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My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis

My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« on: January 27, 2010, 01:29:39 pm »

Hello all,

As an introduction I wanted to write a little bit about my research - to give you some impression where I am coming from and what interests me, but of course also to share my knowledge and expand upon it. I realize this project is more practical minded and I assure you I am also quite practical - but I think the academic influence is very important in this new field.

What interests me most (the academic part of me) is expanding our vocabulary and increasing the amount of concepts we have about our field. As the name 'notgames' implies there is a large array of words 'missing'. I noticed this first when in my first years at the Utrecht School of Arts, doing Gamedesign & Development, where there was no word for the type of games I wanted to make; 'quality game' was one of the (failed) words I tried. Later it became 'art games' or 'arthouse games', &c. But I think, at the same time, that time will be a better judge for names than the people living in the present, so although for now I stick with the name 'games' I cannot really justify it other than on personal philosophy. My academic interests, hence, lie more with the concepts we use. Words like 'player' and 'avatar' are quite limited in scope and quantity; a lot of the game discussions I attended were more about finding some words we could agree upon and then struggling to hold a conversation with limited words such as 'player'. And always it would dawn upon me that nobody 'bothered' to define these words and we would have our conversations go around in circles because of our differing interpretations of 'player', or worse, different connotations. Words are important, I believe. To illustrate; many people experience a sense such as 'intimacy' with friends but never read any psychological background on the word and therefore are inapt to truly define what gives them the feeling. I like to think of myself as analytical but when I read up on the subject recently I realized that I had had the feeling but never knew its boundaries. It had played a role in my life I never could think about it in any sensible way because I lacked a clear 'concept' (an Ayn Rand-like notion of self-understanding). In this same way I believe that as talented and amazing as many makers of (not)games may be, they are always limited by their understanding and vocabulary. So this is what I wish to expand: in the same way an artist may buy 'ochre' instead of being limited to 'brown', so developers of games need a larger vocabulary to explain the different effects.

I have grown interested in the role between player, designer and agents. This is an entirely novel effect; games (or notgames) are with their complexity and simulative qualities such a splendid innovation they have many side-effects that are new in their own right: but much ignored by many fields. The 'relationship' between a character and the player is complex and different from films and books and interests me most. What thrills me is the concept of symbiosis. To illustrate this, let me mention two views I hear often; that games are wish-fulfilment or that they are sympathy based. The former implies that the character you portray is effectively you but in a different setting and with a new set of values if you so wish. The later is closer to film and implies that we are observing and 'helping' a character through his struggles because we care for him. These two values are what I heard most through my Utrecht years, and although I suspected more I did not really develop any models for it until I played The Path and realized a complex emotion existing in my view of the game: I did not feel as-if I were looking at the girl, nor did I feel I was present and looking after her. I had the strange feeling that I was simultaneously her, myself and 'fate'. In effect, if the girl picked a flower or ran through the forest I could not with myself really state whether this happened because 'I' wanted to do this, because I was pretending 'she' wanted to do this or because 'destiny' forced this upon me. The same happened, more poignantly, with the girls getting killed: I felt it was my lack of caring for them, their own stupidity, but most of all an unavoidable destiny for them. It sounds somewhat floaty but what I mean to illustrate is that for the first time I actively started to question who exactly I was when interacting with the game.

My Supportive Narrative written for the Utrecht School of Arts (my MA) was a treatment of this basic question. It can be found here on my site: http://jeroenstout.net/:work#Show:Player,Agent,Designer if you are interested. It is quite lengthy so I will summarize it here.

