach, The Witcher emphasizes story and character development in a vibrant world, while incorporating tactically-deep real-time combat like no game before it.” Info about the game from the CD Projekt game fact sheet

The Witcher is a role-playing game developed for the PC by CD Projekt RED STUDIO and published by CD Projekt in Poland and Atari for the rest of the world. The game is set in the realm of the bestselling fantasy saga by the same title, conjured to life by Andrzej Sapkowski – a Polish contemporary writer. It was officially released in Europe and North America in October 2007 and was highly appraised by the gaming press earning 75 awards and achieving an average score of 8.1 based on 56 official reviews. Nevertheless, the game left the impression of a flawed gem due to some issues concerning performance, dialogue translation from Polish to English, loading times and more. CD Projekt saw to this and one year later released The Witcher: Enhanced Edition. The enhancements introduced in this version included more than 5000 lines of re-written and re-recorded dialogue, more than 200 new dialogue animations, a new character differentiation system for NPCs, an enhanced inventory with improved alchemy, reduced loading times, improved combat responsiveness, improved engine performance, dramatically improved character models, speedier interface and a pair of new stand alone adventures. CD Projekt spent $11 million to develop the game and its Enhanced Edition and as of March 6, 2009, the game had sold 1.2 million copies worldwide.

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The reason why we use this particular game as a case study is the fact that it has all the elements that we aforementioned in the framework description, it has been exceptionally developed and can be considered as one of the most sophisticated games of the last years. In order to do justice to the game we experienced the game ourselves by playing it through several times, each time following a different course of action and making different moral choices (an important characteristic of the game) whenever needed. The world of The Witcher is not a typical black and white fairytale world; every choice the player needs to make falls in the spectrum of grey and influences future events in various ways. For the research purposes, the game was played in a 1680x1050 resolution with all graphics settings set to the maximum and a framerate constantly above 30fps in order to witness the full potential of its graphics. Table 2 shows system specifications in more detail: Minimum Requirements
Microsoft® Windows® XP Service Pack 2, Vista Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon 64 +2800 1 GB RAM for Microsoft® Windows® XP / 1536 MB for Microsoft® Windows® Vista 128 MB Video RAM or greater with DirectX9 Vertex Shader/ Pixel Shader 2.0 support (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or ATI Radeon 9800 or better) DirectX 9.0c compliant soundcard Stereo Speakers DirectX 10, EAX 5.0 soundcard 5.1 Surround Speakers Table 2: Computer System Specifications NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT (512MB Video RAM, DirectX10)

System used for the Analysis
Microsoft® Windows® 7 Intel Core2Duo 3.0GHz 4GB RAM


Applying the Framework

As stated before, the purpose of this case study is not to provide an exhaustive analysis of the game – and as such, The Witcher would produce a tome of data-, but to provide a basis for

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but no one carried his sword behind him like a bow or quiver”. in Vizima almost everyone went armed. through the Ropers’ Gate. Since The Witcher possesses a rich embedded story will focus on this since it provides more room for naratologic analysis. The embedded story of The Witcher starts from page 8 of the manual where the player can read a page from the Spellmaker by Andrzej Sapkowski. The passage starts like this: “Later. This way. The stranger wasn’t old. 5. limitations and overall usefulness. the stalls of the ropers and saddlers were closed. everyone saw the sword belted behind his back. game story is different from game plot.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School the application of the framework in relevant games and measure its dynamics to demonstrate its merits. There was nothing remarkable in that. He drew attention.2. leading a heavily laden horse by the bridle. He came on foot. and the street was empty. Under his coat he wore a worn leather jerkin with ties at the neck and shoulders. The game story refers to the embedded narrative and not in the one that emerges through the interaction of the player with the game. When he removed his coat. The confirmation comes with the next piece of story and through an eight minute 51 | P a g e .1 Layer One: Game Story As we have stated in the first chapter. the man had a black coat thrown over his shoulders. Although it was hot. It was late in the day. yet his hair was almost completely white. immediately the player gets a glimpse of the hero she is going to impersonate during play. people said that the stranger came from the north.

