It's Pitch Black. You Are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue
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Opening keynote at WIAD 2014 Bristol

Opening keynote at WIAD 2014 Bristol

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It's Pitch Black. You Are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue Presentation Transcript

  • 1. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue. Lessons from videogames WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL ANDREA @RESMINI
  • 2. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL [] Entrance to the cellar     Score: 32     Moves: 47 The room is unwelcoming.  The door to the cellar is locked. It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue. > attack door with pitchfork What? It is pitch black. You haven't  played this game before, have you? > what is a grue?   (lights out. Two voices read the dialog above)
  • 3. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Only confirmed photo of a grue in the wild What is a grue? Well, we don't really know. But  grues were invented as a substitute for the  bottomless pits that used to litter even the  attics (unpractical) in text­based exploration  games such as Zork. They were practically means  to control game dynamics and game space: if it  was pitch black, grues were going to get you, and  you had to either leave in a hurry or light a  torch. So let me light a torch to get the grues running,  and we will try to explain what we can learn from  how and why video games create and manipulate  game space. (lights on) Let us start with the core question.
  • 4. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL what is a game?
  • 5. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL STORY, PROVIDES NO INTERACTION Fullerton, T. (2008). Game Design Workshop. Morgan Kauffman I'll be using the framework laid out by Tracy  Fullerton in her “Games Design Workshop”, as it  focuses on the elements of structure, story and  interaction, which are key points for any  conversation that addresses user experience.  Fullterton points out there are different  artifacts related to the idea of “play” and  “game” that differ in how they handle key  elements. The most basic one is a story. A story  provides no interaction.
  • 6. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL STORY, PROVIDES NO INTERACTION TOY, PROVIDES NO GOAL Fullerton, T. (2008). Game Design Workshop. Morgan Kauffman Then we have toys. Toys turn storytelling into an  interactive experience but they still provide no  goals.
  • 7. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL STORY, PROVIDES NO INTERACTION TOY, PROVIDES NO GOAL PUZZLE, PROVIDES GOAL Fullerton, T. (2008). Game Design Workshop. Morgan Kauffman Puzzles provide a goal, so we have a slightly  more structured experience, but we still lack a  necessary element.
  • 8. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL STORY, PROVIDES NO INTERACTION TOY, PROVIDES NO GOAL PUZZLE, PROVIDES GOAL GAME, YOU CAN WIN Fullerton, T. (2008). Game Design Workshop. Morgan Kauffman That element is unbalance. Games generate an  outcome: someone wins and someone else loses. No  winners, no game.
  • 9. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL what is a game made of? So we have an idea of how to assess if something  is a game or not. The next step is to understand  what is a game made of?
  • 10. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia, Broderbund To illustrate this, I'll use the Prince of Persia  videogame. Not the original one written and coded  by Jordan Mechner for Broderbund in 1989, but ...
  • 11. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– … the UBISOFT 2003 PS2 reboot. Mechner was  involved anyway, and honestly it shows.
  • 12. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– In many ways, it was a groundbreaking game even  though other offers had better graphics, or  better controls, or better interactions at the  time. Much of its charm came from how elegantly its  different building blocks were integrated. 
  • 13. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL formal dramatic spatial But what are these building blocks? Fullerton  introduces two larger categories or broad areas:  formal elements and dramatic elements. I add to  the list, and will explain why, spatial elements.
  • 14. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Formal Formal elements are the practical building  blocks, if you will. 
  • 15. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games structure procedures They include rules and procedures you necessarily  follow to play the game, and ...
  • 16. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games require players ... players and ...
  • 17. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games provide resources ... resources. If you have roamed a level in  SuperMario for more coins or frantically run  across some 3D nightmare landscape for some sort  of medikit, you know what a resource is. Here's a  hint: they are scarce. Evil designers make them  so. 
  • 18. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games thrive on conflict One very important formal element is conflict.  Games thrive on conflict. Someone has to win.  Someone has to lose.
  • 19. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games have boundaries Check Huizinga's Homo Ludens A Study of the Play Element in Culture– Objectives are another formal element, and  Fullerton also considers boundaries as one of  them. This is where I depart from her model. I  consider boundaries, or what stands for  boundaries, to be one of the spatial elements of  games.
  • 20. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Dramatic Then we have dramatic elements. In the case of  Prince of Persia, the whole story revolves around  the Sands of Time.
