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M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
F E L I X S C H R Ö T E R , U N I V E R S I T Y O F H A M B U R G
MEDIALITY AND MULTIMODALITY ACROSS MEDIA
WINTER SCHOOL AT THE GRADUATE ACADEMY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TUEBINGEN, GERMANY

JANUARY 29, 2014
felixschroeter@uni-hamburg.de @felixjs www.felixschroeter.de
multimodality
linguistics
film studies
gamestudies
O’HALLORAN 2004
narratology
KRESS/VAN LEUWEN 2001
semiotics
PAGE 2010
BATEMAN/SCHMIDT 2010
DENA 2010
‣ address players through
multiple sensory channels,
‣ rely on players’ input through
different multimodal control
schemes (Oviatt 2002),
‣ combine ‘narrative’ and
‘game’ modes (Dena 2010).
V I D E O G A M E S …
– C H A R L E S F O R C E V I L L E ( 2 0 0 9 : 2 4 )
„[M]ultimodal metaphors are metaphors whose
target and source are each represented exclusively
or predominantly in different modes.“
C L A I M
Audiovisual metaphors are used in game character
design to integrate multi-sensory experiences with
higher cognitive meaning and ‘merge’ ludic and
narrative dimensions of characters.
M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 

C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY
Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT)
• Human beings make sense of (abstract) phenomena by
understanding them metaphorically in terms of
physical, concrete phenomena (Lakoff/Johnson 1980).
• In conceptual metaphors (e.g. LIFE IS A JOURNEY)
elements of a source domain (JOURNEY) are mapped
onto elements of a target domain (LIFE).
M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 

C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY
• pictorial / visual metaphors (e.g. Kennedy 1982)
• audiovisual metaphors (e.g. Forceville 2006,
Fahlenbrach 2010)
• multimodal metaphors (e.g. Forceville/Urios-Aparisi
2009)
M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 

C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY
LIFE IS A JOURNEY
The Straight Story (USA 1999)
– s e e K AT H R I N FA H L E N B R A C H ( 2 0 1 0 : 9 3 – 9 4 )
audiovisual metaphors = intentionally designed
symbolical forms that refer to conceptual metaphors in
their specific use of pictures, sounds, and movement
M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 

C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY
ANGER IS LOSS OF BALANCE
Crank (USA 2006)
M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 

C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY
MADNESS IS LOSS OF BALANCE
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady/Eidos Interactive 2009)
V I D E O G A M E S A N D M E TA P H O R S
• interface as metaphor for the game as an information
system (Järvinen 2007, Schrape 2012)
• simulation as metaphor for real-world processes
(Aarseth 2001, Juul 2005, or Bogost 2011)
• conceptual metaphors in game rhetoric (Bogost 2005),
aesthetics (Rusch 2009, Begy 2010), and story structure
(Kromhout 2010, Kromhout/Forceville 2013)
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
Possible target domains: POWER, HEROISM, VIRTUE
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
• structural metaphor: source domain provides
rich knowledge structure for the target concept
(Kövecses 2010)
‣ LIFE IS A JOURNEY
‣ TIME IS MOTION
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
PURPOSIVE ACTIVITY IS MOVING FORWARD TOWARD A DESTINATION
Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady/WB Interactive 2011)
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
POWER IS SELF-PROPELLED MOTION
InFamous (Sucker Punch/Sony 2009)
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
• orientational metaphor: maps basic mental schemas
of spatial orientation on (typically abstract) target
concepts (Kövecses 2010)
‣ MORE IS UP | LESS IS DOWN
‣ VIRTUE IS UP | LACK OF VIRTUE IS DOWN
‣ CONTROL IS UP | LACK OF CONTROL IS DOWN
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
VIRTUE IS UP | CONTROL IS UP
InFamousBatman: Arkham City
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
• ontological metaphor: gives (mostly abstract) target
concepts a new ontological status as objects, substances,
or containers (Kövecses 2010)
• allows for further structuring through structural metaphors
‣ STATE AS CONTAINER („being in love“)
‣ ACTION AS OBJECT („giving someone a call“)
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
POWER IS A SUBSTANCE | HUMAN IS A CONTAINER
InFamous
M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 