I do three things in this narrative.
I came from quite a technical field, being a programmer as well, so I had to start with 'marrying' the technological field with the artistic. This marriage is a 'dualistic' (Carthesian) model: there is the technical machine side, which is by definition without feeling and is a pure state-machine; then there is the side where players feel things are a certain way. I call this the State-machine and Symbolic sides respectively. This division allows me to describe simultaneously how a computer may process a game, without being romantic, and then describe how the player experiences the game, without being technical.
The second element was describing how an agent works in an interactive environment. It has an input from the world, a 'mind' that processes this based on preferences, and an output. These four things, input, mind, preferences and output thus define the behaviour of any agent. Changing one changes the behaviour of the agent as a whole. I also talk about 'traits', which are characteristics of characters (portrayed by agents) that the agent may modify. The location of a character, for instance, is often changed, but the actual appearance of a character somewhat more rarely. These traits are defined in the symbolic layer, and through a process dubbed 'projection' brought into the state-machine for processing (alteration) and projected back into the symbolic layer. In this way, a machine can edit attributes which are interpretative.
The last element was governance; what controls the attributes of agents. I defined three elements that define the behaviour of an agent: autonomy, providence and the player. Providence are events (triggers for instance) that the developer creates to steer agents in a certain direction. The player by interacting with the game influences agents. There is more to do with how providence and the player influence agents; they can influence their input (world state), but also their preferences or method of output. This delves a lot deeper still.

The great end-effect of this, however, is to have opened up the ground between player and characters. The material in this narrative creates concepts for no longer saying a character is controlled by either the player or 'not the player', but is in a state in-between; the girls in The Path have their autonomy but still listen to the player. There is no 'avataristic' role for them (the player = the character). In effect, and the narrative supports this, it is impossible to have a purely player-controlled character as it is impossible to have a game with completely autonomous characters. Creating characters now becomes a question of creating a good relation between these fields.

My current research, then, is about a somewhat more psychological issue, that of 'symbiosis'. As I mentioned before, reading about 'intimacy' first allowed me to think about it clearly. I believe that the concept of 'symbiosis' can be treated in the same way; in effect allowing the readers of my dissertation to think about using it. My rough concept for symbiosis is based on some research I have been doing into how the mind works; modern notions of consciousness and 'self' are immensely different from the 'soul' attitude predominant; our sense of consciousness and self has some presets but adapts to situations. One feels to be 'oneself' in certain settings and under certain conditions. It is possible to be 'estranged' from oneself in different situations because the memories of self do not match the analysis of the current self. It is possible to 'expand' a consciousness by doing things such as driving a vehicle; it removes (or reduces) certain sensations but expands on the feeling of 'having a car as a body' (McLuhan wrote a lot about this). The mind, and self, can be described more in 'flux', or an 'area of effect'. One can even question how we know we are happy - it is not 'implicit' knowledge, but perhaps we just notice the peripherals of 'being happy' and assume we are because 'happy' is a concept (schema) we can apply.
If this all is so much open, games are an amazing experimental ground: we can expand the consciousness to a digital agent. Many games have personification of characters, but they treat the character as we would treat a car: we accept a digital body, but rarely have digital emotions. If the screen shows the perspective to grind against a wall we understand that 'we' hit a wall in our 'expanded' body; but little has been done to expand emotions in the same way. In the same way we ourselves understand we are 'happy' by seeing the signs of our own happiness (be they mental or physical) we may experience digital emotions by recognizing the signs. This sense of symbiosis with another person, their emotions and physique, can be seen in real life with 1-one-1 sports; I fence and I notice with some players we attend and copy very closely one-another's motions to the point where I have the illusion that I control their body as much as mine; but outside of conflict naturally sexual acts for many are very symbiotic, sharing more than just physical presence (and I meant that in the least mystical sense), again to the point where there is a sense of shared control.
Whereas in real life we are always constrained to our physical bodies and limits (I can never literary control the motions of my opponent because I cannot control their brain) in games this field is incredibly more open: from emotions to physical presence, from 1st person to 3rd person, in all manners and forms can we experience this symbiosis. The question is, much like the sense of intimacy, when and how?..

This is my research for this year, my MSc - not to make a list of effects or describe every feature; Dan (chineseroom) frequently enough points out this is PhD work for me to enjoy the foresight; but to create a concept of symbiosis. To propose to 'the world' a first definition of symbiosis. It will not necessary define when or how symbiosis happens but rather to some extent solidify the concept. My goal with it is so new designers can work to make the player more 'symbiotic' with the character, if they so wish, by actually being to use that word in a serious manner; rather than the makeshift combination of words they have at their disposal now. They then can figure out the complex and artistic rules of symbiosis; but the concept must stand.

