Diegesis

Whilst doing some research I came across this wiki page on Diegesis, I think its theory may spur some ideas for my article.

Diegesis- representation within fiction. This basically means everything that is happens within the fiction of the (fictional) world. It includes the situations and events narrated through the story and focuses on “telling, recounting as opposed to showing, enacting”. In essence diegesis is where a narrator implies or tells the thoughts of the characters to the audience. This applies to the world created in games quite frequently.  The idea of his theory lies in the nature of narration as a form of communication; instead of being the physically visual communication we get contact with the thoughts of the characters through the use of words. In games this is often an important factor of the narrative, whether internal thought or not. A good example would be in TR when Lara will often speak to herself in the game world; this is put in place to give hints to the player as to what to do next. It is also seen in Unchartered as Drake usually complains about his close encounters with death. This idea like I already said, gives the player hints to where and what to do next, so it is a vital par of the game play, but it is linked usually to visual hints as well. Those moment when the camera pans up and to the left when Drake has finished his dialogue are quite memorable. Nevertheless these hints are useful subtle tools that lead the player through the narrative of the game; it also probably acts to keep them immersed within the style of the game play.

 

Good sources:

Wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diegesis

Plato’s Republic, Book 3

Narratology

The Theory of Narrative.

Source – Bal, M,1997. Narratology. Second Edition, Canada, University of Toronto Press.

This book is so hard to read…

Page 114 – From actors to characters

“Characters resemble people.” – Hell yes they do! “They are fabricated creatures made up from fantasy, imitation, memory: paper people, without flesh and blood.” – Bal is basically saying that narrative thrives off the idea of character-effect. This is where we feel an emotional bond with a character even though we know them to be fictional. It is the fact that characters are representations of humans so we see them as we see other humans, we cry, laugh and everything else for these characters.

Research into Simulacra, Baudrillard.

Source – Baudrillard, J, 1983. Simulations. New York City: Semiotext(e).

Page 115 – The Tactile and The Digital

This chapter focuses on how simulation takes form within the digital world; mainly stating that in the new media we see “tests” that create verdicts and ultimatums that act as the stimulus and response.

“The referendum is always an ultimatum: the unilateral nature of the question, that is no longer exactly an interrogation, but the immediate imposition of a sense whereby the cycle is suddenly completed. Every message is a verdict.”

I love the above quote and I think it encompasses the idea that Baudrillard is trying to portray. Interactive media is immersive because it is constantly asking the players to makes informed choices. These choices are often relating to the world in which the game will be set, so for example: something like Start Trek, the problems that will appear within this medium are a) ones that are generic to all story arcs i.e. relationships, the protagonist’s personal growth b) ones specific to the genre that it falls into, so, we would have sci-fi related problems. This mans that he player becomes drawn into fictional problems that reside within a reality that is out of their comfort zone; this would link to the idea of escapism. In short the problem solving is what draws people into the fictional world.

Another point from this is the mechanics of the narrative within games, it follows this idea that Baudrillard suggests but not entirely. The main story within games are often linear, you have to overcome a series of issues to get to a goal – Baudrillard idea of the question and the answer, the stimulus and the response. Some games have tried to fall out of this category by taking a loose approach to narrative, because as gamers we like two things, the sandbox and the story. Linking these two i perfect unison is very hard for developers but like McWilliams said in the Game Sauce interview some games have tried to balance them out. One of them being Fallout, my case study.

How does this link to immersion?

My article is all about how third and first person alters the player’s immersion within the game. So, if  a player I looking through the eyes of the character and seeing the problem firsthand as if it is their own problem that they have to overcome, surely they will be more immersed in the problem/solution aspect of the narrative. Similarly with third person, does the player feel less of an emotional bind to the simulation theory because they see the character in third person? This topic is definitely helpful for my case study Bioshock, because of the way the protagonist is constructed. You never, ever throughout the whole game actually see the protagonist, you get t look at his(your) hands but never get any info on him as a living breathing person. A brief back story is explained but no characteristics are given to him, I don’t even think he is addressed by name. He is a classic Hero With No Face. All of these things about the character make the player start to think that they re this person, I mean he has no name, no face and you are looking through his eyes. The narrative means you experience things at the same pace as he does. So, the problems that occur through the story appear to the player as if they are more personal than they actually are; thus creating a greater bond for the stimulus and response. It’s the emotional link of the player to the character.