  • 21. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL While in the original game they were simply a  formal element (you had 60 minutes to beat the  game), a resource, they get a whole different  treatment in the reboot. They also become a  fundamental part of the story.
  • 22. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL how does a game connect emotionally to its players? The sands also become one of the dramatic  elements, those that emotionally tie a player to  the game mechanics provided by formal elements.
  • 23. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL The Walking Dead The role of dramatic elements cannot be  underestimated. What sets this specific scene  from The Walking Dead game apart from similar  games is not its mechanics, but rather the way it  plays out to our emotional engagement. Many other  games include using a controller to push a door  close, but here you have zombies.
  • 24. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL through the use of dramatic or narrative elements So dramatic or narrative elements, the  storytelling if you will, is what makes you want  to go back (or not) to the game.
  • 25. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL it certainly allows play and challenges players While as we said the basic dramatic element is  involving players ...
  • 26. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL it provides a premise ... a game always provides a premise, a way to  set up a narrative thread and a coherent  environment.
  • 27. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL This is true even if we consider games that have  become in time so abstract or commonplace that we  don't really see the premise anymore. Monopoly is  really a game about real estate and capitalism in  the America of the 1930s. Chess is about warring  armies.
  • 28. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL it works through characters Then a game works through characters, be these  pawns representing roles on a numbered board,  kings and queens, or ...
  • 29. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Flappy Birds ... really plump birds.
  • 30. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL it weaves a story Through premise and characters, every single game  weaves a story.
  • 31. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL these narrative elements structure and contextualize formal elements within the game Dramatic elements contextualize and structure  formal elements within the game, and make them  different, and more or less successful at  engaging players.
  • 32. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLhttp://mestadelsbilder.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/g-is-for-grue.jpg Grues, for example, are a great way to make  players proceed into areas of the game only if  some formal elements have been triggered or  obtained. In this case, light, a resource. Did I  mention torches are probably scarce?
  • 33. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL a game is a formal system that engages players in structured conflict and resolves its uncertainties in an unequal outcome At this point, we could have a pretty  satisfying  definition for “game”, again mostly following  Fullerton. Key words here are conflict,  uncertainty, and unequal. You don't want to play  a game if you already know how it's going to end,  right?
  • 34. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL but what about those boundaries? But then, aren't we leaving something out?
  • 35. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Spatial We sure are. Here's a rendition of the palace in  which the whole of the formal and dramatic  elements in the Prince of Persia reboot are  played out. This is where you spend the 11 to 30  hours it will take to resolve the story of the  prince into an unequal outcome. Isn't this a set  of very important elements? What are rooms and  walls and precipices and waterfalls? Where is  playing actually happening?
  • 36. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL are grues found everywhere? Think about the Zork game. Are grues everywhere?  Not at all. 
  • 37. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLhttp://mestadelsbilder.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/g-is-for-grue.jpg ? That would defy their purpose as a game element  in the first place. You only find grues in the  pitch black areas you haven't explored yet.
  • 38. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Pope Guilty, http://www.flickr.com/photos/popeguilty/2696780797/ Humans vs Zombies at Indiana University This is a map outlining the boundaries for a  zombie game which was played on campus at Indiana  University. Within the borders, you can be a  zombie and have fun. Outside the borders, in the  red areas, you could get shot by a particularly  nervous citizen who has seen too many a b­movie.  And generally have a lot less fun.
  • 39. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL A game of hide and seek: does this game have  boundaries? Borders? What are its spatial  elements? They sure are there, but if you exclude  the pole or base, they are all procedural. You  sure know if you are playing, and probably  running to the airport and flying to Antarctica  would be considered cheating. 
  • 40. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Look at the way this grandma restructured the  sofa to have a good game of go fish, the two  opposite areas, the position of the players, and  the screen.
  • 41. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL And boardgames. On this table, you have an abbey  in the Middle Ages. That table is now a microcosm  taking you somewhere else, where different  space/time rules apply.
  • 42. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL And you can go all the way, and fight dragons in  Skyrim. Even without any Oculus Rift visors, this  can get pretty “elsewhere”.
  • 43. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL PHYSICAL VIRTUAL What we have here, is a constant shift from  physical to (apologies) virtual. All the same,  these games all structure their different game  spaces as an essential component of play.
  • 44. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL boundaries are both physical and conceptual This is because boundaries can be both physical,  and conceptual.
