Category Archives: Ch 13 Game Model

Design Exercise: Agency in an Interactive Model

Choose one of the interactive models below or another of your choosing, and play  through multiple turns. If possible, replay it with different settings. Post an illustrative image and short description of how well or badly the model creates the experience of agency.

When you approach the model do you  have specific expectations of the kinds of outcomes it can have and the kinds of decisions you will be able to make? If so, where did these come from? Does the model draw on these expectations? How does the model communicate to you what actions you can take? How does it communicate the connection between your actions and the outcomes the systems produces?  Are there other ways the same system could be modeled? How would the interaction be structured in a model that reflected a different interpretation of the same real world system?

Note that agency does not mean ease of accomplishing a particular goal within the scenario.  Making some outcomes difficult or even impossible to achieve can create the experience of agency if the obstacle represents a meaningful interpretation of the system being modelled.


Lemonade Stand  or any other version of it or any similar  “Tycoon” game


Kabul Kaboom

Sim City

Return to the Holodeck

In the 14 years since the publication of Hamlet on the Holodeck, there has been a rich and diverse expressive practice at the intersection of storytelling and interactivity.  This talk, which I gave as part of Georgia Tech’s GVU Brown Bag series in October 2011, surveys some representative examples of computational narrative forms and identifies  promising areas for innovation.

Simulating Heroism

Earlier this semester one of my students showed a Sony Playstation promotional video called Michael  in which characters from multiple videogames gather in a bar. A Globe and Mail column describes the scene like this:

“Michael” is a two-minute live-action film featuring characters from more than a dozen games that have appeared on PlayStation platforms. It begins with a pair of Second World War soldiers from Call of Duty parachuting through the night into a forest. The duo make their way through the shadows to a dimly lit pub, where they find PlayStation-exclusive heroes including God of War’s Kratos, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, and LittleBigPlanet’s Sack Boy mingling with personalities from popular multiplatform franchises including PortalAssassin’s Creed, and Metal Gear Solid. Continue reading

The Elusive Writerly Cow

A recent  NPR Interview  with my colleague the game designer and theorist Ian Bogost endearingly focused on his frustration at having accidentally made an enjoyable game.

The Facebook game Cow Clicker was meant to parody Zynga's Farmville and expose its inanity and cynical commercialism. Instead it became a hit.

Cow Clicker was  meant to parody  the wildly successful Facebook game Farmville,  exposing its unchallenging and pointless gameplay and its cynical commercialism. But  to Bogost’s dismay his intentionally boring game unexpectedly attracted 50,000 users.  Stunned out of his customary ironic detachment, Bogost found himself unable to resist the direct “pleasure” of having people play his game.  He began to pay attention to what they liked and to fulfill their requests, though he was bothered by their unironic pleasure in the gameplay. In order to reinforce his satiric intent, Bogost  tried to subvert the game by charging ridiculous amounts of money for obviously worthless virtual items. To his dismay, people paid and continued to enjoy the game.   Eventually he resorted to outright destruction, starting a counter that ended with a satisfyingly absurd “rapture” that left no cows standing, just a little clickable shadow in the pasture: a “cowpocalypse”!

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Who is “YOU”? Person – Player – Character


Who is the "You" being addressed in this game?

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Are Games a Medium?

The publication of Ian Bogost’s How to Do Things with Videogames has opened up the question of whether or not games are a medium in themselves or just a part of the larger medium of software systems (as one reviewer suggests) or as I would call it, the digital medium. Continue reading