a professional monster slayer. The narrator resumes: “The northern kingdoms nourished their wounds for five years after the Great War. The few surviving elven and dwarven units sought refuge amidst forests where they prepared for a final 52 | P a g e .. a striga. Gerald fights with the striga.” The narrator then pauses while the player watches the main character (Gerald) getting ready for his confrontation with the striga. He ties the striga with a silver chain. Geralt of Rivia disappeared. which she breaks free off. All that forgotten.the traitor responsible for the curse became the bait. the striga slashes Geralt's throat. Death toll unknown. reluctant to use his silver sword. If only she were not a deadly beast. The world changed with the coming of the Great War: the time of the sword and axe. An unusual contract to lift the curse that held a monarch’s daughter. Plague and famine raged..It was enough to spend a night with the princess.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School long and beautifully animated intro movie at the beginning of the game. he sees too late that her eyes are open. despite silver being an antithesis to monsters of magic. the time of disdain... A narrator introduces us to what we are about to watch: “His name was Gerald of Rivia.but that’s another story”. In the morning. Geralt settles down in the double coffin to wait for morning. Dusk till dawn. She is eventually scared off when Geralt uses his sorcery to project the hate and malice in her own mind back at her... All goes black and the narrator resumes: “Though gravely wounded the Witcher lifted the curse and gained fame. He was a Witcher. Using what remained of her talons. he sees an ordinary little girl who is lying on the floor. What follows is another cut-scene where we are taken to the present. Leaning over her.

exhausted. folk were left wondering: what have happened to the Witchers? The blue mountains in the north of Kaedwen. hearing voices in his head and by the time he collapses he is found by a group of people that seem to recognise him and tranfer him to Kaer Morhen. In cities and villages. Independently of Geralt’s decision. he realises that the mages have blocked it with a magic barrier. Gerald learns that Lambert wants him to collect some ingredients for the potion to cure her and to slay any remaining bandits sneaking around the stronghold. the grand headquarters of the Witchers’ guild yet he remembers nothing. after the fight the Professor and his companion kill Leo. a mysterious mage and “The Professor”. As soon as Gerald recovers from his mysterious wounds the fort is attacked by bandits. a fellow Witcher. 53 | P a g e . highways and former battlefields alike. When he gets back out in the courtyard all the main characters are gathered and discuss how they will deal with both problems. and escape with some of the secrets. During the fight. a fellow mage to get in. that seems to lead the raid. “The Professor” alongside the mage.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School desperate fight. Geralt is then presented with two options: either stay in the courtyard with Vessamir and fight the frightener or head back to the lab with Triss and deal with the mages. Gerald is then sent to defend the laboratory by Vessamir. the elder leader. Abominable beasts rule backwoods. When he reaches the Laboratory though. 1270. Triss tries to confront the Professor and gets seriously injured. The year. They are accompanied by a sorcerer named Savolla that controls a pet frightener. and a small group of bandits accompanying them head to the Witcher’s lab where their secret mutagens were kept.” During the cut scene we watch Gerald wondering all alone in the wild a dark and rainy night. Five years after the Great War. so he needs the help of Triss. While Savolla and the bandits unleash mayhem in the courtyard.

Geralt decides to go south since the King of Temeria owes him a favour for releasing his daughter from her curse (the striga shown during the intro movie). he goes out to collect them and when he does so he creates the potion. The Witcher uses the systems of quests in order to help the player advance and keep the story and sequence of events structured. Each of the acts includes a variety of primary and secondary quests that combined construct the whole story regarding the adventures of Geralt of Rivia. When he does so she rewards him personally. The structure of the story has 5 acts. This is the end of the prologue. 54 | P a g e . All the events that took place in the prologue bring to mind Propp’s initial situation section that we discussed in the first chapter. The game has 35 primary and 67 secondary quests. baring a symbol of a salamander. In order to avoid attracting attention they decide to split up and search for information about the mysterious organisation that attacked them. It includes a wide set of primary and secondary quests where the primary ones follow a specific sequence and the secondary can be completed at the player’s convenience but only for as long as the location of the quest is available to the player. Once Gerald meets Triss and gives her the potion that cures her. she’s very grateful and asks him to stay with her. without taking into account the prologue and epilogue of the game.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School Once Lambert tells Gerald where all the ingredients are. While he does so. Gerald can at this point either stay and talk to her or not. in the four corners of the earth. Triss moves to her bedchamber. They make an oath to reclaim the mutagens and avenge Leo’s death. They are the events placed prior to the development of the tale itself that introduce important characters and present a pre-narrative graphical representation of the different components of the tale. The next day the remaining of the witchers and Triss gather for Leo’s funeral.