  • 45. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLNandadevieast, http://www.flickr.com/photos/agnihot/4937763060/ Procedural boundaries A game of hopscotch. Played in physical space,  but do you have walls or signs in the sand here?  Staying within the lines and playing out the  right sequence is the challenge that the game  provides you with.
  • 46. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLTanzen80, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanzen80/6140025125/ Emotional Boundaries Playing videogames on portable devices on the  subway. Who's playing here? What about the  others?
  • 47. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLchloester, http://www.flickr.com/photos/etherealdawn/4599010666/ Emotional Boundaries And what about a bunch of friends playing  videogames together? And the odd person in the  group who doesn't play but has to comment on  every push of a button? Are they playing? Where  are the boundaries here?
  • 48. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL a game is a closed system That was the missing piece from our previous  definition. A game is a closed system.
  • 49. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL a game is an invitation to play and to enter the magic circle It's a magic circle, in which we willingly  suspend reality and walk for a little while in  different shoes, following different logics for  different goals. Not many of those who played  Doom got to kill aliens as their day­to­day job,  right? 
  • 50. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL games happen in space For a magic circle to exist, we need a specific  space for games to be structured.
  • 51. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL this space defines the very nature of the game itself
  • 52. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL could you have games without having game space?
  • 53. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL (no. all games happen in space) And this space is an essential element. No game  space, no game.
  • 54. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Functional Abstract Space Playing charades, Travismcclain.blogspot.com Even abstract games, such as charades for  example, necessitate of game space. Not only  that, but the game itself structures space and  imposes constraints. You could play charades over  Google Hangouts, but you couldn't play across the  full extent of a football field (without a lot of  running, that is).
  • 55. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL this space is both mathematical and experiential This game space has a dual nature: it is both  mathematical, made up of cells and lines or  algorithms, and experiential, related to our  engagement.
  • 56. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL discrete vs continuous Space in games exhibits a few basic  characteristics. It can either be discrete or  continuous, for example.
  • 57. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Discrete or Continuous
  • 58. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL discrete and connected When space is discretely partitioned, it is also  usually connected.
  • 59. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia, Map Screen When Discrete, Connected Many games, even when they allow a certain degree  of free roaming, actually use this hub and spoke  model. Here's the map of the Prince of Persia  reboot reboot (it was actually a reboot of the  reboot. I have no idea how you should call it) 
  • 60. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL strictly bounded vs loosely bounded You can have strictly bounded spaces, or loosely  bounded spaces.
  • 61. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Bounded vs Unbounded Think of tennis vs hide and seek. But also  SuperMario vs Skyrim.
  • 62. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL mono bi- three-dimensional Then, space in games can be mono, bi­ or  three­dimensional. The monodimensional idea of  game space is particularly interesting.
  • 63. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLhttp://maxqubit.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/ganzenbord_6-1.jpg A typical monodimensional game is the traditional  game of the goose board game.
  • 64. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Guitar Hero, Activision But Guitar Hero­type games are also  monodimensional. Game play happens along a line,  there's no going back. Note that some include  circular board games, say Monopoly, in this  category.
  • 65. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Now, bi­dimensional is tricky. Clearly boardgames  that do not use a game of the goose layout are  bi­dimensional. But what about pool? It appears  to be bi­dimensional, right, but can you make a  ball jump? Sure you can. Football is also 3D, or  Call of Duty, and so on.
  • 66. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Let's try out tic­tac­toe. It's a simple game, so  we can apply these pairs easily.
  • 67. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Space is discrete. You have 9 cells, clearly  delimited.
  • 68. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL It is also connected. You make sense of the game  by lining up tokens or checks across the  different cells, according to established  patterns.
  • 69. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL It is also clearly bounded. It doesn't matter if  your “x” is square center or slightly off. Every  cell is either 1 or 0: you are either in or not,  and this reinforces the discrete nature of cells.
  • 70. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL TIC-TAC-TOE 3D Tic-tac-toe, jacquesamerica.com And it's bi­dimensional, right? A  three­dimensional tic­tac­toe would look like  this, and probably be slightly more complicated  to play.
  • 71. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL V. Lodin, M. Olovsson, M. Nilsson, J. Magnusson, I. Anic Mapping the Zoo area - Exercise In one of my courses, students got to work with  game space. We wanted to see if and how game  space was impacting the game experience. Prince  of Persia – The Sands of Time was our game. Here  you see a sketch of an area in the game, the Zoo.