This has been quite a write and I hope it is of interest to you (if not I am glad it was a good refreshing of memory for me). I would like to add I am still working on (practical) (not)games which themselves never contain any of the theory - the theory is a great support for me. Again, feel free to read the narrative itself if it is of interest.

(Having written where I am coming from I feel a bit more free to comment in other sections as well, so I promise not to stay at two posts.)

-Jeroen
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2010, 05:33:57 pm »

I have been making first person games for something like 8 years now, and over time I have been more and more interested in this relationship you describe. Since the genre I have been working in have been horror games, having the player relating to what is happening on screen is really important. In our previous games (Penumbra) we had a protagonist with feelings and own will (for example: character said that he did not want to enter a tunnel because it was too dark, etc). In our upcoming game (Amnesia) we have a character with no feelings or will at all and have designed the game around the player "being" the protagonist as much as possible. Since the game is not done yet, it will be fun to see how this works out and what it does for immersion. I leaning towards that is a non-feeling protagonist (which we have in Amnesia) will have the highest sense of "being", but I am far from sure. I am sure it also depends a lot on other issues (like the type of mechanics, etc), but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

Also, did you check some Swedish research (cannot recall the uni) that created "out of body experiences" by placing VR googles on subjects and then having a camera somwhere else? It actually turned out that one could to some extent make a person believe that they where inside another body by using this sort of feedback. For example, they put the camera on a mannequin and showed a knife close to its stomach and this would make the pulse on the subject go up. I did not read the paper (only show a short news clip) but thought it was quite interesting.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2010, 08:06:06 pm »

Many games have personification of characters, but they treat the character as we would treat a car: we accept a digital body, but rarely have digital emotions.

Wow. This is quite eye-opening. The way you think about emotions and player identification and immersion...

Have you read the article Constructing Artificial Emotions? I wonder if it might have some relevance to putting this idea into practice.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2010, 12:04:40 am »

I really like how you compare controlling an avatar with fencing and sex. Because this stimulates us to treat player and character as equals. If only because this is required for real interaction (in Chris Crawford's definition as a sort of conversation). It stimulates us to expand the autonomous behaviour of our creations, which in turn stimulates the imagination of the player.

I'm curious to hear what you think of the first person perspectives that Thomas mentioned.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2010, 10:59:56 am »

I'm also finding the word "symbiosis" very helpful. It envelops "simulation" very nicely and points out the important role of the player. And it also emancipates the computer as a more active partner in the interaction.

It's interesting how the classic sender-message-receiver model is distorted by the concept of symbiosis. Not to the point where the receiver makes up their own story entirely. But pointing out that there is no message without active participation of the receiver. Sender and receiver meet in the message. (I guess that brings us back to the sex metaphor Wink ).
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2010, 12:40:51 pm »

I have been making first person games for something like 8 years now, and over time I have been more and more interested in this relationship you describe. Since the genre I have been working in have been horror games, having the player relating to what is happening on screen is really important. In our previous games (Penumbra) we had a protagonist with feelings and own will (for example: character said that he did not want to enter a tunnel because it was too dark, etc). In our upcoming game (Amnesia) we have a character with no feelings or will at all and have designed the game around the player "being" the protagonist as much as possible. Since the game is not done yet, it will be fun to see how this works out and what it does for immersion. I leaning towards that is a non-feeling protagonist (which we have in Amnesia) will have the highest sense of "being", but I am far from sure. I am sure it also depends a lot on other issues (like the type of mechanics, etc), but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.

I think this is closest to the "Gordon Freeman" type of play; or really 'the Stranger' from Myst. It depends on what you mean by "being". A recent hypothesis of mine is to do with character salience; salience being how much someone belongs in a group - I can have a 'high salience' with the developers on this forum and a low one with the local rugby team. This means that what happens to someone on the forum matters more to me than what happens with the rugby team. To borrow this term from psychology and apply it to games; a character has a salience with the world. The player, too, associates with the world up to a certain extent.
But there is a strange irony here if I extrapolate from this; by making the character more pronounced you increase its salience with your world (unless the character is breaking the 4th wall purposefully). Him pricking his finger on a rusty nail will hurt him and convincingly, because the world matters to him. At the same time, I agree with you in the thought that having less of a pronounced character creates more of a 'vessel' for the player. However, the irony I mentioned is that if the character is less pronounced he can not have as much salience with the game world; it is left to the player to 'embody' himself. I.e., he enters a world of make-believe in which the rusty nail really hurt 'himself'. But the player is not forced to have any salience with the game world - there is nothing the game world can inflict upon him without his own consent.
The bottom line, if all correct, would be that a (Myst-like-)Stranger character will be closer to the player but further away from the world, whilst a pronounced character will be further away from the player, yet closer to the world.

