Fake Rules, Real Fiction: Professional Wrestling and Videogames

Oliva Costantino Calleja Gordon
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Emerging from a legitimate contest regulated by a set of rules, professional wrestling is today a fictional product, where no actual competition takes place. Those same rules serve as a setting for a particular kind of narration: the kayfabe, the fictional framework for all professional wrestling’s narrative, a fictional world with the characteristic of having a 1:1 ratio between real time and fictional time. Professional wrestling and videogames deal in different contexts with the same elements: rules and fiction (Juul 2005) [13]. By combining aspects of narrative theory and game studies research, this paper will analyze the narrative of professional wrestling utilizing the tools commonly used or specifically developed for videogames. An understanding of professional wrestling elements is necessary to explain and criticize the different approaches that videogame designer have used when creating wrestling videogames, a popular sub-genre that present specific peculiarities. The first chapter will provide a background to the history and the evolution of professional wrestling tracing the transformation from wrestling as a legitimate contest to a constructed media spectacle. The on-going constructed nature of contemporary wrestling will be addressed using Chatman’s concept of narrative. We will then use the theory of scripted narrative and alterbiography (Calleja 2009) [4] to explain how the pre-designed elements in a staged match are only partially scripted. This will be the ground for three subsequent passages, each one enlarging the view on the object of study: what happens in the ring, what happens just outside of the ring, and what happens in the fictional world of professional wrestling. By considering the transmediality (Jenkins 2003, 2004) [11, 12] of professional wrestling, we will analyze those conclusions and see how they are used by professional wrestling videogames: the territory where real rules have to be fleshed out in order to simulate the “fake rules” of professional wrestling. The paper concludes that theoretical frameworks developed within game studies have produced useful tools that can be deployed in different contexts, in this case to understand the constructed story that so deeply informs the agonistic (Caillois, 1962) [5] aspects of professional wrestling. The concept of scripted narrative and alterbiography clarifies how the narrative is enacted in and outside of the ring, integrating previous studies about wrestler fan behaviour (Ford 2007) [8], and claryfing the role of the wrestler as both a storyteller and an actor. By considering wrestling as a serialized fictional product, it is possible to analyze the kayfabe as a unique narrative frame, capable of keeping narrative coherence operating with a 1:1 ratio between real time and fictional time. The concept of transmediality, also discussed in game studies, proves to be deeply affected by the kayfabe. Wrestling has strong transmedial narrative elements: it is sufficient to feature few elements of the wrestling enviroment to project the contents of the kayfabe. With that said, making a game out of the mixture of dramatization, physical performance, and symbolical meaning of professional wrestling is no easy task. A theoretical framework can be useful to approach design issues: wrestling fictional elements appears in videogames thanks to its deep rooted transmediality, but the subtleties of professional wrestling’s narrative are still understated in wrestling videogames.


In search of a minimalist game

Myers David
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This essay is a re-examination and critique of existing game definitions in parallel with the analysis of Juul. Juul’s original study revealed six basic game components; the analysis here pares these to four more definitive components, isolated in game form: rules, goals, opposition, and representation. These four components are used to construct a ―minimalist‖ game. The paper describes the implications of these minimalist game components to contrasting foundationalist and essentialist theories of games. Specific game examples are used to demonstrate how a minimalist game model might be used to distinguish among games, simulation, and play.


The attack of the backstories (and why they won’t win)

Myers David
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This essay adopts a formal model of play as semiosis [18] to explore the often dysfunctional role of backstories within computer game design and play. Within this model, backstories indicate an extended play of contextualization. This definition raises questions concerning the appropriateness of backstories as currently implemented within many computer game designs. For instance, backstories are clearly not critical to all computer game play. And, even when limiting analysis solely to role-playing games, the use of backstories as design tools (as opposed to marketing devices or play supplements) remains problematic. Conclusions concern "pre-narrative" aspects of play--particularly when narrative is defined (e. g., within narrative psychology) as a folk theory of causes.


Keeping It Reel: Is Machinima A Form Of Art?

Champion Erik
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

The grumpy gamers amongst us are still smarting over the important, challenging and frustrating questions made famous by Roger Ebert and Steven Spielberg; whether games could be classed as artworks, as capable of raising nobler emotions, or whether as works of art they could even be uttered in the same breath as cinema or literature. And if games cannot be art, how could machinima stake claims to being a form of art? Not only will I suggest the hackneyed question “but is it art” or “could it be seen as art” is important, I will suggest why this question is of particular interest and relevance to machinima.


The Power-up Experience: A study of Power-ups in Games and their Effect on Player Experience

Lange-Nielsen Filip
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

Power-ups are important game world and game play changing game elements. In digital games like 카지노 검증, power-ups can be seen as one of the tools for non-trivial traversal of a game. They can change the way the game world is interpreted and traversed – or even change the look or structure of the game world itself. In this paper I propose a model for analyzing and categorizing power-ups in a way that allows us to further inspect and understand why games are played and enjoyable, and how developers bake such possibilities into the structure of the game. There is a lack of a comprehensive discussion of what a power-up is and how it can be studied. There is no agreement in the literature on a definition of a power-up and the term is often used without defining it. Power-ups are used as examples in the game ontology project when discussing higher level elements like Entities and Entity Manipulation (Zagal et al., 2005). In game design literature the term is used varyingly and seen from different perspectives for example as “resource” with its most common system effects or for its strategical advantages in reaching educational goals through its effect on player behaviour (see Fullerton, 2008 and Squire et al., 2003). These contributions are nevertheless still significant when attempting a further inspection of the power-up. Utilizing a combined framework for aesthetic analysis of games I perform a case study of Metroid Prime (Retro Studios, 2001) where play experience of perceived aesthetic goals is used as a way to see how the designers might have intended their power-ups to work to reach such aesthetic goals as identified through play. Metroid Prime was chosen for its heavy use of power-ups and this approach allowed me to focus in on what player experience power-ups might provide. The framework is adopted from Aarseth’s proposed typology of game research (2003) and Hunicke et al.’s MDA-framework (2004). This allows for looking at interdependencies between gameplay, game-structure and game-world related to designers’ intentions and player’s experience brought about from those elements. Based on my findings and synthesizing previous related literature, the model presented in the end groups power-ups according to whether they are expendable (stored), expendable (instant), constant upgrades or re-chargeable constants. Possible modifiers such as "acquired through", "supply", "duration" and "necessity" are suggested. With this model I attempt to differentiate power-ups from other formal design elements and in such a manner provide a possible reference for designers looking to choose appropriate solutions for their games, as well as an analytical tool for researchers. A mention of other games and how comparable yet different power-ups were implemented in these is also provided to exemplify the model’s utility. In the paper I also argue power-ups are used to afford paidia play as well as ludus play through their application in hyper-ludic and contra-ludic game systems as described by Steven Conway (2010). Using the case study I argue that the most interesting aspect of power-ups as game mechanic is that they shift experiential character when a given power-up's implied formal use changes during gameplay. With this I mean that a power-up can at the same time be a means to achieve a goal as well as goals to be achieved themselves. A model explaining this is also provided. When considering the above, power-ups as abstractions are malleable elements that can be changed to fit in different games for different experiences. Power-ups can impact on the player experience, and changes to power-ups in turn impact on that experience. As the MDA-framework suggests, designers can tweak the run-time dynamics between player and game system by altering mechanics to reach aesthetic goals in their design. For the benefit of further work, both of this paper’s models can be used to inspect and compare other games to better be able to compare them and further increase our understanding of games’ formal elements, and, their impact on player experience.