  • 72. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Adapted from McGregor G.L. (2007). Situations of Play: Patterns of Spatial Use in Videogames Challenge Space the game environment directly challenges the player The students started out by mapping game space  according to a model proposed by Georgia  McGregor. McGregor categorizes game space  according to the way it engages the player. In  Prince of Persia, students found challenge  spaces. 
  • 73. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– These are all the areas, quite a lot of them,  where the prince has to show off a little of his  acrobatics.
  • 74. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLMario and Luigi Challenge space is a staple of platformers.
  • 75. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Adapted from McGregor G.L. (2007). Situations of Play: Patterns of Spatial Use in Videogames Contested Space the game environment is the setting for conflict between entities Then they found a good deal of contested spaces.
  • 76. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– The game pitches the prince against a rather  large number of foes. One more chance to show off  that vault­then­stab­then­finish trick that took  ages to master. These areas are distinct and  different from those that represent challenge  space. The two never overlap.
  • 77. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL CONTESTED SPACE Battle for Middle-Earth Contested space is a staple of strategy games.  Here is Battle for Middle Earth.
  • 78. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Adapted from McGregor G.L. (2007). Situations of Play: Patterns of Spatial Use in Videogames Nodal Space social patterns of spatial usage are imposed on the game for structure and readability Then they found nodal spaces.
  • 79. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– The magic fountains where the prince gains a few  more notches on his healthbar for example.
  • 80. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL NODAL SPACE A leap of faith in Assassin's Creed 2, Ubisoft Nodal spaces are aplenty in videogames. They  represent a specific actionable potentiality that  is encoded in an object or place for clarity of  play. A very good example is the leap of faith  ledges in Assassin's Creed. While you can jump  off any tower and roof, these are the only places  from which you can leap and survive, and they are  well marked so you don't get confused and make a  mess out of you. 
  • 81. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL a different understanding of game space This way of deconstructing game space was  extremely fruitful. One of the immediate  consequences was that the students were able to  identify a spatial rhythm to the game, that was  reflected in its dramatic and formal flow. Game  space was driving the narrative in more than one  way. Before getting into that tho, I want to  introduce what a few groups did. They applied  Kevin Lynch's spatial primitives to the game. 
  • 82. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL MNSU.EDU KEVIN LYNCH, SKETCHES Districts From http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~tony/courses/431/Vocabulary.html They started out with districts. Do we have  districts in Prince of Persia?
  • 83. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLDoug Walsh, PoP The Official Strategy Guide, Bradygames– We sure do. The game is built around the concept.  The Hall, the Zoo, the Baths, the Caverns, the  Prison, the Tower.
  • 84. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL MNSU.EDU Edges From http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~tony/courses/431/Vocabulary.html Then they checked for edges. Structures that keep  you on a path, such as the banks of a river, or  the continuous curtain of buildings along a  street.
  • 85. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL V. Lodin, M. Olovsson, M. Nilsson, J. Magnusson, I. Anic Mapping the Zoo area - Exercise They found plenty. 
  • 86. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLDoug Walsh, PoP The Official Strategy Guide, Bradygames–
  • 87. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL MNSU.EDU KEVIN LYNCH, SKETCHES Paths From http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~tony/courses/431/Vocabulary.html Next was paths. A road, a gravel track in a park.
  • 88. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL V. Lodin, M. Olovsson, M. Nilsson, J. Magnusson, I. Anic Mapping the Zoo area - Exercise Here came more to support the initial findings in  respect to the general nature of game space:  regardless of how complex the architecture  looked, you usually had one way to get across a  certain section of the game, and no ways to go  back.
  • 89. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLIco Paths are a big feature of games. Here's Ico.  Great game by the way.
  • 90. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLMirror's Edge Here's Mirror's Edge. As an extreme parkour slash  cyberpunk courier, you go from roof to ledge and  from crane to water tank. All safe paths in the  default mode for the game are marked red. 
  • 91. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLDoug Walsh, PoP The Official Strategy Guide, Bradygames– Note that Prince of Persia is a tad subtler here,  and figuring out the path is part of the  challenges that the game throws at players.
  • 92. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL MNSU.EDU KEVIN LYNCH, SKETCHES Nodes From http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~tony/courses/431/Vocabulary.html Nodes. Nodes are points of interest. Places where  things happen or might happen. For example, the  intersection of streets.