In order to enhance variety the player can choose between three different attack modes based on the opponent they are facing. 5. These were just some of the many game mechanics that exist in The Witcher. rich and branching story of The Witcher. The sound. By clicking on stunned or knocked down opponents before they regain full awareness or rise to their feet.2. For example in special circumstances. 55 | P a g e .2 Layer Two: Game System 5. supports an in depth narratologic analysis. Coups de grace can be executed against foes that have been stunned or knocked down using a Sign (magic spell) or a special combat feature.2. as well as other circumstantial or optional diversifications. killing foes immediately and in spectacular fashion. Geralt attacks and perform a coup de grace. the player can perform finishing blows known as coups de grace.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School In the same vein the researcher can dissect the game and remove the narrative layer for analysis. A careful analysis of those reveals important elements of gameplay that ultimately help towards player satisfaction or resentment. the attack can be made by utilising different game mechanics. While the combat itself is rather simple since all you have to do is click on an opponent for Geralt to attack.1 Game Mechanics The Witcher is a game rich in game mechanics and an excellent example of such is its combat system. such as “special” and “finishing blows”.2.

2 Interface Warwick Business School The interface used for playing the Witcher is a personal computer (since the release of the console version is not yet officially out) and its peripherals. For example.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] 5. The player is presented with the liberty of choosing her style of play early in the game. More information is provided to the player through special menus like the hero tab. the player is provided with a great amount of information regarding the game’s different aspects. a quick view at the game’s GUI (Graphical User Interface) reveals information regarding player status (vitality.2. potion quickslots. toxicity. The interface input devices can be either a keyboard and mouse (intended for more experienced players) or mouse alone.2. non-combat mode. the quest tab. Figure 6: Sources of Information found in the upper left and right corner of the screen. the inventory etc. endurance. as well as the time and location indicator and game panels. 56 | P a g e . available magical abilities. 5.3 Information During play. experience gained). weapon of choice and attack style.2.2.

2. In OTS mode. dice poker) and others. including special manoeuvres like jump or roll.2. Mouse movement controls the camera rotation and foes are targeted by the use of the centrally placed indicator and clicking initiates the attack. 57 | P a g e . Those goals range from the primary quests which are obligatory for finishing the game. Left-clicking both moves Geralt into position and performs attack sequences and special maneuvers. That means that it is at the player’s ease to determine the level she wants her character to attain.2. there is not a specific character level required in order for the game to be finished. While character level up or weapon upgrades are needed for advancing in the game and face harder opponents. 5. in the High and Low Isometric modes. but provides no tactical advantage over combat in the isometric modes. the game has three different camera angles for the player to choose from: one for an overview perspective of the player and environment (High Isometric Mode).2. By right-clicking on anything . As far as navigation is concerned. the various minigames included (e. movement is based on a point-and-click system. The right mouse button is used in combat to cast a sign.4 Goals Warwick Business School There are different kinds of goals for the player to set in The Witcher. an object – initiates the sign launch at the target.5 Control Scheme As far as the camera angle is concerned. In this mode. to character level up.g. an enemy. leap or spin and quick turn that can be used in various situations accordingly.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] 5. movement and special maneuvers are keyboard-controlled. weapon upgrade. one for a closer and more interactive perspective (Low Isometric Mode) and one directly over the shoulder (left or right) of the player character (Over-the-ShoulderMode). enhancing the tactical options and freedom of the character. combat is more dynamic and exciting.the ground.

2.3 Layer three: Gameworld 5. The keyboard can be also used for navigation (W. In terms of itemisation. the game uses an intrinsic itemisation system since most of the items found in it are imbued with an array of statics. Spacebar plays an important role since it pauses the action. which adds to the level of customization of the game towards the player. oils. concerning the key mappings on the keyboard. food. All these items can be carried in the inventory or stored in special cases scattered in various places of the gameworld.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School Lastly. A. those found in his satchel and those in his alchemy sack.g. alcohol. each of those actions and abilities can be mapped to any other key in the keyboard. the player can use her inventory and e. D in the keypad) if the keyboardmouse game style is chosen by the player as we’ve already seen. gifts. Possessions The player can possess a great array of items in the gameworld. While the action is paused. or attack is labelled on the map.3. everything that the player can use. talk to. While the “Alt” key is held down. The slots surrounding the PC 58 | P a g e . drinks. powders. and weapons ready for battle. trophies and ingredients for alchemic purposes. S. many of who can be altered.1 Components I. 5. potions. Those items are weapons. get any potions. grease. books and scrolls. The Inventory Panel has three sections corresponding to items the player character (PC) wears.2. In addition. a very positive element is the fact that there are shortcuts for every icon on the GUI or any menu that the player wants to invoke. She can also select which sword and combat style she wants to use. oils.

