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Choose a single video game. Break it down and describe it accurately and comprehensively using the categories below. You may choose any video game you wish (except any of The Sims).
– Game Developer/Studio; Artists, Designers, Programmers, Writers (or whoever is relevant).
The creative team of a game is important, particularly in the case where it connects to
other relevant games they worked on before or after this game. Some development
studios or designers have certain trademarks, or specialize on a particular genre (e.g.
Valve, Square Enix or Will Wright), so choosing one of their games can mark a specific
time in the evolution of their games.
– Game genre and related games
A game genre usually has a set of established conventions behind it, such as First Person
Shooters, adventure games, real-time strategy games or Role-Playing Games.
Establishing the game within a genre can help determine, for instance, why it is like other
games of the same type, or what is innovative about it. If the game partakes of
conventions from different genres, that can also be a way of explaining what sets it apart
from other games. The relations to other game genres do not have to be exclusively
digital–board and card games, as well as other traditional games, can be the origins of
– Technological context
2 What platform(s) was the game developed for? It is important to note which version of
the game you are playing, e.g. Assassin & Creed for the DS is a different game from the
– Socio-historical context
When was the game made? It’s different to analyze a game from the 70s, when
videogames were almost exclusively played in arcades, than a recent game, now that
videogames start to enjoy a more general acceptance in cultural terms. Where was it
Who is the game intended for? Is there a particular age or national demographic? Games
can create communities around them, at times fostered by the developers themselves.
– Relations to other media
Is the game part of a franchise, a tie-in with a work in another medium (e.g. Lost – Via
Domus, Wall-E)? Is it an adaptation of the work in another medium, or is it only using the
same characters and settings?
Game Overview Categories
– No. of Players
(single player/multi-player/MMO) Can you choose the number of players? Does it have
different modes depending on the number of players? If there is more than one player, do
they play simultaneously or do they take turns?
How does the game establish a fictional world? How does it relate to the rules and goals
of the game? If the game has a strong story component, you may summarize its premise;
however, you should avoid retelling of the story of the game.
– Description of Gameplay:
What do you do in the game? Focus on the core mechanics: what are the most recurring
actions in the game? You can think of this in terms of verbs: what are the main verbs of
the game? For example, in Super Mario Bros. the verbs would be run, jump, pick up,
slide down, stomp. In Tetris, the verbs would be rotate, drop, clear.
– Spaces of the game
Where does the game take place? How does the player navigate the space? How does the
game encourage exploration of the space, if at all?
– General gameplay experience
This section is a tricky one, since your experience will probably be different from other
people&. Your skills or game knowledge affect the way you play the game. Say a few
words here about what it feels like to play the gametone, rhythm, affect.
3- Gameworld rules
What model is the game trying to simulate? How does the gameworld work, outside of
the rules of the game? For instance, San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a
city where pedestrians walk on the side walk, cars run at normal speed on the road and
follow traffic rules, and the day/night cycle changes every 20 minutes. This could be
called a simulation of the real world, within certain limits. Other examples can refer to
the difference between what is possible in the gameworld and what the player is allowed
to do. For example, in the main mode of Halo characters talk to each other in cut-scenes,
but the player cannot choose when to talk or what to say. What is possible or impossible
in a game is the direct result of decisions made in the design of the game, and you have to
be aware of those choices.
– Simulation and Levels of Abstraction
What level of abstraction is the game using? How nuanced is the simulation in the game?
For example, Diner Dash simulates the strategic aspects of waitressing, where the key is
to optimize your path to do the most things the least amount of time, but does not include
taking down people& orders and memorizing who ordered what. How complex is the
simulation? How abstract is it?
– The gap between the game and the player:
Player character, mediation, interface design. How does the player have agency in the
gameworld? How is the information displayed on the screen? Is the interaction menu-
based (as in Sim City)? Is there a player character who represents the player in the world?
Is it a given character or is it customizable? Can the player character die or not? Does the
player manipulate the objects directly, without a player character or avatar (e.g. in puzzle
games like Bejeweled)? Can the player select different entities in the world at a time (as
in real-time strategy games)? How is gameplay information conveyed through the visuals
– Rules and goals of the game
Make a summary of the basic rules of the game, a summarized version of the instructions,
as it were. If the game has an end / a win state, what is it? If it does not, it’s also worth
explaining whether it is an endless game, or whether there are multiple goals, or whether
the player is able to set their own goals/win state (e.g. The Sims).
– Audiovisuals: visual design, sound design, music
What is the audiovisual style of the game? Does it evoke / imitate the style of other media
(e.g. painting, photography, cinema, classical music)? Does it use other games as
aesthetic reference (e.g. retro games)? What is the color scheme? How do these
audiovisual elements contribute to the fiction of the game? How do they contribute to the
mood of the game?
– Control schemes; control peripherals
4 Does the player have to type the commands of the game? Does it use the mouse/a game
controller/a special peripheral? Does the game allow different ways to configure your
controls? Does the game allow voice input (e.g. voice chat in an MMO, or voice
controls)? How do the controls affect and shape gameplay?
– Game mechanics and resulting dynamics
From the rules of the game described above, What are the main strategies? What is their
range (i.e. are there just a couple of strategies or is there a wide variety)? Are there any
emergent strategies that are possible but may not have been predicted by the developers?
Does the game accommodate different play styles?
In this final section you will briefly cite and summarize (2 sentences for each) the main
argument of two secondary scholarly sources that you found and read about your
chosen game. These should be scholarly journal articles or book chapters, preferably that
use textual analysis as part of their method (rather than reviews, cultural commentary,
newspaper articles, or blog posts) located through MacOdrum Library (not Google search
or Google Scholar).
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