  • 93. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLDoug Walsh, PoP The Official Strategy Guide, Bradygames– Prince of Persia has its share of nodes. Both at  game level, and at room / space level. An area is  a node for the game: within that area, you  usually have a number of nodes as well.
  • 94. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL MNSU.EDU KEVIN LYNCH, SKETCHES Landmarks From http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~tony/courses/431/Vocabulary.html Finally, the students checked landmarks.
  • 95. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLDoug Walsh, PoP The Official Strategy Guide, Bradygames– And while you could argue that you have  area­level landmarks guiding you around, and  usually showing up in the visions the Prince has  of upcoming challenges, the real landmark in the  game works exactly like those Lynch describes in  his seminal book. 
  • 96. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL You see the Tower of Dawn a number of times  throughout the game, and the narrative makes a  point of constantly pointing you towards the fact  that the tower is the ultimate destination.
  • 97. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, Ubisoft– Throughout this process we sketched, we took  notes, we played the game. I can assure you  nothing is more humbling than playing anything  that involves controllers with a pack of  twenty­something. A sobering experience if any.  When we were done, we had a couple of workshops  and went through what we had learned about game  space and its role within the game. 
  • 98. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Minecraft, Mojang While the game presents a realistic if fantastic  environment, it is definitely not a sandbox game  the way Minecraft is. Everything is strictly  scripted and there is no free wandering around.  Prince of Persia is much more similar to a theme  park ride than to the Sims.
  • 99. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL LA Noire, Rockstar We are not even close to games such as Rockstar's  LA Noire or UBISOFT's own Assassin's Creed  series, where a main storyline can be abandoned  at will, and some of the scripted events evolve  through game time (for example, a chase). Space is the only metric for advancement in  Prince of Persia, and with the exception of the  palace defense traps, nothing ever happens if the  player doesn't move forward through game space. 
  • 100. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOLhttp://maxqubit.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/ganzenbord_6-1.jpg From this perspective, Prince of Persia is a  glorified (and spectacular at times) game of the  goose. It's monodimensional, and it is defined by  a rigid structure of dramatic elements that  unfolds through a rhythmic succession of  alternate spaces: challenge spaces, mostly built  around the edge and path spatial primitives, are  always followed by contested spaces, where nodes  and districts become prevalent. You might have a  little exposition there, and then the cycle  repeats itself.  
  • 101. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL EXPLORE GAMEPLAY: STRUCTURAL ARC STORY COMBAT EXPLORE Basically, the structural arc of the game, its  narrative, advance in sync with the player's  exploration of its space. Once all space has been  explored, the game is over.
  • 102. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL EXPLORE PROGRESSION THROUGH SPACE / TIME / STORY STORY COMBAT EXPLORE EXPLORE STORY COMBAT EXPLORE EXPLORE STORY COMBAT EXPLORE The game is simply a repetition of this 1­hour  mini arc over and over.
  • 103. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL how have we been fooled here? This rhythmic structure is so evident when you  deconstruct the game, that some of the students  claimed they didn't enjoy playing it that much  when they figured it out and they knew what to  expect next. That was interesting. What was  fooling us then? Because when you play the game,  especially if you consider it's more than 10  years old now, it's actually a rather good game.
  • 104. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL this is a quest The short answer is that this progression through  space to tell a story is nothing new. We call  this narrative “quest”, and we have been using it  for quite a long time to tie together loose  figments into a coherent narrative. It's the  Odyssey, the search for the Graal, or the Lord of  the Rings.
  • 105. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL the end of the narrative coincides with the end of places we visit We know that the story ends when we have reached  the castle, defeated the dragon, saved the day.
  • 106. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Zork is nothing different from this point of  view. Only, its world is bi­dimensional. In some  versions, three­dimensional. It allows much more  freedom than Prince of Persia does. Still,  exploring the world means exploring and  uncovering the story. Giving meaning to whatever  actions we are carrying out in game space. That's  why Prince of Persia is a satisfying game:  because its internal narrative is tightly bound  to its spatial structure, and it delivers  precisely what we expect it will do. And it does  it well. With a twist at the end I won't give  away, in case someone wants to play it.
  • 107. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL information is turned into meaning by weaving a narrative through space From the point of view of professionals or  researchers dealing with new media, videogames  but also websites and mobile apps, here we have  information turned into meaning by weaving a  narrative through a spatial structure. Without  space, there's no story. Without the story, game  space is meaningless and fruitless. And the  balance works splendidly.
