Presenting a holistic and thoroughly practical investigation of the true nature of computer games that arms readers with a small yet powerful set of theories for developing unique approaches to understanding games. Game Invaders fully integrates genre theory, new media aesthetics, perceptual opportunities, and semiotics into a practical DIY toolkit for games analysis—offering detailed guidance for how to conduct in-depth critiques of game content and gameplay.
Featuring an informal and witty writing style, the book devotes a number of chapters to specific games from all eras, clearly demonstrating the practical application of the theories to modern, large-scale computer games. Readers will find:
• Suggestions on how to apply the DIY package to major issues central to understanding computer games and their design • Coverage of the semiotics of video games, laying the foundation for such topics as the role of agency and virtual storytelling • Tasks and solutions for readers wishing to practice techniques introduced in the book • A companion website featuring access to an app that enables the reader to conduct their own activity profiling of games
An important resource for those wishing to dig deeper into the games they design, Game Invaders gives game designers the skills they need to stand out from the crowd. It is also a valuable guide for anyone wishing to learn more about computer games, virtual reality, and new media.
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About the Author
CLIVE FENCOTT, PhD, is a freelance writer and researcher in new media. For many years, he taught and researched the theory of computer games at Teesside University in the UK. He also worked in the games industry. Dr. Fencott has authored over fifty publications, including the successful textbook Formal Methods for Concurrency.
MIKE LOCKYER, BSc, PhD, is a Professor of Web Services at Teesside University, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. He has published over thirty journal papers, successfully supervised more than ten PhDs, and is currently involved with developments in web services and rich client applications.
JO CLAY completed a multimedia master's degree at Teesside University, under the supervision of Clive Fencott, before joining the games analysis team. As a gamer herself and apprentice semiotician, Jo assisted in the development of the Game Invaders method for application in computer software.
PAUL MASSEY, CEng, MBCS, CITP, is a senior lecturer in computing at Teesside University, where he teaches and consults on databases. Paul believes databases are central to most IT systems and applies techniques (such as data mining) to a range of disciplines (such as games analysis and decision support).
Table of Contents
Part I Why Do People Play Games?
1. You Are the One 3 Tools to Think With 5 Getting Started 8 Summary 12
2. Genre 13 What Are Genres? 14 What Are Genres For? 16 Genre Maps 18 Computer Game Genres 19 A Theory of Computer Game Genres 21 Summary 25 Further Reading and Tasks 26
3. Activity 29 The Story of Activity Groups 29 An Overview of Activity Profiles 33 Three Driving Games 35 Calculating Genres 38 Summary 43 Tasks 44
4. Pleasure 45 Aesthetics and Computer Games 47 Spacewar 51 Zork 52 Pac-Man 56 Comparative Aesthetics 57 Summary 59 Tasks 60
5. Two Rail-Shooters 61 Star Fox and Rez 61 Activity Profiling and Genre Theory 63 Applying Aesthetic Theory 65 The Method of Game Analysis 67 Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Rez, and Beyond 67 Summary 69 Further Reading and Tasks 70
6. Why Don’t People Play Games 71 What Do We Mean by Games? 72 Resident Evil 73 Why Not Ask the Players? 75 Emotional Models of Play 76 Player Types 79 Demographic Research 81 Why Don’t People Play Games? 82 Conclusions 83
Part II What Is a Game?
7. Just an Ordinary Day 87 The Glass Vial 89 Unrealisms 90 Perceptual Opportunities 91 Sureties 92 Surprises 93 Attractors 93 Connectors 95 Rewards 97 Getting It All Together in SinCity 99 Perceptual Mapping in SinCity 100 AS-OceanFloor 103 Summary 108 Further Reading and Tasks 109
8. Big Bad Streets 111 Driver School 111 Sureties 113 Surprises 114 Driver and SinCity Comparisons 119 Summary 122 Further Reading and Tasks 123
9. Time to Visit Yokosuka 125 Shenmue 125 Genre and Activity Profile 126 Aesthetics 128 Shenmue POs 129 PSAS and Cut Scenes 131 Interactive Storytelling? 133 And On With General Aesthetics 134 Summary 135 Further Reading and Tasks 137
10. Meaning What? 139 Semiotics and Signs 140 Pac-Man’s Signs 143 Icons, Indexes, and Symbols 144 Denotation, Connotation, and Myth 146 Syntagms and Paradigms 148 Codes 151 Making Up Pac-Man 154 Filling Gaps 155 Summary 159 Further Reading and Tasks 161
11. All Work and Play 163 The Work of Meaning 164 Signs of Interaction 167 The Mechanics of Interaction 170 The Inside-Out Code 176 Where Is the Player? 178 Summary 180 Further Reading and Tasks 181
12. Big Game Hunting 183 Semiosphere 183 The Code of Interaction 185 The Myth of Interaction 189 What Is a Game? 191 How Do You Get Out of Here? 192 Big Game Hunting 194
List of Games 203