Agency Complicity In Games


Jeff Ward of Orbus Gameworks, and Andrew Plotkin, independent.

Session Notes

Jon Radoff's Notes

(from his blog)

"Jeff Ward and Andrew Plotkin discussed theories regarding how game design is fundamentally about giving a player the sense of meaningful control over their environment (agency) and a sense of influence over the outcomes (complicity)."

Jason McIntosh's Notes

Agency: The _feeling_ that you, the player, are in control of things. It's an illusion you wanna pull off as a designer.

Oh, not always an illusion, though.
External improvement: Real player skill counts. Tapping up the difficulty level in Guitar Hero is a good example.
Internal improvement: Having a character return to the same area, stronger. (metroid, SotN)

Willing suspension of freedom: Players will buy a if it's consistent throughout the world. Introduce the player quickly to how the world works. Then stick with that.
Example of what not to do: "XIII", which gives you false cluing about using broken glass as a weapon. It suggests that you can make more broken glass by smashing windows, but that doesn't actually work after the first time. Boo.

I should play Deus Ex again.

Alicia Verlager's Notes

Janet Murray's theory of player agency from _Hamlet On the Holodeck_: you can affect the game or at least be made to feel what you do affects the game

improvement agency - your skills improve;
Guitar Hero is really good at this because it lets players see their skills progress

external skills agency

plot agency - players don't want to deal with a complex plot they want to get to a certain point and see the plot progress and say I did that

even if we could get complex plot to come out the players wouldn't be very interested; players tend to shy away from it

Japanese rpgs versus American rpgs they want to go through the storyline that was given to them

*linear plot craving

open world plot experience tension with more on rails storyline

in terms of agency more toward simple plot

difference between open world and simple plot beat beat beat

You can look at different types of players as different ways that people like to experience open world versus closed world Whatever ou do you're going to attract some and alienate others

text games have a simple straightforward interaction and on top of them there is a certain level of open world

on top of that is a plot line which is very linear, time passes and you complete certain acts

you have fans of a particular level because they are getting their enjoyment from a particular element of the game

some layers aren't independent anymore

complicity is that you feel complicit in what happened in the game

queueing the next level of plot

devil may cry 4 has cut scenes early on showing your character doing insane sword moves which you can't do in the prerendered demo

contextual control change

element when the player needs to concentrate on controls and doesn't notice plot

*willing suspension of freedom players accept fact that certain things are nto possible and they are willing to accept this as long as those thigns remain consistent

inconsistency from a realism standpoint - Greg Gobe this is saying no to the player = negative training

introduce the player quickly to the ways the player can afect the game and then ofering that conisstently

The women's bathroom effect from warren spector deus ex - our character goes into the bathroom and when you see your boss he berates you for going into the bathroom
forbidden places matter - the game sets up the idea that in game characters are watching you

discussion of games in which in-game characters notice what you are doing/taking

*genre plays a huge part of this and it is also true of willing suspension of disbelief

other movies/games have set the expectation

"There is no game in which you can sit down and negotiate with the zombies."

appeal of violating that kind of expectation if you can pull it off

consistency in games if you can think of one believable context

relentless widget frobber

setting up expectations to break them can only work because it is an option not a plot point

different shapes of interaction

the world the player sees starts applying real-world expectations onto the game environment that's what gives the game world a sense of oomph

realimsis conveyed "juiciness" you click on osmethign and it reacts

visceral agency - casual games are probably best at this simple rule set but provide a very visceral reward

pachinko effect

John Blow who lecture that visceral agency is immoral with good and bad places for it

quicktime effects just made what you did more cool


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