How Videogames Express Ideas

Weise Matthew
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

What are the exact aspects of the videogame medium, the precise features or combinations of features that lend themselves to expressing ideas and meaning? To chart this out, I begin with an American legal case that serves as a foundation for the basic issues involved and then move on to show how this relates to some of the broader attitudes the world of videogame discourse. Based on this, I break down the expressive strategies of videogames into three aspects—non-playable sequences, rule-based systems, and the relationship between the two—which I then illustrate with examples proving that videogames can indeed be an expressive medium.


Waiting for Something to Happen: Narratives, Interactivity and Agency and the Video Game Cut-scene

Cheng Paul
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Since the appearance in 1978 of Adventure on the Atari 2600, the cut-scene (alternatively cutscene or cut scene) has been a key component to many video games. Often, the cut-scene gives narrative shape to the game experience, moving the player along through a series of events culminating in the story's end. Cybertheorists such as Hayles, Murray and Frasca have explored the ways in which digital interactive media and the video game introduce new paradigms of narrative and storytelling, as well new conceptions of interactivity and agency. However, in many ways the inclusion of cut-scenes raises many of the problems concerning the theoretical structures with which to investigate video games. Since cut-scenes often follow cinematic codes of representation, current theory often renders the cut-scene as passive and non-interactive, as opposed to the interactive nature of gameplay. Yet as film theory has shown, especially in the effects of suturing and such, cinema offers a kind of psychic interactivity that blurs the hard boundary often drawn between cinema and gameplay. The cut-scene then becomes the locus of the tension in video games between cinematic representation and gameplay, and subsequently, an investigation of the cut-scene and its role in the video game can offer substantial insight into the nature of agency and interactivity within the video game. Using the release of Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 and Ubisoft's Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, both of which challenge the traditional definitions and uses of the cutscene, this paper will study the different ways in which the cut-scene operates within the video game. It will not only discuss current conceptions of agency and interactivity within the video game, but also offer an transmedia framework, after the work of Marsha Kinder, with which to explore the relationship between narrative and gameplay, cinema and simulation in the video game.