Games differentiate themselves from other forms of media (e.g. movies and books) by making the person consuming the content no long a spectator (passive engagement), but a participant (active engagement). Immersion is the sense of belonging in the game world; true immersion is achieved when you can play for long periods of time without noticing time passing. Anonymous (n.d.) discussed how readers can be engaged through complex storylines and interesting character development. Majority of Anonymous (n.d.) examples involved an interesting twist that changed how the player perceived a particular idea, character or object. Agency is the experience of making choices with consequences. Agency is attained through narrative structures, algorithmic storytelling, narrative devices, creating the illusion of interaction and using various story mechanisms. In order for game designer to tell a story through their game they need to keep players on the game spine and golden path. Bateman (n.d.) suggested that through the use of breadcrumbing and funnelling, game designers can keep the player on track without disempowering them and causing annoyance.
Think about non-linear games you have played recently, and identify:
1) A game that you felt had high-agency.
Minecraft is a sandbox game, which contains no linear narrative, thus empowering players by allowing them to create their own narrative. The only playable character in Minecraft is interchangeable and contains low pixels; this further encourages the player to project themselves onto the playable character. For this blog I will be referring to the Xbox 1 version of Minecraft.
Figure 1: Minecraft (Source: playstation.com, 2015).
2) A game that you felt had low-agency.
In Bioshock Infinite the player is following a linear narrative, while controlling Booker DeWitt. The illusion of interactivity is created by the player getting to choose what weapons they equip and how they go about killing the enemies.
Figure 2: Official cover art for Bioshock Infinite (Source: Masem, 2012).
Answer the following questions about the choices given to the player in relation to: Minecraft
a) Was agency impeded by player interaction? If so, how?
Not that I can record.
b) Where you prepared for the choices before you made them?
Minecraft prepares players for each choice they are faced with by providing various resources (minerals, materials, animals and fauna) in order to not only allow players to survive, but flourish in this virtual world.
Figure 3: Minecraft for beginners (Source: Cupertino Union School District, n.d.).
c) How did you perceive the significance of each choice?
Each choice the player makes is significant as it is dependent on their survival, for example if the player fails to collect wood, they may not have a weapon to defend off monsters.
d) Were the choices made fair or fun?
The choices made in Minecraft are fair, because they are logical. For example if the player does not eat, she or he will die of starvation. These choices are also fun, because it challenges players to see if they can not only survive in this virtual world, but flourish.
e) Could you make up for a poor choice?
Even though Minecraft punishes players for poor choices, players can always make up for them. For example if a player dies they will spawn in the game world with no inventory or levels, but can quickly run to where they died to collect them.
Figure 4: Paperback Writer (Source: Beth, 2013).
f) Reflecting on today’s content, how might you improve agency in the game?
Agency can be improved in a game by making each choice the player makes important, while also giving them the opportunity to make up for their choices.
Anonymous, (n.d.). Freeman_AgencyMotivStory. Retreived from https://blackboard.ecu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_617928_1&content_id=_3843053_1
Bateman, C. (n.d.). Bateman_KeepPlayrOnTrack. Retreived from https://blackboard.ecu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_617928_1&content_id=_3843053_1
Beth, (2013). Paperback Writer [Image]. Retrieved from https://chocolatesheep.wordpress.com/category/creativity/
Brook, L (2015). Week 4 The Golden Path [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Edith Cowan University, Faculty of Creative Industries, Blackboard Website: https://blackboard.ecu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_617928_1&content_id=_3843053_1
Cupertino Union School District, (n.d.). Minecraft for beginners [Image]. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/cusdk8.org/minecraft-for-beginners/home/getting-started/farms-and-animals/mobs
Masem, (2012). Official cover art for Bioshock Infinite [Image]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock_Infinite#/media/File:Official_cover_art_for_Bioshock_Infinite.jpg
playstation.com, (2015). Minecraft [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/minecraft-ps3/