Interview with Laralyn McWilliams, creative director of Free Realms at Sony.

Game Sauce Issue 3 Fall 2010

“The newer games still feel like you play sandbox for a while, then have an opportunity to step out of the sandbox for a minute to play some story.” – This quote states the idea of how the story within new games isn’t a continuous experience for the player. It also goes on to say that the games that got it right years ago were too complex for today’s industry. Does this mean that we are not craving the story aspect of games as much? McWilliams names a few games that have tried to get the story-sandbox balance and states that they aren’t quite their yet; Fallout 3 is one of them.

“Create a great story, then let the player steer and direct his experience through a story via a series of natural choices”, this is a good statement as it shows how the player should be allowed to make the choices that inform the story, this creates immersion. It also could suggest that old games had a better balance than newer games; maybe newer games focus too much on the idea of being visually stunning instead of the game play.

Source – McWilliams, L, 2010. Game Sauce, Issue 3 Fall 2010.

Article Planning

These are my notes that I have been scribbling down over the past couple of days as I have been doing research.

So I have an outlined plan of my article. I think the structure works better with the mix up of order, as it allows me to flow easily from one case study to another. It also helped me to narrow my choice of topics down to solely the narrative theory. Before, I had been trying to get everything in there, and with a limit of 800 words it would be pretty impossible to fit it all in.

Critical Studies Research 3

Narrative as Virtual Reality, Marie-Laure Ryan.

Source – Ryan, M.L, 2001. Narrative As Virtual Reality, Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.

Chapter five – Immersive Paradoxes, Temporal and Emotional Immersion

“Emotional participation in the fate of imaginary characters” – is this because we see the character as a real person? In first person games we are looking through the eyes of the character, and experiencing what they are first hand. With third person we can witness the character much like in a film as they progress through the story.

“Character’s possess…mimetic dimension of pseudo-human beings” – we become attached because we see them as alter egos of the people we see in everyday life.

“ Where else but in a novel can we penetrate into the most guarded and the most fascinating of realms, the inner workings of a foreign consciousness?” _ This is a good quote as it shows how the fictional reality is an escape from the normal everyday life. A few people said stuff about this on the critical chats, so it may be useful to look back at them.

Ryan also goes into how as human beings we are more likely to be affected by someone we know than total strangers, which means that within games we gain an emotional attachment to the character, which in turn makes us more immersed.

Case Studies for the Critical Studies Article

This is a list of the case studies I have so far thought of, looking at why they would be a good choice for my article.

Uplink, Introversion software, 2001.

The idea behind this game is that you play as an Uplink agent, a hacker who does various jobs for fictional companies. The game starts off as a normal game but then part way through the style of the gameplay tricks the player into thinking that the hacking that they are doing is real. The player then think that they are actually hacking in reality instead of in the games reality. This is an often unseen method of immersion within games. Uplink was pretty obvious that it was trying to make it seem like real life, but it is a good example of immersion. I think this was achieved through the interface of the game, you are often looking at general computer screens, which is what you would be looking at when you were hacking something. The style of the game is reinforced by films that depicted a similar style of hacking, like Swordfish for example. I suppose this links in with the idea of genres being the thing that allows people to have a mutual understanding of something. Another interesting thing about this game is that it is set in the year 2010, it would be a good example for  an actual game released in 2010.

Final Fantasy XIII, Square Enix, 2010.

This is a third person role playing game set in a completely fictional world. The concept of the whole FF series is immense, it is a fully functioning fantasy realm. I think the creatures are the most impressive part of the whole FF universe, they span across all shapes and sizes. The gameplay follows the adventures of a group of outcast L’cie, people branded by the Fal’cie, players control a variety of combination’s of battle teams throughout the storyline. The immersion within the game comes form the concept of the story and world in which it takes place. Gran Pulse and Cocoon are massively impressive sci-fi landscapes, in which masses of people live. As you play through the game there are two options you can take, be the casual gamers following only the cut-scenes for information, or be an obsessive, the ones who sit and read all the entries in the datalog, or try all components to find the perfect one to upgrade weapons their ultimate form. The datalog basically holds all the information you ever could possibly come across in the game. In terms of immersion, the datalog holds data that allows the players to becomes more immersed in the game. They can learn about all the different types of enemies or a mass of other stuff.