Apple Juice (drink) . Poison Resistance +10%.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School are used to store weapons. Duration: short. Excellent Leather Jacket (armour) . Bleeding Resistance +10%. and Beast Livers. 59 | P a g e . Toxicity: medium. rings and potions (see figure 7.Effect: Damage received -15%. Wolves. Book of Animals (book) . improving his reflexes and accelerating movement.Effect: Learn about Dogs. The trophy slot is used to store trophies.Effect: Restores Endurance. Figure 7: The Inventory System of The Witcher A few examples of the items found in The Witcher are: Blizzard (potion): Effect: one of the most potent mixtures drastically reduces Geralt’s reaction time. The number of these slots depends on the player’s current armour. Pain Resistance +10%. Incinerate Resistance +10%. Beast Fangs.

Vesemir: Though the eldest and most experienced witcher. She is a friend of the Kaer Morhen witchers and. Those who read them might well think the White Wolf (Geralt’s nickname) was the most famous witcher of his time. She can safely be counted among Geralt’s friends. a participant of epic events. taverns etc. Vesemir is an expert swordsman and taught Geralt all he knows. Dandelion devotes much attention to Geralt’s struggles against monsters. though a sorceress and outsider. 2008): Dandelion: The bard Dandelion’s ballads provide an account of Geralt of Rivia’s many adventures. including the mages’ rebellion on Thanedd Island. like the other members of the caste. Representatives The game has a great amount of characters involved in its story that are either primary or secondary. Inns. III.g blacksmiths. to his famed romantic entanglements. Triss Merigold: Triss has known Geralt for some time. Vesemir winters at Kaer Morhen and sets off on his Path with the advent of spring.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] II. Resources Warwick Business School We can consider orens (the local currency of Vizima) as the only resource of the game since with it you can obtain almost all of the game’s items as well as pay for services e. 60 | P a g e . and to his love for a certain sorceress. Some of the main characters besides Geralt as shown in the game manual are (CD Projekt & Atari. Robust and lively despite his age. she is one of the few to know the way to their secluded fortress.

2. Topology/ Level Design The various levels in the game include open spaces.2 Environment I. The scale of all items compared to their surroundings look right as do the proportions of things compared to themselves. For example. 61 | P a g e .[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School Velerad: Velerad governs Vizima and in Foltest’s absence holds the highest authority in the city and the country as a whole. 5. the table’s legs have the right height for such a table and the bottle has the right size compared to the characters in the frame. Figure 8: Level Design: The Interior of an Inn. indoors spaces and underground dungeons. Pagán’s principles generally provide a good basis for analysing levels and discovering hidden anomalies. Looking at some of Pagán’s principles in an area of the game e.3. having negotiated with him the price for lifting the curse that turned Princess Adda into a striga. The burgomeister knows Geralt from long ago.g the interior of an Inn (Figure 8) we can distinguish a rather balanced design.

the story of The Witcher begins a few years after the saga.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] II. the work of Andrzej Sapkowski. Some of the changes that CD Projekt included in the new version are:  Support of lightmaps generated in 3ds Max: the use of lightmaps in the development of the environments resulted in more realistic shadows. like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Theme/Referentiality Warwick Business School The Witcher is historically placed in the end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of Renaissance. The game is based on. III. and as such it can be considered a sequel. Thus we can identify elements from the literary areas of horror. In fact. well known from the Neverwinter Nights series (dating back to 2002). rather than use a tile-based system. yet dreamy and fairytale-ish. The atmosphere in the game is mostly dark and gloomy. All the environments were developed in 3ds Max and then exported into the game engine. as well as elements from fantasy. By using this method the developers were able to create a unique world rather than recycle the same tiled objects over and over again. dwarves and mythical monsters. One of the most important features of the Aurora Engine is that the world can be designed exactly as the developers envisioned. Graphics The Witcher is powered by a heavily modified version of the Aurora Engine by BioWare.  New realistic Skyboxes and water effects: The full day/night cycle makes excellent use of the new skyboxes and effects. and thus greatly referencing. Those elements added a great deal of realism in the sky and water movement. including elves. The natural light during various phases of the day is 62 | P a g e .

