Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Player As An Actor

There's been for a long time this narrative game design theory that revolved around the idea of establishing the player as being an actor within a scene. And the extended concept of the designer is a like a director, setting up the scene, suggesting motivation and boundaries of the stage, in which the player will act out the "play".

This is as been explored in the FPS genre for a long time, I would take Half-LifeFar Cry 3 and BioShock as clear successful examples of this concept. But it's always been limited, in the sense, that the space between the screen and the user always established a clear physical distance between the player and it's avatar.

But in VR, this physical separation is erased, at least at the level of the visual cortex. The player is "projected" within the space instead of visualizing it on 2D plane. In that context, the player actually can become part of the scene, a member of the stage instead of just a spectator interacting from far away with "puppets" that are extensions of himself.

That's one of the core tipping points of VR narrative design that it will differentiate it from traditional interactive experiences. So now interactive narrative designers can now truly explore the concept of having the player act out the scene as being part of it.

The physical leap between the eyes and the frame of the screen is gone, what's happening outside of the player's view is as important than what's within it. And because in VR, the space that surrounds the player is actually felt and constantly present in the experience.

It's really the end of the "frame", the concept of the window to the world that is so core to classical medias like TV, film and the web. We now need to think in terms of space and "self-projection".

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