I came across the title linked article a few days ago on the gaming blog, Gamasutra. The piece looks at the relationship between game designers and writers in relation to building a game's story and narrative. This relationship is particularly interesting to me, in that this process of designing for player development and identity formation is so vital to the relationship between player and game. The advent of MMO(Massively Multiplayer Online) games and particularly the RPG(Role Playing Game) genre in the past decade has undoubtedly led to many interesting conversations between writers and designers as to how to execute stories and narratives well. A particularly interesting part of the piece is one where they talk about creating "narrative tension" when a game's ending or goals are known to the player.
"In games, when the player character says "I'm going to kill that man," the ending is a foregone conclusion. The ending is in the player's hands, and is therefore entirely controllable -- and predictable. How can we create narrative tension when player controls the outcome? By creating unconscious needs in the main character -- needs that clash with conscious desires."
As a gamer, I never find myself thinking about the end but rather what I need to do to achieve that end. In the best games I have played, I find myself buying into the game and feeling what my character feels and thinks. Whether this was the explicit goal of the designers and writers (D&W), I don't know. I think that might have been the ultimate goal for the D&W, but how I realized it might have been different than they expected. So did I empathize with an identity in the game or did I develop my own identity in relation to the game and community? A game I have increasingly spent more and more time playing is World of Warcraft (WOW). Identity formation in WOW is something I have never had in any other game. My identities as a person and as a player are separate yet closely intertwined things. This article highlights the aspects of how identity formation happens in WOW through character creation. Character visual representation plays a big part in WOW. How you look is associated with a number of things. Players know that there is a quest aspect to the game but also this visual aspect. Both parts play a role in the identity formation. As I think about these two articles, I will continue to refine this post. The various aspects of gameplay, interaction with other players, visual appearance, and NPC (Non-Player Character) interaction all contribute to identity formation. Feedback from these different sources are the building blocks of identity. So game design and writing plays a key in at least 3 out of the 4(other player interaction). As a fledgling game designer, I have become increasingly cognizant of the choices I will make that affect the player and their experiences. With this new perspective I have begun to take a close look at games I play and have been trying to identify the points where design choices have affected me. Stay tuned for my next post, in which I will pick out a couple games and highlight some design choices that had an effect on my identity formation.
*Edited for Spelling, Grammar, and added Acronym definitions.
Hello all, I have been at work editing the nuts and blots of the blog. I found this cool theme and installed it. A little different that what was available on just the Blogger templates. There are tons of free Blogger themes out there, so go and find one that you like and install it.
My name is Rosh Dhanawade. Currently, I am a PhD student at Indiana University's Learning Sciences Program. I just completed my B.A. in Computer Science and Anthropology with a Minor in Business from the University of Delaware. On July 11th, 2009 I will be married to the most wonderful woman in the world , Amber Wagner. She will then be joining me in Bloomington, and taking up a position as an elementary school teacher. My research interests include Mathematics education, online persistence, the use of social media in the classroom, and using online environments to support learning. Being new to the field of education, I know that there is much that I need to learn and many concepts that I must grasp, but with the support and instruction of classes, faculty, and peers I know that I have the resources I need for success!