A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N
POWER IS A SUBSTANCE | HUMAN IS A CONTAINER
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda 2011)
C O N C L U S I O N
Audiovisual metaphors are used in game character
design to integrate multi-sensory experiences with
higher cognitive meaning and ‘merge’ ludic and
narrative dimensions of characters.
T H A N K Y O U !
felixschroeter@uni-hamburg.de
@felixjs
www.felixschroeter.de
• Aarseth, Espen. 2001. “Allegories of
Space. The Question of Spatiality in
Computer Games.” In Cybertext Yearbook
2000, edited by Markku Eskelinen and
Raine Koskimaa, pp. 152–171. Jyväskylä:
University of Jyväskylä.
• Bateman, John A., and Karl-Heinrich
Schmidt. 2012. Multimodal Film Analysis.
How Film Mean. New York/London:
Routledge.
• Begy, Jason. 2010. “Interpreting Abstract
Games: The Metaphorical Potential of
Formal Game Elements.“ MA thesis,
Cambridge, MA: MIT. Accessed December
12, 2014.
• Bogost, Ian. 2005. “Frame and Metaphor
in Political Games.” In Proceedings of the
DiGRA 2005 Conference. Vancouver:
DiGRA. Accessed December 12, 2014.
• Bogost, Ian. 2011. How to Do Things with
Videogames. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
• Dena, Christy. 2010. “Beyond Multimedia,
Narrative, and Game: The Contributions of
Multimodality and Polymorphic Fictions.”
In New Perspectives on Narrative and
Multimodality, edited by Ruth Page, pp.
183–201. New York/London: Routledge.
• Fahlenbrach, Kathrin. 2010. Audiovisuelle
Metaphern. Zur Körper- und Affektästhetik
in Film und Fernsehen. Marburg: Schüren.
• Fahlenbrach, Kathrin. In prep. “Affective
Spaces and Metaphors in Video Games.”
In Games, Cognition, and Emotion. Essays
in Cognitive Video Game Studies, edited
by Bernard Perron and Felix Schröter.
Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
• Forceville, Charles. 2006. “The Source-Path-
Goal Schema in the Autobiographical Journey
Documentary: McElwee, Van der Keuken,
Cole.” In New Review of Film and Television
Studies 4: 241–261.
• Forceville, Charles. 2009. “Non-Verbal and
Multimodal Metaphor in a Cognitivist
Framework: Agendas for Research.” In
Multimodal Metaphor, edited by Charles
Forceville and Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, pp. 19–
42. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.
• Forceville, Charles, and Eduardo Urios-
Aparisi. 2009. “Introduction.” In Multimodal
Metaphor, edited by Charles Forceville and
Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, pp. 3–17. Berlin/New
York: de Gruyter.
• Järvinen, Aki. 2008. Games Without Frontiers.
Theories and Methods for Game Studies and
Design. PhD thesis, University of Tampere.
• Juul, Jesper. 2005. Half-Real. Video Games
between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
• Kennedy, John M. 1982. “Metaphor in
Pictures”. In Perception 11: 589–605.
• Kövecses, Zoltán. 2010. Metaphor. A Practical
Introduction. Second Edition. Oxford/New
York: Oxford University Press.
• Kress, Gunter, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2001.
Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media
of Contemporary Communication. London:
Arnold.
• Kromhout, Roelf. 2010. Source-Path-Goal
Structure in Multimodal and Interactive
Videogames: Half-Life 2, Grim Fandango and
Heavy Rain. MA thesis, University of
Amsterdam.
• Kromhout, Roelf, and Charles
Forceville. 2013. “LIFE IS A
JOURNEY. The Source-Path-Goal
Schema in the Videogames Half-
Life, Heavy Rain, and Grim
Fandango.” Metaphor and the
Social World 3(1): 100–116.
• Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson.
1980. Metaphors We Live By.
Chicago: Chicago University Press.
• O’Halloran, Kay L. (ed.). 2004.
Multimodal Discourse Analysis.
Systemic-Functional Perspectives.
London/New York: continuum.
• Oviatt, Sharon. 2002. “Multimodal
interfaces.” In The Human-
Computer Interaction Handbook:
Fundamentals, Evolving
Technologies and Emerging
Applications, edited by Julie A.
Jacko and Andrew Sears, pp. 286–
304. Hilssdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
• Page, Ruth (ed.). 2010. New
Perspectives on Narrative and
Multimodality. New York/London:
Routledge.
• Rusch, Doris. 2009. “Mechanisms of
the Soul. Tackling the Human
Condition in Videogames.” In
Breaking New Ground: Innovation
in Games, Play, Practice, and
Theory. Proceedings of the DiGRA
2009 Conference. Brunel: DiGRA.
• Schrape, Niklas. 2012. Die Rhetorik
von Computerspielen. Wie
politische Spiele überzeugen.
Frankfurt/New York, NY: Campus
Verlag.

