Playing in 7D: An Action-Oriented Framework for Video Games (A Summary)

The xCoAx 2016 proceedings have just been published, including a paper by Pedro Cardoso and myself.

This paper is summary of our Ph.D. thesis, a work that proposes an analysis on the player-game system relationship through the perspective of an action-oriented framework. This framework is centred on the existence of actors, which are the entities through which action is enacted in the game, and in which the player and the game system are a part of. The grounding principles of this framework are seeded on a transition of action into experience, based on communicational systems that structure the dynamic formation of networks of actors from which distinct behaviours emerge, which, in their turn, promote the enactment of diverse sequences of events establishing narrative, which is a source of experience of the player.

Chronology, responsiveness, thinking and actuation, transcoding, focus, depth, and traversal are the 7 dimensions we unveiled by focusing on the relationship of the player-game system pair through the lens of this action-oriented framework, a framework that, despite seeing both as actors, is able to consider their distinct natures and roles.

We do not consider this work to be an ultimate theory of action. Above all, it is a proposal that video games can be regarded as action-based artefacts, a call to awareness for game designers that when designing for action they are working with the fundaments on which video games are built upon.

What Then Happens When Interaction is Not Possible: The Virtuosic Interpretation of Ergodic Artefacts

My paper with Pedro Cardoso, “What Then Happens When Interaction is Not Possible: The Virtuosic Interpretation of Ergodic Artifacts” has been published in the special issue of the Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts dedicated to xCoAx 2015. The issue was edited by Allison Clifford, André Rangel, and Mario Verdicchio, and also includes works by Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez, Nicole Koltick, Christian Faubel, Katharina Vones, Emilia Sosnowska, and Peter Beyls, Gilberto Bernardes, and Marcelo Caetano. It’s open access at http://artes.ucp.pt/citarj/

Procedural systems allow unique modes of authorship and singular aesthetic experiences. As creators and users of these systems, we need to be aware that their aesthetic potential is not solely defined by interaction but that interpretation, and the capacity to understand and simulate the processes taking place within these artefacts is highly significant. This paper argues that although direct interaction is usually the most discernible component in the relationship between ergodic artefacts and their users, ergodicity does not necessarily imply interaction. Non-interactive procedural artefacts may allow the development of ergodic experiences through interpretation, and the probing of the system by its reader through simulations. We try to set the grounds for designing towards virtuosic interpretation, an activity that we may describe as the ergodic experience developed by means of mental simulation through the development of theories of systems.