Bioshock, Bethesda, 2008.

The game interface is first-person, with no insight to what the playable character looks like at all, this gives the player free rein to who they want the protagonist to be. This immediately creates more immersion because the player can picture themselves as the protagonist as they have no prior visions of them. The story unfolds quite nicely, as you skulk around dark corridors looking for various things to progress through the story. A twist halfway through the story makes the player become obsessed with the story as you find out the main antagonist isn’t the guy you just killed. I think Bioshock is so immersive because of the unknown aspects of the game, you find out most of what happened down in Rapture through audio diaries that have detailed entries from the past inhabitants of the environment that the player is as new to as the character is. The player experiences everything at the same pace as the protagonist, which also gives the player a valid link to the character.

Fallout 3, 2008.

This is really similar to Bioshock, it is FP and follows the character through a series of events that they have never experienced before. It also has audio diaries and terminals which have masses of information for anyone who wants to read them. The unique thing about Fallout is that it allows the player to choose whether they want to be good, bad or neutral depending on in game decisions. This allows some freedom that the other case studies don’t. A good example of this is in one of the random vaults in the wasteland that was devoted to cloning. As you go inside the vault you see normal males roaming around shouting about someone called Gary, after you kill one of these guys you realise that he is called Gary 34, upon realising this you already know that you are in a hostile environment with a bunch of Gary clones, in total I think there are like 60. You can search around the vault to find out who the original Gary was and what posessed him to clone himself. The amount of time spent on the world of Fallout is amazing, this locations is one of around 120, all with little bits of information about past inhabitants, or weird tests they were running on the vault inhabitants. For me this adds immersion, the need and want to search everywhere just to be rewarded with information is beautifully executed in Fallout.

 

Worries on my case studies:

I don’t know whether Fallout and Bioshock are too similar.

Is Uplink a good early exampe of a game. Maybe I should swap either Bioshock or Fallout for a really early game.

Edge Blog post by Thom Dinsdale, Content is only skin deep.

The article describes how genres are a useful concept; Dinsdale looks at how these genres can be applied to games that lack in the amount of context to make them more appealing to consumers. For my article this may be useful, as it will highlight areas of a games concept, which is engaging to players.

  • Dinsdale starts by saying that genres introduce and reinforce “conventional ways of thinking that are mutually understood”. He states that this mutual understanding links everyone involved in any part of the games.  This helps us all know what the basis behind the concept is for the game.
  • “For consumers, genre is equally powerful because it creates mental shortcuts that allow them to quickly assess and form expectations about a particular game.” – I suppose this is much like film genres, they are a basic form of communication about the concept of the product. This idea that is formed from the genre is often not just a word though, instead of a FPS being that it is simply in first person, the genre tells us that it is an involved, tactical and fast paced. We know this knowledge because we store a bank of past experiences with games in our minds. Our experiences dictate our future predictions.
  • Dinsdale describes hoe the true nature of games is the behavioural experience that comes with interactive medias. This cannot be classified into a genre.

 

For my article, I think these points will come in handy; in terms of the idea of immersion. Genres act as information, but with games they don’t define all the needed aspects of the content. In my article if I look at how the concept create immersion, the idea of genres would help as they show a games general concept without all the little fiddly bits; which is what I want to look into.

 

 

Source:

 

Thom Dinsdale (2011),  Content is only skin deep. Edge Online Thom Dinsdale’s Blog, [blog] 18 March. Available at: http://www.next-gen.biz/blogs/content-is-only-skin-deep [Accessed 25 March 2011]

Crit Studies Research 2

Tomb Raider as a case-study. More Than A Game, Barry  Atkins.

