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Story Design for Games as Experience/Emotional Design

Story Design for Games as Experience/Emotional Design



Slides from a Game development class I'm teaching. Focus is on creating meaning through gameplay, rather than employing narrative.

Slides from a Game development class I'm teaching. Focus is on creating meaning through gameplay, rather than employing narrative.



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    Story Design for Games as Experience/Emotional Design Story Design for Games as Experience/Emotional Design Presentation Transcript

    • Story Design for Games as Experience Design: How to make your games more meaningful and memorable Aki Järvinen Game Development, ITU Spring 2009
    • Contents
      • Techniques to design meaning into play
        • Stories
        • Goal structures
        • Characters
        • Metaphors
      • Examples & points of reference
      • How to translate these concepts into ‘Unreal’ terms?
      • Notes about your concepts’ story potentials
    • Meaning
      • Even if your game does not have something we could call a ‘story’, it will produce meaning
      • Games as systems ; as dynamic wholes with interacting parts – how is meaning generated?
      • Hermeneutic circle : one's understanding of the whole is established by reference to the individual parts, and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole.
      • Thus, gameplay-related processes of understanding are fundamentally hermeneutical
    • Meaningful Play
      • "Meaningful play in a game emerges from the relationship between player action and system outcome; it is the process by which a player takes action within the designed system of a game and the system responds to the action. The meaning of an action in a game resides in the relationship between action and outcome.”
        • Salen & Zimmerman, Rules of Play
    • Elements of meaning in games
      • Analysis part: Unraveling hermeneutical circles; identifying their parts
      • Design part: Raveling them back together, with new combinations and realizations of parts
      • Using stories/gameplay to create the combinations, and deepen them
    • Story as Information
      • An aspect of game design is how to distribute information, e.g. about goals.
      • Structuring that information into a story is one way to do it.
      • There are other ways...
    • Information about goals
    • Story as embedded goal structure
      • Stories’ motivational function:
        • Propelling the player from one goal to the next
        • Rewarding the player with more information
        • Rewarding the player with narrative twists
      • Player’s progression in the formal goal structure of a game might be in contradiction with the diegetic progression of the character in the story:
      • An achievement for the player ( e.g. advancing to a location ) might be a setback for the character ( once location is reached, story throws character into jail ); rewards are asymmetrical
    • Story as ‘Texture’
    • Characters = Agents in a World
    • Emotional Game Design
      • Emotional game play experiences matter, since emotionally salient material is remembered better than neutral material.
      • Emotion creates memorable meaning
      • Emotional game design as a means to amplify meanings; to pepper the meaningful elements with emotions
      • ‘ emotions depend on evaluations of what has happened in relation to the person’s goals and beliefs’
      • ‘ emotions emerge at significant junctures in plans’
      • - Keith Oatley, Best Laid Schemes
      • -> consequences for design of player choices & conflicts
    • Events, Agents & Objects in a World
      • ‘ emotions are valenced reactions to events, agents, or objects in a world’
      • - Ortony, Collins & Clore: The Cognitive Structure of Emotions
      • Designing emotional responses to gameplay is about building worlds with particular events, agents, and objects
      • … and designing the player’s relation to, and means to act in that world
      • Fable 2 : moral choices as emotional dispositions designed into each choice
    • Hemingway’s six word story
      • For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
      • ‘ For sale’: an action (prospect of a game mechanic)
      • ‘ Baby shoes’: an object
      • ‘ Never worn’: an event (/an attribute of shoes)
      • The emotional impact is in the implicit relations of these three; in an implied event: a gap
      • How does one (game) design such gaps?
    • Metaphors
      • ‘ understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another’ – Lakoff & Johnson
      • metaphors support the experience of rules as game play
      • Examples:
        • “ Game as real estate business”
        • “ Game as war”
        • “ Game as geometry”
      • Metaphors help in communicating emotions
    • Metaphorical objects
    • Reading: Lens #69
      • The Lens of Weirdest Thing
    • Examples
      • ...of appropriate scope:
        • Gravity Bone, made with Quake 2 engine
      • Ambiguous meanings can be puzzling in a positive way; they diversify player experiences and create discussions