The static images showed during level loading are well-designed and atmospheric. blurs. also result in enhanced graphics. environment mapping. The weather can shortly change from sunny weather to stormy rain greatly enhancing the game experience.  Other important changes include motion-captured animation. and the engine now supports a variety of new shaders (water effect.  Support of new shaders: All the in-game and tool set rendering is done using DirectX 9. glows.  Additional graphical effects: Direct X9 water effects. etc. The GUI is designed with small pictures and illustrations scattered throughout the various pages (Figure 9). and the day and night transitions serve to enrich the game's ambience. etc). the developers are able to paint the environment using custom textures.  New light manager: The whole rendering system has been unified and a new light manager was added. frogs by the river and lakeside. the introduction of portals and more. The developers also enriched the game with a plethora of wildlife and small effects that add to the realism. new mechanics and combat system. 63 | P a g e . environment mapping. improved physics modelling.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School realistically altered. bump mapping.  The weather can dynamically change and the NPCs and environment react to that change. Fireflies at night.  Texture paint: with the texture paint special tool. dust in the light of lamps and windows. advanced dynamic shadows. bump mapping.

Sound When it comes to sound we focus on three elements: sound effects. Physics in The Witcher are used for gameplay features like magical signs. adds to the overall realism. 64 | P a g e . Physics Warwick Business School The Witcher is powered by the Karma physics engine that supports hundreds of physical objects on each level. destructible objects. All the environmental sounds from the swish of a nearby river to little kids playing around or women that can be overheard gossiping adds to the atmosphere of the game while the sound of steel on steel or steel on flesh during combat.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] IV. Rigid bodies. Figure 9: Example of The Witcher's Graphical User Interface V. The sound effects in The Witcher are above-average. physical constraints and ragdolls are all supported. blast waves and realistic characteristics for various materials and surfaces. music and voice acting.

For the game development. VI. Examples of AI in the game are the combat AI that was designed to makes battles challenging and the dynamic behaviours of NPC’s that change based on analysis of the surroundings. the voice acting adds much to the attitude and style that each one of the characters in the game was intended to have. Game Artificial Intelligence In the game we encounter hundreds of AI-controlled characters with their own needs and goals populating the game’s cities. 30 actors we used for the voiceovers. once he walks into a fight. 65 | P a g e . All the lines of dialogue were recorded and were directed by Mark Estdale of Bravo Interactive. The music accompanies the game's environments depending on various factors.[CASE STUDY ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION] Warwick Business School The music score is balanced between ambient and symphonic. for instance NPCs or the PC reacting to other NPCs or NPCs reacting to weather effects. While the transitions between battle and exploration music is seamless most of the time there were cases that the music intended for combat kept playing even when there were no enemies around. When the player roams through the wilderness the music plays along at a calm pace. day/night and location are all taken into account as well as action. After the re-writing and re-recording of all the flawed lines of dialogue. the music starts to speed up and becomes more menacing.

within which stories take place. The main aim of this research is thus to fill this gap. is scant. Those elements were consequently divided in three categories (layers) that support the idea that digital games are virtual playgrounds. a view of digital games as stories and as games was established. put together by rules. the author has developed a framework that approached game analysis based on the duality of the digital games’ nature described above. This framework was developed in order to help future researchers collect a sufficient volume of standardised data about digital games that could later on be used in conjunction to a qualitative content analysis method to identify patterns among game titles that could indicate developing trends.1 Conclusions Analysing digital games is by default a difficult task due to the inherent multidimensionality of the medium. research addressing it holistically. After extensive research in the current literature. The view of digital games as games presupposes their view as rules and as simulations since rules are what gives context to a game and simulation allows the creation and support of a consistent gameworld. Although many researchers have focused on digital game analysis in the past. The elements of games that should be included in the framework were carefully selected based on two criteria: address the core qualities of games as stories and as games and being those elements that the player is aware of while experiencing a gaming situation. In this dissertation.[CONCLUSION & LIMITATIONS] Warwick Business School 6. limitations in game development or even recipes for success. While most researchers identify elements in digital games by following either a ludologic or a narratologic perspective. 66 | P a g e . we tried to reach the core of digital games and identify those aspects that better describe their nature. Conclusion & Limitations 6.