  • Atkins starts this chapter by stating that Tomb Raider is far from a real experience. He uses an example similar to the one before that emphasises that the in game reality doesn’t possess all the factors that under the laws of physics exist in the real world. He uses the opening sequence of TRIII to portray this as Lara’s hair doesn’t seem to be sodden and wet when the whole environment is totally drenched. This poses the question: are games advancements immersing the player further into a more realistic reality? Atkins goes on to say how the idea of a third-person experience affects how the player gets involved with the character. In first person shooters we are seeing the world through the eyes of the characters which makes it more immersive, maybe I should look at two FP games and two 3P games for the article and compare them?
  • Atkins also highlights the characters existence or lack of it from the player. Saying that, much like in books, characters and their environments freeze when the player stops playing the game to go off and do other things. This could hint at addiction within games. Possibly the reason people get so immersed within games is because they see the characters as real people instead of fictional people and believe that when they aren’t playing the game, the character is just sat about waiting for them.
  • Hint on how techniques used in film-making effect the narrative as they carry implications of what we are used to seeing as real – Uncharted is an awesome example of this, cinematic game-play and cut scenes.
  • Source: Atkins, Barry (2003), More Than A Game,Manchester, Manchester University Press

Crit Studies Research 1

More than a game, Barry Atkins.

  • “…he or she was released, even, from the kind of judgements inherent in the construction of story through language.” – When related to the game chosen as an example, Close Combat 2, you can see why this statement is so shocking. It describes how a player gets to avoid judgments from actions that would otherwise be unacceptable within society. This conflicts with the idea that the game at hand was a ‘real’ experience. Atkins goes into quite a lot of detail about this aspect of the game narrative as a reality, which also links to the idea of how a game can be an escape from everyday life. Maybe this is why the actions within the game elude realities that don’t coexist with the ‘fun’ side of a game; like Close Combat missing out the political side of war.
  • “Gunman Chronicles is a three-dimensional text, in which we use a combination of mouse and keyboard to move about this ‘virtual’ world.” – Awesome quote for the reality theory – Highlights how games are a transgression from books (in the sense of narrative) and how they have adapted a form of textual story-telling into a much more interactive one.
  • Atkins describes the basic idea of game reality as a ‘simulation’ of real life. This suggests that it is only a fiction of what could be within reality, but does this theory still apply to games that fall into science fiction or fantasy genres?  Often the objects or creatures or components, shall I say, that make up the world within these games are mostly invented by the creative with influences from the real world. This suggests that they are not following the idea of simulating our world but instead of a fictional world, probably taking inspiration from other fantasy based works. The simulation aspect also applies to the narrative. All stories follow basic arcs that keep people interested in the plot, and to keep people within their comfort zone. This means that the visual side of the narrative is shown through easily recognisable objects and places. Atkins gives a good example by saying “Water does not look like ‘real’ water, but it is recognisable as water in terms of negative definition. It has enough markers of the characteristics of water (it moves, it reflects, it is semi-transparent)”.
  • Source: Atkins, Barry (2003), More Than A Game,Manchester, Manchester University Press

Identity Task For Critical Studies

Due to this critical chat on identity being focused on a character that defies archetypes, I used Okami as my choice but before being able to think of a character that was good enough for this I had a few ideas about why characters sit in stereotypes or archetypes. In my opinion I think this is due to the use of references by designers when creating a character. A creative will look to previous work, no matter what medium it is, in order to find visual references that will aid them in the creative process. By doing this they are automatically linking certain characteristics from previous characters to their character, which in turn will mean that they take parts of the archetypes with them. For example if you base a character on a character that fits perfectly into a archetype, your character will posess a similar archetype unless you really mess is about. This, I think, is due to the visual links to certain archetypes.

From this I then thought about how characters could possibly be falling into archetypes without meaning to. For example a designer could come up with an original character and not think about any archetypes what so ever, and it would still fit into an archetype. This could be because in the media people like to be able to relate to the characters they see on TV, in games, and films. So characters in these medias must be able to be easily recognizable by viewers, maybe as an industry they have developed really basic characters that still get used over and over again because they ‘sell’. I guess companies don’t want to make massive risks with like millions of dollars?

Critical and Contextual Studies Article Question

To approach the C&C Studies article I decided on addressing a question that I would be able to answer through my research. My main focus for the article was to look at games and narrative but specifically at how players are immersed in the narrative due to the use of the script/writing and the concept of this. So, my question is:

Explore how the script is used to increase immersion within games, specifically looking at narrative and concept.