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Multimodal Metaphors and Game Character Design

  • 1. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N F E L I X S C H R Ö T E R , U N I V E R S I T Y O F H A M B U R G MEDIALITY AND MULTIMODALITY ACROSS MEDIA WINTER SCHOOL AT THE GRADUATE ACADEMY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TUEBINGEN, GERMANY
 JANUARY 29, 2014 felixschroeter@uni-hamburg.de @felixjs www.felixschroeter.de
  • 2. multimodality linguistics film studies gamestudies O’HALLORAN 2004 narratology KRESS/VAN LEUWEN 2001 semiotics PAGE 2010 BATEMAN/SCHMIDT 2010 DENA 2010
  • 3. ‣ address players through multiple sensory channels, ‣ rely on players’ input through different multimodal control schemes (Oviatt 2002), ‣ combine ‘narrative’ and ‘game’ modes (Dena 2010). V I D E O G A M E S …
  • 4. – C H A R L E S F O R C E V I L L E ( 2 0 0 9 : 2 4 ) „[M]ultimodal metaphors are metaphors whose target and source are each represented exclusively or predominantly in different modes.“
  • 5. C L A I M Audiovisual metaphors are used in game character design to integrate multi-sensory experiences with higher cognitive meaning and ‘merge’ ludic and narrative dimensions of characters.
  • 6. M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 
 C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) • Human beings make sense of (abstract) phenomena by understanding them metaphorically in terms of physical, concrete phenomena (Lakoff/Johnson 1980). • In conceptual metaphors (e.g. LIFE IS A JOURNEY) elements of a source domain (JOURNEY) are mapped onto elements of a target domain (LIFE).
  • 7. M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 
 C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY • pictorial / visual metaphors (e.g. Kennedy 1982) • audiovisual metaphors (e.g. Forceville 2006, Fahlenbrach 2010) • multimodal metaphors (e.g. Forceville/Urios-Aparisi 2009)
  • 8. M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 
 C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY LIFE IS A JOURNEY The Straight Story (USA 1999)
  • 9. – s e e K AT H R I N FA H L E N B R A C H ( 2 0 1 0 : 9 3 – 9 4 ) audiovisual metaphors = intentionally designed symbolical forms that refer to conceptual metaphors in their specific use of pictures, sounds, and movement
  • 10. M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 
 C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY ANGER IS LOSS OF BALANCE Crank (USA 2006)
  • 11. M U LT I M O D A L I T Y A N D 
 C O N C E P T U A L M E TA P H O R T H E O RY MADNESS IS LOSS OF BALANCE Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady/Eidos Interactive 2009)
  • 12. V I D E O G A M E S A N D M E TA P H O R S • interface as metaphor for the game as an information system (Järvinen 2007, Schrape 2012) • simulation as metaphor for real-world processes (Aarseth 2001, Juul 2005, or Bogost 2011) • conceptual metaphors in game rhetoric (Bogost 2005), aesthetics (Rusch 2009, Begy 2010), and story structure (Kromhout 2010, Kromhout/Forceville 2013)
  • 13. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N Possible target domains: POWER, HEROISM, VIRTUE
  • 14. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N • structural metaphor: source domain provides rich knowledge structure for the target concept (Kövecses 2010) ‣ LIFE IS A JOURNEY ‣ TIME IS MOTION
  • 15. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N PURPOSIVE ACTIVITY IS MOVING FORWARD TOWARD A DESTINATION Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady/WB Interactive 2011)
  • 16. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N POWER IS SELF-PROPELLED MOTION InFamous (Sucker Punch/Sony 2009)
  • 17. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N • orientational metaphor: maps basic mental schemas of spatial orientation on (typically abstract) target concepts (Kövecses 2010) ‣ MORE IS UP | LESS IS DOWN ‣ VIRTUE IS UP | LACK OF VIRTUE IS DOWN ‣ CONTROL IS UP | LACK OF CONTROL IS DOWN
  • 18. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N VIRTUE IS UP | CONTROL IS UP InFamousBatman: Arkham City
  • 19. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N • ontological metaphor: gives (mostly abstract) target concepts a new ontological status as objects, substances, or containers (Kövecses 2010) • allows for further structuring through structural metaphors ‣ STATE AS CONTAINER („being in love“) ‣ ACTION AS OBJECT („giving someone a call“)