and encompasses difficulties that arise from possible lack of expertise in the relevant fields that are required for approaching the subject holistically. cultural and technological dimension of games. The multidimensionality of digital games as a medium is responsible for the major one.[CONCLUSION & LIMITATIONS] Warwick Business School In this sense. some additional elements that would correspond to the additional dimensions of games should have been incorporated in the framework. In order to claim that we have been able to develop a framework for the holistic analysis of digital games. thus limiting the scope of this research. psychological. Richard Bartle (1996) studied how the interactions between different styles of players influence the social atmosphere on the game. killers (players who enjoy preying on and harassing other players). Call of Juarez (a historic first-person shooter). The framework was applied and tested in three cases of games: The Witcher (an RPG). namely socialisers (the players who play to enjoy the company of other players). achievers (players who like to 67 | P a g e .2 Limitations There are a number of limitations inherent in this research. In his study he identified four types players. the usefulness of this approach lies in the fact that all elements of any game under study can relatively easy be isolated and demonstrated in a specific framework. Indicatively some of those dimensions are the sociological. 6. Another possible limitation of this research regards the effectiveness of the framework. One other problem is that it is very time consuming. hence allowing comparisons between different games and ultimately helps identify best practices approaches. and Indigo Prophecy (an adventure game) but due to time and space constrains only The Witcher case study was outlined and included in this dissertation.

Later on. The above suggest that in order for the researcher to properly analyse a game. It is indicative the fact that the Game Pressure guide on the game is 290 pages and is still not considered complete (Giovetti. the game analysis should be complemented by secondary sources such as press reviews or player accounts. The next step of such a project would be the creation of a database of standardised data on digital games elements that could be used for identifying patterns within game genres. There is evidently great room for future research regarding the expansion of this framework and that probably requires the involvement of researchers from different disciplines that would approach digital games from different perspectives. she must adopt different styles of play during her repeated play of the game. 2003). Aarseth (2003) suggested an extra style of play: the cheater. narrative themes and more. including discovering and exploiting programming errors). of the researcher (Aarseth. which can also be used as a means for diminishing the interpretational bias that is caused by the subconscious or not personal preferences. 2008). 68 | P a g e . A complex game like The Witcher may be won in a matter of days or weeks but the great openness of the simulation supports countless discoveries. regarding playing style.[CONCLUSION & LIMITATIONS] Warwick Business School win and triumph) and explorers (players who enjoy discovering the game’s secrets and hidden mechanics. If due to time or budget restriction repeated play of the game is not possible.

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EA Games. 2008 Bioware: Neverwinter Nights. Majesco Games. 2005 EA DICE: Mirror's Edge.: Psychonauts. Bethesda Softworks. Rockstar Games.[REFERENCE LIST] Warwick Business School Ludography Academy Soft: Tetris. Activision. 2002 Double Fine Prod. Atari. 2007 DMA Design: Grand theft Auto. Atari 2008 Creative Assembly: Viking: Battle for Asgard. 2008 Crytek: Crysis. 2007 Infinity Ward: Call of Duty. 2009 Epic games: Gears of War. 1995 Blizzard Entertainment: World of Warcraft. Square EA. 2007 Nintendo: Super Mario Bros. The Adventure Company. SEGA. 1989 Microids: Syberia. 2004 CD Project Red: The Witcher: Enhanced Edition. 1985 Quantic Dream: Indigo Prophecy. Microsoft Game Studios. 2002 Blizzard Entertainment: Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. 1999 74 | P a g e . SCEA. Atari. 2002 Ninja Theory: Heavenly Sword. EA Games. 2005 Square Soft: Final Fantasy VIII. 1986 Bethesda Studios: Fallout 3. 2009 EA DICE: Mirror's Edge. EA Games. 2003 Maxis: SimCity.

2009 Triumph Studios: Overlord. 2007 Valve Software: Portal. Codemasters. Codemasters. 2007 Warwick Business School 75 | P a g e . Ubisoft: 2007 Triumph Studios: Overlord II.[REFERENCE LIST] Techland: Call of Juarez.

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