segunda-feira, 23 de novembro de 2015

Gaming characters

Mario, Lara Croft, Kratos, Carmen Sandiego, Sonic, the Angry Birds, Samus, and so many other video game characters are not only popular among video game fans, they are also famous in other entertainment fields beyond gaming universe.

In contemporary times, with so many transmediatic environments, it’s very common to find these characters in comics, animations, movies, toys, and other platforms. Video game characters (as movie/theater/book characters) are the key to establish a dialogue with certain audiences. With technological improvements and new possibilities in gaming platforms (mobile, PC and consoles) we have the chance to develop deeper characters and more immersive situations with them inside the gaming ambient.

About characters from the gaming universe, Miller (2004, p.90) says

. They can attract a large and dedicated group of users, even drawing people to a project that might not ordinarily be interested in interactive entertainment.
. They can increase a project’s perception of being fun or fascinating, even if the underlying purpose of the project is educational or instructional.
. They can give people entry into an unfamiliar or intimidating world and allow them to explore it in a way that feels comfortable and safe.
. They can keep people hooked, willing to spend hours immersed in the character’s life and environment.

However, it’s important to highlight that even with so many advances in the gaming field, we still have excellent games without characters. Mostly games like Tetris, Super Hexagon, Rotatio, and other abstract titles. These examples are perfect to illustrate wide possibilities to create games nowadays. We have multiple audiences with multiple interests, an interesting ecosystem to observe business, narrative and social networks.


MILLER, Carolyn Handler. Digital Storytelling: a creator’s guide to interactive entertainment. Burlington: Focal Press, 2004.

segunda-feira, 2 de novembro de 2015

The butterfly effect as a gameplay element in UNTIL DAWN

Until Dawn (Supermassive Games, 2015) is an interactive drama survival horror video game. It’s a mix between Alan Wake’s atmosphere/scenario and Beyond: Two Souls’ choice-based mechanics. I recently played this game on PlayStation 4 and the experience was awesome. The launching trailer below explains the game’s main plot:

Until Dawn works with a choice-based mechanics, very similar from Quantic Dream games, where you must choose one option on the screen. Your choice will determine specific paths and different endings (I talked a little bit about this subject in this post about decision trees).

The plot is about a group of youngsters in a cabin in the mountains one year after the mysterious disappearance of two of their friends. Supernatural forces and a serial killer complete the script.

One point to highlight in this context is the idea of the ‘butterfly effect’ as a gameplay component. In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. So, the game takes this idea and materializes it in an important part of the plot. Every time you make an important small decision, the interface shows a small butterfly, this means that your action will have a crucial importance in a near future.

From the middle to the end of the game, some flashbacks show how your choices interfere in the continuity of the narrative.

It’s a new way to tell an old story. The “butterfly effect’ makes great difference inside gaming ecosystem. You star to think more about the small decisions and how they can change the end of the game. Another good point: if you are truly involved with the narrative, probably you’ll play again to test other decisions (or if you’re lazy, you'll see the different endings on YouTube). =)