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Gameworld Interfaces

Gameworld Interfaces

Kristine Jørgensen
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Gameworld Interfaces
    Book Description:

    Computer games usually take one of two approaches to presenting game information to players. A game might offer information naturalistically, as part of the game's imaginary universe; or it might augment the world of the game with overlays, symbols, and menus. In this book, Kristine Jørgensen investigates both kinds of gameworld interfaces. She shows that although the naturalistic approach may appear more integral to the imaginary world of the game, both the invisible and visible interfaces effectively present information that players need in order to interact with the game and its rules. The symbolic, less naturalistic approach would seem to conflict with the idea of a coherent, autonomous fictional universe; but, Jørgensen argues, gameworlds are not governed by the pursuit of fictional coherence but by the logics of game mechanics. This is characteristic of gameworlds and distinguishes them from other traditional fictional worlds. Jørgensen investigates gameworld interfaces from the perspectives of both game designers and players. She draws on interviews with the design teams of Harmonix Music (producer ofRock Bandand other music games) and Turbine Inc. (producer of such massively multiplayer online games asLord of the Rings Online), many hours of gameplay, and extensive interviews and observations of players. The player studies focus on four games representing different genres:Crysis,Command & Conquer 3: Tiberian Wars,The Sims 2, andDiablo 2. Finally, she presents a theory of game user interfaces and considers the implications of this theory for game design.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31906-5
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Let me introduce the concept ofgameworld interfacesby presenting two examples.

    I am playing the action-adventure platform gameAssassin’s Creed(Ubisoft Montreal 2007), and the avatar is jumping down from a rooftop in a digital Jerusalem. As the avatar’s feet touch the ground, the voice of a hostile Templar guard can be heard, and the superimposed social status icon becomes yellow. The Templars are on to the avatar, so I am taking the avatar around the area to scout for any safe spots to hide. What I have been looking for is suddenly there: a haystack. I am moving...

  5. 2 Designing the Game Interface
    (pp. 19-54)

    In the field of game development, there has been an increasing interest in game user interfaces. The diffusion of handheld game platforms such as smart phones and tablets has led to an increase in games based on touch-screen and augmented-reality technology. In the traditional game industry, developers are creating physical devices that aim to make the game experience less abstract and more similar to the real-world actions that the games imitate. The motion-sensor input of Nintendo’s Wii as well as Sony’s Playstation Move and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect systems are good examples of this trend. All these interfaces remind us...

  6. 3 The Gameworld as Interface
    (pp. 55-104)

    The gameworld has many properties. It is the interface to the game system, and for this reason it is representational of it. At the same time, gameworlds are world constructs suggesting ecological environments. Gameworlds are also games and for this reason are built around the logics of games.

    Gameworlds are virtual environments: they are “computer-generated … representations of a setting.”¹ Gameworlds are constructs of artificial worlds designed and digitally created by humans, and they do not attempt to be accurate simulations of the actual world. Instead, they model limited aspects of actuality and combine these aspects with metaphorical representations of...

  7. 4 The Interface as Liminal
    (pp. 105-140)

    How the interface should be understood in connection with cultural or artistic content seems to be a source of debate. The general understanding of the interface as that which mediates between the user and technology assumes that the interface is a part of the medium and for this reason is not the center of attention when we browse for information on the Internet or access a film from our streaming video provider. From this point of departure, the interface helps us access content but is not part of the content itself. However, designers of the gameworld interface might beg to...

  8. 5 Toward a Theory of the Gameworld Interface
    (pp. 141-164)

    I am playing the action-adventure platform gameUncharted 2: Among Thieves(Naughty Dog 2009), traversing the labyrinthine remains of a Tibetan temple. The game integrates most of the game-system information into the gameworld’s ecology. When I navigate the Tibetan temple, I must discover all information about direction, what ledges can be climbed, jumped, or otherwise affords interaction by interpreting the surroundings in the temple layout. The sense that the gameworld environment itself is designed with gameplay in mind is very obvious: I must scrutinize the topography, ask myself whether a certain feature in the environment affords interaction, and try out...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 165-166)
  10. References
    (pp. 167-178)
  11. Index
    (pp. 179-182)