Towards Design Principles for Humor in Interactive Emergent Narrative

Chen Kenneth Rank Stefan
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

Humor is an essential part of storytelling, but it has not been studied in the field of interactive emergent narrative. We begin with an overview of various theories of humor and use them to examine examples of humor within the digital media field. This juxtaposition aims to bring together concepts from both fields in order to find a feasible direction. We hope to contribute a framework of humor that can be used in the near future for an interactive emergent narrative project. Our conceptualization of humor frames it in terms of “pleasant surprises” which enable players and other emergent AI actors to stretch the boundaries between plot and discourse.


Feel It, Don’t Think: the Significance of Affect in the Study of Digital Games

Shinkle Eugénie
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Game studies methodologies which focus on the visual, narrative, and semiotic content of digital games overlook the way that embodied perception and physiological response contribute to the meaningfulness of games. Gameplay also needs to be understood in terms of affective response: the embodied, multisensory perception of the game environment. Distinguishing between affect and emotion, this paper frames the former in terms of the unquantifiable bodily dimensions of gameplay – the ‘feel’ of a game. It argues that affective response incorporates physiological and temporal dimensions that lie outside the domain of linear time and conscious choice, using examples of games like Rez that link positive player experience to bodily awareness and uncontrollable biological responses. It then proposes some ways that a theory of affect can further our understanding of what digital games are and why people play them.


Computer Games / Cinema / Interfaces

King Geoff Krzywinska Tanya
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

What is the relationship between computer games and cinema? Spin-off games based on major film franchises are common, especially in genres such as science fiction, action-adventure and horror. Some games have also made the transition to the big screen, none more prominently than the Tomb Raider series in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). The potential benefits of such tieins are apparent at the industrial level, in a global media economy in which games and cinema often exist in the orbit of the same corporate giants. To what extent, though, is it useful to look at games more closely in the light of cinema? The aim of this paper is to explore points of contact between computer games and aspects of cinema, but also to highlight important differences and distinctions. The main focus is on the formal/textual qualities of games in relation to cinema, although reference is also made to aspects of industrial and broader cultural context. The paper also considers some more general questions raised by the use of paradigms from one media form in relation to another.


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.


Space, Agency, Meaning and Drama in Navigable Real-Time Virtual Environments

Roudavski Stanislav Penz François
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Does our preoccupation with navigable space distract us from the expressive potential of interactive media? Can our understanding of spatial context in virtual environments (VEs) be expanded to incorporate social reasoning and behavior? Drawing on the theoretical foundations and practice of Architecture, this paper considers the relationship between person and environment in the real world and in navigable real-time three-dimensional digital worlds. The first part discusses the cyclical and bi-directional nature of the person _ environment relationship with interactive involvement as the basis for meaning construction and behavior guidance. The second part considers the differences brought in by the representative nature of computer-based interactive three-dimensional (3D) worlds. The examples for discussion are derived from the rich field of videogames. This is followed by an overview of the principal components of Shenmue II, a role-playing game, and a case-study examination of one interactive sequence from it. The analysis shows that navigable space always carries meaning, reiterates that interactivity is an integral part of spatial experiences and illustrates how construction of mental images is a product of mediation. When VEs are designed to utilize rich agency and expressive mediation devices, they potently overstep the systematic rule-based constraints of their design and become meaningful and engaging as situations that have real-world roots and dramatically significant consequences.


The Ideology of Interactivity (or Video Games and Taylorization of Leisure)

Garite Matt
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Interactivity is one of the key conceptual apparatuses through which video games have been theorized thus far. As many writers have noted, video games are distinct from other forms of media because player actions seem to have direct, immediate consequences in the world depicted onscreen. But in many ways, this “interactive” feature of video games tends to manifest itself as a relentless series of demands, or a way of disciplining player behavior. In this sense, it seems more accurate to describe the human-machine interface made possible by gaming as an aggressive form of “interpellation” or hailing. Drawing primarily upon the work of Louis Althusser, I argue that traditional theories of interactivity fail to acknowledge the work of video games—in other words, the extent to which video games define and reconstitute players as subjects of ideology.


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.