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The Diverse Worlds of Computer Games: A Content Analysis of Spaces, Populations, Styles and Narratives
Brand Jeffrey E. Knight Scott Majewski Jakub
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up
The Diverse Worlds Project analysed 130 computer and video games (CVGs) to understand their textual landscape. Titles were sampled from the five gaming platforms dominant in 2002. Blending the quantitative content analytic tradition and the Bordwellian approach to formal film analysis, characters, settings, narrative and stylistic factors were studied in four units of analysis including box, handbook, opening cinematic sequences, and game-play. “Diverse Worlds” contradicts the popular stereotypes about CVGs presenting exaggerated, violent characters in simplistic, formulaic, worlds lacking in aesthetic nuance and texture. Games are painted using a vast array of visible features and locations. Narrative structure and progression varies depending on genre and goes beyond “shoot the bad guy.” Graphic stylisation tends toward a mid-point between animation and photo-realism with the latter more often used for rendering environments and the former for characters. Limitations of character representation include the use of stereotypes found in traditional mainstream media. An earlier version of this work was presented at the International Ratings Conference in Sydney, Australia, September 2003.