quarta-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2013

Rules and fiction

Picture the following scene: two chess players fully focused on the war for territory over the board. There's no music, there's no battle sounds and there's no special effects following every moving piece. There is only an ecosystem formed by two players immersed in an atmosphere of tension/concentration and sculpted wooden pieces. Both are skilled players and few hours from the beginning of the match, the player with the black pieces checkmates he opponent. They greet each other and now it's time to relax and discuss about the right and wrong movements.

Now, let's picture another scene: it's late night in a big city. Inside a small apartment we can see a lone player sweating while he looks to the TV screen (no, it is not a porn movie). Right now he is a member of the Assassin's Creed and has an important mission to achieve: kill a famous noble from a medieval court. The player drives the character sneaking it through a wooden beam in the ceiling of the medieval court, using the commands of the Xbox 360 gamepad. The soundtrack begins to rise, it is possible to hear the sounds of each step on the rotten wooden floor, the scenario is full 3D and each detail was recreated as state of the art. The player prepares a complex sequence of commands to complete his mission and the character takes a fatal leap behind the noble and cuts his throat. A short movie is exhibited and the player runs to his secret base.

There is a broad discussion inside the field of game design about its rules and fiction. There's a balance between them: Is "Assassin's Creed" more immersive than Chess? Is Chess more strategic than "Assassin's Creed"?

We don't have precise answers for these questions. In game design we are working, all the time, with subjective ideas and different kinds of players. It's important to have in mind that games are systems of meaning.

As Juul (2005, p.163) says, rules and fiction interact, compete, and complement each other. A video game may project a world and the game may be played in only a part of this fictional world. Examining a number of game examples in detail, it turns out that fiction in video games plays an important role in making the player understand the rules of the game. A statement about a fictional character in a game is half-real, since it may describe both an fictional entity and the actual rules of a game.

In the game design process, the game designer must select which aspects of the fictional world to actually implement in the game rules.

Now on to your opinion!


JUUL, Jesper. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. USA: MIT Press, 2005.

Um comentário:

  1. Great post, mate. I do agree that fiction and rules are two important aspects of many games, and that fiction kinda supports the understanding of the rules. I believe that most of the games I find enjoyable do have the fantasy and narrative very well-coupled with the options available to me as a player.