Playing or Being Played? Choice and Agency in Videogames: Reflecting on The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (2016)

Kleinerman Danielle
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

This paper interrogates how the videogame medium produces an engrossing and complex spectatorial experience, consistently challenging the user’s dimension of engagement. A reflexive analysis of the Witcher III: Wild Hunt (2016) encompasses a principal methodology; considering how play, spectatorship, and engagement merge into one. This paper homes in on how narrative directions and choices manipulate the will of the player, facilitated by preconceived and ongoing spectatorial influences. Semiotics, narratology, cinematography, ludology, and focalization theories fortify a conclusion that deconstructs the inherent fallacy present in narrative-based ludic choices, uncovering that their presence is a more an upholding of an inherent hegemonic structure and its boundaries.


A Typology of Rumble

Willumsen Ea Christina Jacevic Milan
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Rumble is a feature of most modern games published for home consoles, yet no existing studies on rumble and haptic feedback consider its various manifestations and functions in digital games. Likewise, analytical frameworks for understanding digital games tend to overlook rumble as a significant component of the game object or experience. Building on analyses of nine games from the PlayStation family of home consoles, this paper explores rumble as a two-level semiotic structure, consisting of a feedback source and (a) level(s) of operation. The two components are suggested as the base for a typology that accounts for the specific feedback source – environment, object, interface, or body – and its specific levels of operation as ludic, dramatic, technical, or an overlap of any of these. We present examples of each type to discuss the uses, applications, and limitations of the framework in relation to both analysis and design.


Quilting the meaning: gameplay as catalyst of signification and why to co-op in game studies

Giuliana Gianmarco Thierry
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

In this paper I propose a unifying perspective on meaning-making based on the assumption that signification in digital games is mainly produced through the cognitive & interpretative processes involved into gameplay. More exactly, the gameplay will be intended as series of sensorimotor acts and cognitive tasks that act as a catalyst and hub between semantics, narration, aesthetic, interactions & mechanics. This will be done with an interdisciplinary case analysis of Brothers: a tales of two sons and Papers, Please. My goals are two. The first one is to offer a deeper perspective on how complex contents, like brotherhood as a value and migration as a topic, dramatically depend on the cognitions triggered by playing that act as signifiers for interpretations on all the different layers of meaning. The second one is to contribute in laying the foundation of a unified perspective of meaning.


4x Gamer as Myth: Understanding through Player Mythologies

Harrington Johnathan
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

In this paper, we shall argue that games, being textual systems, can be understood semiotically - signs, or units, are being constantly renegotiated within the game due to their ergodicity. However, the mythologies outside of them remain, leading to a potential discrepancy between what is and what is understood. An understanding of player mythologies can, on one hand, help us formulate a better systemic classification of these interactions, while on the other hand, help us escape the restrictions the mythologies they belong in pose.


Enacting aporia: Roger Caillois’ game typology as formalist methodology

Ottens Michel
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This game analysis experimentally transposes Louis Hjelmslev's linguistic methodology, for logically deducing semiotic schema from a given text, to the analysis of games. Roger Caillois' fourfold model of game type rubrics is therefore reconceptualized, as a logically coherent analytic framework, from which an analysis might proceed indefinitely. Such analysis was practiced on a Dutch translation of the board game Lord of the Rings, to observe how this game manifests Caillois' rubrics of agôn (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (role-playing), and ilinx (disruptive play). Game studies methods akin to Hjelmslev's work already exist, and Caillois' efforts are often reconceptualized. However, this present work finds valuable avenues of inquiry in synthesizing these two thinkers. In extending Hjelmslev's work, stratified images of interlinked categories and components now appear at play in games. By reconceptualizing Caillois' efforts, those two axes, along which his four rubrics seem divided, now point to valuable lines of future inquiry.


Modeling the Semiotic Structure of Game Characters

Vella Daniel
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

When game studies has tackled the player-character, it has tended to do so by means of an oppositon to the notion of the avatar, with the result that the ontological and semiotic nature of the character in itself has not been given due attention. This paper draws on understandings of character from the fields of narratology and literary theory to highlight the double-layered ontology of character as both a possible individual and as a semiotic construction. Uri Margolin’s narratological model of character signification is used as the basis for developing a semiotic-structural model of the player-character that addresses its specific medialities and formal nature – a task which is performed through illustrative close examinations of the player-characters in The Last of Us (Naughty Dog 2013) and Gone Home (The Fullbright Company 2013).


Game Spaces Speak Volumes: Indexical Storytelling

Fernández-Vara Clara
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

In the problematic exploration of the narrative potential of videogames, one of the clearest aspects that bridge stories and games is space. This paper examines the different devices that videogames have used to incorporate stories through spatial design and what is known as environmental storytelling, focusing on the design elements that make the story directly relevant to gameplay beyond world-building and backstory exposition. These design-related elements are accounted for with the term indexical storytelling. As a refinement of the concept of environmental storytelling, indexical storytelling is a productive game design device, since reading the space of the game and learning about the events that have taken place in it are required to traverse the game successfully. Storytelling becomes a game of story-building, since the player has to piece together the story, or construct a story of her own interaction in the world by leaving a trace.