Interpreting abstract games : the metaphorical potential of formal game elements
Author(s)Begy, Jason Scott
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Comparative Media Studies.
Doris C. Rusch.
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As cultural artifacts, abstract games offer unique challenges to critical interpretation. This is largely due to the fact that such games lack a fictional element: there are no characters, no settings, and no narratives to speak of. In this thesis I propose that understanding the various formal elements of games as metaphors can both serve as an effective critical method and offer insights into designing more expressive games. I begin by addressing the ambiguity surrounding the phrase "abstract game" and offer a definition rooted in Peircean semiotics and Juul's model of games as consisting of both rules and fiction. I next offer a model of games as consisting of three levels: the system, audio-visual, and affective. This is followed by an overview of Lakoff and Johnson's concept of "metaphor" as "understanding one thing in terms of another." I then argue that different types of metaphors have a natural affinity for the system and affective levels of games. From this I develop methods for a critical method wherein games are considered to be metaphors. I conclude with a discussion of this method's implications for game design and future game research.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Comparative Media Studies, 2010.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 91-92).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Comparative Media Studies.; MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comparative Media Studies.