  • 108. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL why is this spatial understanding of games important? I wouldn't stop there though. There's an  important point that has to be made. Spatial  understanding is at the root of our engagement.  But understanding these peculiar spaces and the  way they are built, the way they work, can  provide us with interesting insights into how to  structure our experiences with information­based  digital / physical ecosystems.
  • 109. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL because navigable space can represent both physical spaces and abstract information spaces Navigable space is not restricted to games.
  • 110. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL because spatial understanding is something that comes to us naturally We navigate through both physical and abstract  spaces naturally.
  • 111. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL and this narrative is contagious See J. Kallay's Gaming Film And the spatially­bound narrative that comes  along with new media is terribly contagious. It's  like the Snow Crash virus in Neal Stephenson's  novel. It spreads fast.
  • 112. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Zombieland And while we have a lot of videogame­inspired  movies, and a lot of movies using videogame  logic, I would love to highlight a different  angle today, and have a conversation on how  information, meta information that does not  physically belong to the scene, is entering movie  space and it is doing it “naturally”. There's  plenty of examples. Here's a couple of  screenshots from Zombieland, where the trick  works pretty well, with ...
  • 113. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Zombieland ... characters crashing through the credits, for  example. But more recently, Cumberbatch and  Freeman's “Sherlock” deserves a mention. In the  series, we have at least three different  representations of this meta­information creeping  into scenic space. We need to thank director of  photography Steve Lawes and director Paul  McGuigan for that.
  • 114. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock Mobile phone messages and such first of all.
  • 115. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock It is interesting to note that while we get a  fairly stylish and absolutely abstracted display  of information directly on the 4th wall, most of  the times at least, McGuigan feels compelled to  always show a mobile phone being used, on a  table, or in the hands of the characters. 
  • 116. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock Similarly, when Sherlock and John are reading  John's blog, we have a full in­scene treatment of  the article, down to the fonts and layout. This  is very much inline with anything you can see in  House of Cards as well, or back to movies such as  Panic Room (which had credits working pretty much  like those of Zombieland, if less refined).
  • 117. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL PHYSICAL VIRTUAL Using our initial model, the one I used for  boundaries in games, these embedded pieces of  information would be roughly positioned slightly  after the middle point. Going for “virtual”  (apologies again), but connected to the physical  world. We still need to see the phone. For now.  
  • 118. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock Then we have Sherlock's deductive reasoning. His  thoughts made visible. These are much more  disembodied and at the same time much more  “inside” movie space. Words float around and  attach themselves to people and objects. This is  a different approach.
  • 119. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock When in an episode we have a drunk Sherlock, we  visually see his deductions go both blurry and  imprecise, ...
  • 120. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock ... and his chain of thought collapse and derail.  Is this the client or what? 
  • 121. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL PHYSICAL VIRTUAL In that model, we are much more leaning towards  “virtual” (aagh) here. Still, we get it, right?
  • 122. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock We have no issues connecting the abstract pieces  of information that are thrown at us, as they are  physically anchored to the story. This works. So  we get to see Sherlock upping the ante and  totally reverse this. In another episode, he's  chatting with / interviewing a number of women  using multiple computers (not multiple accounts,  we are still not there).
  • 123. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL Sherlock Only most of the scene is played out in  Sherlock's own mental rendition of this  multi­sided conversation as a courtroom (he's  investigating, after all). We definitely moved  along the continuum, but we are playing it  backwards: this is a mental space that becomes  “real”. Pretty much like a videogame.
  • 124. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL PHYSICAL VIRTUAL We moved even closer to “virtual” (lordy). And we  did that in a mainstream, and very successful,  crime series. This is no Gibson. Something is  changing. In his “The Language of New Media”, Lev  Manovich stipulates that we can “be there” either  through immersion, and skeumorphic actionable 3D  spaces, or through navigation, a more reflective  database­like modality. Ten years have passed. My  take is that we are seeing these cultural  structures blending and morphing. We increasingly  grok actionable abstract spaces, and videogames  are more than partially responsible for this.  When you play your next game, pay a little  attention to how game space plays you. And always  carry a torch. You'll need it for the grues. 
  • 125. IT IS PITCH BLACK. YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE EATEN BY A GRUE. ANDREA @RESMINI :: WORLD IA DAY 2014 BRISTOL thank you