Many games have personification of characters, but they treat the character as we would treat a car: we accept a digital body, but rarely have digital emotions.

Wow. This is quite eye-opening. The way you think about emotions and player identification and immersion...

Have you read the article Constructing Artificial Emotions? I wonder if it might have some relevance to putting this idea into practice.

I read it some time ago... it has some nice thoughts on taking on 'the skin' of others but also using the memories of people... In fact, it opens up a whole range of possibilies for future feedback. Skimming over the article I think I must reread it again coming from where I do now.

I'm also finding the word "symbiosis" very helpful. It envelops "simulation" very nicely and points out the important role of the player. And it also emancipates the computer as a more active partner in the interaction.

It's interesting how the classic sender-message-receiver model is distorted by the concept of symbiosis. Not to the point where the receiver makes up their own story entirely. But pointing out that there is no message without active participation of the receiver. Sender and receiver meet in the message. (I guess that brings us back to the sex metaphor Wink ).

Yes, I think I did choose the term Symbiosis because it is reflects more seriously upon the agent. Currently I am knee-deep in thoughts about how this all may be described but it is somewhat complex because I do loose the sender-message-receiver model. And there are issues such as what is more 'correct'; what the player experiences or what he thinks he experiences. And different levels of symbiosis, from 1st person to 3rd person... as Thomas also mentions the video experiments; I have heard of these being done so that a person sees himself 3rd-person, which comes surprisingly easy to people (perhaps they tested on game-players, I do not recall where I heard of this).

What is interesting is how this all reflects upon the very basic notion of 'self' that people have. It is a great and unique chance to change this perception with the clever application of games.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2010, 11:58:35 am »

I like you hypothesis on the immersion. Then one should kind of construct the character depending on if the focus should be on the world or a more personal level? It would be interesting to try this in a a game like half-life 2. How different will player react during the 20 (or so) opening minutes depending on if Gordon stays silent or not.

The reason I am so interested in this, is because I want to explore the notion of self and consciousness through first person in games. I think it could be very interesting to actually experience various situations for "yourself" and doing so might help provide a deeper understanding. The thing I am think about is if one wants to have protagonist that gives comments, or not if one wants the biggest effect of experiencing these things. Comments from a protagonist could be really helpful in terms of describing the world and situations, but might perhaps be harmful in the making a personal experience.

An idea I am explore is to have comments in second-person so when interacting feedback can be of the kind: "The steel feels cold as you touch it". This would mean projecting feelings on to the player and I am curious what effect it has on the player's sense of "being".
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2010, 03:17:24 pm »

I like you hypothesis on the immersion. Then one should kind of construct the character depending on if the focus should be on the world or a more personal level? It would be interesting to try this in a a game like half-life 2. How different will player react during the 20 (or so) opening minutes depending on if Gordon stays silent or not.

The reason I am so interested in this, is because I want to explore the notion of self and consciousness through first person in games. I think it could be very interesting to actually experience various situations for "yourself" and doing so might help provide a deeper understanding. The thing I am think about is if one wants to have protagonist that gives comments, or not if one wants the biggest effect of experiencing these things. Comments from a protagonist could be really helpful in terms of describing the world and situations, but might perhaps be harmful in the making a personal experience.

An idea I am explore is to have comments in second-person so when interacting feedback can be of the kind: "The steel feels cold as you touch it". This would mean projecting feelings on to the player and I am curious what effect it has on the player's sense of "being".