  • 20. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N POWER IS A SUBSTANCE | HUMAN IS A CONTAINER InFamous
  • 21. M U LT I M O D A L M E TA P H O R S 
 A N D G A M E C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N POWER IS A SUBSTANCE | HUMAN IS A CONTAINER The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda 2011)
  • 22. C O N C L U S I O N Audiovisual metaphors are used in game character design to integrate multi-sensory experiences with higher cognitive meaning and ‘merge’ ludic and narrative dimensions of characters.
  • 23. T H A N K Y O U ! felixschroeter@uni-hamburg.de @felixjs www.felixschroeter.de
  • 24. • Aarseth, Espen. 2001. “Allegories of Space. The Question of Spatiality in Computer Games.” In Cybertext Yearbook 2000, edited by Markku Eskelinen and Raine Koskimaa, pp. 152–171. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä. • Bateman, John A., and Karl-Heinrich Schmidt. 2012. Multimodal Film Analysis. How Film Mean. New York/London: Routledge. • Begy, Jason. 2010. “Interpreting Abstract Games: The Metaphorical Potential of Formal Game Elements.“ MA thesis, Cambridge, MA: MIT. Accessed December 12, 2014. • Bogost, Ian. 2005. “Frame and Metaphor in Political Games.” In Proceedings of the DiGRA 2005 Conference. Vancouver: DiGRA. Accessed December 12, 2014. • Bogost, Ian. 2011. How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. • Dena, Christy. 2010. “Beyond Multimedia, Narrative, and Game: The Contributions of Multimodality and Polymorphic Fictions.” In New Perspectives on Narrative and Multimodality, edited by Ruth Page, pp. 183–201. New York/London: Routledge. • Fahlenbrach, Kathrin. 2010. Audiovisuelle Metaphern. Zur Körper- und Affektästhetik in Film und Fernsehen. Marburg: Schüren. • Fahlenbrach, Kathrin. In prep. “Affective Spaces and Metaphors in Video Games.” In Games, Cognition, and Emotion. Essays in Cognitive Video Game Studies, edited by Bernard Perron and Felix Schröter. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. • Forceville, Charles. 2006. “The Source-Path- Goal Schema in the Autobiographical Journey Documentary: McElwee, Van der Keuken, Cole.” In New Review of Film and Television Studies 4: 241–261. • Forceville, Charles. 2009. “Non-Verbal and Multimodal Metaphor in a Cognitivist Framework: Agendas for Research.” In Multimodal Metaphor, edited by Charles Forceville and Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, pp. 19– 42. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter. • Forceville, Charles, and Eduardo Urios- Aparisi. 2009. “Introduction.” In Multimodal Metaphor, edited by Charles Forceville and Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, pp. 3–17. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter. • Järvinen, Aki. 2008. Games Without Frontiers. Theories and Methods for Game Studies and Design. PhD thesis, University of Tampere. • Juul, Jesper. 2005. Half-Real. Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. • Kennedy, John M. 1982. “Metaphor in Pictures”. In Perception 11: 589–605. • Kövecses, Zoltán. 2010. Metaphor. A Practical Introduction. Second Edition. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. • Kress, Gunter, and Theo van Leeuwen. 2001. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold. • Kromhout, Roelf. 2010. Source-Path-Goal Structure in Multimodal and Interactive Videogames: Half-Life 2, Grim Fandango and Heavy Rain. MA thesis, University of Amsterdam. • Kromhout, Roelf, and Charles Forceville. 2013. “LIFE IS A JOURNEY. The Source-Path-Goal Schema in the Videogames Half- Life, Heavy Rain, and Grim Fandango.” Metaphor and the Social World 3(1): 100–116. • Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Chicago University Press. • O’Halloran, Kay L. (ed.). 2004. Multimodal Discourse Analysis. Systemic-Functional Perspectives. London/New York: continuum. • Oviatt, Sharon. 2002. “Multimodal interfaces.” In The Human- Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, edited by Julie A. Jacko and Andrew Sears, pp. 286– 304. Hilssdale, NJ: Erlbaum. • Page, Ruth (ed.). 2010. New Perspectives on Narrative and Multimodality. New York/London: Routledge. • Rusch, Doris. 2009. “Mechanisms of the Soul. Tackling the Human Condition in Videogames.” In Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice, and Theory. Proceedings of the DiGRA 2009 Conference. Brunel: DiGRA. • Schrape, Niklas. 2012. Die Rhetorik von Computerspielen. Wie politische Spiele überzeugen. Frankfurt/New York, NY: Campus Verlag.