Unfamiliar Feminine Spaces in Gone Home’s Environmental Storytelling

Bednorz Magdalena
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

Spatiality of digital environments, including video games, is not only one of the defining aspects of the medium (Murray 2001), but also an aspect through which medium-specific types of narratives can be communicated to the audience. It allows for environmental (or diegetic) storytelling – a narrative method in which the story originates from exploration (Carson 2000; Peirce 2007; Smith and Worch 2010), in which the player traverses the game space and discovers pieces of information in the form of artifacts and elements of the environment. Among the games which broadly employ this type of storytelling is The Fullbright Company’s first-person adventure exploration game Gone Home (2013). In the game, the player assumes the role of Katie, who returns home after a year abroad only to find her family house deserted. By spatial exploration focused mainly on searching the house, the player, through Katie, can solve the mystery and discover the story of coming of age, discovering one’s sexuality, and coping with the aftermath. Doing so requires interacting with objects placed within the house—they seem to work as a conduit of the narrative, not only informing of the recent events by themselves (e.g. notes, pictures), but also occasionally triggering additional audio-narration.


Beyond the Wall: The Boundaries of the Neomedieval Town in Singleplayer Roleplaying Games

Ford Dom
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The cities of the ever prevalent neomedieval fantasy roleplaying game are integral to their gameworlds. They act as quest hubs, goals, centres for action and places of safety. Much of the loop of the game revolves around leaving the city to complete quests, then returning to the city again, and repeat. In this paper, I take a closer look at the boundaries of the city. I begin by proposing a model to help define what a city’s boundary is and how it is expressed to the player. Then, I look at how and why players cross those borders back and forth. Through this, I hope to facilitate a better understanding of how the city functions in roleplaying games, and how the ways in which it produces boundaries alters and affects how players interact with the gameworld.


The Path That Lies Ahead: Intimacy Through Overwhelmedness in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Doyle-Myerscough Kaelan
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

In this essay I read The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to consider the potential of video game worlds to create intimate affects. I trace out a framework of intimacy not as a relationship between individuals but as an affect defined by sensations including vulnerability, the loss of control, and precarity. Then, I read the formal, aesthetic, proprioceptive and structural elements of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for intimate affects. I understand the intimacy of Breath of the Wild as not anchored to any individual but distributed through the game world. Within this framework I argue that Breath of the Wild creates intimacy through being overwhelmed and contending with overwhelmedness. Finally, I consider the context of contemporary precarity to understand the stakes of inhabiting intimate game worlds.


Sites of Play: Locating Gameplace in Red Dead Redemption 2

Westerside Andrew Holopainen Jussi
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

In Video Game Spaces (2009), Michael Nitsche proposes three indicators of ‘placeness’ in video games: identity, self-motivated and self-organised action, and traces of memory (191-201). We read this notion of placeness as closely aligned to, or overlapping with, the understandings of place and site articulated in theatre and performance research as site-specific performance. Here, we articulate the ideas (and analyse the experiences) of placeness and sitedness in Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) through an analytical conversation between performance studies and games design research with a human-computer interaction bias. Through a close-reading of gameplay experiences (Bizzocchi and Tanenbaum, 2011), we individually experienced over 30 hours of RDR2 gameplay while taking notes, recording, and capturing screenshots. During our individual analyses, we met periodically to compare notes, discuss notable game moments and share analytical insights. At this intersection of game research and performance research, we ask to what extent the theoretical articulations of aesthetic/affective experience in physical, corporeal and material spaces can develop – and further nuance – our understanding of how place is experienced (and thus designed) in contemporary videogames. In doing so, we propose the term gameplace as a means of articulating what this article will define as the affective relationship between place, experience and play.


The City in Singleplayer Fantasy Role Playing Games

Vella Daniel Bonello Rutter Giappone Krista
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

This paper considers cities in single-player fantasy role-playing games, identifying recurring tropes in terms of the spatial functions by which they shape the player’s lived experience of the gameworld. The functions of centring, demarcation of inside and outside, movement and encounter will be considered, both in terms of the spatial organizations determining them, and in terms of the spatial practices they give rise to. The analysis shall be anchored in a close engagement with a number of representative titles, including Baldur’s Gate, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt.


Environmental Storytelling, Ideologies and Quantum Physics: Narrative Space And The BioShock Games

Zakowski Samuel
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

In this paper, I present a narratological approach to the BioShock trilogy of games. I look at three narratological levels as they relate to space. At the level of the storyline, a large part of the game revolves around the piecemeal construction of the narrative of the game space – the narrative of the player's avatar is developed alongside the narrative of what happened to the space he is moving through. At the level of the storyworld, the game space symbolizes ideological oppositions – many locations are appropriated as a way of opposing the dominant ideology of the game space. At the level of the narrative universe, I focus on the last part of the trilogy, which is, to a large extent, a story about the story and, hence, metaleptic. The player and his avatar move through many different storyworlds and storylines, all alike yet subtly different from each other.