Theories I am looking at:

  • Narratology
  • Realism
  • Immersion
  • Addiction

 

NOTE: After having my first tutorial I have changed my tact slightly so that I am looking at using this question:

Explore how the levels of immersion change due to the view through which the player sees the games. Compare the difference in first-person and third-person in respect to how the game develops through the concept within the narrative.

I think this sums it up. Instead of looking solely at the idea of script I am going to look closely at the concept and narrative theory.

Romanticism or collaborative creativity?

Workshop 6: blog task 5

Choose which Creative Rhetoric best describes creative practices in either games or animation

I think this is a really hard question to answer, within games you see both of these practices and both of them seem to work. For instance romanticism can be seen more within indie games whereas the massive companies that have funding are much more likely to use collaborative creativity. Both of these are successful as well. A good example of a collaborative system is the development team that worked on Brink, Splash Damage. Online you can find a lot of their videos that suggest a collaborative environment. Even though they are separated into divisions all the different departments seem to work together throughout the process, one of the members of the team describes how the team have interim meetings with each other to make sure everything is on track, this is also a place where they can bounce ideas of each other etc. In opposition they may break the boundaries now and again but they still have individual roles. Examples of the team’s creative rhetoric can be seen here in their development documentaries: http://www.brinkthegame.com/media/videos/ Minds on the Brink is a really good video to showcase the team.This proves that collaborative creativity works well to produce decent games, because the designers work with the writers who work with the programmers.

Another good example of this collaboration is shown in a book I recently read. How to Create Fantasy Art For Computer Games, by Bill Stoneham (2010) has a chart in the introduction part, page 9, that shows when certain teams and/or people are participating within the production. The graphs proves that games in the industry are made collaboratively. The book suggests that ideas get passed around different departments, for instance the designers will start with the concept then pass that onto concept artist who pass that onto 3d designers and animators. This would mean that the most effective way to work would be collaborative creativity, because you would need to discuss ideas with the other teams. Going back to Brink, I remember at BAF Game they did a talk, in which one of the concept artists described how she had to alter the designs of the characters because it wouldn’t be time-effective to create all the different shapes and sizes that she had designed. This is proof that the ideas are bounced back and forth between artists and animators, and it also further suggests the collaboration within games.

Addicted To Games.

Addiction is classified as an obsession with a particular activity/object etc. Within games the idea of perks and/or a reward system is what keeps players addicted. It allows people to escape from the real world – links to escapism. Why do people seek to escape from the real world? Is it because games are addictive or because games are more interesting i.e. they allow you to live out things that aren’t possible in reality? Maybe people are unaware that they are addicted to a game or whatever? This links to game theory as it states that people have a certain level of awareness when in the game world. The narrative theory is when parts of the story line and plot are the rewards the player gets for completing sections. Narrative means it is easier to maintain involvement from the player. Design theory is to do with the level design, how are things like guns placed within the level to maintain the attention of the player? Or does the game follow the structure of the classic do a level have a boss fight at the end, do another level…etc. Mario is a good example of this.

Howls Moving Castle – Critical studies blog task.

– The film focuses heavily on the theme of identity – this is displayed by the metamorphosis of the characters.
-It is a typical anime
– Developed from the story in a the book Howl’s moving Castle by Jone, published in 1986. Jone states that she believes that Miyazaki would immediately have taken to the characters in her book, and when you compare Miyazaki’s work to Jone’s previous work, you can see how similar they are even though they are separated by cultural differences.
– Conflict of the main character, Sophie – she longs to be like the customers at the hat shop in which she works, and through the plot she finds her true reason for being who she is. The adventure which ensues after meeting Howl and being turned into an old lady is spurred on by the main theme of identity.
– The multi-dimensional plot is taken from the book.
-Howl projects himself as an angel and a demon in equal measure. Adds to his character as it shows his mixed emotion of on the current state of the world.

-At the end when Sophie changes back into her normal 19 year old body, her hair stays grey – is this a reminder from Miyazaki that growing old is inevitable?

-The identities of the main characters are unanchored. In a way it refers to an object not being perceived as it should, Sophie looks like an old woman but still has the movements of a 19 year old. It challenges the viewers natural instinct to catergorise by the physical appearance.

