21st Century Soul Guides: Leveraging Myth and Ritual for Game Design

Rusch Doris C.
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper takes its departure from the observation that myth and ritual once served the important psychological function of helping us come to grips with the Givens of Existence: death, isolation, freedom of choice, and meaninglessness. It explains the transformational and meaning-generating power of myth from an existential, archetypal and depth psychology perspective and proposes games as potent vehicles for myth in the 21st century. It provides suggestions on how game designers can become modern Soul Guides by accessing their unconscious to birth viable symbols and create emotionally resonating experiences for others, and how they can glean inspiration from different types of rituals to inform mythic gameplay experiences that can contribute to a meaningful life.


Mechanisms of the Soul – Tackling the Human Condition in Videogames

Rusch Doris C.
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Focusing on games’ specific affectivei, procedural and metaphoricalii potential, this paper is going to explore three devices for the purposeful design of games that tackle the human condition. Device I “Fictional Alignment” matches game structures to fictional themes in order to expand games’ emotional palette through leveraging the affective strength of game emotions and shaping their meaning through fictional contextualization. Device II, “Procedurality”, discusses the potential and limits of procedural expression to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms inherent to the human condition. Device III, “Experiential Metaphor”, investigates the metaphorical potential of game aesthetics and how it can help to make abstract experiences such as emotional processes and mental states emotionally tangible. Since these devices are based on characteristics that coexist in games, they are not mutually exclusive. However, discussing them separately should facilitate their deliberate use.