I think, and definitely this is where my research will go, plenty more possibilities are in-between Gordon Freeman talking or not. For instance, the cold steel has many different different ways of being expressed... some I can think of:

1. Whether it is vocal or textual.
2. What tense it is in: From "The steel feels cold as you touch it" to "Hm, cold..." or "Brrr, too cold to touch."
3. Or it can be iconic, visual (a small particle system with snowflake icons upon touch briefly spawning) or audio (a cold shudder)

All have different effects and meanings, like a book written in different forms. The game can form a relationship between you and the author, between you and the character, between you and the world. I think a sentence such as "The steel feels cold as you touch it" means that to me (as player) you (as author) are what I 'truly' interact with; as a Dungeon Masters.

I forgot for the moment the right terms for this, but things like the particle system can be perceived in such a way it is part of the 'metaphorical' game world; we understand there is not really a snowflake, but we understand the metaphor in the same way we understand in theatre people all standing whilst looking in the same direction. "The steel feels cold as you touch it," however, is more like a narrator, adding an extra 'super-worldly' layer for the player to understand. You could play with this, such as having an unreliable narrator.

We cannot really say much for certain without trying it... but somehow I am inclined to think an iconic non-verbal/textual feedback would go down with me best in terms of seeming to come 'from me'. The super-worldly element would be part of my suspension of disbelief.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 03:57:38 pm »

I agree that iconic with effects is the best way to do it and now I am interested in exploring that further Smiley In penumbra we had this on some stuff, for example "touching" a grate fence played a "metallic rattle sound" and a slimy larvae creature played a "squishy" sound. Sound is such a powerful tool as it connects better with the imagination too (as far as I know, humans use sound more for clues than for actual representation.). Sounds are also easier to make "real" in a game.

However, iconic will only be able to convey simple meanings (or perhaps I am wrong?), for example it is harder to describe the functioning of some apparatus by just a sound or symbol. I guess that one can pick and choose, and go for text when needed. I like the comment that having text saying "you" makes the game a conversation with a designer, good remark! Perhaps the best is to make the remarks seems as from the character and then make the player embrace the role. If the comments do not push too much emotions on the player perhaps that is better too (meaning that comments are not of the form "it is a really scary hall", but instead say "it is a dark and filthy hall")
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 08:26:32 pm »

This is really fascinating, I could definitely do some research in this area...

Let me think on this all a bit more... but I think now we have three feedback elements; visual, audio, interactive. So any feedback goes along those lines. A smell or texture must be represented in those. For instance, a cold room may make the camera shivver; a warm room makes movements long. Or a cold room may have clacking teeth.

These three elements have different interpretations; they can be in-world, super-world or some other choices we could try to name.

A spur of philosophy to be considered perhaps is that we establish multiple 'fields' of interpretation for the player. If you can establish iconic super-worldly elements as the character's thoughts then you can from that point on use those regardless of how surreal they are. Reflecting back on my previous research this actually comes into the domain of 'agreeing' with the player what his freedom is; if you want to express a room is smelly then having the character put his hand over his nose would be effective; but then you endanger the satisfaction of players who think the hand is theirs.

I suppose iconisatin or sparse text (such as 'cold' instead of 'the room is cold') would make it more difficult to read, so it is an audience question... in the same manner that some books have a harder to read message than others.

I am certainly interested now in seeing what ways there are to do this... fascinating topic.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 10:01:55 pm »

Your talk about sounds as a descriptive feedback as really spurred me to try and fit more of that into our upcoming game. It is a very generic way to interact so it should be simple to have it at many places and I think it could be quite effective. The hard part is just figuring what kind of sounds that make sense, the grated fence and slime are simple things, but what other surfaces does this work with and how far can it be extended? For example: Would be be okay if a hot surface created a *fzzzz* sound and had the character say "ouch"?

As a side note, I have worked a bit with haptics too and while interaction is made a lot harder (since u have to have a 3d pointer!), it is soo awesome to feel textures of objects. Just rubbing the pointer against a slippery surface made all feel so real. There is Haptic version of Penumbra where you can feel the flesh of dead dogs and it is supposed to be really disgusting Tongue Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have not had the chance to try that though. Anyway, would be nice to have this as a kind of poor man's haptics.

More regarding player immersion: Emotion forcing when using sounds can be really effective and does not feel as intrusive as I first would have thought. The examples of this is heart beat sounds and breathing. When heartbeats are heard (after the player has been running, etc) it really feels (at least to me) like my own pulse as gone up and I make the connection that the pulse is mine and not the protagonist's. Same with breathing, where I have actually found myself changing my own breathing to match what is heard (I have also read that when creating Mirror's Edge, Dice reported that testers did the same). Perhaps there is more to explore in this area and more emotions can be transfered to the player so that they feel that it is their own (rather than the protagonists)? I like your idea that there is sort of an agreement between player and game regarding this, gonna try and keep that in mind when exploring more as it seems like good base to start from when laying out the "rules".

As you said, this is fascinating Smiley

Are you aware of any other research in this area? It seems like it would be well suited for experiments.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 10:05:11 pm by Thomas »
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 04:45:10 am »

It is possible to be 'estranged' from oneself in different situations because the memories of self do not match the analysis of the current self. It is possible to 'expand' a consciousness by doing things such as driving a vehicle; it removes (or reduces) certain sensations but expands on the feeling of 'having a car as a body' (McLuhan wrote a lot about this). The mind, and self, can be described more in 'flux', or an 'area of effect'.

Quite true. Are you familiar with Oliver Sacks, and the concepts of proprioception and egosyntonic sensation? All my knowledge about the author is second-hand, as I am actually surrounded by psychologists and related professionals or students in everyday life, but his literature intrigues me enough that I don't know why I haven't read any of his stuff yet. At any rate, one of the interesting things I heard about is the possibility of losing egosyntonic feeling of an extremity via physical trauma; you know rationally that it's, say, your leg, but your body tells you otherwise. And on the other side of the spectrum, egosyntonic sensation is necessary for a prothesis to be usable.

I have a feeling that symbiosis is important for therapeutic games (of which I know none that uses symbiosis as its basis).

I'm reminded of that part in William Gibson's Neuromancer, in which Case 'connects' to Molly's senses, and experiences what she does (you may recall, if you read the novel, that she draws a circle around her nipple, and Case feels the contact as if the nipple was his own.) Absolute symbiosis is definitely what virtual reality researchers have been trying to achieve for so long, and this is not really the realm of (non)game design, of course. I don't think I had a point with this paragraph, anyway.

By the way, Jeroen; where did you discover the concept of 'salience'? Wherever I read, I find a totally different meaning for the word, which is the one I know: prominence. I would have used the word 'empathy', perhaps? Not correcting you, I'd like to know your reasons/sources.
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Re: My research: Player, Agent, Designer and Symbiosis
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2010, 11:08:54 pm »

Tomorrow I will respond to this thread in a longer fashion, I have started work on some models that will help me reach a good model of symbiosis and this discussion seemed a good place to start; especially what we talked about, Thomas, sort-of a rationale as to what actions and responses belong to whom.

I will put my theories forth in this this thread from now on, I hope you will find them useful and critize / aid them if possible!

(Will answer more in depth tomorrow as well, sorry for the long pause in my correspondence.)

By the way, Jeroen; where did you discover the concept of 'salience'? Wherever I read, I find a totally different meaning for the word, which is the one I know: prominence. I would have used the word 'empathy', perhaps? Not correcting you, I'd like to know your reasons/sources.

Quickly on this - I am probaby misusing it out of ease of use, but I got it from social psychology classes, describing what I started out with. I noticed too I cannot really find a proper definition to use for it easily. I find the concept of it nice, however, a sort-of 'how much I belong to...' or 'have in common with...' It gives an edge to whether the player 'belongs' to the world or, so to speak, interacts with it through plastic glass and gloves. The later is how I feel when I play the average game since nothing that happens interests or affects me. When I play Machinarium I have a far higher willingness to become salient with the world. That is theme, that what makes me feel that way - I am working on mechanics that advance it, but I suppose the incentive must come from actual liking of the theme to begin with.

Essentially, all my work does is make (not)games that interest you better. It will take more than my theory to make everybody adore the themes in them Smiley

Tempted to write more! Will tomorrow.
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