The Anime Art Of Hayao Miyazaki

The frame of reference –

  • Manga-ka have freedom with their storyline and characters due to the ability to drastically and suddenly change the storyline of the manga, an example of this is when two separate stories run coherently with the same characters but the narrative means that different relationships are created.
  • Anime and manga cover all types of genre – this is why they have become a phenomenon in Japan. It isn’t limited like American comics are.
  • Miyazaki takes a mixture of genres to create animations that don’t seem to fit in with the conventional/typical Western comics style. It is stated as being a Japanese approach to modern culture. Even though anime hold a mixture of genre’s they can be split up into 3 general types of anime.
  • Due to anime’s limited exposure in the West, it has been categorised as an art form that only deals with violent action, pornography and gore. This has now been scratched with the release of films by Studio Ghibli and those similar, I suppose it could be categorised as children’s movies.
  • Anime has broken out and become a “staple of cable television” in North America; this suggests that anime has now reached out to audiences in the West on a vast scale. Has it become a good influence on the original American style cartoons? Western animation has copied the style and context of manga and anime and it seems to have a positive effect on western culture.
  • Anime’s not only cross genre’s they deal with issues, for example Akira deals with apocalyptic anxieties.

Spirited Away – Case Study

  • The film was started in 2000 when Miyazaki had not yet fully developed the storyline.
  • It deals with a main theme of identity much like Miyazaki’s other films. The idea behind the identity is for the protagonist Chihiro to find her identity through the duration of the narrative.
  • Metamorphosis is another important factor within the anime, it co-exists with the idea of identity.
  • The story still has the general structure that is seen within childrens films/animation. You still have the evil witch and the good witch, similar to The Wizard of Oz etc. It seems that spirited away has borrowed aspects from American animations and films just like Western culture seems to be borrowing things from anime.

Immersion – Critical Studies

The article we were asked to read outlines the key developments in gaming. It shows how a development in graphics, story and experience has made games more immersive. It talks about how art relates to tis as it states that art is the act of self-renewal whereas games are meant to be ‘beaten’. This makes you tink that art is only relevant to the advertising side of the industry, but it isn’t it is involved in all aspects of the production.It also talks about he empowerment of the player. It outlines a sense of achievement you get from playing games, this sense of achievement doesn’t necessarily correlate to other types of art media, which backs up why the author chose to outline it in the first place.Als this relates to the player’s active role in the game.  This is more suited to the MOO’s but most games have that interactivity. It says that in games “gestures of the physical body do not correspond to those of the virtual one”, this suggests that even though people are active within the virtual reality in the physical reality they could be doing something entirely different. people have a distinction between the imaginary world and the real world. The sensorial elements of the game world is stated to be one of te draws for gamer’s to play a game and stay focused on the game. Th narratology isn’t really outlined to have much affect to immersion, it compares first person games to MOO’s and outline how being able to freely choose what actions to do when you want to do them effects the gaming experience. MOO’s are described as being an alternate reality for the player where they can talk, interact, an compete in the game world. This immersion is intense as some people believe that their MOO identity is more real than their actual existence and most people say it is a way of experimenting with fictional identities.

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Zombies…in 3 dimensions! = EPIC!

This is a perfect fourth film for the Resident Evil franchise, it is stunning visually even though a lot of the storyline is linear with an immense amount of loop holes and unanswered questions. Extremely annoying! Although, it is a film to go see even if it is just for the cheesy game-style one liners of Albert Wesker, who is now in my top five list of unbeatable enemies, he just wont die!!!! Whilst we are on the topic of antagonists, there is an extremely awesome half way boss battle, reminiscent of the games. It involves a giant slayer, who comes along with a beasty halberd style weapon. although the character design is lacking in originality as he is extremely similar to pyramid head (silent hill) and even Thomas Hewitt (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but all the same it is a character archetype, and the choreography of the fight was beautiful.

Overall this is a nice movie, especially if you like seeing slow motion bullets destroying zombies brains! (Oh, and it’s in 3D)

Link to official movie site: http://www.residentevilafterlife.co.uk/

HD Trailer: